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Sunday, 26 December, 1999, 22:45 GMT
Churchill 'greatest PM of 20th Century'

winston churchill Winston Churchill's V for Victory sign


Wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill was the greatest prime minister of the 20th Century, according to a BBC survey.

The Conservative, whose leadership and speeches inspired the UK through the Second World War, beat the last Liberal prime minister David Lloyd George into second place.


The results in full
1. Winston Churchill (Con)
2. David Lloyd George (Lib)
3. Clement Atlee (Lab)
4. Herbert Asquith (Lab)
5. Margaret Thatcher (Con)
6. Harold Macmillan (Con)
7. Marquess of Salisbury (Con)
8. Stanley Baldwin (Con)
9. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (Lib)
10. Harold Wilson (Lab)
11. Edward Heath (Con)
12. James Callaghan (Lab)
13. Andrew Bonar Law (Con)
14. Ramsey MacDonald (Lab)
15. Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Con)
16. Arthur Balfour (Con)
17. John Major (Con)
18. Neville Chamberlain (Con)
19. Sir Anthony Eden (Con)
Churchill's successor, Labour's Clement Atlee, was voted third greatest.

Twenty prominent historians, politicians and commentators were asked by BBC Radio 4's The Westminster Hour to rank the 19 prime ministers from Lord Salisbury at the turn of the century through to John Major in the 1990s.

Britain's current leader Tony Blair was not included because his spell in Downing Street is not complete.

The programme announcing the results of the poll was being broadcast on Boxing Day on Radio 4.

Andrew Rawnsley was asking five of the "voters" to have their say - political heavyweights Roy Jenkins, Barbara Castle and Kenneth Baker; and the historians Professor Ben Pimlott and Andrew Roberts.

Winston Churchill led Britain during the Second World War after returning from the political wilderness.

He lost the first election after the war but returned as a peacetime prime minister in the fifties.

David Lloyd George took over as PM at the height of the First World War, replacing another contender, Herbert Henry Asquith.

He was voted fourth in the list while free market champion and union law reformer Margaret Thatcher was fifth

Her successor, John Major, whose premiership was blighted by Tory infighting over Europe, fared badly, rated 17th out of 19.

Only Neville Chamberlain (18th) and Sir Anthony Eden (19th) did worse.

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See also:
28 Nov 99 |  Wales
Call to honour Lloyd George for millennium
19 Aug 99 |  UK
Churchill 'ban' on BBC nuclear programmes

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