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Eddie Mair | 12:29 UK time, Tuesday, 29 August 2006

The historian Francis Beckett has concluded that the two best British Prime Ministers of the 20th century were Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher.

But who was the best DEPUTY prime minister? It's so tricky.


  1. At 01:04 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Daniel Gordon wrote:

    Oooh, I see photos on the right...

    (First post?)

  2. At 01:10 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Rhodri wrote:

    Just to push the debate even further, who will be the best Future Prime Minister?
    How about Noel Edmunds? The Euro...Deal or no Deal?

  3. At 01:11 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Craig Griffin wrote:

    I disagree with the findings, the best, as you know, was rated on those prime ministers who, when they came in to power had an agenda that they then went on to fulfill, to my mind Winston Churchill will always be number one, for obvious reasons, and maybe some not so obvious!

  4. At 01:20 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Stewart M wrote:

    As the only deputy prime minister I can think of is John Prescott he gets my vote!
    But dragging into the depths of my memory was Willie Whitelaw also a deputy? If so he gets my vote for willie beng his first name.

  5. At 01:20 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Valery Pedant wrote:

    I am giving it some thought, honestly, but in the meantime I wondered if Stephen, Leader of STROP is looking for a Deputy Leader? If so, I'm ready and waiting, shoes polished, belt buckle gleaming, hat tilted - no, no that's a terrible image.
    Btw re Tim C's wheeze in Not Much Blog, this Should Be 1 (SB1).

  6. At 01:26 PM on 29 Aug 2006, David wrote:

    The historian Francis Beckett has concluded that the two best British Prime Ministers of the 20th century were Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher.

    But who was the best DEPUTY prime minister? It's so tricky.

    No, it's easy; Geoffrey Howe

  7. At 01:27 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Mark Drew wrote:

    What is this. No posts and it is 13:23 hours. I guess it is because no one can remember the names of deputy primeministers. The only name I can come up with is Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser al-Shaer who was "lifted" by the Israelis a few weeks ago. Maybe a similar fate awaits John Prezzer.

  8. At 01:31 PM on 29 Aug 2006, andycra10 wrote:


    Best deputy is Mr Prescott, because he's the only one I've heard of.

    Who was John Major's deputy? See, you can't remember either.

    btw : the secret to eternal youth has been discovered : see www.andycragg.com.

  9. At 01:32 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Jean Allison (Mrs) wrote:

    I think Willie Whitelaw was a very good Deputy prime minister indeed. I don't recall him ever hitting a voter, cheating on his wife or forgetting to pay his council tax. He won the Military Cross too. When Mrs Thatcher said. "Every Cabinet needs a Willie". She knew exactly what she was talking about. Somehow the irony is lost on Mr Prescott.

  10. At 01:35 PM on 29 Aug 2006, John H. wrote:

    Oh dear. Thery're disappearing again. I was just enjoying Valery racking up a whopping 3 points in the "this should be post #" game and when I refresh, she isn't even there.

  11. At 01:36 PM on 29 Aug 2006, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Never mind the PMs (hah) what about the RM?

    Eddie, if you have the same Royal Mail person on who was just on the Jeremy Vine Show, can you make sure he doesn't weasel out of answering any questions like he just did on Radio 2?

    Jeremy's a big softy, but I hope for better from the veteran Radio 4 interlocutor that you are...

    (Notice how I didn't actually call the RM person a weasel? Aren't I good?)

  12. At 01:37 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Richard wrote:

    Asking about the best Deputy Prime Minister is like asking about deep sea fish. We know they exist. We are quite happy that they exist. We know that most of them are not all that attractive, but that's about it.

    My vote goes for the Angler Fish.

  13. At 01:39 PM on 29 Aug 2006, John H. wrote:

    Oops. I forgot. That should have been "new number 3" or possibly "old number 5". And this should be "new number 4" or "old number 6"...

  14. At 01:58 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Sara wrote:

    I've got some really good news, everyone. I thought I should find out about more Deputy Prime Ministers on Google and have discovered that I can not only find them on Ebay, I can BUY Deputy Prime Ministers on Ebay too. Hooray. Any offers for the current one?

    This is DPM 14 by the way. It's a very confusing game. Can I buy it on Ebay?

