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SwanSong
January 27th, 2010, 07:32 AM
The above choices are generally the ones people are likely to pick, and if I didn't include the one you believe is the greatest, just choose "Other."

Generally, I am divided between the iron lady and the iron curtain. I admire Winston Churchill for his strong opposition against communism and facism during a time when people did not see them as a threat. I admire his fervent opposition to appeasement and his leadership throughout World War 2 and the beginning of the Cold War.

Perhaps Thatcher didn't preside over as much challenges as Winston, but she does have great leadership qualities such as her firmness and her policy of rejecting detente and her economic policies. But it's not only her policies which made her great - it was how she implemented them.

I know contemporary opinion is going to vote for Tony Blair or Gordon Brown, but I do think it is too early to judge them.

Epic
February 27th, 2010, 10:39 PM
As much as I like Winnie for his leadership during the Second World War....the man was a warmonger. He was planning an invasion of Russia before Japan had even surrendered and was voted out of office because of it. Great as military leaders are, you have to be able to lead in peace as well.

mog
February 27th, 2010, 10:53 PM
I've gone with Thatcher. Winston Churchill was an excellent wartime PM, but in everything he did he had broad support from the British public. For me the mark of a great leader is one who can make hard, initially unpopular decisions because they are the right thing to do, and then bring public opinion around through force of argument and ultimately good results.

Margaret Thatcher enacted some very painful economic policies in deregulation and selling off state assets. In the worst cases entire towns were ruined, e.g. by her closing of unprofitable coal mines. She pushed these policies through with the conviction that they would pay off in the longer term, and 20 years later the consensus seems to be that she was right.

The Falklands War is another notable achievement. It was an extraordinarily ballsy move for the UK to fight that war with no military bases within thousands of miles.

Oh, and somehow I doubt Tony Blair or Gordon Brown would get many votes. I think history will judge New Labour harshly.

eliotitus
February 28th, 2010, 02:21 PM
I'm quite fond of Asquith, perhaps because I know less about him than the others. But he's by and large the reason we were one of the first nations in the world to have so comprehensive a social benefit system. The reforms of the early 1900s played a large role in hugely improving the lives of the working classes. Especially the help children got from his medical programmes in schools.

I've no major qualms with Lloyd George either actually. There's no denying he led effectively in a time of dire problems (WWI) at the very least.

I can't in all good conscience vote for Churchill who pushed for the mass gassing of German civilians until the military commanders eventually persuaded him to change his mind. Likewise Thatcher was ejected by her own party in the end, her actions brought working class Britain to its knees, which regardless of economic benefit in the long term (which in of itself is debateable), I think was far too high a price for her to pay. Especially as she was not the one paying it.

CliveStaples
March 1st, 2010, 01:54 AM
I'm quite fond of Asquith, perhaps because I know less about him than the others. But he's by and large the reason we were one of the first nations in the world to have so comprehensive a social benefit system. The reforms of the early 1900s played a large role in hugely improving the lives of the working classes. Especially the help children got from his medical programmes in schools.

I've no major qualms with Lloyd George either actually. There's no denying he led effectively in a time of dire problems (WWI) at the very least.

I can't in all good conscience vote for Churchill who pushed for the mass gassing of German civilians until the military commanders eventually persuaded him to change his mind. Likewise Thatcher was ejected by her own party in the end, her actions brought working class Britain to its knees, which regardless of economic benefit in the long term (which in of itself is debateable), I think was far too high a price for her to pay. Especially as she was not the one paying it.

I was having trouble deciding between Churchill and Thatcher. Decided to go with Evil Murderous BushitlerMcHalliburton Churchill instead of Short-Sighted Palin Thatcher...

mog
March 1st, 2010, 10:23 PM
I can't in all good conscience vote for Churchill who pushed for the mass gassing of German civilians until the military commanders eventually persuaded him to change his mind.

Churchill made the argument for using gas at a time when German cities were being carpet bombed. Is there much difference between a civilian being gassed and being blown to pieces or burnt to death in a firestorm?

Alex Goff
June 24th, 2010, 03:01 PM
I have to say I'm not a big fan of any of the ones listed.

