James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He took office on 27 June 2007, three days after becoming leader of the Labour Party. Prior to this he served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer under Tony Blair from 1997 to 2007, becoming the United Kingdom's longest serving Chancellor since Nicholas Vansittart in the early 19th century.
Brown has a PhD in history from the University of Edinburgh and spent his early career working as a TV journalist. He has been a Member of Parliament since 1983; firstly for Dunfermline East and since 2005 for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. As Prime Minister, he also holds the positions of First Lord of the Treasury and the Minister for the Civil Service.
Brown's time as Chancellor was marked by major reform of Britain's monetary and fiscal policy architecture, transferring interest rate setting powers to the Bank of England, by a wide extension of the powers of the Treasury to cover much domestic policy, and by largely benign economic conditions. His most controversial moves were the abolition of Advanced Corporation Tax (ACT) relief in his first budget - a move that received criticism for the effect it had on pension funds - and removal of the 10p tax rate in his final 2007 budget.
His time as PM has been of mixed fortune, facing repercussions of the credit crunch and the associated nationalisation of Northern Rock, the 10p tax rate row, rising oil and petrol prices, and increased inflation. Brown has also suffered as a result of investigations into improper party donation accusations, a costly political battle over 42 day detention and heavy by-election defeats, notably Glasgow East. Despite an initial increase in personal and Labour popularity following his appointment as Leader and PM, Brown has presided over a dramatic decline in poll approval ratings personally and for the party. Speculation has arisen of a potential challenge to Brown's leadership.
He was accepted by the University of Edinburgh to study history at the age of only 16. He suffered a retinal detachment after being kicked in the head during an end-of-term rugby union match at his old school. He was left blind in his left eye, despite treatment including several operations and lying in a darkened room for weeks at a time. Later at Edinburgh, while playing tennis, he noticed the same symptoms in his right eye. Brown underwent experimental surgery at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and his eye was saved. Brown graduated from Edinburgh with First Class Honours MA in 1972, and stayed on to complete his PhD (which he gained in 1982), titled The Labour Party and Political Change in Scotland 1918-29.
In 1972, while still a student and with strong connections with the previous Dean of Admissions, Brown was elected Rector of the University of Edinburgh, the convener of the University Court. Brown served as Rector until 1975, and he also edited The Red Paper on Scotland. From 1976 to 1980 he was employed as a lecturer in Politics at Glasgow College of Technology - in the 1979 general election, Brown stood for the Edinburgh South constituency and lost to the Conservative candidate, Michael Ancram. From 1980 he worked as a journalist at Scottish Television, later serving as current affairs editor until his election to parliament in 1983.
Having led the Labour Movement Yes campaign, refusing to join the cross-party Yes for Scotland campaign, during the 1979 Scottish devolution referendum, while other senior Labour politicians - including Robin Cook, Tam Dalyell and Brian Wilson - campaigned for a No vote, Brown was subsequently a key participant in the Scottish Constitutional Convention, signing the Claim of Right for Scotland in 1989.
After the sudden death of Labour leader John Smith in May 1994, Brown was tipped as a potential party leader, but did not contest the leadership after Tony Blair became favourite. It has long been rumoured a deal was struck between Blair and Brown at the former Granita restaurant in Islington, in which Blair promised to give Brown control of economic policy in return for Brown not standing against him in the leadership election. Whether this is true or not, the relationship between Blair and Brown has been central to the fortunes of "New Labour", and they have mostly remained united in public, despite reported serious private rifts.
As Shadow Chancellor, Brown worked to present himself as a fiscally competent Chancellor-in-waiting, to reassure business and the middle class that Labour could be trusted to run the economy without fuelling inflation, increasing unemployment, or overspending—legacies of the 1970s. He publicly committed Labour to following the Conservatives' spending plans for the first two years after taking power.
Brown's ten years and two months as Chancellor of the Exchequer made him the longest-serving Chancellor in modern history.
The Prime Minister's website singles out three achievements in particular from Brown's decade as Chancellor: presiding over "the longest ever period of growth", making the Bank of England independent and delivering an agreement on poverty and climate change at the G8 summit in 2005. However, critics of Brown's record as Chancellor point out that he was fortunate to inherit a strong economy from the Conservatives.