  15. At 01:59 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Valery Pedant wrote:

    Hey John H, would you like to keep my scores for me today - you seem to understand the rules better?I can't work out if you gain or lose penalty points ( is that a woman thing I hear you ask?) (I do however understand the offside rule) (but not how to post a comment on andycragg's website)

    Hey ho, SB14, back to work. I shall, however still keep racking my brains for a DPM, can I do that while I'm proofreading?

  16. At 02:00 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Rufus A Bairzarce wrote:

    Prospective post 14

    Numbering postings is interesting but as they will take varying times to prepare it may not be the most telling measure.

    Why not enter the time of posting. We may be in different time zones but we can check local times against the blog timing and see how / if post shuffling occurs.

    2.01 pm

  17. At 02:07 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Colin Jackson wrote:

    Prescott only wanted to be "Deputy" prime-minister because it sounded vaguely western.

  18. At 02:09 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Philip Rice wrote:

    Margaret Thatcher, the 2nd best PM of the 20th Centrury? She was only the 3rd best woman PM!

  19. At 02:16 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Tim.C wrote:

    I think you'll find the time of posting is correct as per when you hit the POST button.

    It's the 10-15 minute delay before your post appears in the list that makes the numbering seem odd.

    It would be usefull if you could post when the comment became visible - but that, of course, is impossible.

    Thanks to all those that have been trying this - the more serious side of it has been very interesting. i notice post 12 thinks it should be post 3 !!!!!!!

    This should be 17.


  20. At 02:17 PM on 29 Aug 2006, spuggie247 wrote:

    I am a doctors' receptionist. Is anyone else reading the blogg a doctors' receptionist, too?

  21. At 02:23 PM on 29 Aug 2006, David wrote:

    Margaret Thatcher, a woman? Not the one I remember, surely.

  22. At 02:48 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Ollie K wrote:

    According to Wikipedia there have been only a handful of Deputy Prime Ministers:

    Attlee, Butler, Whitelaw, Howe, Heseltine, Prescott.

    Only one of these became PM (at least one fervantly hopes so), and a great one, and he also had the responsibility of running the country at war when Churchill was on a jaunt in mid-Atlantic and so on.

    There can be no doubt that he was the best, and the only one to exercise real power in the job.

  23. At 02:52 PM on 29 Aug 2006, tobias wrote:

    Two sentences today. Rapidly depleting input on a blog little more than a week old. I am going to give it the attention it deserves...

    Deputy PM's, dear me. Tomorrow, who was the best Shadow Home Secretary?

  24. At 03:51 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Gill wrote:

    Hurrah for the postman who tried to help his recipients. Anthony Trollope would have supported him, not suspended him.

    With all the attempts to curtail the rubbish mountains let's just post all the rubbish back to the sender. Eddie Mair should send his e-mails by post. The post office would recoup all the money in lost advertising revenue by using the elongated envelopes his e-mail would require.

  25. At 03:53 PM on 29 Aug 2006, changedmyname wrote:


    Re 19: In fact, it looks like Rufus’ post, 16, went backwards through time...

    Re 9: Did Willie Whitelaw remember to pay his council tax, and is that therefore more evidence of time travel?

    (formerly someone other than ‘changedmyname’)

  26. At 04:13 PM on 29 Aug 2006, changedmyname wrote:

    When I say ‘Re 19’ (above), I mean to refer to Tim’s comments about posting times. But right now his contribution is appearing as 20, not 19......

    (formerly someone other than ‘changedmyname’)

  27. At 04:47 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    DPM used to be an ingredient in cattle feed. When I asked what it was, I waqs told
    Dried Poultry Manure!

    Yup, the other kind of nuggets go to make Macs

    Live and learn, DPM

  28. At 05:05 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    * At 04:13 PM on 29 Aug 2006,
    * changedmyname wrote:

    When I say ‘Re 19’ (above), I mean to refer to Tim’s comments about posting times. But right now his contribution is appearing as 20, not 19......

    I offer the above quotation as a surefire way of identifying to who/what one is replying
    (assuming both don't get 'lost')

    xx ed

    P.s. for those who might wish to inquire into the causes of terrorism, etc., or engage in 'serious' discussion,

    Vaya con Gaia
    (and watch your intake of DPM)

  29. At 05:08 PM on 29 Aug 2006, David McNickle wrote:

    I vote for Churchill as well because him mum was American.

