YouGov have carried out a survey of political academics for the Political Studies Association and asked who the best Prime Minister we never had was. Previous surveys of PSA academics showed they were mostly Labour supporters, so no surprise to see Labour figures take the top two spots – Denis Healey and Roy Jenkins – followed by Ken Clarke.

The rest of the top ten were Neil Kinnock, Hugh Gaitskell, Aneurin Bevan, Shirley Williams, Michael Heseltine and Tony Benn (as a write-in candidate). Barbara Castle, Rab Butler, John Smith and Charlie Kennedy all got 3%. The highest rated identifiably right-wing figure (as opposed to centrist Tories like Clarke and Hezza) was Enoch Powell on 2%.

The views of the PSA aran’t partially interesting in themselves, but it gives us the excuse to have a fun thread – so who do readers think the best PM we never had was?

58 Responses to “The best Prime Minister we never had”

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  1. Healey, what a joke. 98% income tax, begging bowl to the IMF, virtually bankrupt country, yeah what a great PM he would have made.

    Jenkins – yeah, can see their point.

    Kinnock, what a joke, how’s he on the list.

  2. George Galloway.

    as said before…Never say never…

  3. Typical metropolitan two-and-a-half party myopia.

    The best prime minister you never could have had and he’s still an MP!

    Alex Salmond.

    There’s a thought.

    If you want constitutional reform though, Donld Dewar or Robin Cook.

  4. As a late starter I’ve missed this.

    In a way I’m glad it was so, as this is just a thread to expose your own prejudices – a fun question for a pollster to ask, but not one any sensible commentator would answer definitively.

    For my own choice I would say none, as the most relevant qualification for the job of PM is to get the job – failure to get the job suggests an underlying weakness which would lead to failure in the job.

    Perhaps the bias is in the question – replace ‘best’ with ‘least worst’ and you’d also replace the fanciful, but ultimately empty speculation with some realism.

  5. Perhaps someone should have a thread on ‘The most underachieving Prime Ministers’ – Antony Eden and Brown tying for first place there and I doubt it’s coincidence that the men they replaced were strongly critical of their leadership qualities.
    Would anyone else agree Barbara Castle might have made a good PM?

  6. You could also look at the most counterproductive PM’s.

    John Curtice credits Margaret Thatcher with three enduring achievements: one of them is persuading the Scots of the attractions of Devolution. If you accept that analysis, you may agree that historians may come to see TB as responsible for Scottish independence.

    Gordon Brown could still surprise us. He’s not finished yet, and if he sticks it out, he could yet edge past Eden and do as much damage to his party as Margaret Thatcher did to Scottish Conservatives. Yes, that’s a very tall order, but I’ve great faith in the ability of politicians long in government to be in denial and believe that more of the same medicine that isn’t working is what is required.

  7. Best PM we never had.

    It’s obvious.


    Don’t we all think that?

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