In 1999, Brown introduced a lower tax band of 10%. He abolished this in his last budget in 2007 to reduce the basic rate from 22% to 20%, increasing tax for 5 million people, and, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies leaving those earning between under £18,000 as the biggest losers.
In October 2004 Tony Blair announced he would not lead the party into a fourth general election, but would serve a full third term. Political controversy over the relationship between Brown and Blair continued up to and beyond the 2005 election, which Labour won with a reduced parliamentary majority and reduced vote share. The two campaigned together but the British media remained—and remains—full of reports on their mutual acrimony.
Blair, under pressure from within his own party, announced on 7 September 2006 that he would step down within a year. Brown was the clear favourite to succeed Blair for several years with experts and the bookmakers; he was the only candidate spoken of seriously in Westminster. Appearances and news coverage leading up to the handover were interpreted as preparing the ground for Brown to become Prime Minister, in part by creating the impression of a statesman with a vision for leadership and global change.
Brown is the first prime minister from a Scottish constituency since the Conservative/SUP Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1964. He is also one of only four prime ministers who attended a university other than Oxford or Cambridge, along with the Earl of Bute (Leiden), Lord John Russell (Edinburgh) and Neville Chamberlain (Mason Science College, later Birmingham).
On 9 September 2006 Charles Clarke said in an interview that the Chancellor had "psychological" issues he must confront and accused him of being a "control freak" and "totally uncollegiate". Brown was also "deluded", Clarke said, to think Blair can and should anoint him as his successor now. Environment Secretary David Miliband stressed his support for Brown.
From January 2007 the media reported Brown had now "dropped any pretence of not wanting, or expecting, to move into Number 10 in the next few months"—although he and his family use the more spacious 11 Downing Street. This enabled Brown to signal the most significant priorities for his agenda as Prime Minister; speaking at a Fabian Society conference on 'The Next Decade' in January 2007, he stressed education, international development, narrowing inequalities (to pursue 'equality of opportunity and fairness of outcome'), renewing Britishness, restoring trust in politics, and winning hearts and minds in the war on terror as key priorities.
In March 2007 Brown's character was attacked by Lord Turnbull who worked for Brown as Permanent Secretary at the Treasury from 1998 to 2002. Turnbull accused Brown of running the Treasury with "Stalinist ruthlessness" and treating Cabinet colleagues with "more or less complete contempt". This was especially picked-up on by the British media as the comments were made on the eve of Brown's budget report.
During his Labour leadership campaign, Brown proposed some policy initiatives, suggesting that a Brown-led government would introduce the following:
The Brown government was involved in controversy in April 2008 over the decision to scrap the 10p Income Tax Band and he was forced into making concessions. In the local elections on 1 May 2008, Labour suffered their worst results in 40 years finishing in third place with a projected 24% share of the national vote. Subsequently the party has seen the loss of by-elections in Nantwich and Crewe and Henley as well as slumps in the polls. A by election in Glasgow East triggered by the resignation of David Marshall saw the Labour party struggle to appoint a candidate, eventually settling for a 5th choice, a sitting MSP in the Scottish Parliament Margaret Curran. The SNP, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have all derided the party for their disorganised nature with Alex Salmond commenting "This is their 'lost weekend' - they don't have a leader in Scotland, they don't have a candidate in Glasgow East, and they have a prime minister who refuses to come to the constituency". A former Labour spin doctor has commented that the loss of a safe seat in Glasgow (one of the safest Labour seats in the country) would indicate to Gordon Brown that any MP with a majority of less than 13,500 would be unsafe and his position as Prime Minister would be untenable. The unthinkable result became a reality when the seat experienced a massive swing of 22.54% in one of Labours safest heartland areas, and the constituency was lost to the Scottish National Party's John Mason who took 11,277 votes with Labour just 365 behind.
Brown remains committed to the Iraq War, but said in a speech in June 2007 that he would "learn the lessons" from the mistakes made in Iraq.
