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Best PMs we never had watch

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    (Original post by MatureStudent36)
    I'd have to say, from a more modern perspective, Paddy Ashdown. A great leader.
    Paddy is quite an underrated figure. When he took over, the Lib Dems were in a mess comparable to where they are in today, polling 9% in 1989, he had them around 16% by 1992 and had them 46 seats by the time he left in 1997.

    If Tim Farron were to achieve that it would be considered great success.

    I thought Ashdown was a really strong leader and sensible on foreign affairs with the right balance of strength and understanding of the realities of foreign interventions.

    Ashdown's achilles heel was his tendency for being pompous. He rubbed people up the wrong way even on his own side through the way he talks down to people.

    Had John Smith lived it's quite likely there would have been some kind of Labour-Lib Dem agreement and potentially a coalition government in 1997 when Paddy would have been quite a strong leader of the smaller party (more so than Clegg) and he would have probably secured proportional representation. A few political figures' memoirs published later revealed that this was the way things were going and moves were being made between the two parties in this direction.

    However once Blair came in and especially when Blair was polling so well this dropped off the agenda as Blair had a similar level of self-image to Ashdown and those two were never going to be serious partners.
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    Paddy is quite an underrated figure. When he took over, the Lib Dems were in a mess comparable to where they are in today, polling 9% in 1989, he had them around 16% by 1992 and had them 46 seats by the time he left in 1997.

    If Tim Farron were to achieve that it would be considered great success.

    I thought Ashdown was a really strong leader and sensible on foreign affairs with the right balance of strength and understanding of the realities of foreign interventions.

    Ashdown's achilles heel was his tendency for being pompous. He rubbed people up the wrong way even on his own side through the way he talks down to people.

    Had John Smith lived it's quite likely there would have been some kind of Labour-Lib Dem agreement and potentially a coalition government in 1997 when Paddy would have been quite a strong leader of the smaller party (more so than Clegg) and he would have probably secured proportional representation. A few political figures' memoirs published later revealed that this was the way things were going and moves were being made between the two parties in this direction.

    However once Blair came in and especially when Blair was polling so well this dropped off the agenda as Blair had a similar level of self-image to Ashdown and those two were never going to be serious partners.


    Still bitter about that ¬.¬
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    (Original post by ChaoticButterfly)


    Still bitter about that ¬.¬
    The historical political consequences of that were huge. We would likely have had a Lab-Lib coalition in 1997, 2001 and 2005 and then in 2010 would the Lib Dems have jumped sides to the Conservatives, or just continued with Labour...? Probably the latter.

    There could even have been a gradual merging of the parties in a US-Democrat style.

    It would have been catastrophic for the Conservative party.
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    The historical political consequences of that were huge. We would likely have had a Lab-Lib coalition in 1997, 2001 and 2005 and then in 2010 would the Lib Dems have jumped sides to the Conservatives, or just continued with Labour...? Probably the latter.

    There could even have been a gradual merging of the parties in a US-Democrat style.

    It would have been catastrophic for the Conservative party.
    Bummer.

    PR would also have changed things as well.
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    David Miliband seems to be the first modern choice that comes to mind. He's the only real statesman-like figure I can think of in the Labour Party today. And the only one with any credible vision for "post-Blairism" - that being a centre-left Labour ideology that didn't veer back into old socialism. One wonders if he would have had the political weight to muscle the Conservatives out of power had he become leader. I think people, particularly those on the right, greatly underestimate the extent to which a centrist Labour Party could have posed a threat to David Cameron. A simple fact in British politics is that the public at large, whether rightly or wrongly, views the Labour Party as much more compassionate and in touch with average people than the Conservative Party. That means that if a Labour leader can do as Blair did and add a strong dosage of economic competence and pro-market policy into a soft-left agenda, the entire ball game changes. Suddenly Cameron's blend of flimsy "compassionate Conservatism" looks quite weak. And I think a lot of the very real issues, particularly of Osborne's incompetence and failure to address economic woes, could have come to the forefront.

    Looking a teensy bit further back, both William Hague and Michael Portillo could have been effective Prime Ministers. The former definitely came to power in the Tory Party far, far before his time. Had he played the game more safely, and waited perhaps until 2005 to run for the leadership, we might well be talking about a Prime Minister Hague today. He had that same kind of political skill and know-how that meant he could have fought his way to the top, but battling the Tories back into power from 1997-2001 was simply an impossible task. Portillo, to clarify my point, probably would have been a better Tory leader than Prime Minister, though I definitely think he had potential. He is much more socially liberal than the broad mass of Tories, even today, and may have been able to combine modernist social policy with moderate-Thatcherite economics in a way that would be far preferable to David Cameron's "believe in both everything and nothing, appeal to all camps and none" approach.

