Monday, Apr. 18, 2005

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown has an assured place in British history. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, he gave the Bank of England its independence and has presided over consistently strong economic growth. But for many, it's his commitment to Africa that matters most. He and Prime Minister Tony Blair created the Commission for Africa, and they are pushing G-8 leaders to adopt its recommendations at this year's summit. The pair's efforts give hope to the continent and could even keep millions alive.

Brown, 54, isn't one for small talk. There is a story—maybe apocryphal, but it rings true—that on his recent trip to Africa, he asked a food seller in a burned-out, desolate township if she had trouble accessing micro-credit! But in Africa, Brown and Blair have rediscovered the wellspring of their commitment to politics, and when they speak of Africa, their rhetoric rises. Brown's speech in Cape Town—"One moral universe where progress is ... all of us advancing together"—was brilliant. Brown is high-minded and earnest but not the brooding character of press lore. Many find him warm, with a sudden unexpected laugh and bone-dry wit. He is also patient: Brown seems ready to wait a while longer for the moment when many believe he will succeed Blair as Prime Minister.

Geldof, a musician, inspired Live Aid and the Commission for Africa

From the Archive
Just Like Bill?: No, but like Clinton, Britain's Tony Blair has found success in the political center