Prime Ministers of The United Kingdom
Artists2021 71 x 100 cm
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Prime Ministers of The United Kingdom - In 1986 on the 300th anniversary of Number 10 Downing Street the five living former Prime Ministers assembled after dinner for a formal photograph. Someone asked ‘I wonder, what is the collective noun for a group of Prime Ministers?’ to which Harold Macmillan swiftly replied ‘A lack of principals’.
That those who have held such high office should cast such grave and jocular aspersions as to their own scruples does give serious legitimacy to the public’s seeming general dislike of politicians. Though newspaper lists of Britain’s most popular and least popular Prime Ministers claim to put aside malleable and partisan arguments in favour of assessments of their effectiveness in office, one only has to check the masthead to discover why the top principal on one list, finds themselves at number 53 on another.
Whilst the popularity or unpopularity of some Prime Ministers polarises opinions due to obvious party political reasons, others may have been unpopular in their day but are now relatively forgotten, such as Lord Goderich, who was described by George lV as ‘a damned, snivelling, blubbering, blockhead’. History continues to be unkind to others, Lord North tops many lists as the most unpopular Prime Minister, both historical and current.
The American War of Independence is an event that like the Suez Crisis, the second Iraq War, the creation of the NHS and other ‘events dear boy, events’ described concurrently on this timeline of UK Prime Ministers, that eclipses the everyday travails that might mark out other periods of office as unremarkable.
As a popularity contest or even a beauty pageant, a fondness for wigs, or even Whigs might swing opinion behind earlier incumbents whilst a penchant for the more unpredictable and chequered biography might favour PM’s of the post-war era. It’s entirely up to the political opinions of the viewer whether they perceive things as getting better or worse when travelling this timeline which provides a blank roundel at the end in which to validate said.