    Paddy Ashdown, as many have mentioned, could have been a very formidable character in an alternate universe. He was certainly belied by the small-scale status of his party. A Lab-Lib pact under John Smith from 1997 onwards may well have resulted in Ashdown becoming the more popular and powerful of the two men. And it might have been the only route he really had to become Prime Minister, perhaps through a winding path of both collaboration and intrigue that could have seen him head-up a more permanent left-of-centre Liberal Labour coalition, or even a merged party.

    It may also be worth considering the other scenarios in which Gordon Brown could have become Prime Minister. After all, he probably would have done had some kind of circumstance prevented or discouraged Blair from running after John Smith's death. We know that a post-1997 Brown government would have been marginally more to the left than Blair's, but where else might it have differed? The most obvious way would be how it might have established the legacy of Brown. By 2007 the man was battered, bruised, and handed the reigns of government at a time that initially seemed favourable, but would ultimately transform into the worst possible scenario. But if he had taken power in 1997, he would have been at the peak of his mental and intellectual strength. Could he have weakened Scottish nationalism, and perhaps even the rise of the left-wing Labour resurgence by administering a more gradual shift to the centre?
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    (Original post by King Robbie)
    David Miliband seems to be the first modern choice that comes to mind. He's the only real statesman-like figure I can think of in the Labour Party today. And the only one with any credible vision for "post-Blairism" - that being a centre-left Labour ideology that didn't veer back into old socialism. One wonders if he would have had the political weight to muscle the Conservatives out of power had he become leader. I think people, particularly those on the right, greatly underestimate the extent to which a centrist Labour Party could have posed a threat to David Cameron. A simple fact in British politics is that the public at large, whether rightly or wrongly, views the Labour Party as much more compassionate and in touch with average people than the Conservative Party. That means that if a Labour leader can do as Blair did and add a strong dosage of economic competence and pro-market policy into a soft-left agenda, the entire ball game changes. Suddenly Cameron's blend of flimsy "compassionate Conservatism" looks quite weak. And I think a lot of the very real issues, particularly of Osborne's incompetence and failure to address economic woes, could have come to the forefront.

    Looking a teensy bit further back, both William Hague and Michael Portillo could have been effective Prime Ministers. The former definitely came to power in the Tory Party far, far before his time. Had he played the game more safely, and waited perhaps until 2005 to run for the leadership, we might well be talking about a Prime Minister Hague today. He had that same kind of political skill and know-how that meant he could have fought his way to the top, but battling the Tories back into power from 1997-2001 was simply an impossible task. Portillo, to clarify my point, probably would have been a better Tory leader than Prime Minister, though I definitely think he had potential. He is much more socially liberal than the broad mass of Tories, even today, and may have been able to combine modernist social policy with moderate-Thatcherite economics in a way that would be far preferable to David Cameron's "believe in both everything and nothing, appeal to all camps and none" approach.
    Portillo reinvented himself after leaving Parliament. I am not sure many people saw a socially liberal side whilst he was there.

    Can I throw one other name into the mix; the forgotten man of British politics. Anyone remember whom Smith defeated in the 1992 leadership contest but who wasn't around to contest the 1994 contest?

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    This is a great thread.

    (Original post by King Robbie)
    David Miliband seems to be the first modern choice that comes to mind. He's the only real statesman-like figure I can think of in the Labour Party today. And the only one with any credible vision for "post-Blairism" - that being a centre-left Labour ideology that didn't veer back into old socialism. One wonders if he would have had the political weight to muscle the Conservatives out of power had he become leader.
    I think the jury is out on David Miliband and whilst the theory "Labour chose the wrong brother" has generally stuck, I'm not sure David would have been the surefire bet that many in Labour think.

    David Miliband is a bright and articulate guy, very driven, good at debating but he can be a bit wooden. One of the advantages Ed had over David was in the run up to 2010, Ed was generally more popular among his colleagues, he's a bit of a warmer person, more charming and natural in person. Unfortunately for Ed, he was not very good with the media and always came over as a bit awkward and goofy, and also Ed was a bit vague about what he really stood for. I think David would have been better in the sense that he wouldn't have been seen as a joke figure in the media and he would probably have given a lot more clarity. Whether the public would have warmed to him I don't know.

