Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown
MP for Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath
Write to me at:
Gordon Brown MP, Carlyle House, Carlyle Road, Kirkcaldy, KY1 1DB

Phone me on:
01592 263 792

About Gordon Brown

Born in Scotland in 1951, Gordon Brown is the second of three sons. He grew up in the town of Kirkcaldy, an industrial centre famed for its linoleum and mining industries, during a time of rising unemployment and desperate poverty.  

Gordon Brown’s parents, John and Elizabeth, were influential figures in his life. His father was a Minister of the Church and played a central part in town life. Mr Brown remembers his father more for his interest in helping people than for his theological zeal. He often helped those in desperate circumstances who saw the minister’s house as their only refuge for help.

Mr Brown recalls his father quoting the words of Martin Luther King: “everyone can be great because everyone can serve”.  He has described his parents as “my inspiration, and the reason I am in politics”.  

Like many other boys in Scotland, football was Mr Brown’s passion. A keen Raith Rovers supporter from childhood, he earned pocket money by selling programmes for the team. He also produced a newspaper with his brothers, which they sold for charity.  

Mr Brown married his wife Sarah at their home in North Queensferry on 3 August 2000.  They have two sons, John and Fraser.

Mrs Brown is the president of the children’s charity PiggyBankKids, which supports the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory, a project set up in memory of their daughter. 

Education and early career 

Mr Brown did well at school from an early age. At the age of ten, he joined Kirkcaldy High School, where he excelled at sport and joined in every aspect of school life, quickly becoming popular, and taking an early interest in local political campaigns.  

He took his exams a year ahead of his contemporaries - his ‘O’ Levels at 14, his Highers at 15. When he came top of a bursary competition, he went on to university at age 15 - one of the youngest students to go to Edinburgh University since the war.

Mr Brown enjoyed student politics and the debates in the student newspaper, which he edited in a prize-winning year. He also continued with his passion for sport. 

Just before he went to university, Mr Brown injured his eye playing for his school team at rugby which eventually resulted in detached retinas in both eyes. He spent much of his early years at university in hospital or recuperating.  

Having gained a First Class honours degree and a number of prizes for his studies, Mr Brown became the youngest ever Rector of Edinburgh University in 1972.  

In his working life, Mr Brown spent time as a university and college lecturer and also wrote a number of books. His book on James Maxton is about the early Labour MPs and their struggles. ‘Values, Visions and Voices’ is a study of the idealism and zeal of Labour’s early thinkers. And ‘The Real Divide’, written with Robin Cook, is a study of poverty and inequality. More recently, a collection of his speeches has been published as ‘Moving Britain Forward’.

After unsuccessfully fighting Michael Ancram for the Conservative seat of Edinburgh South in 1979, Mr Brown became MP for Dunfermline East in 1983 with a majority of 11,000. 

Into Parliament

In 1983, as MP for Dunfermline East and Chair of the Labour Party’s Scottish Council, Mr Brown shared his first office in the House of Commons with Tony Blair and the two became friends.  

Mr Brown’s maiden speech was on the growing problem of unemployment, of which he said:

“The chance of a labourer getting a job in my constituency is 150 to 1 against. There is only one vacancy in my local career office for nearly 500 teenagers who have recently left school.”

Identified early on by Neil Kinnock as a rising talent, Mr Brown became Shadow Spokesman for Trade and Industry, working with John Smith, and the two formed a close working relationship. When John Smith became leader, he appointed Gordon Brown to be Shadow Chancellor. 

After John Smith’s sudden death, Mr Brown continued to be Shadow Chancellor and backed Tony Blair for the leadership of the Labour Party. Working together they won a landslide majority in 1997.

Chancellor of the Exchequer

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown presided over the longest ever period of growth. He also made the Bank of England independent and delivered an agreement at the Gleneagles Summit in 2005 to support the world’s poorest countries and tackle climate change. 

Mr Brown sums his own beliefs up as:

“Every child should have the best start in life, that everybody should have the chance of a job, that nobody should be brought up suffering in poverty. I would call them the beliefs that you associate with civilisation and dignity.”