Election fever

A 1974 edition of Open House, the Open University’s staff magazine, discussed the prospects of 12 members of OU staff standing for election at the forthcoming general election.

Two were successful. Professor Gerry Fowler became Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills and Geoff Edge became MP for Aldridge-Brownhills.

Of course these were only the first of many OU staff members to seek public office, most famously the current Prime Minister Gordon Brown is a former tutor.

One Response to “Election fever”

  1. Dan Weinbren Says:

    Gordon Brown’s PhD, ‘The Labour Party and Political Change in Scotland 1918-29’ (1982) was the basis for his account of the Scottish socialist, James Maxton (‘Maxton: A Biography’, Mainstream Publishing Co., 1986). He can be seen talking about the history of Scotland with the OU Emeritus Professor of History Ian Donnachie at http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/history/donnachie.shtml

    Although part of a government which decided to reduce funding to the OU through its ELQ policy (http://www3.open.ac.uk/media/fullstory.aspx?id=12416) Brown has been supportive. At the Downing Street ceremony which marked the 40th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to the OU, Gordon Brown said: “The success of distance learning, pioneered 40 years ago by The Open University, has been nothing short of a revolution for higher education. It has opened the doors to a whole new audience of students who have not only seen academic success but reaped the wider rewards learning brings. An approach to higher education which emphasises accessibility and flexibility has put the UK at the forefront of eLearning and to build on this achievement with a new £20 million fund to support centres of excellence for online learning. I am also supporting the Open University with additional funding to further its role as a national leader, working with other institutions, to develop distance learning.”

    Apart from visiting the Walton Hall campus, there is a further connection between Brown and the OU. The critique, ‘Broonland: the Last Days of Gordon Brown’, Verso, 2010, is by Christopher Harvie, a former historian at the OU.

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