UK Politics

What's Gordon Brown been doing since 2010?

Gordon Brown

There was a time when Gordon Brown was everywhere, but since stepping down as prime minister in 2010 he has been little heard of in the UK media. As he returns to the spotlight with a speech on Scotland, here's a guide to what he's been up to.


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Image caption Gordon Brown wrote a book straight after leaving office - and he has another on the way

Political books can be hot property in the publishing world, with all that juicy gossip about power struggles and personal peccadilloes.

As soon as he left office, Mr Brown got to work on his own book, but a potboiler it was not.

Beyond the Crash was out in time for the 2010 Christmas market, but it focused - as the title might suggest - on the near-disaster that hit the world economy in 2008 and his own role in preventing it getting any worse.

The book took Mr Brown three months to write, leading critics to suggest he might be neglecting his day job.


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Image caption He paid tribute to Nelson Mandela in the Commons last year

Unlike US presidents, UK prime ministers cannot simply fade away from active politics to pursue pet projects such as libraries and foundations.

Well, most, anyway. Tony Blair was able to leave Parliament with applause ringing in his ears in 2007, as he also relinquished his seat to become a Middle East peace envoy.

Mr Brown, still smarting from his party's loss at the 2010 general election, decided not to follow his long-time friend/rival.

So, he still represents his constituents in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, although he hasn't popped up in the House of Commons chamber too often.

Since the 2010 general election, Mr Brown has spoken nine times - including once on the phone-hacking affair and once more to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela.

He described himself as an "ex-politician" during an an education summit in Qatar last year.

The Public Whip website shows he has voted in 13.2% of divisions since May 2010. But this percentage is actually higher than in the 2005-10 Parliament, when it was 12.7%.

Critics might argue that, without the burden of high office, Mr Brown has more time to spend on his less glamorous duties. But does he?


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Image caption Ban Ki-moon gave Mr Brown a role at the United Nations

If Mr Brown has been criticised for anything since 2010, it is for not appearing in Parliament often enough, certainly not for idleness.

His name was linked to the role of managing director of the International Monetary Fund after Dominique Strauss-Kahn stood down in 2011 over a personal scandal. However, Strauss-Kahn's fellow French politician, Christine Lagarde, got the job.

In 2010 Mr Brown became the inaugural "distinguished leader in residence" at New York University.

During the same year, he joined the board of directors at the World Wide Web Foundation, with a focus on how technology can improve prosperity in African nations.

In April the following year he was appointed as an unpaid adviser to the World Economic Forum.

And in July 2012 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named Mr Brown as a special envoy on global education. Again, this is unpaid.

He has completed a research project on globalisation and education at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Also, he is a chancellor once more, but this time of Adam Smith College in Kirkcaldy.

Oh, and there's another book on the way, called 2025: Shaping a New Future, not to mention lectures around the world.


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Image caption The former PM has spoken on constitutional issues

The future of the UK has always been a strong interest for Mr Brown and it is one he has maintained since leaving power.

The latest speech, his biggest set-piece event post-Downing Street, calls for a "radical" transfer of powers from London and Holyrood down to communities.

But it's not his first foray into the subject. In January, he recommended the "pooling and sharing of resources for social justice" around the UK. He spoke on the subject last year too.

He says he wants to steer a course between "separation" and "change" for Scotland.

And what about Sarah Brown?

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Image caption Mr Brown and wife Sarah set up an office together

Unlike some politicians, Mr Brown and his wife Sarah were wary of using their children for photo-opportunities.

However, one of the most poignant images of his leaving office was walking the family down Downing Street before getting into a car and heading off for a new life, with the Browns relocating from London to Kirkcaldy.

The couple set up a joint Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown. Mrs Brown became executive chair of Global Business Coalition for Education and co-founded A World At School, a global education charity.

For good measure, she followed her husband into print, writing Behind the Black Door, a memoir of her time at Number 10.

She also tweets.

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