Gordon Brown is a giant among politicians for what he did for global justice. That is what I told him in the public setting of the closing conference of the five year Jubilee 2000 campaign on December 2nd 2000.
It was the day my father died, hearing the news as I wandered out into Trafalgar Square, so the details are frozen like crystal in my mind.
Gordon Brown was the first minister to enter the Treasury steeped in the writing and critique of the radical economist Susan George – author of tracts on poverty and debt. With his team, he picked up the contact with the campaign I and others had started on the debts of the poorest countries, who were paying more in servicing their external debts than on the health and education of their children. We brought together 70,000 people onto the streets of Birmingham to form a human chain around the G7 leaders, while in the corridors of power, Gordon Brown, paired usually with his ex-City adviser Shriti Vadera, corralled the G7 Finance Ministers into action on debt cancellation.
The campaign, which I chaired, and involved many colleagues, not least Ann Pettifor and Adrian Lovett, became Drop the Debt and then led onto the Make Poverty History coalition – all of which Gordon Brown did much to back.
As a result of what he helped to do in cancelling the debt for the poorest countries, twice as many children in countries like Tanzania now go to primary school.
At that closing event, Brown gave an impassioned speech about poverty. He dealt with many issues over the years, including macro-economic policy, enterprise, venture capital, tax credits, financial regulation and more – often enough in ways that I would personally find myself in disagreement with – but you could feel that with social justice and social mobilisation, this was where his heart was.
When people do the right thing, they deserve the credit. From the day my father died, I have always thought ‘good for you, Gordon Brown.’