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Quite right. She was a great Prime Minister and our country has much to thank her for.

I accept that this is not a comment on the policies themselves. However, to give Heath a 4 (presumably for his taking us into the EU) while ignoring his U-turn on the Selsdon manifesto shows just how errant such league tables can be.

I can more or less see how Beckett has arrived at this result: love him or loathe him you do at least have to give Heath the credit for spending a lot of his opposition time to thinking about how he wanted to run his government and put it on more rational lines. It's just a damn shame it was all devoted to such dross objectives.

It's a bit like those school reports where they always tell you that the score for effort is more important than the score for attainment - which is utter bollocks, of course.

I think the score for Churchill is a little curious. Perhaps Beckett will treat us to a follow up article outlining how he would have fought the Second World War better - or is this survey confined to domestic affairs only (in which case it makes sense).

More interesting still: does the high score for Thatcher mean that Beckett's chances of a David Starkey-style media career with the Beeb has now gone up in flames?

One wonders how he will judge the leaders of the future, seeing as they cross dress and hide their true intentions from the electorate. Even when they succeed, we will not be sure of whether they got what they wanted.

How can Chamberlain be at the bottom?

I'm guessing that Churchill has been assessed on both his periods as PM, and his period 1951- 1955 has pulled down his overall score. On the stated criteria it's correct to give Heath 5/5 because he set out to betray his country, and did so.

Sorry, I meant "it would be correct to give Heath 5/5".

Chamberlain deserves a 5/5 as well in that case Denis. He set out to appease Hitler and succeeded famously.

The premise of this argument is wrong. It talks about PM achieving what they set out to do but defines that as achieving change.

A quite simple case could be made for Baldwin and Salisbury as being most effective. Salisbury presided over an aristocratic Empire and Baldwin over a homely middle class one. They dodn't change anything and that was precisely what they set out to achieve.

But my vote still has to go to Churchill for winning the War, which probably no other politican of the thirties and forties could have done. Second, Thatcher because only she could have destroyed the Trades Unions and then grudgingly Atlee

Heath should be down the bottom. Achieving entry to the EEC was one policy success (for him) but in all other respects he was disastrous for this country and that should surely be criteria 1 (another example of the unimportance of being right in politics)

Major should be bottom. Eden was betrayed and Chamberlain was right for the wrong reasons. Only Major was genuinely useless.

Margaret Thatcher was of course our most effective Pime Minister. For Instance she was extremely effective, far more than either Ted Heath or John Major, in transfering powers from Westminster to Brussels!

Today prog this morning, thus Beckett: " By the time Atlee left office in 1951 all Beveridge's 'five great needs' had been abolished (sic). Margaret Thatcher destroyed all that." Both untrue. (Hobsbawm is a Beckett fan.)

Taking Beckett's measures ar face value while tending to agree that Thatcher & Atlee score highly in achieving their key objectives I do wonder at some of the other markings.
Churchill could be marked down in that as well as win the war he wanted to retain the Emprire and didn't want Eastern Europe under Soviet occupation and I'm not sure what his objectives were in the 1951 government.
Heath failed on carrying through Selsdon, he failed on resolving the Trade Union issues and failed to deliver economic prosperity. He succeeded in one objective, the EEC.
Chamberlain wanted to create conditions of peace across Europe. He thought he could manage the balance of powers to do this and betrayed Czechoslovakia to try to achieve this. WWII shows depth of his failure.
Major's objective seemed to be Thatcherism with a kinder face and closer co-operation with Europe. It could be argued that he achieved both. Much of the Thatcher revolution is embedded in both major parties, Maastricht was signed. His failure over ERM assumes he wanted a single currency rather than management of inflation.

Edward Heath, an effective PM? If abandoning the policies he went into office on and then actually doing more effectively what he had been accusing Labour of doing is a success then I suppose he would qualify, he got his way on the EEC and ignored everyone else and while being more Social Democrat than Labour was he managed to reduce the Conservative Party to what prior to 1997 had been it's 2nd and 3rd lowest votes they had had in history.

Ramsay MacDonald had to deal with very difficult economic circumstances and with a very difficult party and actually did quite well.

