Best Prime Minister of modern times?

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tomorton

Well-known member
Feb 28, 2002
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#1
Who was the last competent PM (or Minister even) we've had in the UK?

I actually found some survey results on Wiki on this -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_Prime_Ministers_of_the_United_Kingdom

The most recent survey was October 2016, involving 82 academics specialising in post-1945 British history and politics. Seems they had to all the 20th-century British PM's in terms of their success and the key characteristics of successful PMs.

They put Attlee at the top. Well, OK, he headed the implementation of the NHS. But then there's Thatcher, then Blair! While even the useless Gordon Brown gets in ahead of Cameron!

1 Clement Attlee 1945–1951 Labour
2 Margaret Thatcher 1979–1990 Conservative
3 Tony Blair 1997–2007 Labour
4 Harold Macmillan 1957–1963 Conservative
5 Harold Wilson 1964–1970, 1974–1976 Labour
6 John Major 1990–1997 Conservative
7 Sir Winston Churchill (1940–1945), 1951–1955 Conservative
8 James Callaghan 1976–1979 Labour
9 Edward Heath 1970–1974 Conservative
10 Gordon Brown 2007–2010 Labour
11 David Cameron 2010–2016 Conservative
12 Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1963–1964 Conservative
13 Sir Anthony Eden 1955–1957 Conservative

What a bunch!
 

Pat494

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Mar 27, 2004
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#2
You are of course judging them by your own values and probably by modern values. In his day Macmillan and others were well thought of but wouldn't get elected by todays voters. The pendulums of left v. right etc will swing back and forth though. Macron was elected when enough of the French people were tired of the same ole parties. Might happen here. Perhaps it did a bit with UKIP and Farage.

Of course with script writers employed to write their speeches it even sounds more glib and artificial today.

No qualifications are needed to try the political ladder.............
 

Pat494

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Mar 27, 2004
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#3
Don't want to hijack your thread Tom but a thought just occurred to me.

Admittedly the home grown politicians are not really as good as they could be......So.. why not employ the right people from abroad ? The Royal family have done this in the past. They have the advantage of no home baggage to contend with.
 

sminicooper

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Jun 13, 2016
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#4
Who was the last competent PM (or Minister even) we've had in the UK?

I actually found some survey results on Wiki on this -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_Prime_Ministers_of_the_United_Kingdom

The most recent survey was October 2016, involving 82 academics specialising in post-1945 British history and politics. Seems they had to all the 20th-century British PM's in terms of their success and the key characteristics of successful PMs.

They put Attlee at the top. Well, OK, he headed the implementation of the NHS. But then there's Thatcher, then Blair! While even the useless Gordon Brown gets in ahead of Cameron!
/QUOTE]
I wouldn't actually set too much store by the votes of 82 political/historian academics! The reason being that most of them are lefties and have a very slanted view of history. They are the equivalent of the Education "Blob" and you continually need to fight against them if you are to retain your sanity.

Also, if we are to encompass the 20th century then we should also include the following (in which there are some great PMs)
Robert Cecil (1895–1902; 3rd time)
Arthur James Balfour (1902–05)
Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1905–08)
H.H. Asquith (1908–16)
David Lloyd George (1916–22)
Bonar Law (1922–23)
Stanley Baldwin (1923–24; 1st time)
Ramsay Macdonald (1924; 1st time)
Stanley Baldwin (1924–29; 2nd time)
Ramsay Macdonald (1929–35; 2nd time)
Stanley Baldwin (1935–37; 3rd time)
Neville Chamberlain (1937–40)
Winston Churchill (1940–45; 1st time)

Having said all that, it still remains to define "great" and I wouldn't mind betting that everybody has a different idea on this. Nevertheless, this thread has great potential and I see it as a therapeutic change from looking at charts!

A further thought occurs to me: what about the great Prime Ministers that never were – RA Butler and John Smith for instance? Perhaps we'd better not go there since it would be hypothesis.
 
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dbphoenix

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Aug 24, 2003
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#5
I wouldn't actually set too much store by the votes of 82 political/historian academics! The reason being that most of them are lefties and have a very slanted view of history. They are the equivalent of the Education "Blob" and you continually need to fight against them if you are to retain your sanity.
Not an auspicious beginning for a thread like this. "Righties" have a very slanted view of history as well and must also be fought against (and would be far more likely to place Thatcher so high in the ranking).
 
