It is no exaggeration to say that former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s statement that he would resign as leader of the Labour Party has shocked Great Britain.

This is in spite of the fact that some such announcement was on the cards at some point. Brown knew himself to be a divisive figure and that his party would not easily forgive him for leading them to defeat in the recent elections.

But it represents the final dissolution of the force that took Labour to three election victories and kept it in power for 13 years, and it is the end of an era remarkable for the scale both of its successes and its failures.

The contributors to the front page of The Baptist Times have indicated their hopes and prayers for the coming weeks and months as we cope with a hung Parliament and a global economy where crisis succeeds crisis. Whatever their politics, readers will wish to add their own prayers for Brown and his family.

Like everyone else, Brown has faults. But it is impossible for the great majority of us, who know him only through what we read in the newspapers, which are so finely filtered through the mesh of party loyalties, political opportunism and downright rancor, to judge the nature or the scale of those faults. They were only our business insofar as they affected his conduct of the affairs of state. Now they do not.

He also has many virtues, and these will perhaps shine more brightly now that he is laying down his office.

Only the most fanatical political warrior would deny that Brown has sought to serve his country with all of his considerable capacity. As well as our prayers for his peace and well-being, we will pray too that his abilities and energies will find other outlets, and that his skills may still be used for the greater good.

In the meantime, the announcement has thrown political commentators into a fever of speculation as to how it will affect negotiations to form the next government. The insights and prayer requests of our contributors are more relevant than ever.

Mark Woods is editor of The Baptist Times.

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