Brown made his first overseas trip as Prime Minister to Berlin, where he spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In a speech given to the Labour Friends of Israel in April 2007, Brown stated:
Many of you know my interest in Israel and in the Jewish community has been long-standing…My father was the chairman of the Church of Scotland's Israel Committee. Not only as I've described to some of you before did he make visits on almost two occasions a year for 20 years to Israel—but because of that, although Fife, where I grew up, was a long way from Israel with no TV pictures to link us together—I had a very clear view from household slides and projectors about the history of Israel, about the trials and tribulations of the Jewish people, about the enormous suffering and loss during the Holocaust, as well as the extraordinary struggle that he described to me of people to create this magnificent homeland.
Brown said in a letter published 17 March 2008 that the United Kingdom will hold an inquiry into the Iraq war -- but not soon.British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will skip the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics, on 8 August 2008 in Beijing, it was reported on 9 April 2008. But, he will not boycotting the Olympics and will attend the closing ceremony, on 24 August 2008. Brown has been under intense pressure from human rights campaigners to send a message to China, concerning the 2008 Tibetan unrest. But his decision not to attend the opening ceremony is not an act of protest, the decision was made weeks ago and was not a stand on principle.
There has been widespread speculation on the nature of the UK's relationship with the United States under Brown's government. A Washington, D.C. speech by Brown's close aide Douglas Alexander was widely reported as both a policy shift and a message to the U.S: "In the 21st century, strength should be measured on what we can build together…we need to demonstrate by our deeds, words and our actions that we are internationalist, not isolationist, multilateralist, not unilateralist, active and not passive, and driven by core values, consistently applied, not special interests."
However Downing Street's spokesman strongly denied the suggestion that Alexander was trying to distance Britain from U.S. foreign policy and show that Britain would not necessarily, in Tony Blair's words, stand "shoulder to shoulder" with George W. Bush over future military interventions: "I thought the interpretation that was put on Douglas Alexander's words was quite extraordinary. To interpret this as saying anything at all about our relationship with the U.S. is nonsense."
Brown personally clarified his position;"We will not allow people to separate us from the United States of America in dealing with the common challenges that we face around the world. I think people have got to remember that the relationship between Britain and America and between a British prime minister and an American president is built on the things that we share, the same enduring values about the importance of liberty, opportunity, the dignity of the individual. I will continue to work, as Tony Blair did, very closely with the American administration."
In the summer of 2008, Brown's leadership was presented with a fresh challenge as a large number of senior MPs openly called for him to resign. This event was dubbed the 'Lancashire Plot', as two backbenchers from North West England urged him to step down and a third questioned his chances of holding on to the Labour Party leadership. Several MPs argued that if Brown did not recover in the polls by early 2009, he should call for a leadership contest. However, certain prominent MPs, such as Jacqui Smith and Bill Rammell, suggested that Brown was the right person to lead Britain through its economic crisis.
A second assault upon Brown's premiership was launched in the fall of that year, when Siobhain McDonagh, a MP who during her time in office had never voted against the government, spoke of the need for discussion over Brown's position. McDonagh, a junior government whip, was sacked from her role shortly afterwards, on September 12. Whilst McDonagh did not state that she wanted Brown deposed, she implored the Labour party to hold a leadership election. McDonagh spoke of a "huge number" of Labour MPs who wanted a leadership election; her views were somewhat substantiated in the following days when several Labour MPs, including Field, Joan Ryan (who applied, as McDonagh had, for leadership nomination papers, and became the second rebel to be fired from her job), Jim Dowd, Greg Pope, and a string of others who had previously held positions in government, made clear their desire for a contest. In an unrelated incident, 12 backbenchers signed their names to a letter criticizing Brown in Progress magazine. Eric Joyce, one of the MPs who signed this letter, said that Brown's future hinged on his performance at the upcoming Labour party conference.
