Atlee is century's leading statesman as Blair gets demoted to agriculture
Friday 17 December 1999
Although Mr Blair was a strong contender for the position of deputy prime minister in a New Statesman poll, he was pipped at the post for the job by Baroness Thatcher's former deputy, William Whitelaw, who won the contest by a single vote.
There was little surprise about the identity of the prime minister of the century. Clement Atlee romped into the job with 28 per cent of the votes cast - twice as many as any other candidate. In fact Atlee pushed Mr Blair into third place for deputy, but was disqualified as he had already been made prime minister.
The magazine asked readers to nominate ministers for 12 cabinet posts, with the final four allocated to the most popular among those politicians who had not already won jobs. Although Atlee was the clear winner for prime minister, Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George were tied for second place. Eventually Churchill won the job of defence secretary and Lloyd George was allotted social security after being considered for Northern Ireland, but rejected. The only other member of the current Cabinet to make it was Gordon Brown, who won his present job as Chancellor with Lloyd George coming second again.
Roy Jenkins, now Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, was a clear winner for home secretary, though both Jack Straw and Rab Butler won significant nominations for the post. Robin Cook received just one vote for the post of foreign secretary, as did Michael Portillo. The job went to Ernest Bevin with Edward Heath, who failed to make the cabinet, placed second.
Lady Thatcher slipped into a seat at the dream cabinet table with the job of cabinet enforcer, with Peter Mandelson in second place. At trade and industry, Harold Wilson was a clear winner, while Rab Butler, architect of the 1944 Education Act, was an equally popular choice for education. Similarly, Aneurin Bevan won health with a 57 per cent landslide, while at environment Barbara Castle was elected with just 6 per cent of the votes. Both Ron Davies and Chris Smith were nominated for culture, but Jennie Lee won the job.
The best of the rest were Denis Healey, who found himself posted to Northern Ireland, and Tony Benn, who was made leader of the House. Mr Blair was given agriculture because it was the only job left.
Some of the 136 readers who responded decided they would prefer to nominate their "nightmare" cabinet. One of these included Oswald Mosley as prime minister, Neil Hamilton as deputy prime minister and Robert Maxwell as chancellor of the exchequer.
THE DREAM CABINET
Prime Minister - Clement Atlee (pictured)
Deputy Prime Minister - William Whitelaw
Chancellor of the Exchequer - Gordon Brown
Home Secretary - Roy Jenkins
Foreign Secretary - Ernest Bevin
Cabinet Enforcer - Margaret Thatcher
Trade and Industry Secretary - Harold Wilson
Education Secretary - Rab Butler (pictured)
Health Secretary - Aneurin Bevan
Defence Secretary - Winston Churchill
Environment Secretary - Barbara Castle
Culture Secretary - Jennie Lee
Leader of the House - Tony Benn
Social Security Secretary - David Lloyd George
Northern Ireland Secretary - Denis Healey
Minister of Agriculture - Tony Blair (pictured)
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