    I expect he would have been a tougher opponent for Cameron to face than Ed, but I don't think he was the complete election-winner that Blair was - Blair provided leadership, self-confidence but could connect with the public whereas David Miliband would always risk coming across as a bit of an intellectually superior geek.


    (Original post by King Robbie)
    Looking a teensy bit further back, both William Hague and Michael Portillo could have been effective Prime Ministers. The former definitely came to power in the Tory Party far, far before his time. Had he played the game more safely, and waited perhaps until 2005 to run for the leadership, we might well be talking about a Prime Minister Hague today. He had that same kind of political skill and know-how that meant he could have fought his way to the top, but battling the Tories back into power from 1997-2001 was simply an impossible task.
    I completely agree Hague was leader too early. He was too young, the image people in the Tory party at the time were shockingly bad, making him look like some kind of comical overgrown baby trying to be cool, and the media were merciless.

    As Hague got older we started to see what he was, an incredibly natural, spin-free politician who had a great sense of humour and talked common sense. I've read stuff about the Coalition negotiations and Hague was definitely a centre piece of getting that agreement together, IMO he was a real statesman, someone who could have worked with other global leaders, come across well and been a great PM. He would have been a good leader of the Tory right because although his politics and economics are fairly right-leaning, he doesn't have the obnoxiousness that a lot on the right have.

    But also as he got older I think some of his desire for politics ebbed away a bit, he writes books, has business interests, basically has a lot of a life outside of politics and despite getting in to politics young he wasn't all about being a politico. So it's fair enough he's gone now but I do think he's a loss to British politics.

    (Original post by King Robbie)
    Portillo, to clarify my point, probably would have been a better Tory leader than Prime Minister, though I definitely think he had potential. He is much more socially liberal than the broad mass of Tories, even today, and may have been able to combine modernist social policy with moderate-Thatcherite economics in a way that would be far preferable to David Cameron's "believe in both everything and nothing, appeal to all camps and none" approach.
    Portillo is a good guy who reinvented himself as a charming TV personality after leaving politics but the problem he had was in Major's government he had the image of being arrogant and smarmy. People had been talking of him as Thatcher's heir from when he was a young MP and maybe it went to his head.

    His moment was in 1995, when there were rumblings of discontent against Major and the right-wing Eurosceptics needed a leader. Major resigned and did his "put up or shut up" leadership election to challenge the right wing to put someone forward. Portillo was the natural one there and that was his moment. However he ducked out of it (probably he was being tactical and thought even if I win I'll have best 2 years before the Tories get smashed by Blair and then my chance will have gone). But he lost a lot of credibility with his former supporters then because they saw him as someone who didn't have the balls for a fight. In the end John Redwood was the only one to challenge and he got easily beaten by Major.
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    (Original post by a noble chance)
    Nah.

    I don't think Basil Rathbone :holmes: would have made a good PM :devil: :shock:


    http://www.basilrathbone.net/gallery/posed.htm
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    Nah.

    I don't think Basil Rathbone :holmes: would have made a good PM :devil: :shock:


    http://www.basilrathbone.net/gallery/posed.htm
    Haha. The likeness is uncanny. My father has recently been berating me about the superiority of his portrayal of SH over Benedict Cumberbatch's. As with seemingly everything he thinks, I disagree

    On a serious note, though, what do you think about Jeremy Thorpe in relation to PMs we never had?
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    (Original post by a noble chance)
    Haha. The likeness is uncanny. My father has recently been berating me about the superiority of his portrayal of SH over Benedict Cumberbatch's. As with seemingly everything he thinks, I disagree

    On a serious note, though, what do you think about Jeremy Thorpe in relation to PMs we never had?
    I think the problem with Thorpe is that unlike, say Nixon or Parkinson, the scandal that ended his career was present throughout it. Norman Scott is blackmailing him from the early 1960s (he is first elected to Parliament in 1959) and most people consider he was lucky in his jury. Despite lobbying from friends he was never given a peerage, which says a lot, because if he wasn't involved in a plot against Scott, his only "wrongdoing" was to have an illegal homosexual affair at a time when he was a bachelor. Remember, Clegg was deputy PM whilst he was dying. Profumo was honoured at the end of his life for his work at Toynbee Hall; Woodhouse was knighted (supposedly at the Queen Mother's request) on his deathbed despite his wartime antics and Chaplin was knighted notwithstanding both his politics and his dubious morals. Yet Thorpe received nothing.

