Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The 'Ordinary' Gordon Brown

"I come from an ordinary family in an ordinary town..." - part of Gordon Brown's speech this morning when he finally announced the date of the General Election.

Gordon Brown was the son of John Ebenezer Brown, a Church of Scotland minister and Elizabeth Souter, a timber merchant's daughter.

According to some biographers he was encouraged to help local families made unemployed by local factory closures. Inspired by one of their father's sermons, along with his older brother John, he set up a tuck shop in the family's garage and started a newspaper, The Gazette, to raise money for refugees in Africa.

Now I have no problem with the 'good works' of the junior Gordon Brown, but I do have a problem with his statement of being from an ordinary family because it's untrue. He was as privileged as those he calls 'toffs'.

In Scotland he don't call anyone 'toffs' but of course Mr Brown wasn't talking to Scots, he was pleading with the tories in England.

I too came from an ordinary family in the east of Scotland but did we have a garage? In fact the only garage I can remember was the place 'rich' folks took their cars for petrol or repair. We didn't live in a house, we lived in a flat, along with at least 75% of the population of Dundee in these days. It wasn't until the 60s my father managed to buy a family home. Gordon Brown is of my generation and yet he talks about being from an 'ordinary' family.

Gordon Brown is desperate to play down his elite roots. Any Scot will admit the 'children of the manse' were to be slightly above the rest. They were part of always part of the 'elite' of Scottish society along with judges, councillors, what where considered as high profiled business people.

For Gordon Brown to profess he came from an 'ordinary' Scottish family in the 50s is a lie. One he wishes to pedal to those who don't know know about Scotland in the 50s and who believe his word. They can search on google and read the real history of Scotland in the 50s and find the Minister was certainly revered as part of the power in the community.

Time he stopped trying to claim he came from a working class background. He did not. To profess he did is appalling and an insult to those who did - and made good.


Sandy said...

He juat can't help telling porkies can he ?

subrosa said...

Too right Sandy. I don't know if he has a class problem, but it certainly seems like it when he makes such remarks.

Dramfineday said...

"read the real history of Scotland in the 50s and find the Minister was certainly revered as part of the power in the community".

How very and extremely correct!

And, am I also correct in saying the stipend and manse expenses are paid for by the pesants (sorry workers)?

Dubbieside said...


Not only were the children of the manse better off than us, they also had privileges that the plebs did not have.

Even if they were thick as mince they always passed every exam, and got every advantage in the education system.

Nearly every child of the manse went to university, again when at that time university education was something that doctors, lawyers, bank managers and ministers children did. If you came from a council estate, no matter how smart, you had no chance.

Ordinary family, my ****.

William said...

Was he not born in a PRIVATE nursing home in Glasgow? As a "son of the manse" he would live in a big hoose, but his parents wouldn't be responsible for repairs, and I bet he never went hungry either.
Aye just like all the bairns in Kirkcaldy...

subrosa said...

Indeed it was Dram. Ministers received their accommodation as part of their salary which was basic, but it was the believers who attended services regularly or those who contributed regularly who upped their income.

It's not so long ago an envelope was pushed through my door to ask me to give a regular donation to my local Church of Scotland.

subrosa said...

Dubbie, you put it far more succinctly than me.

Do hope others read this.

subrosa said...

He was born in Glasgow William but I can't ascertain if it was in a private nursing home.

Then again, I was born in Clement Park Nursing Home in Dundee and I think that was private to a degree - it was run by nuns I think.

His family weren't ordinary. That's my point.

Anonymous said...

Break any stick of seaside rock in two and it'll have a name running right through it.

Cut any piece off of Brown and it'll have "Born A Congenital Liar" running through it.

Anonymous said...

Good post SR.

It's disingenuous of him to suppose that everyone lived in a big house and had the privileges he did. That being the local minister's son was "ordinary".

Maybe of course that's where he's got it all wrong. He's maybe never seen a council house or an estate, or seen the bloody misery that some people live in.

Maybe he thinks that what he had was the bottom of the barrel.

Ordinary family .... ****

Mrs Rigby said...

Wikipedia says he was the Orchard Maternity Nursing Home in Giffnock, Renfrewshire. Information from his birth certificate. Look it up, it's a posh hotel now.

There's more info in this old article from the Mail
I didn't use that article when I compared his background with that of Cameron.

He was born in 1951, is older than me. He is the worst sort of inverted snob, who hasn't a clue how other people lived, and hasn't bothered to find out. Not many people of his generation went to university - they went to work, to earn money, to eat.

Only the relatively wealthy could afford for their children to stay at school to take their O-levels (Scottish Standard Grade?).

