By D. Leonard
In the course of the process the 20th century, nineteen males and one woman--from the 3rd Marquis of Salisbury to Tony Blair--have occupied the publish of major Minister of the uk. In a sequence of biographical essays, Dick Leonard, a number one political journalist and previous MP, recounts the situations that took them to the pinnacle of ''the greasy pole'', probes their own and political strengths and weaknesses, assesses their functionality within the most sensible workplace and asks what lasting impact they've got had.
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Additional info for A Century of Premiers: Salisbury to Blair
There appeared to be four possibilities. Former Prime Minister Lord Rosebery and former Chancellor of the Exchequer William Harcourt, both of whom had petulantly resigned the leadership in the preceding three years, complaining of lack of support by their colleagues. Could one, or the other, be tempted back? Former Home Secretary Herbert Asquith had ruled himself out, on the grounds that he could not afford to relinquish his prodigious earnings at the bar. Could his arm be twisted? And there was John Morley, the former deputy leader, who had somewhat hastily bracketed his own resignation with that of Harcourt, and now showed signs of regretting it.
Others did know where they wanted to go – notably Chamberlain who had surprised both Salisbury and Balfour in 1895, when he had opted to become Colonial Secretary rather than Chancellor of the Exchequer. He retained this post under Balfour, and his belief in the importance of maintaining and expanding the British Empire was stronger than ever. Following a conference in August 1902, at which all the British colonies, notably Canada and South Africa, were represented, he became convinced that the best way of binding the empire together was to give trade preferences to all its members.
To the general amazement, the Prime Minister appointed his nephew in his place. Few appointments had appeared more outlandish since Caligula made his horse a consul. That this dandyish, effete figure would match up to the demands of the toughest job in the government, which had broken the health of his predecessor, and only five years before had cost the life of Lord Frederick Cavendish, assassinated in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, strained the bounds of credulity. The immediate reaction was one of hilarity, while the formidable Irish Party in the House of Commons, smarting from their recent setback over Home Rule, sharpened their sabres in the easy expectation of carving him up in parliamentary debate.
A Century of Premiers: Salisbury to Blair by D. Leonard