Atlee was undoubtedly the man who pulled Britain together after the war, however, he was a middle-class imperialist leading a "socialist" party. Regardless of your political affiliations, that smacks of a lack of principal.

I could never bring myself to vote for Thatcher. As a result of her "right to buy" policy there are not enough council houses any longer and thus, greater homelessness. That combined with her well concealed racism.

As great a leader as Churchill was, he was a warmongering imperialist as well

I seem to recall hearing that, in his days as a backbencher, Lloyd George would have blazing rows filled with hatred with the then PM Benjamin Disreali, simply because he was Jewish

Tony Blair could have been so much better. After 1997 his majority was so huge he could have done great things. Unfortunately, he looked good but was a weak leader.

In the end my vote would be cast for William Gladstone. Despite his new foreign policies based on "Christian love", anyone who stands up to Bismarck and calls him an evil liar gets my vote

Ecks
July 6th, 2010, 02:11 AM
I grew up in a mining village decimated by the thatcher reforms and was a 14yr old observer at the famous "battle of Orgreave" so I would never dare declare any allegiance to Thatcher for fear of lynching by my own unionist family!

However, I secretly admired her leadership and conviction, still do, and consider myself a Thatcherite. Thatcher introduced unpopular policies for the greater good, which Im sure have paid off.

Having said that I voted for Winnie, admired for much the same reasons under different circumstances. I once asked my grandfather who was the better wartime leader, he replied that "Chamberlain was a Peacemaker, but Churchill was a warmonger", the implication being that in 1938, a peacemaker was better, but in 1940 a warmonger was needed. History hasnt been kind to Chamberlain but his appeasement policies need to be seen in context.

Premiers like Tony B. Liar try to please all of the people all of the time, and thats not what is required from a leader. His deception over the war will not be remembered kindly either. The unelected Gordon Brown (known simply as the Taxman) perhaps deserves a place on the "worst ever" list.

REK1
July 17th, 2010, 02:02 PM
I seem to recall hearing that, in his days as a backbencher, Lloyd George would have blazing rows filled with hatred with the then PM Benjamin Disreali, simply because he was Jewish.

You may well have heard that, but I don't think it can be true.

I have no doubt that Disraeli would have been on the receiving end of a great deal of anti-semitism (although I suspect more from his own party than the Liberals), but my impression has always been that Lloyd George was fairly sympathetic towards the Jewish people.

More particularly, though, Lloyd George came quite a bit later than Disraeli, and in fact I think Disraeli had been dead for some years by the time that Lloyd George was elected to Parliament.

Please don't conclude from these comments, however, that I'm any great fan of Lloyd George's - I'm not! He may well have been a good Prime Minister (perhaps even an outstanding one), but he was such an oily womaniser and shameless adulterer that I find it impossible to anything much in his favour as a human being

REK1
July 17th, 2010, 02:07 PM
In the end my vote would be cast for William Gladstone. Despite his new foreign policies based on "Christian love", anyone who stands up to Bismarck and calls him an evil liar gets my vote

He also walked the streets of London at night (even while Prime Minister) looking for prostitutes - not for any improper purpose, but with a view to reforming them and seeking to change their ways.

My reason for mentioning this is not to cast any kind of criticism on him (the opposite in fact - it is very commendable) but just to point out how the world has changed. Can you imagine a prime minister doing that today - quite openly and with everyone knowing about it?

REK1
July 17th, 2010, 02:37 PM
I once asked my grandfather who was the better wartime leader, he replied that "Chamberlain was a Peacemaker, but Churchill was a warmonger", the implication being that in 1938, a peacemaker was better, but in 1940 a warmonger was needed. History hasnt been kind to Chamberlain but his appeasement policies need to be seen in context.

I think this hits the nail on the head. If we compare Churchill with Attlee (two consecutive prime ministers, just as Chamberlain and Churchill were), we see the point illustrated again. Churchill's job was to win a war; Attlee's was to rebuild the country after the war. The fact that they both had the job description of "Prime Minister" is misleading because these were two completely different jobs requiring two completely different men.

This, I think, is what makes it so difficult to vote in this poll. All these prime ministers had different issues to deal with. It's a bit like being asked to vote on who is more talented - Leona Lewis at singing or Wayne Rooney at football? It's practically impossible to decide.

