Chapter 23

Ten Great Prime Ministers

In This Chapter

arrow Leading with aplomb

arrow Reforming and improving

arrow Taking care of the people

The role of prime minister (PM) is the top job in British politics. Although technically just a Member of Parliament (MP) and a servant of the monarch, the reality is that the PM has huge powers, from appointing the heads of government ministries to negotiating treaties with foreign powers. Of the 51 people who’ve been British PM, plenty of them have been mediocre performers, and some have made a downright bad fist of the job. Yet a select band of men and one woman have been, well, rather special, making an extraordinary contribution to shaping Britain and the wider world.

In this chapter I look at the brightest stars in the prime ministerial sky. If you want to know who’s made the biggest splash while occupying 10 Downing Street, this is the chapter for you.

Our Finest Hour: Winston Churchill (1940–45 and 1951–55)

Although this chapter is about the greatest prime ministers, one stands head and shoulders above the rest. In the BBC’s poll of the Greatest Ever Britons, conducted at the end of the last millennium, Winston Churchill came top.

As prime minister ...

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