Best Prime Minister We Never Had
Who was the best prime minister we never had? I compiled a Top 10 of candidates last month, but didn’t get round to finishing this post to go with it.
I suffer from a triple bias, but my answer is Alan Johnson. The first bias is towards the recent. So recent is Johnson’s non-premiership that he could be prime minister now if, in January 2010, he had did what Kevin Rudd has just done in Australia.
My second bias is that I am a Blairite, and Johnson was in some ways the perfect candidate to follow Blair and take his approach in the new directions that only a working-class hero could achieve. New Labour with a working-class accent would have got rid of a lot of the nonsense that clung to the later Blair about New Labour as an elite politics associated with big business and the rich.
My third bias is that I like and admire Johnson and felt vindicated when his memoir of his childhood of deep poverty in Notting Hill in the 1950s, This Boy, turned out to be about as good as it was possible for it to be. I knew the chapter headings of his life story already, and knew how affecting it was as a political metaphor, but there is always a fear when you have seen the trailer that the finished work will disappoint. Literary merit is no qualification for the office of prime minister, but it doesn’t half inspire confidence in the writer’s other qualities.
Thus most of my Top 10 were possible prime ministers in my adult life, but I also included Evan Durbin and Joe Chamberlain.Tagged in: contemporary history, history, hypothetical history
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