the life experience of Prime Minister – or lack thereof

Prime Minister Jim Callaghan sent a naval task...

Jim Callaghan - the last British PM to have served in the armed forces. And a Pompey boy to boot (Image via Wikipedia)

Yesterday we talked about the problem of Prime Minister not having any experience whatsoever of the military. I decided to take a look at the education and early employment of Prime Ministers before they entered politics. It makes for interesting reading:

Anthony Eden – Eton, Oxford (Oriental Languages), Kings Royal Rifle Corps Officer WW1 (Military Cross, Brigade Major)

Harold Macmillan – Eton, Oxford (Classics), Grenadier Guards Officer WW1 (wounded three times), ADC to Governor-General of Canada, junior partner with Macmillan publishers

Alec Douglas Home – Eton, Oxford (Modern History), first class cricketer.

Harold Wilson – Royds Hall Grammar School, Oxford (PPE), economic history lecturer at Oxford, Civil Service (research assistant for William Beveridge during WW2).

Ted HeathChatham House Grammar School, Oxford (PPE), Royal Artillery 1941-1946 (Anti-Aircraft, North West Europe), Civil Service.

James Callaghan – Portsmouth Northern Secondary Modern (no Uni), Inland Revenue, Inland Revenue Staff Federation, Lieutenant RN (East Indies, Admiralty).

Margaret ThatcherKesteven and Grantham Girls School, Oxford (Chemistry), Research Chemist.

John Major - Rutlish Grammar School (no Uni), Insurance Clerk, London Electricity Board, Banker, London Borough Councillor

Tony Blair - Fettes College, Oxford (Law), Barrister.

Gordon Brown – Kircaldy High School, Edinburgh (History PHD and Rector), Politics lecturer, journalist for Scottish TV, Open University tutor.

David Cameron – Eton, Oxford (PPE), MP’s researcher, Conservative Research Department, Special Advisor to Chancellor of the Exchequer and then the Home Secretary, Special Adviser at Carlton TV.

Interesting stuff indeed. It does appear that in recent years – Blair onwards – politics has become a career in itself, which people aspire to from a young age. Yet is it not fair to say that elected representatives are meant to be just that – one of us, elected to represent us? How can they do that when they have not lived like the rest of us?

It does seem to me that it is more sensible for politicians to have some kind of prior career, and hence experience of the ‘real world’. Even though most PM’s with a previous career were in the main professionals or office workers, its at least more worldly – and grounded – than a few years acting as a lacky for a Minister. The funny thing is, its not new for politicians to have had little of a career – in the Nineteenth Century it was perfectly acceptable for aristocrats and the gentry to enter politics having had no career at all.

How about Prime Ministers and military service? The last British Prime Minister to have served in the military was Jim Callaghan. Going backwards, all post-war Prime Ministers, save Home and Wilson, served in either WW1 or WW2. It is not difficult to imagine that Eden’s and Macmillan’s service on the Western Front must have helped in their political service during WW2. But then again, Eden did make a serious hash of Suez.

When David Cameron was elected, commentators noted that he was the first Old Etonian PM since Alec Douglas Home, something we thought we might never see again. Indeed, it seems that immediately post-war being an Old Etonian was ncessary to be PM. But when will we next have a Prime Minister with a military background? Or even an opposition leader, or senior Cabinet Minister?

About these ads

16 Comments

Filed under politics, Uncategorized

16 responses to “the life experience of Prime Minister – or lack thereof

  1. John Erickson

    Hey, I’d love a US president with military experience, but that either gives us an old fart from Vietnam, one of the few worthwhile leaders from Gulf War 1, or a recent “graduate” of Gulf War 2 (who have more important things to do than mess around in politics). I’d be a lot happier if the President, like your PM, would actually LISTEN to the career military personnel already present. And maybe, just maybe, have some form of military education, even if it’s only playing old Avalon Hill wargames! (Oops – dating myself again!) Maybe that way, 3 wars going on 4 wouldn’t look like such a good idea, especially with domestic unemployment stuck around 9% (not counting all those who have just stopped looking). Oh – sorry – I’m letting common sense get in the way again.

  2. James Daly

    I’m well aware that we probably won’t see the era of mass-mobilisation again, so the chances of many people in society joining up is remote. But if they haven’t actually served in the military, then it would be good if they at least had some understanding of history, or what you might call a ‘learned’ subject.

    On the flip side, think of the two most prominent ex-military politicians in the past decade – David Davis and Ian Duncan-Smith… ahem…

    I can remember chuckling when Dubya landed a fighter on a Carrier a few years back.

    • James Daly

      Agreed! I don’t think Cameron should do the talking, as he doesn’t know what he’s talking about on ANY subject, let alone fighting wars. However, lets let the Generals, Air Marshals and Admirals, with 30+ years experience, do the talking based on that experience.

      This quote is quite telling actually, in that it exposes what Cameron sees his job as – talking, ie, bullshit.

  3. WEBF (without link)

    But bullshit is what his entire career has been.

  4. Besides, It unique style allows you easy access to all buttons.
    Well, you can not do this any longer; they will activate the phones in
    the stores. Allow the following tabular description clarify you better.

  5. go

    On car 8 rental the internet auto finance web sites are the most
    sought after, because the more you learn about it.
    This isn’t true considering all the checks and measures your used car.
    These secrets will save you both time and money.

  6. Because the admin of this site is working, no hesitation very rapidly it will be famous, due to its feature contents.

  7. Hi my loved one! I want to say that this post is amazing, nice written and come
    with almost all vital infos. I’d like to see more posts like this .

  8. I have been exploring for a little bit for any high quality
    articles or blog posts in this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I finally
    stumbled upon this site. Studying this information So i’m happy to convey that I’ve an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed.
    I so much for sure will make sure to don?t disregard this
    web site and provides it a look regularly.

  9. My brother suggested I might like this website.
    He was entirely right. This post actually made my day.
    You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent
    for this info! Thanks!

  10. Hello, i feel that i saw you visited my weblog thus i got here to go back the choose?.I
    am trying to in finding issues to enhance my website!I assume its
    adequate to use some of your ideas!!

  11. Did not thought about this until now :)Saffron Extract Extract prevents the pancreatic
    from splitting down starch into maltose and dextrin.

    It also puts a stop to the growth of alpha-amylase digestive enzymes in the overall body.

    Docs usually endorse this to their people who are diabetes sufferers because the Saffron Extract stops the manufacturing of alpha-glucosidase
    found in the intestinal tract from converting disaccharides and starches into blood sugar.
    Saffron Extract benefits also reduces glucose and carbohydrates from converting into undesired body fat by blocking the generation of citrate lyase.
    Some medical professionals use Garcinia as a laxative to
    help with costiveness or other well-being reasons such as fat burning, stress
    reliever, major depression, changes in mood and as a aid to getting a beneficial night nap.

  12. Stage 7a: Unlocking only – In situation you are unlocking
    your 2g, select “unlock” because well. The Otterbox will certainly do a great job of protecting your
    gadget and appears fairly great too.

  13. Hi there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better!
    Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I will forward this post
    to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you
    for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s