So inevitably Churchill is going to do well in a poll like this, because his job was so much more demanding than that of the others on this list. That doesn't mean to say that he doesn't deserve to do well (I've voted for him myself), but the contest certainly isn't a level playing field.

manc
July 18th, 2010, 10:15 AM
Margaret Thatcher enacted some very painful economic policies in deregulation and selling off state assets. In the worst cases entire towns were ruined, e.g. by her closing of unprofitable coal mines. She pushed these policies through with the conviction that they would pay off in the longer term, and 20 years later the consensus seems to be that she was right.


Could have fooled me. The world economy just collapsed thanks to Thatcher deregulating the banks and turning Britains economy from manufacturing to finance. And at the time of the miners strike, which the Tories clearly planned for and provoked, an economist from Oxford University wrote a pamphlet explaining how shutting these pits would not benefit the economy.

What needs to be pointed out here is that pits had been closing for years, the miners never opposed the closure of a pit if it was dangerous or uneconomic. Even since 1979 48 pits had closed. Even after Scargill took over the NUM, 21 pits were allowed to close. Between 1948 and 1984 the number of miners shrank from 600,000 to just 182,000. On average, 8 to 10 pits a year closed since 1948.

No, the Tories planned the strike, prepared for it, and then deliberately started it. Normally, when a pit was to be closed, there was a review, a consultation procedure, in which the miners were included. In 1984 the Tories announced pit closures, but what sparked the strike was them scrapping the review procedure and announcing immediate closure of Cortonwood.

Another thing worth mentioning is that since 1948 the miners pay had deteriorated from 30% above the national average to 3% below. This had not been a particularly militant union, especially over pit closures. In 1972 they won a wage rise and then in 1984 Heath staked his government on beating the miners, and lost. Hence the desire of the capitalist class and the Tories to destroy the NUM.

manc
July 18th, 2010, 10:21 AM
Churchill. Do people understand that he backed the brutal suppression of the workers uprising for democracy in East Germany in 1953, siding with the Stalinist dictatorship?. That he admired Mussolini in the 1920s?

TonyMyers
September 8th, 2010, 06:20 AM
I only have first hand experience of life under Thatcher and Blair, but would not consider either as the greatest British prime ministers.

Churchill certainly appears to be a very popular choice across a number of polls (Times, radio 4 etc.). He certainly appeared to be a great motivator in his WW2 speeches, although lost popularity after the war. I personally favour Lloyd George (who seems to be a frequent runner up in polls) generally because of his contribution to the welfare state. That said the is a level of controversy surrounding his premiership, with a suggestion of corruption.

theophilus
September 8th, 2010, 07:13 AM
As much as I like Winnie for his leadership during the Second World War....the man was a warmonger. He was planning an invasion of Russia before Japan had even surrendered and was voted out of office because of it. Great as military leaders are, you have to be able to lead in peace as well.
The Soviet Union enslaved Eastern Europe and threatened the world with atomic war for over 40 years. Perhaps this might have been avoided if Churchill's plan for invading Russia had been carried out.

hornet
November 17th, 2010, 08:45 AM
Churchill is one of the greatest Britons to have ever lived. People should stop calling him a warmonger, as he's the guy we needed, if you don't like the method don't take the results.

dunrich
January 16th, 2011, 09:23 AM
I voted for Winston.

It was a hard choice though between him and Thatcher. Both seemed to be exactly what was needed at the time in History they served.

Sometimes, one that you would normally disagree with, just seems to be needed.

I view both in that light.

Athanasius86
February 9th, 2011, 01:44 AM
I voted for Winston Churchill, but I'll admit a very good case could be made for Thatcher. Churchill excelled because he was able to keep the morale up among the British people and demonstrated dogged determination. Furthermore, he usually possessed excellent foresight. He knew well ahead of WWII that trouble was coming from Germany, but he was largely ignored. Though he should have seen earlier into Stalin, he is well remembered for his Iron Curtain speech in America.
Thatcher excelled because she had the guts to stick with her decisions (good ones in my opinion) regardless of people's response.

