Ranking British Prime Ministers

BY: MICHAEL P. RICCARDS

We frequently rank American presidents, but we forget that the British also rank their prime ministers, at least the modern ones. We can expect heavy emphasis to be placed on the achievement of war leaders (Churchill and David Lloyd George), but there also exists a large amount of respect for Clement Attlee, one of the founders of the contemporary welfare state in Britain. There are, though, some interesting variations.
The Mori/University of Leeds survey of 258 academics on 20th century British history and politics ranked them as:
Rank Prime Minister Years in Office
1. Clement Atlee (Labor) 1945-1951
2. Winston Churchill (Conservative) 1940-1945,
1951-1955
3. David Lloyd George (Liberal) 1916-1922
4. Margaret Thatcher (Conservative) 1979-1990
5. Harold Macmillan (Conservative) 1957-1963
6. Tony Blair (Labor) 1997-2007
7. Herbert Asquith (Liberal) 1908-1916
8. Stanley Baldwin (Conservative) 1923-1929,
1935-1937
9. Harold Wilson (Labor) 1964-1970,
1974-1976
10. Lord Salisbury (Conservative) 1895-1902
11. Henry Campbell-Bannerman (Liberal) 1905-1908
12. James Callaghan (Labor) 1976-1979
13. Edward Heath (Conservative) 1970-1974
14. Ramsay MacDonald (Labor) 1924, 1929-1935
15. John Major (Conservative) 1990-1997
16. Andrew Bonar Law (Conservative) 1922-1923
17. Neville Chamberlain (Conservative) 1937-1940
18. Arthur Balfour (Conservative) 1902-1905
19. Alec Douglas-Home (Conservative) 1063-1964
20. Anthony Eden (Conservative) 1955-1957

Then there is the BBC Radio 4 Poll of 20 prominent historians and politicians.
1. Churchill (Conservative)
2. Lloyd George (Liberal)
3. Attlee (Labor)
4. Asquith (Liberal)
5. Thatcher (Conservative)
6. Macmillan (Conservative)
7. Salisbury (Conservative)
8. Baldwin (Conservative)
9. Campbell-Bannerman (Liberal)
10. Wilson (Labor)
11. Heath (Conservative)
12. Callaghan (Labor)
13. Bonar Law (Conservative)
14. MacDonald (Labor)
15. Douglas-Home (Conservative)
16. Balfour (Conservative)
17. Major (Conservative)
18. Chamberlain (Conservative)
19. Eden (Conservative)

These polls, of course, do not embrace the great prime ministers of the 18th and 19 centuries: William Pitt the Younger, Robert Peel, William Gladstone, and Benjamin Disraeli, just to take some of the most significant. But it is still interesting to see what leadership attributes our Anglo-Saxon cousins favor.

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