Aug 21, 2004
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Manchester
#6
Who was the last competent PM (or Minister even) we've had in the UK?

I actually found some survey results on Wiki on this -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_Prime_Ministers_of_the_United_Kingdom

The most recent survey was October 2016, involving 82 academics specialising in post-1945 British history and politics. Seems they had to all the 20th-century British PM's in terms of their success and the key characteristics of successful PMs.

They put Attlee at the top. Well, OK, he headed the implementation of the NHS. But then there's Thatcher, then Blair! While even the useless Gordon Brown gets in ahead of Cameron!

1 Clement Attlee 1945–1951 Labour
2 Margaret Thatcher 1979–1990 Conservative
3 Tony Blair 1997–2007 Labour
4 Harold Macmillan 1957–1963 Conservative
5 Harold Wilson 1964–1970, 1974–1976 Labour
6 John Major 1990–1997 Conservative
7 Sir Winston Churchill (1940–1945), 1951–1955 Conservative
8 James Callaghan 1976–1979 Labour
9 Edward Heath 1970–1974 Conservative
10 Gordon Brown 2007–2010 Labour
11 David Cameron 2010–2016 Conservative
12 Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1963–1964 Conservative
13 Sir Anthony Eden 1955–1957 Conservative

What a bunch!
Strange reference.

Some Sir's have been omitted and another was a Baroness.
 

sminicooper

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2016
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#9
Not an auspicious beginning for a thread like this. "Righties" have a very slanted view of history as well and must also be fought against (and would be far more likely to place Thatcher so high in the ranking).
Fair point! But it always worries me that in academia the Lefties usually outweigh the Righties. Maybe that's because the best brainpower inclines to the left or is it just that they can't get on in real society and academia is their only refuge?
 

dbphoenix

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Aug 24, 2003
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#10
Fair point! But it always worries me that in academia the Lefties usually outweigh the Righties. Maybe that's because the best brainpower inclines to the left or is it just that they can't get on in real society and academia is their only refuge?
Not unlike the conservative's only refuge of elected office, as opposed to getting a real job.

Perhaps it's time to ask the OP if this is what he wants the thread to become.
 
Aug 21, 2004
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#11
Fair point! But it always worries me that in academia the Lefties usually outweigh the Righties. Maybe that's because the best brainpower inclines to the left or is it just that they can't get on in real society and academia is their only refuge?
The bigger worry is their influence on the next generation. Takes years to undo indoctrination.
Corbyn, failed A level student, a lost cause and now filling youngsters heads with complete tosh.
 
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barjon

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May 6, 2003
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#13
The bigger worry is their influence on the next generation. Takes years to undo indoctrination.
Corbyn, failed A level student, a lost cause and now filling youngsters heads with complete tosh.
Aye, he’s got all the momentum and the tories have given him a clear field to play on.
 

tomorton

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Feb 28, 2002
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#14
Don't want to hijack your thread Tom but a thought just occurred to me.

Admittedly the home grown politicians are not really as good as they could be......So.. why not employ the right people from abroad ? The Royal family have done this in the past. They have the advantage of no home baggage to contend with.

Its an irony that it seems the people most keen to become national leaders are usually the people least deserving of the job. By the law of averages, some individuals who wouldn't have campaigned for a post will actually do alright once they're in it.
 
Aug 21, 2004
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#15
Aye, he’s got all the momentum and the tories have given him a clear field to play on.
New politics at play. Not split along traditional party lines. Anything could happen !
Actually, it's more than just politics. We are in revolution territory, the evidence is clearly visible.

Brexit
Trump
Catalonia
 
Last edited:

tomorton

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Feb 28, 2002
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#16
Not an auspicious beginning for a thread like this. "Righties" have a very slanted view of history as well and must also be fought against (and would be far more likely to place Thatcher so high in the ranking).

Nobody is unbiased in a debate like this but I hope (maybe without reason) that academics from these disciplines would keep their personal subjective judgements aside even for a "fun" poll like this one.