Streeturchin
February 9th, 2011, 03:08 AM
I voted for Winston Churchill, but I'll admit a very good case could be made for Thatcher. Churchill excelled because he was able to keep the morale up among the British people and demonstrated dogged determination. Furthermore, he usually possessed excellent foresight. He knew well ahead of WWII that trouble was coming from Germany, but he was largely ignored. Though he should have seen earlier into Stalin, he is well remembered for his Iron Curtain speech in America.
Thatcher excelled because she had the guts to stick with her decisions (good ones in my opinion) regardless of people's response.

Thatcher oversaw the destruction of our industrial base, declaring unemployment a price worth paying, and placed our national fortune largely into the hands of the financial sector. We now struggle to reverse the momentum of that direction before it drives us into an abyss. Churchill was certainly the man of the moment. Whatever his flaws and gaffes, he stood ready for his cue and played his role superbly.

Epic
February 10th, 2011, 06:50 PM
The Soviet Union enslaved Eastern Europe and threatened the world with atomic war for over 40 years. Perhaps this might have been avoided if Churchill's plan for invading Russia had been carried out.

How many of the people who were enslaved would have never been born if that war was started? How many people who weren't enslaved in Eastern Europe, but were instead from the West, would have never been born.

World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, but a war with Russia immediately after would have been even deadlier.

It would see Europe in ruins with mushroom clouds over Moscow and much of Eastern Europe. All out war in China and (even earlier) in Korea, as US Pacific and Russian troops fought each other. You would be saying goodbye to a whole generation with the baby boom not happening, the dads instead fighting and dying on the steppes.

Would Churchill's plan have been worth it? Clearly not.


Epic

Spartacus
February 15th, 2011, 01:26 PM
One can easily argue that if it were not Churchill's wartime leadership that WWII would have ended very differently and that the UK would have ceased to exist as a democracy.

For saving the UK and pulling it back from the ashes, Churchill is no. 1.

FruitandNut
February 18th, 2011, 11:39 AM
My vote is first Churchill, second Attlee, third Thatcher(ish) {mixed feelings].

Mordecai
April 13th, 2011, 08:59 AM
I picked "other" because I would have preferred to vote for Benjamin Disraeli.

Every other person on the list, as rightly pointed out by multiple persons responding in this thread, was suitable to the times, whereas Mr. Disraeli was able to adapt to the changing times.

Whereas Winston Churchill is given credit for opposing the Russians, Disraeli ought to be given credit for having opposed them 60 years before then.

Furthermore, while almost everyone responding in this thread would agree that Gandhi was a great man, it should be acknowledge that Winston Churchill referred to him as, and I quote, a "half-naked fakir." "Fakir" is a term native to India, if memory serves, which essentially means swindler of a low class. Clearly, Winston Churchill favored imperialism more than he favored self-determination. I'm inclined to wonder if he isn't voted the highest for no other reason than because his name is better known.

That said, there can be no doubt that Churchill's rallying of British morale at a time when it was most desperately needed was a good thing, and I do not mean to minimize the importance of his work in that regard.

Of course, half of this decision, for me, was aesthetic. Benjamin Disraeli, whatever you think of his policies, was certainly more interesting than the lot of them.

mog
April 14th, 2011, 12:23 AM
I picked "other" because I would have preferred to vote for Benjamin Disraeli.

Every other person on the list, as rightly pointed out by multiple persons responding in this thread, was suitable to the times, whereas Mr. Disraeli was able to adapt to the changing times.

Whereas Winston Churchill is given credit for opposing the Russians, Disraeli ought to be given credit for having opposed them 60 years before then.

Furthermore, while almost everyone responding in this thread would agree that Gandhi was a great man, it should be acknowledge that Winston Churchill referred to him as, and I quote, a "half-naked fakir." "Fakir" is a term native to India, if memory serves, which essentially means swindler of a low class. Clearly, Winston Churchill favored imperialism more than he favored self-determination. I'm inclined to wonder if he isn't voted the highest for no other reason than because his name is better known.

Surely Disraeli's opposition to Tsarist Russia was based on the same kind of shameless imperialism that you criticise Churchill for?

Not that I think imperialism was entirely a bad thing, especially British imperialism. It was certainly preferable to botched self-determination.