Saturday 6 December 2008

Tory leadership trivia quiz

Andrew Porter notes that David Cameron's third anniversary as Tory party leader means he has already demonstrated more stamina than six of his predecessors - including Lord George Bentinck (1846-1847), compared to whom Andrew Bonar Law probably counts as a celebrity politician.

Andrew thinks its no longer possible to have a pre-Christmas trivia quiz in the age of the internet - but here's my favourite Tory leadership pub quiz question anyway.

Cameron's three predecessors as Conservative leader (Michael Howard, Iain Duncan Smith, William Hague) never made it to Number 10 Downing Street. But who was the last Conservative party leader before William Hague not to become Prime Minister?

Well done to any fellow anoraks who knew the answer without googling it. No prizes I'm afraid - unless the first person to get it right in the comments wants to claim a free copy of the next Fabian Review!

And doesn't it powerfully capture something very striking about recent British political history?


Ben said...

Austen Chamberlain, of course.

But, the real anoraks' answer is that Hague was the first. It wasn't until Bonar Law in 1922 that a leader was formally appointed. Chamberlain was leader of the party in the commons.

Sunder Katwala said...


It is "of course" Austen Chamberlain, who was always the bridesmaid. I appreciate the further point about the party leadership.

Put either way round, I do think this does more than anything to get across the point about the 20th century as the 'Conservative century' in electoral politics.

In that post-1922 and pre-1997 period when every Tory leader made it to PM, the Labour party had four Prime Ministers but six party leaders (Arthur Henderson, George Lansbury, Hugh Gaitskell, Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock, John Smith) who were never Prime Minister.

And three (let's hope four) Tory leaders in a row who were not PM is a massive shock to the 20th century natural party of government.