Gordon Brown addresses the Labour Party conference in 1999. Photograph: Steve Eason/Getty Images

Gordon Brown’s 13 years in government have taken him from the elation of becoming prime minister after a decade-long wait to the despondency of last week’s election result.

HIGH — Being elected as an MP for the first time:  Mr Brown was returned as the member for Dunfermline East with a majority of 11,000 in 1983. He shared his first office in the House of Commons with another newly-elected Labour MP, a young barrister called Tony Blair.

LOW — Missing out on the Labour leadership:  After the surprise death of party leader John Smith in 1994, Mr Brown was viewed by many as a natural successor.But he struck a deal with Mr Blair under which the younger man would take the leadership in return for giving Mr Brown control of economic policy and later handing him power.

HIGH — The 1997 Labour landslide:   After 18 years out of power the party won a historic victory over the Conservatives, achieving a massive 179-seat Commons majority. Mr Brown became Chancellor and built a power base at the heart of Whitehall that allowed him to shape many areas of domestic policy.

announced he was giving the Bank of England freedom to set monetary policy. The surprise move was widely lauded as helping to usher in Britain’s “Nice” decade of “non-inflationary constant expansion”.

HIGH — Economic growth during his time at the Treasury:  Over his 10 years at the Treasury, Mr Brown earned a reputation as the “Iron Chancellor” who promised there would be no return to “boom and bust”. He oversaw strong growth in the UK’s economy, although critics questioned how much of this success was down to him and argued that he should have cut public debt further.

Chancellor were highly divisive, including the private finance initiative (PFI), a way of funding public capital projects like hospitals that is more expensive in the long term. There was also criticism of his decision to scrap tax relief on pension funds, his sell-off of part of Britain’s gold reserves before prices soared, and his abolition of the 10p tax rate paid by people on low incomes.

LOW — Being thwarted from becoming prime minister:  It has never been confirmed what timescale — if any — Mr Blair gave for stepping down and handing over the top job. But Mr Brown became increasingly frustrated at being made to wait, and there were reports of furious rows behind the scenes in Downing Street as well as attempts by the chancellor’s supporters to force Mr

Blair out.

including Princess Margarita of Romania. But he remained a bachelor until the age of 49, when he married PR executive Sarah Macaulay in Scotland in August 2000. He described their relationship as “a modern love story”.

LOW — The death of his daughter:  The couple’s first child, Jennifer Jane, was born prematurely on December 28 2001 and died 10 days later after suffering a brain haemorrhage. Mr Brown has spoken of how he struggled to cope with the loss and could not listen to music for nearly a

year.

HIGH — The births of his two sons:  Mr and Mrs Brown went on to have two boys, John in 2003 and Fraser in 2006. Fraser was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis soon after he was born.

HIGH — Becoming prime minister:  Mr Brown finally replaced Mr Blair at No 10 Downing Street on June 27th 2007. After waiting for so many years, he wasted no time in appointing his own Cabinet and pledging to restore trust in politics.

HIGH — Early popularity as prime minister:  In his first months at No 10, Mr Brown was praised for his handling of crises including failed terrorist attacks, flooding, a foot and mouth disease outbreak and the run on Northern Rock. He also won respect for his “big tent” approach to politics, appearing to heal rifts within Labour and reaching out to members of other parties.

dropped the idea after the Tories received a poll boost by promising to cut inheritance tax. His decision led to him being branded a “ditherer” and meant Labour eventually faced a public vote when electoral conditions were far less favourable.

LOW: Leadership challenges:  As Mr Brown’s premiership became more unpopular, he faced growing unrest within his party — and eventually several unsuccessful coup attempts. But even the most credible challenges to his leadership — half-heartedly by foreign secretary David Miliband in July 2008, and seriously by resigning work and pensions secretary James Purnell in June 2009 — failed to trigger an all-out cabinet rebellion.

LOW — The global financial crisis:  The economic storm that ravaged financial institutions worldwide plunged the UK into recession and required a massive Government bailout of British banks. Mr Brown was widely praised for his response to the crisis, but fears about jobs, wages and public debt levels dented Labour’s popularity.

LOW — The “smeargate” scandal:  A close aide to Mr Brown, Damian McBride, resigned in disgrace in April 2009 after the revelation of an email plot to tarnish senior Tories’ reputations with false internet allegations. The affair revived concerns that British politics had become dominated by “spin” and dirty tricks.

LOW: Bullying allegations:  Claims that Mr Brown swore at and shoved around his Downing Street staff were aired in journalist Andrew Rawnsley’s book The End Of The Party , published in February this year. Ministers denied the allegations, and there was some evidence that Mr Brown’s poll ratings actually improved after they emerged.

LOW: Leadership debates in the 2010:  General election Mr Brown did not shine in the new televised leaders’ debates that formed the centrepiece of this year’s General Election campaign. Polls and pundits generally agreed that Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg won the first debate and drew the second with Tory leader David Cameron, with the final one going to Mr Cameron. Mr Brown was placed last in all of them.

LOW: The “bigotgate” scandal:  While campaigning for the election in Rochdale, Mr Brown was caught on microphone describing local pensioner Gillian Duffy as “bigoted” after she quizzed him about immigration. He made a personal visit to her home to apologise, but political opponents seized on the gaffe as evidence that he held voters in contempt.

LOW: Losing Labour’s majority:  In a dramatic election night, Labour lost 91 seats and the Conservatives gained 97 to become the largest party in the Commons, albeit 20 short of a majority. The result was better than some Labour members had feared, but it left Mr Brown in constitutional limbo as the Lib-Dems and Tories discussed power-sharing arrangements.

