Arthur Brown (April 30, 1918 - December 23, 1985) was an English Social Democrat politician who served as Prime Minister of England from 1969 to 1976, and Leader of the Social Democratic Party from 1964 to 1976.
First elected to Parliament in 1945, he served as a junior minister in the Holt government before the SDP went into opposition in 1951. Brown aligned himself with the left wing of the Social Democrats during this period, before shifting to become one of the "modernisers". Brown was elected leader of the SDP in 1964, making significant gains at the 1966 general election, before finally defeating the National Party at the 1969 general election ending 18 years of conservative government.
Brown's period as Prime Minister saw a significant expansion of the English welfare state. Corporation and capital gains tax were introduced, as well as the Wealth Tax. The Brown government also instituted major social reforms, including the legalisation of abortion, homosexuality and the race discrimination act.
However, the latter part of the Brown government was dominated by industrial unrest. The 1975 election resulted in the government being returned with a majority of just four seats, and following by-election losses the government's majority disappeared. Brown resigned in February 1976 in order to help facilitate a confidence and supply agreement between the Social Democrats and the Liberal Party.
Brown spent the rest of his political career on the backbenches. He was an opponent of the rightward shift of the party under James Newton, and was a strong opponent of the Sheffield Declaration.
Arthur Brown was born on February 15, 1916.
Early Political Career
Brown was elected to Parliament in the Social Democrat landslide of 1945.
Leader of the Opposition
First Term 1969-1972
In his first term Brown introduced a wave of social reforms.
1972 general election
Second Term 1972-1975
The oil shock of 1974 had major economic impacts on the English economy, inflation skyrocketed and unemployment began to rise.
Third Term 1975-1976
Brown was one of the leaders of the opposition to James Newton's attempts to shift the party toward the right, rejecting state ownership in favour of a social market economy. He vigorously opposed the passing of the Sheffield Declaration in 1981, and briefly considered resigning from the SDP in protest.
He abstained or voted against many key measures introduced by the Newton government, including financial deregulation.