A Downing Street source responded to these revelations by stating that, "The Blairites have been talking up the idea of loads of ministers resigning. But the best they can come up with is an assistant government whip." Tony Lloyd, chairman of the parliamentary Labour Party, labelled the rebellion a "bit of a sideshow", and Emily Thornberry MP called Brown the "best qualified" to lead Britain through the economic crisis of 2008. The Labour party admitted that it had received letters from a small number of MPs querying why no nomination papers had been released.
In the face of this growing speculation over Brown's future, the majority of his ministers also backed him to lead the party, and two, Harriet Harman and David Miliband, vigorously denied that they were preparing leadership bids. After the shock loss that Labour suffered in the Glasgow East by-election in July, Harman, the deputy leader of the party, suppressed rumours regarding her intentions, saying that Brown was the "solution", not the "problem"; Home Secretary Smith, Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Schools Secretary Ed Balls and Cabinet Office Minister Ed Miliband all re-affirmed their support for Brown. The deputy Prime Minister under Blair, John Prescott, also pledged his support. Foreign Secretary David Miliband was then forced to deny that he was plotting a leadership bid, when on July 30, an article written by him in The Guardian was interpreted by a large number in the media as an attempt to undermine Brown. In the article, Miliband outlined the party's future, but neglected to mention the Prime Minister. Miliband, who had been forced to quell rumours that he would run against Brown in the leadership election of 2007, responded to this by saying that he was confident Brown could lead Labour to victory in the next general election, and that his article was an attack against the fatalism that had dogged the party since the loss of Glasgow-East. Miliband continued to show his support for Brown in the face of the challenge that emerged in September, as did Business Secretary John Hutton, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, and Chief Whip Geoff Hoon.
In keeping with its tradition of having a comic strip for every Prime Minister, Private Eye features a comic strip, The Broonites (itself a parody of The Broons), parodying Brown's government. The Eye has also started a column titled Prime Ministerial Decree, a parody of statements that would be issued by Communist governments in the former Eastern Bloc. This is in reference to a criticism of Brown having "Stalinist tendencies".
Gordon Brown was depicted in Season 12 of South Park sitting at a table of world leaders opposite Nicolas Sarkozy in the episode "Canada on Strike". He was portrayed speaking in an English accent, reflecting his alleged jettisoning of his native Scottish accent.
Brown married Sarah Macaulay in a private ceremony at his home in North Queensferry, Fife, on 3 August 2000. On 28 December 2001, a daughter, Jennifer Jane, was born prematurely and died on 8 January 2002. Gordon Brown commented at the time that their recent experiences had changed him and his wife:
I don't think we'll be the same again, but it has made us think of what's important. It has made us think that you've got to use your time properly. It's made us more determined. Things that we feel are right we have got to achieve, we have got to do that. Jennifer is an inspiration to us.
They have two children, John Macaulay and James Fraser. In November 2006, James Fraser was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
Sarah Brown generally keeps a low profile, rarely making official appearances either with or without her husband, in contrast to Cherie Blair. She is inevitably much sought after to give interviews, although is reluctant to do so. However, she is patron of several charities, and has written articles for national newspapers related to this.. At the 2008 Labour Party Conference, Mrs Brown caused surprise by taking to the stage to introduce her husband for his keynote address.
Despite predictions to the contrary, the Browns have fallen in love with Chequers. They spend most weekends there, the house often being filled with friends, editors, sportsmen and actors, as well as politicians. They have even entertained the Beckhams and local dignitaries like Sir Leonard Figg, revealing a certain "obsession with the place.
Of his two brothers, John Brown is Head of Public Relations in the Glasgow City Council. His brother Andrew Brown has been Head of Media Relations in the UK for the French-owned utility company EDF Energy since 2004. He was previously director of media strategy at the world's largest public relations firm Weber Shandwick from June 2003 to 2004. Previously he was editor of the Channel 4 political programme Powerhouse from 1996 to 2003, and worked at the BBC from the late 1970s to early 1980s.
DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE WARNS CONSUMERS WHO DID BUSINESS WITH INSURANCE AGENT WENDI GLASS GLASS AND VMG INSURANCE AGENCY ACCUSED OF ISSUING FAKE INSURANCE COVERAGE.
Jun 02, 2012; JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- The following information was released by the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and...