I have just finished proof-reading the forthcoming hard copy of the Conservative History Journal and I can tell you that there are lots of good things in it about Wellington, Churchill (several pieces), the First World War, curious nuggets from the party's history and a piece by me about Lady Knightley of Fawsley. (Yes, indeed, you have not heard the end of that subject.)

There is an interesting and entertaining piece by Charles Clarke (yes, that Charles Clarke), entitled 'David Cameron top of the league? You're having a laugh!'. It is based on a talk he gave at a symposium on Conservative Leaders at Queen Mary College in London last December and on work produced in a book he co-edited with Toby James, Tim Bale, Patrick Diamond, British Conservative Leaders.

What Clarke writes about in the article, backed by tables from Rallings and Thrasher's British Electoral Facts 1832 - 2012 is the relative placing of various Conservative Prime Ministers on the basis of how many seats and what proportion of the electoral vote they managed to gain.

So who do you think might be the top three? Well, number one is Sir Robert Peel who fought three elections and who oversaw the acquisition of 192 seats and a cumulative change in 21.5% of the votes in the Conservatives' favour. Number two is the Marquess of Salisbury who fought five elections and acquired 165 seats and 8.3% of the electoral vote for his party. And number three? Ha! I bet you cannot guess who it is. In fact, it is David Cameron with two elections, 133 seats and 4.5% of the vote.

When it comes to electoral changes rather than seats there is a slight confusion as the correlation is not that straightforward. Thatcher, with three elections, comes fourth in the number of seats (99) and in percentage of vote (6.5%) but Baldwin who comes fifth in number of seats (75) comes second in share of votes that changed to the Conservatives (15.8%). So the much despised David Cameron ranks third by seats and fifth by share of votes.

It so happens (she says casually) that I predicted that the Conservative would win the General Election of May 2015 and would be forming a government on their own. So all comments about how surprising the result was leave me cold or, to be precise, cold and disdainful. Not to some of us, it was not. But I had not realized Cameron's achievement as Leader until I read the article and looked at the figures.

Oh and if you are interested, Churchill comes fifteenth in ranking by seats, having cumulatively lost 108 over three elections and twelfth in share of votes, having lost 5.3%. Whatever one may think about him as a politician and a war leader (two very separate things) one thing we can say with certainty: he remained unpopular until he actually retired and was raised to the status of a political demi-god in the ten years between his retirement and his death.

1 Responses to Ranking Conservative Prime Ministers

  1. dfordoom Says:
  2. Of course there is another way of looking at it. Harold Macmillan won 49.4% of the vote in 1959, compared to Cameron winning 36.9% in 2015 and 36.1% in 2010. So it could be argued that MAcmillan was far more successful electorally than David Cameron. For that matter, Ted Heath (Ted Heath!) won 46.4% in 1970. So Heath was also more successful in terms of winning actual votes than Cameron.

Powered by Blogger.




Blog Archive