David Cameron was a worse PM than Gordon Brown, say academics

Written by David Singleton on 13 October 2016 in Diary

Only Anthony Eden and Sir Alec Douglas-Home were lower down the league table.

David Cameron has been ranked by experts as the third worst prime minister of to have held the office since the end of the Second World War.

A survey of 82 academics specialising in post-1945 British history and politics put Clement Atlee in first place in the post-war league table of prime ministers. In last place was Anthony Eden, whose reputation was left in tatters by his handling of the Suez crisis.

The last time the research was carried out, in 2010, Gordon Brown was rated as the third worst prime minister in modern history. But Cameron’s gamble with Britain’s membership of the EU has seen him enter the table just below Brown, who he regularly mocked while opposition leader.

Around 90 per cent of the academics cited the EU referendum as Cameron’s greatest mistake. One concluded that it was the greatest failure of any prime minister “since Lord North lost America” and was forced to resign from the post in 1782.

The research was carried out at the University of Leeds in collaboration with Woodnewton Associates, a market research company. Respondents were asked to rate the performance of each leader during their tenure in Downing Street on a scale of 0-10, with 10 representing the top score of “highly successful”.

Professor Kevin Theakston, at the University of Leeds, said: “For all his achievements as a successful coalition prime minister, David Cameron’s reputation and place in history seems destined to be defined by Brexit and his calling and losing the referendum."

But he said there was still a glimmer of hope for Cameron, who is currently writing his memoir.

“Academic opinion, as reflected in our survey, is currently pretty damning. But reputations can wax and wane as subsequent events, the passage of time and new evidence change perspectives. Depending on how Brexit works out, future historians and political scientists may come to a different view of Mr Cameron’s premiership and his place in the league table of prime ministers.”



The post-war league table of prime ministers

1. Clement Attlee, Labour 1945-51
2. Margaret Thatcher, Conservative 1979-90
3. Tony Blair, Labour 1997-2007
4. Harold Macmillan, Conservative 1957-63
5. Harold Wilson, Labour 1964-70 and 74-76
6. John Major, Conservative 1990-97
7. Winston Churchill, Conservative 1951-55
8. James Callaghan, Labour 1976-79
9. Edward Heath, Conservative 1970-74
10. Gordon Brown, Labour 2007-10
11. David Cameron, Conservative 2010-16
12. Alec Douglas-Home, Conservative 1963-64
13. Anthony Eden, Conservative 1955-57



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