    This totally overshadows what he achieved as a politician but I am not sure he achieved much. Grimmond modernised the Liberal Party. Steel, of course carried the Abortion Act as a backbencher and made the Liberal Party a candidate for participation in government (the modern Lib Dems are really the Liberals, there is no real Social Democratic tradition) for the first time since the War. If one asks what was Thorpe's legacy, it was probably to save the railway in his constituency from Beeching.

    Could he have achieved more if he had led the Liberals for longer? Particularly would he have engineered a strategy for turning votes into seats for the Alliance in 1983 as he did do for the Liberals in 1966? That is the unknown.
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    The best PM we never had was probably Cecil Rhodes. The survival of Britain as a great power was sealed in the latter half of the 19th century by the absence of a concerted effort to tie at least the settler empire together with a single seat of power and a national consciousness when it would have been politically and diplomatically cheap to do so. It actually had a national consciousness, but they rarely survive without single seats of power. Its grave was dug by a procession of steady-eddys who would not have strongly disagreed in principle with the needed steps.

    I am not sure any other single change could have been that important.
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    (Original post by Observatory)
    The best PM we never had was probably Cecil Rhodes. The survival of Britain as a great power was sealed in the latter half of the 19th century by the absence of a concerted effort to tie at least the settler empire together with a single seat of power and a national consciousness when it would have been politically and diplomatically cheap to do so. It actually had a national consciousness, but they rarely survive without single seats of power. Its grave was dug by a procession of steady-eddys who would not have strongly disagreed in principle with the needed steps.

    I am not sure any other single change could have been that important.
    Rhodes of course was forced out of the Prime Ministership of Cape Colony by reason of his involvement in the Jameson Raid. Fundamentally that Raid demonstrated Rhodes' lack of a wider vision. He wanted to do a land grab on a small country next door because it was in his and his constituents' financial interest without thinking how that would play in Denmark or Morocco or British Columbia. I appreciate Chamberlain is increasingly seen as implicated in the Raid but there has never been the suggestion that that the wider British government was involved.

    Rhodes' "vision" really rests on how his executors interpreted his Will.

    The Empire survived because the British government learned the lesson of 1776, primarily in the 1830s and 40s in Canada,by allowing decentralized power to residents of the colonies.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    Rhodes of course was forced out of the Prime Ministership of Cape Colony by reason of his involvement in the Jameson Raid. Fundamentally that Raid demonstrated Rhodes' lack of a wider vision. He wanted to do a land grab on a small country next door because it was in his and his constituents' financial interest without thinking how that would play in Denmark or Morocco or British Columbia. I appreciate Chamberlain is increasingly seen as implicated in the Raid but there has never been the suggestion that that the wider British government was involved.

    Rhodes' "vision" really rests on how his executors interpreted his Will.
    The will itself is relatively clear on this point:

    "To and for the establishment, promotion and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object whereof shall be... the inauguration of a system of Colonial representation in the Imperial Parliament which may tend to weld together the disjointed members of the Empire"

    Perhaps Rhodes was not capable of carrying this vision into practice, but he did have it.

    The Empire survived
    No it didn't.

    because the British government learned the lesson of 1776, primarily in the 1830s and 40s in Canada,by allowing decentralized power to residents of the colonies.
    I disagree on two counts. First, the military situation was much different in the two cases. The 13 colonies had a comparable population and were richer than Great Britain. Canada was much less populous and poorer. It also had unbridgeable internal ethnic divisions. So Britain could have taken a hard line against Canada and simply suppressed any uprising.

    However that is not what I am advocating and Britain missed the point both times: the Americans were right that they deserved representation in Parliament and should have been granted it. The "Little Englanders" won in Great Britain in the 1770s and their mistake was never corrected.
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    Wait, do you mean best Prime Minister or best TSR private message?
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    (Original post by Observatory)
    The will itself is relatively clear on this point:

    "To and for the establishment, promotion and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object whereof shall be... the inauguration of a system of Colonial representation in the Imperial Parliament which may tend to weld together the disjointed members of the Empire"

    Perhaps Rhodes was not capable of carrying this vision into practice, but he did have it.
    Not in the Will or the many codicils that were admitted to probate.

    Rhodes had many schemes in many testamentary documents but the final one was to bind people together by the English language and residential study at Oxford.

