Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Brown, George (1914–1985)

British Labour Party politician and foreign secretary. Born into a working-class family in London on 2 September 1914, George Brown was attracted early to the Labour Party and trade union activities. He became a union official in 1936 and was elected to Parliament in 1945. He served a brief stint as minister of works in Prime Minister Clement Attlee's government in 1951. With Labour out of power from 1951 to 1964, Brown was on the Right in the bitter Left-Right Labour Party conflict of the 1950s. He went on to serve as deputy leader of the party under Hugh Gaitskell and was influential in helping Gaitskell steer Labour away from its policy of unilateral abandonment of nuclear weapons.

In 1963 Brown sought the head position of the party but lost to Harold Wilson. When Labour returned to power in October 1964, Brown was appointed secretary of state for economic affairs before moving on to become foreign secretary in August 1966, a post he held for only nineteen months. As foreign secretary, Brown strongly favored British membership in the Common Market (European Union), which was ultimately blocked by French President Charles de Gaulle in 1967. Brown also played an important role in the drafting of a 1967 United Nations Resolution calling for peace in the Middle East. But his erratic, abrasive, and choleric personality, often amplified by drink, did not serve him well as foreign secretary. Few were surprised when he impulsively resigned in March 1968. In 1970 he took a seat in the House of Lords. He resigned from the Labour Party in 1976 and entered private business. He died in Truro, Cornwall, in southern England on 2 June 1985.

Paul Wingrove


Further Reading
Morgan, Kenneth. Callaghan: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.; Paterson, Peter. Tired and Emotional: The Life of Lord George Brown. London: Chatto and Windus, 1993.; Shaw, E. The Labour Party since 1945. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.
 

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