In the fifties ordinary people were still recovering from the war. Jobs were so scarce that if you got one you kept it, even if you didn't like it. At least that's what Mr R senior had to do.

The clergy, of whatever church, were thought of as rich 'in those days'. Their children went to the best schools, not always local, and always had new clothes too, and didn't ever have chipped or broken fingernails.

Ruth said...

Is the manse he lived in as a boy still there? If so, would it be possible to get a photo of it & put it on your blog just to prove your point further?
You know how it is with Gordon, 'Born to Lie'

Conan the Librarian™ said...

He was so middle class he MUST have been in the SWP...

subrosa said...

Aye I knew that bit Mrs R, I was thinking one of my Glasgow area readers would tell me if it was a private home or not. The one I was born in, as I said before, was private but used by all doctors for maternity emergencies.

He came from what we would call wealth in those days. In fact he lived only about 30 minutes drive from where I was brought up and Dundee had its fair share of poverty too, although the jute mills gave employment to the women and they kept the households going.

I don't know of any of my peers in the 50s who went to university and I went to perhaps the best school in Dundee at the time. A few of the girls went to teacher training college on bursaries but the boys went to work and did their further education at night classes. Some went to classes 4 nights a week and had to pay for it themselves (although they were subsidised of course).

We don't have the English style of exams here Mrs R. In those days we had Lowers and Highers. The lowers were replaced by Standard Grades in the 60s but the Highers are still going strong, although not for long by the sound of it.

Many of my peers achieved Highers but those whose families just couldn't afford to allow their children to stay on to sit them, insisted their children went straight to work. I think, in those days, most children had at least Lowers.

Yes we all had to work, whether we liked the job or not. Usually parents dictated what you did.

subrosa said...

The manse will very probably still be there Ruth but it's possibly been sold off now. The Church of Scotland sold a lot of them off in the 70s and 80s because they were great rambling houses which cost a lot to heat.

Someone possibly has modernised it. Maybe someone will know which house it is. It'll possibly be next to the church anyway, but I'm not going to Kirkcaldy to find out. :)

subrosa said...

Oh Conan ...

Key bored warrior. said...

The man is a bampot and a liar. He would piss on the working class if he could. The clergy were no more ordinary than he is now. It was the clergy who looking to their own survival, urged my ancestors to depart from their homes in Kildonan, to make way for the sheep, as it "was the will of God," they turned a blind eye to ethnic cleansing to save their own skins. Had they not left they would have been beaten senseless and their homes burned around them and many were.
Some wise person once said, "when the last minister in Scotland is beaten to death by the last copy of The Sunday Post, then Scotland will be free."
Having said that the SP did have a rather good poll from their jury last week for independence.
Brown would claim to having shagged Tony Blair if it got him re elected. Apparently he did, Prescott knows.

Surreptitious Evil said...

"Dundee had its fair share of poverty too"

Still did when I was there and almost certainly still does - the Scottish Episcopal Church's only mission church in Scotland, IIRC, was St Ninians, just off the Kingsway, serving the gloriously misnamed area of "Happyhillock". Bits of Douglas were (and still are) fairly bad and Whitfield was as dire as any other 69's pre-fab.

"I went to perhaps the best school in Dundee at the time."

And I suspect you would have been cute in the blue and white check summer dress! (But you didn't mean the High, did you :) Interestingly, there was a special fund for bursaries for Ministers' children.

Surreptitious Evil said...

That should have been 1960s pre-fab, of course.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, the official transcription of Brown's speech has removed this comment.


subrosa said...

Great points KBW. I remember that saying about the Sunday Post.

Will be interesting, if not nauseating, to watch how he behaves in the next few weeks KBW.

subrosa said...

No SE, I didn't mean the High. It was totally fee-paying and still is. I won a bursary to Morgan primary and then went onto secondary. Bursaries for the primary were offered to every primary school child who came in the top 3 in primary 1. Some took them up, others didn't. Mainly because they had to pay for uniforms, books, jotters, pencils etc and families didn't have the money.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that titus. Much appreciated.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

My only interest in politics is in the standards of its democratic process and in Scotland gaining its independence.

The venality of Westminster should by now be well known to all who have an atom of discernment and individuality left in their make up.

Westminster, whatever the ratio of its constituent parts has proven itself incapable of preventing disaster, of crises management or of minimising the effects on the people whose welfare and well being it supposedly serves.

Westminster has reduced democracy to a farce, acted by clowns, cowed by their corporate ringmasters.

Hobson wouldn't have given his name to such a meagre level of choice.

subrosa said...

The standards are shocking at present RA but then they've been slipping slowly for years.

Some have wakened to the fact but isn't it too late to change?

Excellent description of Westminster - a circus right enough.

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