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2 December 2014updated 24 Jul 2021 2:57am

Labour figures react to Gordon Brown’s decision to stand down

"Brilliant, but nightmarish."

By Anoosh Chakelian

Labour figures have been reacting to the news this week that Gordon Brown will be standing down next election.

Ed Miliband

The Labour leader’s statement came yesterday evening:

On behalf of the Labour Party I want to thank Gordon Brown for his outstanding 32-year parliamentary career.

He is a towering figure in British politics because, for a generation, he helped make the political weather and change our country.

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He played an enormous role in getting Labour elected in 1997 and sustaining the Party in government.

For 10 years as Chancellor of the Exchequer he was behind many of Labour’s proudest achievements including the Minimum Wage, Sure Start, the Child Tax Credit, paid paternity leave and sustained investment in health and education.

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As Prime Minister he led this country out of the biggest global financial crash for a generation and helped to prevent a second Great Depression.

Gordon has a proud record on global justice including the negotiation of debt cancellation for the world’s poorest nations.

More recently we saw him at his very best – passionate, inspiring and inspired, campaigning for Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom.

I wish Gordon, Sarah and their boys well. I know Gordon will continue to serve our party and our country in many different ways. I know he will continue to campaign for justice around the world.

Alastair Campbell

On the BBC’s Today programme this morning, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor gave his analysis of working with Brown. In spite of the notoriously fractious relationship between Blair and Brown, Campbell was rather complimentary, saying:

Gordon is without doubt one of the greatest political figures of our time . . . The Conservatives actually managed, while we were electing a new leader, to pin on this idea that Labour somehow created the crash. Gordon rescued the world economy rather than destroyed it.

He said Brown and Blair were “two real titans” and described their close relationship thus: “I don’t know who was Lennon and who was McCartney, but it was that sense of closeness.”

Campbell admitted that although “at his best, he was absolutely brilliant”, at “other times, he could be a nightmare to work with . . .  That was the downside.” He echoed what Blair has written in the past that, “he was brilliant, but he was also impossible”, and that he gave him the benefit of the doubt, “except when he could be totaly nightmarish – and then we all lost it.”

Referring to his temper and stubborn nature, Campbell reflected:

There is often this link between hyper-achievement and psychological issues.

Alison McGovern

The Labour MP for Wirral South, and Brown’s last parliamentary private secretary, wrote in the Guardian about his reaction when she was in labour:

My husband’s mobile rings. He answers the phone. “Hi Gordon, how are you? Yes, yes, Ally’s doing fine. We are all OK, still waiting.” The midwife couldn’t believe her ears. “That’s him? Does he ring all the MPs when they go into labour?”

Of all the people who might call to check on me, I never thought our country’s longest serving chancellor in the modern era would be the first. But as ever, Gordon’s concern for the personal welfare of people around him came to the fore, and his kindness bowled me over.

Yvette Cooper

The shadow home secretary reflects on what McGovern’s piece reminds her about Brown:

John Prescott

The former Deputy Prime Minister tweeted:

Ed Balls

The shadow chancellor, who worked as an adviser to Brown, tweeted:

Stewart Wood

Brown’s former special adviser, now one of Ed Miliband’s key strategists, tweeted:

Damian McBride

Brown’s former special adviser, whose infamous spinning in Downing Street led to a brutal briefing too far that meant he had to resign, tweeted:

Simon Danczuk

The Labour MP who was a candidate in Rochdale, where Brown made his “bigoted woman” gaffe, tweeted: