Blair fails to make grade in historians' survey

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Tony Blair has failed to make a list of the five most successful prime ministers. Clement Attlee, whose post-war Labour administration founded the welfare state, topped the Mori poll of academics published yesterday.

Tony Blair has failed to make a list of the five most successful prime ministers. Clement Attlee, whose post-war Labour administration founded the welfare state, topped the Mori poll of academics published yesterday.

Attlee scored an average of 8.34 out of 10 among the 139 history and politics experts asked to rate 20 prime ministers. The wartime leader Winston Churchill took second place on 7.88, ahead of the Liberal David Lloyd George on 7.33.

Margaret Thatcher and her fellow Tory Harold Macmillan were fourth and fifth on 7.14 and 6.49 respectively, while Mr Blair trailed sixth on 6.30. Anthony Eden, who oversaw the Suez Canal crisis, was rated least successful with 2.53.

The poll will make gloomy reading in Downing Street, where Mr Blair is said to be concerned about his legacy after announcing he will fight only one more general election.

Churchill's statesmanship in the Second World War was seen as the greatest success of any 20th-century prime minister. But for the academics, it was outweighed by Attlee's domestic reforms, according to the research commissioned by the University of Leeds.

Academics were asked to select three characteristics that were essential to being a successful Prime Minister from a list of 20. Top answers were leadership (64 per cent), sound judgment (42 per cent) and being good in a crisis (24 per cent). Being seen as honest, down-to-earth and understanding economics were the least rated.

TWENTY PRIME MINISTERS

Clement Attlee Lab, 1945-51, Ranking 8.34

Winston Churchill C, 1940-45, 51-55, 7.88

David Lloyd George Lib, 1916-22, 7.33

Margaret Thatcher C, 1979-90, 7.14

Harold Macmillan C, 1957-63, 6.49

Tony Blair Lab, 1997-now, 6.30

Herbert Asquith Lib, 1908-16, 6.19

Stanley Baldwin C, 1923-24, 24-29, 35-37, 6.18

Harold Wilson Lab, 64-70, 5.93

Lord Salisbury C, 1895-1902, 5.75

Henry Campbell-Bannerman Lib, 1906-08, 5.01

James Callaghan Lab, 76-79, 4.75

Edward Heath C, 70-74, 4.36

Ramsay MacDonald Lab, 1924, 29-31, 31-35, 3.73

John Major C, 1990-97, 3.67

Andrew Bonar Law C, 22-23, 3.5

Neville Chamberlain C, 1937-40, 3.43

Arthur Balfour C, 02-05, 3.42

Alec Douglas-Home C, 1963-64, 3.33

Anthony Eden C, 55-57, 2.53

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