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Gordon Brown: a long time in waiting

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Gordon Brown: a long time in waiting


It was before a rapturous crowd that Tony Blair handed over leadership of the Labour party to Gordon Brown last Sunday.

The charismatic leader proclaimed the name of his successor like a final victory:

“Friends and colleagues, the new leader of the Labour party: Gordon Brown.”

It was the final act of a stormy relationship.

At 56, Gordon Brown’s patience was finally rewarded.

For 10 long years, he stood in the shade of his neighbour on Downing Street.

Brown had been preparing for that moment for years.

Born near Glasgow, he first got involved in politics while studying history at the University of Edinburgh, which he entered at the age of 16.

A man of conviction, Brown soon became known for his extraordinary ability for hard work – a reputation which has followed him to this day.

First a university lecturer, Brown then worked as a journalist before being elected member of parliament in 1983.

Coincidence brought Gordon Brown and Tony Blair together as they shared an office at Westminster.

Their political destinies were sealed.

The sudden death of John Smith in 1994 left the Labour party without a leader.

Brown was one of those tipped as a potential party leader – but it was Tony Blair who took over and led to general election victory three years later, putting an end to 18 years of conservative rule.

Gordon Brown was named Chancellor of the Exchequer, and stayed in the post a decade, becoming the longest-ruling Labour finance minister.

His rule heralded strong economic growth and low unemployment, but also growing debt and a four-fold increase in house prices.

A workaholic, Brown does not have the Blair appeal. He is often criticised for what some perceive as coldness and even hostility.

In contrast to Blair’s easygoing style, Brown often appears stiff and uneasy in public.

But he remains deeply attached to his convictions, and in 2005, during the G7 summit, the Chancellor threw his weight behind the debt relief movement for Africa – a battle he had made his own.

Always well prepared, Brown has done his homework before taking over the reigns.

While he has said there will be no backtracking on Blair’s public service reforms, Brown’s is nevertheless a message of change:

“For parents wanting affordable childcare, we will meet the challenge of change. For families and pensionser who want and NHS that is there when they need it, only we can meet the challenge of change. For people wanting a stronger democracy, we will meet the challenge of change.”

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