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By D. Leonard

Through the process the 20th century, nineteen males and one woman--from the 3rd Marquis of Salisbury to Tony Blair--have occupied the submit of top Minister of the uk. In a chain of biographical essays, Dick Leonard, a number one political journalist and previous MP, recounts the conditions that took them to the head of ''the greasy pole'', probes their own and political strengths and weaknesses, assesses their functionality within the most sensible workplace and asks what lasting impact they've got had.

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Extra resources for A Century of Premiers: Salisbury to Blair

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In December 1916, when Lloyd George replaced Asquith as Prime Minister, he was appointed as Foreign Secretary, provoking the lasting hostility of Asquith who previously had been a personal friend. 249). As Foreign Secretary, Balfour showed a sureness of touch which had eluded him as Prime Minister. His most significant contribution was in leading a mission to Washington, immediately after America’s entry into the war in April 1917. He created an immensely favourable impression, and did much to persuade a still reluctant Congress and administration to devote themselves wholeheartedly to the war effort.

This left Arthur, whose education had continued at Eton and Cambridge, though without his achieving any particular distinction, as the head of the family. At 24, with a fortune probably exceeding £1 million (equal to at least £75 million today), surrounded by an adoring family circle of brothers, sisters and cousins (several of them of high intelligence and intellectual distinction), he had the world at his feet. Handsome, clever, charming, witty, he was also immensely well connected (his Uncle Robert, the future Prime Minister, was a trustee of his estate and seems to have felt more affinity with the young Arthur than with any of his own large brood of children).

The anonymous poet quoted above was writing about a carefree young man in his mid-twenties. His perceptive analysis could equally apply to the 54year-old who became Prime Minister in 1902: ‘Playful little Arthur, he/ Cannot take things seriously’. Works consulted Churchill, Winston, Great Contemporaries, London, Thornton Butterworth, 1937. H. Allen, 1987. , Balfour: Intellectual Statesman, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1985. Ridley, Jane, and Clayre Percy, The Letters of Arthur Balfour and Lady Elcho 1985–1917, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1992.

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