James Gordon Brown (born 20th February 1951) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007. Brown has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1983, first for Dunfermline East and currently for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.
A doctoral graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Brown spent his early career working as both a lecturer at a further education college and a television journalist. He entered Parliament in 1983 as the MP for Dunfermline East. He joined the Shadow Cabinet in 1989 as Shadow Secretary of State for Trade, and was later promoted to become Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1992. After Labour's victory in 1997, he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, becoming the longest-serving holder of that office in modern history.
In 2007, Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister and Labour Leader and Brown was chosen to replace him in an uncontested election.
After initial rises in opinion polls following Brown becoming Prime Minister, Labour's popularity declined with the onset of a recession in 2008, leading to poor results in the local and European elections in 2009. A year later, Labour lost 91 seats in the House of Commons at the 2010 general election, the party's biggest loss of seats in a single general election since 1931, making the Conservatives the largest party in a hung parliament. On 10 May 2010, Brown announced he would stand down as leader of the Labour Party, and instructed the party to put into motion the processes to elect a new leader. On 11 May, he officially resigned as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party. He was succeeded as Prime Minister by David Cameron, and as Leader of the Labour Party by Ed Miliband.
Later, Brown played a crucial role in the campaign surrounding the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, galvanizing support behind maintaining the union.
Brown was born at the Orchard Maternity Nursing Home in Giffnock, Renfrewshire, Scotland. His father was John Ebenezer Brown, a minister of the Church of Scotland and a strong influence on Brown and his mother was Jessie Elizabeth Brown (née Souter), She was the daughter of John Souter, a timber merchant. Brown was brought up with his elder brother John and younger brother Andrew Brown in a manse in Kirkcaldy — the largest town in Fife, Scotland across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh. In common with many other notable Scots, he is therefore often referred to as a "son of the manse".
Brown was educated first at Kirkcaldy West Primary School where he was selected for an experimental fast stream education programme, which took him two years early to Kirkcaldy High School for an academic hothouse education taught in separate classes. At age sixteen he wrote that he loathed and resented this "ludicrous" experiment on young lives.
He was accepted by the University of Edinburgh to study history at the same early age of sixteen. During an end-of-term rugby union match at his old school, he received a kick to the head and suffered a retinal detachment. This left him blind in his left eye, despite treatment including several operations and weeks spent lying in a darkened room. 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 right eye was saved. Brown graduated from Edinburgh with First-Class Honours MA degree in history in 1972, and stayed on to obtain his PhD degree in history (which he gained ten years later in 1982), titled The Labour Party and Political Change in Scotland 1918–29.
From 1976 to 1980 Brown was employed as a lecturer in politics at Glasgow College of Technology. He also worked as a tutor for the Open University. In the 1979 general election, Brown stood for the Edinburgh South constituency, losing 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.
In April 2010, Brown asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament and call new elections, which included the first televised leadership debates in British History. The result of the election was a hung parliament, laying the foundations for the first full coalition in Britain since 1945.
Brown was re-elected to serve as MP for Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath constituency on 6 May 2010 with 29,559 votes representing 64.5 percent of votes.
Brown announced on 10 May 2010 that he would stand down as Labour Leader, with a view to a successor being chosen before the next Labour Party Conference in September 2010. The following day, negotiations between the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition government failed. During the evening, Brown visited Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation as Prime Minister to Queen Elizabeth II and to recommend that she invite the Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron, to form a government. He resigned as leader of the Labour Party with immediate effect.
On 13 May 2010, in his first public appearance since leaving 10 Downing Street, two days after resigning as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party, Brown confirmed he intended to stay on in Parliament, serving as a Labour backbencher, in order to serve the people of his Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency.
Towards the end of May 2010, Brown began writing Beyond the Crash, completing it after 14 weeks. The book discusses the 2007–08 financial crisis and Brown's recommendations for future co-ordinated global action.
He played a prominent role in the lead-up to, and the aftermath of, the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.
On 1 December 2014, Brown announced that he would not be seeking re-election to parliament. He stood down at the General Election in May 2015.
In April 2009, Brown gave what was the first ever speech by a serving Prime Minister at St Paul's Cathedral in London. He referred to a "single powerful modern sense demanding responsibility from all and fairness to all". He also talked about the Christian doctrine of "do to others what you would have them do unto you", which he compared to similar principles in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. He went on, "They each and all reflect a sense that we share the pain of others, and a sense that we believe in something bigger than ourselves—that we cannot be truly content while others face despair, cannot be completely at ease while others live in fear, cannot be satisfied while others are in sorrow", and continued, "We all feel, regardless of the source of our philosophy, the same deep moral sense that each of us is our brother and sisters' keeper... We cannot and will not pass by on the other side when people are suffering and when we have it within our power to help".
In December 2015, Brown took his first large-scale role in the private sector since standing down as prime minister in 2010, becoming an advisor to PIMCO. Any money earned from the role is to go to the Gordon and Sarah Brown Foundation to support charitable work.