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Gordon Brown Leadership


Gordon Brown (1951- )


Gordon Brown Leadership

Scottish rival of Tony Blair who succeeded him as prime minister in 2007.

Brown (pictured right) lost to David Cameron in 2010.

He was vital in keeping Scotland in the UK after its referendum on independence in 2014.


What kind of leader was he?


1. Principled but pragmatic

His father was a Church of Scotland minister, who taught him to work hard and help everyone equally including the poor.

But he could bend his principles to suit his circumstances.

For example, he abandoned his early commitment to tight government spending controls (“prudence with purpose”) and lost his reputation as a champion of the poor in 2007 by increasing their rate of income tax.


Gordon Brown Leadership

2. Single-minded, determined and ambitious

His great determination partly came from his resolve to overcome a school rugby accident that nearly blinded him.

He was determined to become prime minister, which made his relationship with Tony Blair (pictured right) so frustrating.

Brown was consumed by ambition, leading to his constant and vicious vendetta against Blair, once a close friend (they shared an office when they first became MP’s in 1983).


3. Lifelong learner

He loves learning and books, constantly striving to improve his knowledge.


4. Attention to detail

All his speeches and policies were supported by lots of statistics and a careful analysis of the facts.

But this obsession with detail turned him into a control freak, constantly interfering in his ministers' work.


5. Thinker, planner and policy maker

He took important decisions after taking advice and carefully considering all the facts available.

He is a serious minded intellectual, who was accused of being boring and humourless on TV and in public speeches.

His greatest political achievements were:

  • giving independence to the Bank of England.
  • regenerating the NHS (Britain's free, state owned health service).
  • keeping Britain out of the Euro (despite opposition from his colleagues).
  • leading the recovery from the global financial crisis of 2008-9.


6. Workaholicgordon brown leadership

He works incredibly hard and is dedicated to politics. But his family (wife, Sarah, pictured right, and two children) give him some relaxation.


7. Courage

He has had the courage to face up to the death of his baby daughter, Jennifer, in 2002, and the cystic fibrosis of his son, James, and to fight for his policies and principles like greater equality and social justice.


Gordon Brown Leadership

8. Loyal

He was intensely loyal to his close circle of friends (including J. K. Rowling, pictured right), family and political supporters.

But they had to be loyal in return. He never forgave betrayal.


9. Stubborn

It is hard to change his mind, once he has decided to do something.


10. Ruthless autocratgordon brown leadership

Brown (pictured right with Barack Obama) was ruthless in carrying out decisions, according to the former head of the British civil service, Andrew Turnbull.

Brown was insensitive to:

  • public opinion (so losing people's sympathy).
  • his colleagues (being renowned for his bullying and obsessive control).


Key quote on success

I will try my utmost (quoting his school motto on becoming prime minister).


Key quote on family

I'm a father; that's what matters most.


Key quote on leadership

I want to lead a government humble enough to know its place – where I will always strive to be – and that is on people’s side.


Key quote on Tony Blair

“There is nothing that you could ever say to me now that I could ever believe” (to Tony Blair).


Key quotes on society

"A new paradigm that sees economic growth, social justice and environmental care advancing together can become the common sense of our age".

“It’s about time we had an end to the old Britain, where all that matters is the privileges you were born with, rather than the potential you actually have”.

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