Another discussion is due

Posted by Tory Historian Friday, January 15, 2010

Tory Historian is a big sniffy about that dead tree media outlet that calls itself the Conservative History Journal and would like to see more discussion on the blog. Having sighted the lady who is described by many as the greatest Conservative (or any other) Prime Minister of the twentieth century yesterday evening, TH would like to ask readers for their opinions on who was the greatest Conservative Prime Minister in history.


  1. I will venture Disraeli, but then I'm biased.

    Although, to be fair, I like most Conservative prime ministers, especially those from the nineteenth century.

    From another perspective, each is unique in his/her own way, moulded by the times, and (for the best of them) fitted to address the key political questions of their day.

  2. Hiraeth Says:
  3. I'll argue for Salisbury, the reactionary pessimist who quiety bested Gladstone and presided over a period of Conservative dominance, as well as laying the foundations of the Conservative Party's twentieth century record. His understanding of the opportunities presented by the 1884 Reform Act, more particularly the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885 saw the foundations of 'villa Conservatism', the party becoming the party of the aspirant middle-classes. The addition of the Liberal Unionist forces to the party added to its message, where the Liberals were largely reduced to tired incantations and 'fly-blown phylacteries', to quote Rosebery.

    Of course, there are notable runners-up, Baldwin and Thatcher also doing a lot to bring the party through difficulties.

  4. jokjak Says:
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  6. Unknown Says:
  7. Hmmm, It is hard alot of them have different strengths.

    As i am in Northern Ireland, I would say for his contribution to peace, John Major.

    I know Tony Blair gets the credit for Good Friday but Major was the one who took all the big risks.

    Major was instrumental in bringing in the Irish government with the Downing Street Declaration which inturn brought in Hume/Adams.

    This laid the foundations for peace. I know he did not handle many issues well but the fact of Major is that, he saved lives and that is not a bad record at all.

  8. Bumps Stump Says:
  9. Being from America I'm not sure you even want my opinion - but in my book Mrs. Thatcher wins hands down. She is a terrific writer as well as a fine common sense politician.


  10. Unknown Says:
  11. If you mean Prime Minister rather than party leader, the choice probably lies between Liverpool, Salisbury and Mrs Thatcher, although I would put in a plea for that much undrrated Baldwin government of 1924-29 as one of the most constructive. In many ways Liverpool was the architect of the 19th century approach to the role of government. But if we are talking of those who achieved predominance for their party in unpropitious circumstances, Baldwin must rank among the very best. In an age of mass suffrage, to take 50 per cent of the working class vote at a time when the working class was the largest element in the electorate is a remarkable achievement, but one repeated in both 1931 in very unusual circumstances and in 1935, when there was still some semblance of a National Government. Add his mastery of the fireside chat and you have the man who arguably made the Conservative party the dominant party in the 20th century. Mrs Thatcher's historical importance cannot be doubted, but in many ways, as Tim Bale suggests, she may have done much to rescue her country from Socialism, but at the end she led the party to a position where it overreached itself, and then became one of those who helped wreck the Major administration.

  12. Unknown Says:
  13. Further to my earlier comment, the election in which he achieved electoral dominance was, of course, 1924, and he was for many the man who eased a great many Liberals into the Conservative camp. I have a shrewd suspicion that the Disraelian creed of Tory democracy owed less to Disraeli than three men, Lord Randolph Churchill, F.E.Smith and Baldwin; and that Disraeli's standing as a Prime Minister and party leader stands higher as a result of that rather than his own administration. That may be unfair, but I await challenge.

    Incidentally who would you theink the worst?

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