Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Gordon Brown Is Not The Worst PM Ever.....

.....just the worst Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The historians poll of post war prime ministers that rates Gordon Brown as the 3rd worst PM since the war is as silly and argument provoking as all these surveys. My own ranking of British PMs since the Reform Act of 1831 is here. However as Joseph Tagaki points out, much of the problems of Brown's tenure were to do with his previous stint as Chancellor under Tony Blair, say what you want about Brown but his Chancellor was much better than Blair's. There are too many Chancellors to rank easily for the whole post war period, but if the starting point is 1979 then I'd rank them in something like this order:

1. Geoffrey Howe
2. Ken Clarke
3. Norman Lamont*
4. Alastair Darling**
5. Nigel Lawson
6. John Major
7. Gordon Brown

How far back would one have to go to find a Chancellor who was worse than Brown? At least as far back as Anthony Barber in the 1970s but possibly all the way back to before the War.

* Norman Lamont is often seen as a failure but he gets a lot of unfair blame for the shortcomings of John Major and Nigel Lawson and doesn't get enough credit for the success during Ken Clarke's tenure.

** Had one hell of a mess to deal with.


Alan Peakall said...

I think you have been a little generous to Kenneth Clarke. On the micro-side he started the process of rowing backwards on the simplicity of the tax system, although he did bring a formidable gut instinct to the conduct of macro policy ;-).

Ross said...

Good points as usual, but are any of the ones I ranked below him better?