The Daily Politics is conducting a poll to find out who their viewers think is the best Prime Minister since World War II. They seem to have forgotten that Winston Churchill was Prime Minister from 1951-55 and have eliminated him from the poll! Astonishing. Paul Linford gave his views HEREand ranked them all. I feel duty bound to <>plagiarise follow him. Like Paul, my judgement is partly based on whether they left the country in a better state than they found it. Unlike Paul, I think more than two PMs achieved that. Indeed, I would submit that John Major did, although for a variety of other reasons I have ranked him below average. Let me point out immediately that I have judged Winston Churchill only on his 1951-55 period in office, before anyone starts screaming in the Comments!
1. Margaret Thatcher
Leading the BBC poll with 66%. Her conviction dragged the country out of the mire of strikes and malaise which afflicted it in 1979. She truly turned the country round and despite some of the painful episodes along the way, even her opponents now admit her remedies were necessary. Without her, Tony Blair may never have existed. Now there's a thought...
2. Clement Attlee
I disagree with a lot of what he did, but he changed the industrial and social face of the country. He was a PM who left an indelible stamp on the nation. The NHS was a truly great achievement. Our failure since then has been to adapt it to our age.
3. Harold Macmillan
Led the country through an unprecendented period of affluence and managed the transition from Empire in a quiet and calm way. His weakness was his failure to reform the economy and embed Butskellism.
4. Winston Churchill
Was PM for four years in the early 1950s but was ill for much of it, leaving the government rudderless. However, he set the course and let his Ministers get on with it and concentrated on international affairs. Obviously if this was a list of Greatest PMs of the century he would be Number 1. Without him, none of the post war PMs would have held office, hence his high ranking in this list.
5. Tony Blair
His greatest achievement has been to win three elections and make Labour electable. He has provided clear leadership on several issues, albeit flawed leadership. He will go down in history for Iraq and sleaze and deserves criticism for his failure to reform public services and grossly boosting public spending, but there are achievements to his name (if only I could remember what they are!).
6. Harold Wilson
Mired in industrial troubles and at the beck and call of powerful union leaders, Wilson's greatest achievements were to win four elections and stay out of the Vietnam war.
7. John Major
A weak Prime Minister bedevilled by internal party strife. Clung to office for six and a half years and embedded privatisation and competition in the economy, but his European policy was a failure. His 'put up or shut up' resignation in 1995 did little to quell the discontent.
8. Edward Heath
Will be remembered for taking Britain into the EEC but should be equally remembered for his disastrous economic and industrial policy.
9. James Callaghan
I have never quite understood those who rank Callaghan as a good PM. His period in office was distinguished by the worst industrial discord in our history, the Chancellor going cap in hand to the IMF and a weak foreign policy.
10. Alec Douglas Home
His lack of tenure makes it impossible to rank him more highly, but we should not forget he united the Conservative Party after Macmillan's departure and came within a whisker of winning the 1964 election.
11. Sir Antony Eden
Perhaps it is unfair, but Sir Anthony Eden will only be remembered for Suez. But this disastrous adventure affected Britain's standing in the world for 25 years.