Open thread: who was The Greatest PM We Never Had?

I’VE PROMISED the family a break from blogging over the next few days (apart from comment approval which, of course, will continue).

So in my absence, might I encourage you to contribute to this open thread, on the subject of “Who was the greatest prime minister we never had?”

I can think of a few missed opportunities already: Iain Macleod, John Smith, Hugh Gaitskell, Nye Bevan, Michael Heseltine, Roy Jenkins… no, but seriously, who do you think would have made a great PM (and why) but never got the chance?

Speak again at the end of the week. Be seeing you…



Filed under Blogging, Parliament, Politics

30 responses to “Open thread: who was The Greatest PM We Never Had?

  1. Johnny Norfolk

    Norman Tebbit would be my choice just to see the reaction of the left.

  2. I’d raise a glass to George Brown…

  3. James

    Playing it safe again Tom.
    Why look back when you need to look forward?
    How about who could be the next PM?
    Who may be the next Pit Bull (with or without lipstick)?
    Who amongst the Westminster village could inspire our nation like Tony Blair?

  4. Michael Heseltine for me. A man I greatly admire and it would be interesting to see, certainly one of those “what if” moments. Same goes for Portillo becoming Tory leader. I believe we’d have made the same progress as we have made under Cameron but earlier on.

  5. Chris

    David Owen. Firm, decisive, not afraid to upset people to get the job done, charismatic and had very New Labour policies (before he became a neo-Tory). You did vote SDP in 1983 Tom (when admittedly, Labour was totally unelectable, so fair enough really).

  6. Madasafish

    Ony Benn.

    He would have done to Labour 40 years ago what Gordon Brown is doing now.

  7. You need to define “great” rather more precisely in these days of evidence based wossanames. What are a PM’s (or indeed an MP’s) key objectives, targets and goals? How is progress against these measured? Where are the success criteria definitions? We should be told.

    D’yer reckon John Strachey might have had a good pop at it had it not been for the unfortunate ground nut fiasco and/or Attlee running out of steam and ruling himself out of a “great” accolade by ushering in thirteen years of Tory misrule?

    What we need are some parallel universes in which to test out such speculation. Perhaps those boffins underground in Switzerland might be persuaded to make a few for us once they’ve stopped searching for Higgs Boson in their big bang machine…

  8. Attlee I guess because his Government’s legacy continues to be so important to today’s Britain.

    If you missed it, the Radio 4 Westminster Hour programme had a fun item on ‘The history of the Labour Party in 15 mins’ at the end of the last show. It’s worth a listen again whilst it’s still on the iPlayer:

  9. Johnny Norfolk

    My vote would be for someone who had made it in the the real business world ie the private sector. Who would protect our hard won freedoms. Who had worked up from an ordinary background and was not afraid to put his neck on the line for what he believed.

    Than man is David Davis and he would make the civil service jump. With John Redwood as chancelor. The Dream Team.

  10. John Taylor

    I’d have to back the suggestion of David Owen, although there are many who mucked up their timing or weren’t photogenic enough. Unless I can be both cheeky and far-sighted and suggest David Miliband?

  11. Richard

    I’ve always bemoaned the failure of Michael Portillo to win the top job. He had brains, charisma and fantastic hair.

    Put him next to Angela Merkel or George Bush and you’d have felt like he was a genuine world leader.

  12. DT

    Come back, Tom! We’re missing you already. I honestly don’t think I can go a week at my desk without having your blog to click on for light relief. I might have to take some leave too…

  13. Willie Macleod

    Great blog Tom, I cant decide between John Smith and Nye Bevan both wouldhave made great PMs.

  14. For me it would have to be John Smith. I had genuine affection for him and honestly believe he would have been a great PM.

    With John Smith as PM we would have avoided the horrors of Tony Blair, the full price of which I think we have yet to pay.

    As for Heseltine, well, that’s a good choice too, more for academic debate than for reality though I think.


  15. Or maybe even top Scottish blogger Tom Harris MP – its unlikely that Labour will see office again while he is an MP. Such a shame though – what a talent that man has…

  16. Seconded on the Benn! Particularly the current-era Benn.

  17. I didn’t write the Harriet Harman post. Odd

  18. Dave

    If Oswald Mosley had been able to contain himself a little longer he could well have become leader of the opposition in 1931. Would he have turned out to be a good or great PM? Who knows, but the 1930’s would have had a very different dynamic …

  19. ScottishToryBoy – that comment has now been deleted. Sorry. I’m guessing “your” subsequent comment lamenting my absence from
    No.10 was not yours either?

  20. Zim Flyer

    Enoch Powell for his passion or Paddy Ashdown for his ability to govern. What we do need are Prime Minister’s who have served in the military and understand the nature of fear and the horror of war.

  21. Tom,

    No that comment wasn’t me either. This is my third comment on this thread, the first about Hezza, the second about not writing the Harman comment and now this one.

    How strange….

    You glad I’m back?

  22. Blue

    By the look of his blog, John Redwood has the answers for everything. Maybe, he should have yet another shot at the Tory leadership? I dread to think what he would do as PM, though.

  23. I’m going to go with Roy Jenkins, argue amongst yourselves whether he would ever have made it to leader had he remained in Labour instead of creating the SDP, time out with the European commission may have counted against him. But an excellent Chancellor and Home Secretary with an European heart.

    One wonders how he would have faired instead of say Kinnock from the opposition benches against Maggie. But he certainly wouldn’t have shouted “We’re alright” repeatedly.

  24. NickVarley

    Scottish Tory Boy… I couldn’t disagree more about Heseltine. Thank God that devious back stabbing bastard didn’t get the Crown, cos we’d have ended up with an even more pro-European Government in the 90’s, given his euro-mentalist opinions.

    Portillo… yes I definitely agree he would have been brilliant.

    But Tom, please come back, your readers need a fix!

  25. Sam

    Have people forgotten how hated Micheal Portillo was? Stephen Twigg became an overnight star just for beating him. Would such a divisive character really have made a good leader of the country?

  26. Madasafish

    Potillo made and makes Michael Howard look like a far sighted, thoughtful and successful leader.

    The man was and still is incredibly full of his own importance….

  27. richard

    I don’t think that Portillo was hated per se. He was certainly the highest profile casualty and the fact that he lost to a nobody was doubly galling.

  28. Johnny Norfolk

    Tom I know you are on holiday but I just had to comment on the news that our photo driving licences only last 10 years and it will cost £17.50 to re[place. No wonder you have lost as it just never stops from labour.

  29. Mo Daniels

    Surely the dynamism of Annabelle Ewing, the former charismatic MP for Perth, would have perfectly suited 10 Downing Street. Ms Ewing was a charming Member of the House of Commons and is still know as the Princess of Perth by her adoring former constituents. I believe she is now on the board of the Bank of England.

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