    The English language is clearly key because Germany is only added to the project because the Kaiser has mandated the teaching of English. There is no express obligation on scholars to be English speakers but as English is the language of instruction at Oxford it is implicit. What this is not is an Aryan institution because Rhodes is explicit that "No student shall be qualified or disqualified from election to a Scholarship on account of his race or religious opinions" He wants Oxford to have as good a medicine school as Edinburgh but he doesn't make the scholarships tenable at Edinburgh because the university was not residential.

    At the same time he is endowing a residence for the Prime Minster of the Union for when South Africa becomes a federal Union which suggests that his Imperial views have moved on from what you quoted. I think what you have must predate the 2nd Boer War. Although he doesn't say so, I suspect he saw the Union of South Africa as the nucleus of a federal state embracing British sub-Sarahan Africa in the same way that the USA, Canada and Australia had become federal states presumably with India to follow one day.

    What I have never understood was his original choice of Scholarships: 3 for Rhodesia are obvious, 4 for named schools in Cape Colony, 1 for Natal, 1 for each Australian state/colony, one for New Zealand which was viewed as virtually an Australian state, one for Ontario and one for Quebec and one for each of Newfoundland, Bermuda and Jamaica. Then two every three years for each US state and territory which really meant more American than colonial scholarships.

    Why nothing for the Canadian Maritimes or British Columbia? Why North Dakota but not Manitoba? Why no Kenya? Why those three islands and not say Barbados or Trinidad or Malta or Cyprus?
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    Cecil Rhodes was a white supremacist. Lets see some of his views:

    "I prefer land to n*****s"

    "I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimens of human beings what an alteration there would be if they were brought under Anglo-Saxon influence; look again at the extra employment a new country added to our dominions gives. I contend that every acre added to our territory means in the future birth to some more of the English race who otherwise would not be brought into existence"

    "Why should we not form a secret society with but one object: the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilized world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, and for the making of the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire?…Afrika is still lying ready for us; it is our duty to take it. It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes: that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race, more of the best, the most human, most honorable race the world possesses"

    The idea that Rhodes was the best PM we never had is a fantasy of imperialist racial supremacists.
    No doubt they also regard Enoch Powell as a great man.
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    Cecil Rhodes was a white supremacist. Lets see some of his views:

    "I prefer land to n*****s"

    "I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimens of human beings what an alteration there would be if they were brought under Anglo-Saxon influence; look again at the extra employment a new country added to our dominions gives. I contend that every acre added to our territory means in the future birth to some more of the English race who otherwise would not be brought into existence"

    "Why should we not form a secret society with but one object: the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilized world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, and for the making of the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire?…Afrika is still lying ready for us; it is our duty to take it. It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes: that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race, more of the best, the most human, most honorable race the world possesses"

    The idea that Rhodes was the best PM we never had is a fantasy of imperialist racial supremacists.
    No doubt they also regard Enoch Powell as a great man.
    As you can see if you read my previous post, Rhodes was a man with complex and changing views. He said all that you have quoted but then he sets up his scholarships on an expressly non-racial basis.

    I do not think he would have made a good PM but not for the reasons you state. He had no interests beynd colonialism; no understanding of European or domestic British politics.
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    Read his obituary yesterday, in which it said he may have become PM if it hadn't been for his affair

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    (Original post by a noble chance)
    Read his obituary yesterday, in which it said he may have become PM if it hadn't been for his affair

    Did anyone see anything in him other than Maggie?

    Can one attribute any policy to him? Apart from standing on the dry side of the room every time the cabinet divided into wets and dries; what was he for?

    If you look at David Young, NIck Ridley, Peter Lilley, Geoffrey Howe (before Europe became a disease), Norman Tebbit, Keith Joseph, Norman Fowler, Nigel Lawson; these were the men who turned Thatcherism from an ideology into a set of policies.

    He was Paymaster General and as far as I know he never failed to pay the Civil Service salaries on time. I don't think the Queen had any cause to complain that he let the Duchy of Lancaster go to wrack and ruin when he was Chancellor.

    His crowning achievement was of course to mastermind the defeat of Michael Foot in 1983. Granted, he did better than Lord Clitheroe who as party chairman managed to lose in 1945 but then again few would have considered the 1983 Labour Party the equal of Attlee's.

    He was appointed Energy Secretary when it had no role and he finished up as Transport Secretary where he did manage to create Crossrail.

    It is hard to separate his personal qualities before and after the Keays business but I think most men would always have been on "cad and bounder" alert with him. There was something of Anthony Eden about him (half mad baronet, half beautiful woman).

    He rose effortlessly by basking in the favour of a PM he charmed. Noticeably Major got rid of him straightaway.
 
 
 
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