  30. At 05:21 PM on 29 Aug 2006, David McNickle wrote:

    I was surprised, but not shocked, to find out that Deputy PMs can be bought on e-bay. How about gongs? I'd settle for an MBE, but can't have one as I'm an American.

    It was interesting to find out the the position only goes back as far as Atlee and was, sometimes, combined with other posts. Heseltine was one.

  31. At 05:26 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Phil wrote:

    I've just listened to the piece about junk mail and I would like to say that I hate the stuff.

    Personaly I'd like to see a network of gulags North of Inverness just for all those involved in marketing and advertising. There they can live out short brutal lives and stop bothering the rest of us.


  32. At 05:43 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Sheena wrote:

    I'd like that fantastic postalworker who tried to help householders avoid junk mail.
    I'm sure if he became deputy PM he'd be a really good one.

  33. At 05:44 PM on 29 Aug 2006, David McNickle wrote:

    It's almost as bad as all these bloody blogs.

  34. At 05:50 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Phil wrote:

    Blogs are fun.
    I get to reveal my stupidity in all of its beauty.

  35. At 06:02 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Phil wrote:

    I've just had an offer from channel4 to televise life in the Gulags of Inverness.

  36. At 06:26 PM on 29 Aug 2006, John W wrote:

    I admit, I once responded to a junk mail. I needed a second credit card. A flyer came in. I used the form in there (but it was not for the `special' offer of 0% or whatever, as I pay the cards' balance off every month). Bizarrely, I kept getting junk mail from the same company for a few years after I'd already got the card.

    But I was going to get a card anyway, and if junk mail did not exist, I would have signed up another way.

    I recycle my junk mail, but agree that it's a huge waste of trees,oil (or whatever the inks are made from). I feel the same way about estate agents magazines, and local free newspapers.

    Although Charlotte Green has just announced if you opt out, you also would miss local council letters, cunningly disguised as junk mail so you don't find out about the demolishion of your house or whatever until it's too late to complain and the machines are advancing towards your door...

    I also get huge letters from a wine society someone signed me up for, (more than 5mm thick, so postage cost must have lept) which, in these days, seems pointless when it could be done on the web.

    SB35, if I read the rules right.

  37. At 06:34 PM on 29 Aug 2006, John W wrote:

    Mind you, come to think of it, I'm finding email spam even more annoying, because (a) ratio of email spam to real emails is depressingly large (95% of email traffic is spam at some times), (b) quite easy to miss and delete a real email amoung all those viagra offers, share ramping etc etc., and it seems there is no way to opt out of spam!


  38. At 06:42 PM on 29 Aug 2006, anne wrote:

    er - Phil 31 - some of us LIVE north of Inverness and we sure as anything don't want the place polluted with ad execs, mail directors et al.

    send them to Sunbury on Thames or somewhere.

  39. At 07:03 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Tommy Garrod wrote:

    John Presscott?.......................errr.......................still thinking...........................................................................ok maybe not! lol

  40. At 07:05 PM on 29 Aug 2006, David Sturgess wrote:

    Best Deputy Prime Minister? Michael Hesseltine - that mace-swinger who stood up to Maggie!

  41. At 07:21 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Charles Hatton wrote:

    I hope this post will be number 36. Such a lovely dividable number.

    Francis Beckett used the perspective of the voter in his criteria of delivery of agenda to decide on who was the best PM. If the PM was to decide who was the best DPM then Prescott would win hands down. Blair goes away on holiday and the whole nation prays that the DPM doesn’t touch anything important looking until he gets back.

    It’s the same principle as going to the school disco with the ugly kid.

  42. At 07:49 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Valery Pedant wrote:

    uh-oh, forgot to put my SB number on that last one - looks like it should have been 41 (though obviously not, because there's another there now) So that means perhaps it will be 42? YES, I can be the answer to the Universe, Pluto and all points further....

    So this one will be,er, btw is anyone actually keeping score?

    andycrapp - gotcha!

  43. At 08:15 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Concerned of Bognor wrote:

    Musing on the pithy (as always) lead of "DPM" and it's alternatives - damp proof membrane, disaster prevention and management, diintergations per minute (2,220,00 = 1 microcurie) etc. some of which appear quite appropriate when applied to our current leaders I came across a distrubing fact. The name of the grandfather of George W. Bush was Prescott Sheldon Bush.

