Gordon Brown defied Enoch Powell’s law that 'all political careers end in failure' – but election defeat will haunt him


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“I am too old to be the comeback kid and too young to be an elder statesman,” Gordon Brown said after halting the Scottish National Party bandwagon during the referendum on Scottish independence in September.

His powerful last-minute intervention led some Labour figures to hope that Mr Brown might become leader of Scottish Labour and lead a much-needed fightback against a resurgent SNP at next May’s general election. But it was not to be. Tonight Mr Brown, 63, confirmed Westminster’s worst-kept secret by announcing he will leave Parliament. By helping to save the Union, he managed to defy Enoch Powell’s law that “all political careers end in failure”.

Yet Mr Brown will be haunted by the perception that his three years as prime minister from 2007-10 were a failure. His nightmare scenario of leading Labour to defeat after a long wait for Tony Blair to give up the top job, came true. “It’s my turn now,” he repeatedly told Mr Blair. Surprisingly, his agenda for government was remarkably thin when he finally  landed the prize.


His nadir came during the 2010 election campaign, when he was recorded referring to Gillian Duffy, a voter he had just spoken to in Rochdale about immigration, as a "bigoted woman".

Mr Brown takes full responsibility for Labour’s 2010 defeat, its second worst election result since 1918. But friends say he feels that he got little or no credit for his achievements – notably, preventing the banking crisis turning into a global economic slump and keeping Britain out of the euro. He hopes history will be kinder to him. “History will have its say,” he said last night.