Goodbye Gordon Brown

It’s official. Gordon Brown has stepped down as prime minister of Great Britain. Never having been elected and serving only three unpopular years as prime minister after many more in waiting, Brown won’t be remembered as one of Britain’s great leaders, and that’s probably deserved. All the same, the outgoing prime minister has a good ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

It's official. Gordon Brown has stepped down as prime minister of Great Britain.

Never having been elected and serving only three unpopular years as prime minister after many more in waiting, Brown won't be remembered as one of Britain's great leaders, and that's probably deserved. All the same, the outgoing prime minister has a good case to claim that he's been a victim of historical circumstance. On the main factor that propelled David Cameron into 10 Downing Street, the global financial crisis, even Brown's opponents admit he has "mostly made the right decisions."

But after 13 years under what should probably no longer be called "New Labour," British voters are hungry for a change. I was reminded today of a professor I had in college who once confidently told his class that under Tony Blair, Labour had likely created a "permanent majority" along the lines of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party. Even at the time, the statement seemed a bit overconfident. But today, when neither of those parties are in power, it's a reminder that the only constant in politics is change.

It’s official. Gordon Brown has stepped down as prime minister of Great Britain.

Never having been elected and serving only three unpopular years as prime minister after many more in waiting, Brown won’t be remembered as one of Britain’s great leaders, and that’s probably deserved. All the same, the outgoing prime minister has a good case to claim that he’s been a victim of historical circumstance. On the main factor that propelled David Cameron into 10 Downing Street, the global financial crisis, even Brown’s opponents admit he has "mostly made the right decisions."

But after 13 years under what should probably no longer be called "New Labour," British voters are hungry for a change. I was reminded today of a professor I had in college who once confidently told his class that under Tony Blair, Labour had likely created a "permanent majority" along the lines of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party. Even at the time, the statement seemed a bit overconfident. But today, when neither of those parties are in power, it’s a reminder that the only constant in politics is change.

David Cameron faces a full in-tray right off the bat, particularly in the realm of foreign policy, which never really played much of a role in the election. Alistair Burnett’s recent piece for FP is a great primer on the tough decisions that the new prime minister will face.   

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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