Read the article on Irish Times

Highs and lows of Brown’s career

Gordon Brown addresses the Labour Party conference in 1999. Photograph: Steve Eason/Getty Images

Gordon Brown’s 13 years in government have taken him from the elation of becoming prime minister after a decade-long wait to the despondency of last week’s election result.

HIGH — Being elected as an MP for the first time:  Mr Brown was returned as the member for Dunfermline East with a majority of 11,000 in 1983. He shared his first office in the House of Commons with another newly-elected Labour MP, a young barrister called Tony Blair.

LOW — Missing out on the Labour leadership:  After the surprise death of party leader John Smith in 1994, Mr Brown was viewed by many as a natural successor.But he struck a deal with Mr Blair under which the younger man would take the leadership in return for giving Mr Brown control of economic policy and later handing him power.

HIGH — The 1997 Labour landslide:   After 18 years out of power the party won a historic victory over the Conservatives, achieving a massive 179-seat Commons majority. Mr Brown became Chancellor and built a power base at the heart of Whitehall that allowed him to shape many areas of domestic policy.

announced he was giving the Bank of England freedom to set monetary policy. The surprise move was widely lauded as helping to usher in Britain’s “Nice” decade of “non-inflationary constant expansion”.

HIGH — Economic growth during his time at the Treasury:  Over his 10 years at the Treasury, Mr Brown earned a reputation as the “Iron Chancellor” who promised there would be no return to “boom and bust”. He oversaw strong growth in the UK’s economy, although critics questioned how much of this success was down to him and argued that he should have cut public debt further.

Chancellor were highly divisive, including the private finance initiative (PFI), a way of funding public capital projects like hospitals that is more expensive in the long term. There was also criticism of his decision to scrap tax relief on pension funds, his sell-off of part of Britain’s gold reserves before prices soared, and his abolition of the 10p tax rate paid by people on low incomes.

LOW — Being thwarted from becoming prime minister:  It has never been confirmed what timescale — if any — Mr Blair gave for stepping down and handing over the top job. But Mr Brown became increasingly frustrated at being made to wait, and there were reports of furious rows behind the scenes in Downing Street as well as attempts by the chancellor’s supporters to force Mr

Blair out.

including Princess Margarita of Romania. But he remained a bachelor until the age of 49, when he married PR executive Sarah Macaulay in Scotland in August 2000. He described their relationship as “a modern love story”.

LOW — The death of his daughter:  The couple’s first child, Jennifer Jane, was born prematurely on December 28 2001 and died 10 days later after suffering a brain haemorrhage. Mr Brown has spoken of how he struggled to cope with the loss and could not listen to music for nearly a

year.

HIGH — The births of his two sons:  Mr and Mrs Brown went on to have two boys, John in 2003 and Fraser in 2006. Fraser was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis soon after he was born.

HIGH — Becoming prime minister:  Mr Brown finally replaced Mr Blair at No 10 Downing Street on June 27th 2007. After waiting for so many years, he wasted no time in appointing his own Cabinet and pledging to restore trust in politics.

HIGH — Early popularity as prime minister:  In his first months at No 10, Mr Brown was praised for his handling of crises including failed terrorist attacks, flooding, a foot and mouth disease outbreak and the run on Northern Rock. He also won respect for his “big tent” approach to politics, appearing to heal rifts within Labour and reaching out to members of other parties.

dropped the idea after the Tories received a poll boost by promising to cut inheritance tax. His decision led to him being branded a “ditherer” and meant Labour eventually faced a public vote when electoral conditions were far less favourable.

LOW: Leadership challenges:  As Mr Brown’s premiership became more unpopular, he faced growing unrest within his party — and eventually several unsuccessful coup attempts. But even the most credible challenges to his leadership — half-heartedly by foreign secretary David Miliband in July 2008, and seriously by resigning work and pensions secretary James Purnell in June 2009 — failed to trigger an all-out cabinet rebellion.

LOW — The global financial crisis:  The economic storm that ravaged financial institutions worldwide plunged the UK into recession and required a massive Government bailout of British banks. Mr Brown was widely praised for his response to the crisis, but fears about jobs, wages and public debt levels dented Labour’s popularity.

LOW — The “smeargate” scandal:  A close aide to Mr Brown, Damian McBride, resigned in disgrace in April 2009 after the revelation of an email plot to tarnish senior Tories’ reputations with false internet allegations. The affair revived concerns that British politics had become dominated by “spin” and dirty tricks.

LOW: Bullying allegations:  Claims that Mr Brown swore at and shoved around his Downing Street staff were aired in journalist Andrew Rawnsley’s book The End Of The Party , published in February this year. Ministers denied the allegations, and there was some evidence that Mr Brown’s poll ratings actually improved after they emerged.

LOW: Leadership debates in the 2010:  General election Mr Brown did not shine in the new televised leaders’ debates that formed the centrepiece of this year’s General Election campaign. Polls and pundits generally agreed that Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg won the first debate and drew the second with Tory leader David Cameron, with the final one going to Mr Cameron. Mr Brown was placed last in all of them.

LOW: The “bigotgate” scandal:  While campaigning for the election in Rochdale, Mr Brown was caught on microphone describing local pensioner Gillian Duffy as “bigoted” after she quizzed him about immigration. He made a personal visit to her home to apologise, but political opponents seized on the gaffe as evidence that he held voters in contempt.

LOW: Losing Labour’s majority:  In a dramatic election night, Labour lost 91 seats and the Conservatives gained 97 to become the largest party in the Commons, albeit 20 short of a majority. The result was better than some Labour members had feared, but it left Mr Brown in constitutional limbo as the Lib-Dems and Tories discussed power-sharing arrangements.

Read the article on Irish Times

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