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George Brown

British politician

Died when: 70 years 273 days (849 months)
Star Sign: Virgo

 

George Brown

George Alfred Brown, Baron George-Brown, (2 September 1914 – 2 June 1985) was a British Labour Party politician who served as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1960 to 1970 and held several Cabinet roles under Prime Minister Harold Wilson, including Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and First Secretary of State.

After leaving school at the age of 15, Brown began work as a clerk, before joining the Transport and General Workers Union.

He rose quickly through the union ranks as an organiser, and shortly before the 1945 election he was chosen as the Labour Party candidate for the seat of Belper.

He defeated the Conservative incumbent and went on to hold the seat until his own defeat at the 1970 election.He briefly served in the Attlee government as Minister of Works in 1951.

After Labour lost office he was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet, and came to be regarded as a leader of the trade-union-supporting faction on the right of the Labour Party.

After the sudden death of Aneurin Bevan in 1960, Brown was successful in the election to replace him as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

Three years later, following the sudden death of Hugh Gaitskell, Brown became Acting Leader of the Labour Party, and consequently was briefly Leader of the Opposition.

He stood in the election to gain the role permanently, but was beaten by Harold Wilson; one factor in his defeat was concern from colleagues about the impact of his well-known alcoholism, an affliction that remained with him through his life.

After Labour's victory at the 1964 election, Wilson appointed Brown as First Secretary of State, making him the next-most senior member of the Cabinet, and appointed him to the new position of Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to curtail the power of HM Treasury.

Two months after Labour's landslide victory at the snap 1966 election, Wilson moved Brown to the role of Foreign Secretary, a job he had always coveted.

Despite this, Brown continued to struggle with his alcoholism, and after several arguments with Wilson in 1968, the two agreed that Brown would resign.

Brown lost his seat of Belper in 1970, and shortly thereafter was elevated to the House of Lords; he insisted, having always been known simply as "George Brown" and, that upon taking his peerage in November 1970, he would combine his first name and surname to create his title, Baron George-Brown, of Jevington in the County of Sussex.


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