As for Anthony Eden things mostly were quite smooth during his premiership, people knew what he stood for, Alec Douglas Home wasn't really PM long enough to be adequately evaluated.

Balfour and Bonar Law kept things going quite well.

Asquith and Lloyd George between them destroyed the Liberal Party - for that they have to be praised even though that was not their intention.

History Today is correct.

In fact Margaret Thatcher was probably the greatest Prime Minister ever, not even barring Winston Churchill.

Thatcher made this country proud to be grerat again. Let not some of the ridiculous dwarfs of today's party throw it all away.

If you read the papers made available under the Freedom of Information Act and the 30 Year Rule you can see just how it was that Heath "succeeded" in taking Britain into the Common Market: it was by caving in to the exorbitant demands that were made of him by Pompidou.

I have to echo 'Yet Another Anon'. How can Edward Heath be ranked as the third most effective Prime Minister ? He was probably the most useless, spineless and dishonest PM in living memory, and I include even John Major (on the useless front, at least) in that assessment.

Baldwin was a fantastic Prime Minister who managed to hold the country and the Conservative Party together in times of great turmoil.

Chamberlain, like Baldwin, had few options in the 1930s. Economically and militarily Britain was not ready for war before 1939 and the British people, the Empire and the USA needed to be convinced that Hitler was a bad guy. Baldwin and Chamberlain bought time, rebuilt the economy, the armed forces and the British peoples' resolve so Britain could face Hitler. Churchill was able to build his premiership on the back of this.

Asquith was greater than any of them. He refused to get involved in the spin of politics which is why he lost power to Lloyd George, backed by Nothcliffe, the Murdoch of his day.

Asquith designed Britain's victory in the First World War. Lloyd George nearly blew it all when he grabbed the leadership from Asquith. Once the war was won, LG barred Asquith and those who wanted to help Germany to rebuild after WW1, from Versailles, and paved the way for Hitler.

If the spinners had not ejected Asquith, we would have won WW1 and would not have had to fight WW2 20 years later. He was maybe the most intelligent and capable of them all. Unfortunately the age of political spin was created by LG and this destroyed Asquith's supremely good method of government.

Without WW2, we would not now have been sucked into the EU and be living in such a hopeless over-centralised spin-dependent world. If only we could get back to government by people of real ability like Asquith and bury the spinners.

The age of spin started when Asquith fell. We have never recovered sensible government since. Maybe Cameron will be the next Asquith. He will have to spin to win, but he claims to want to give power back to the local level, and reverse the centralisation of the last century.

The Asquiths by Colin Clifford, published 2003 by John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-6525-1.

Maybe with the blogosphere standing guard, we will end the tyranny of the media and return to government as it should be. If it does, Asquith should be the inspiration.

Having studied the various contributions to this thread I have come to the conclusion that in fact the most successful PM of the 20th Century must have been....BONAR LAW.

He set out to become Prime Minister, achieved his objective, and then promptly died, thereby avoiding skillfully any possibility of betraying his country, party or principles. Sounds like a complete slam dunk winner to me. They don't make 'em like that any more.

Strange Heath should be No.3 , a liar, who through Ripon lied to Parliament over Fishing, and by doing so, led us into, by a narrow margin, the then EEC. This has led to the demise of politicians, as the lie and deception has been continued.

Edward Heath was possibly the greatest traitor ever to disgrace the office of Prime Minister.

Mystery still surrounds the considerable wealth he was apparently able to amass over that appalling period.

Well said Malvolio, unfortunately there are many following in his footsteps that have betrayed their Nation. Doesn't say much for the list.

Oh for the armchair commentators on here so quick to judge the tricky task of leading one of the leading nations in the world. Has to make you laugh really. Other than that I agree that Thatcher was a very great leader although she did mistakes as well as is to be expected,


JOHN MAJOR WAS NOT A BAD PRIME MINISTER! Without him, you would now have Euros in your pockets. He is the only British PM in our lifetimes to have negotiated an opt-out from European integration. It was a blip. His successors will reverse it. But never forget what he achieved!

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