    My concern about the calendar continues:- pressing any other emboldened date apart from the 25th makes the emboldening on the 29th disappear, the 21st makes all emboldening disappear after the 22nd, Has Eric got an encoded message for us here or is it all down to HTMLblogbracketthingys?

  44. At 08:25 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Tim.C wrote:

    All quiet at what should be 43.

    I forgot to take the front to my car radio with me when I went out, so just going to spark up the Listen Again version of PM.

    I want to here about this postman !!


  45. At 10:30 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Phil wrote:

    Perhaps your right Anne.
    Soylent green, anyone?

  46. At 11:29 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    I missed PM tonight so tried to find out what went on by reading this... foolish me. I'll have to go and "listen again" instead. How dull.

  47. At 11:35 PM on 29 Aug 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Why does it say there are 13 comments posted when there are actually 45?

    I think Alistair Campbell was the best ever DPM by the way.

  48. At 08:12 AM on 30 Aug 2006, Daffers wrote:

    I think it means there are only 13 worth reading...

  49. At 10:09 AM on 30 Aug 2006, David McNickle wrote:

    Or maybe some are questions, not comments.

  50. At 11:09 AM on 30 Aug 2006, paul wrote:

    i liked the article on growth hormones. i seem to recall that this is an old idea reinvented. years ago~1950's monkey glands were offered which claimed the same benefits

  51. At 12:31 PM on 30 Aug 2006, John H. wrote:

    At the risk of sounding petty, am the only one who thought that the comment from Daffers was close to sounding judgemental? I suppose s/he might have meant that only 13 were worth reading as comments on the blog itself, whilst the others were worth reading for their insight and social commentary.

    Re Phil (34) - yes, this blog really is care in the community for a particular type of person. I wonder if it would continue to be so if we had to reveal our identities (andycraqu, tobias, et al notwithstanding).

    Finally, can't believe nobody's said this already - tho' admit my reading has been quick due to sitting in hotel lobby in Cavtat - DPM: Disruptive Pattern Material. Given this, there can only be one (hopefully visions of old Hezzer rushing back into everyone's mind, right about ..... now).

    SB 51

    Oh, can't remember who but comment about Prescott, deputy, western - laughing so much it made my teeth ache.

  52. At 01:08 PM on 30 Aug 2006, Robin wrote:

    Join the Mail Preference Service. Result - no more junk mail. (Takes about a minute online)

  53. At 01:14 PM on 30 Aug 2006, anne wrote:

    yeah, but the mail preference service only works for stuff with stamps/franking machine things. The junk mail this was on about is annonymous type mailings, ie things addressed to The Householder, which the Post Office are paid direct to deliver and it isn't covered by MPS, sadly. MPS and the telephone equivalent are both well worth it though. If only there was one for Spam e-mails as well.

  54. At 01:14 PM on 30 Aug 2006, Valery Pedant wrote:

    Hi John H. - we're on to the next one now, PTO.....

    OOH look! Your prospective number was your actual. So did you win then?

  55. At 06:22 PM on 30 Aug 2006, Amy wrote:

    As someone naturally 5 foot high (the same as my mother), I've only found disadvantages in having to ask people to get things off hight shelves for me in shops, and having to lug chairs around when I need to get to the top of my bookcase!
    Years worth of injections don't seen worth it to me, so long as there are tall people around to serve us.

    Jim Callaghan was a dep. PM wasn't he? But I don't think I'd like him much.

  56. At 10:35 AM on 31 Aug 2006, Andy wrote:

    Just a quick response to Mark Drew’s comments about the Israelis “lifting” our beloved DPM. I think your comments are in very poor taste, apart from anything else, the combined power of the Israeli and the US air forces couldn’t get that git off the ground without some serious leverage.

  57. At 12:38 PM on 31 Aug 2006, Mark White wrote:

    This is the first time I have enetered a comment on a blog. You never know, I might do it again sometime.

  58. At 01:11 PM on 31 Aug 2006, Mark White wrote:

    And if I do ever make another comment, I will spell check it to avoid any embarrassment next time!

  59. At 09:57 PM on 24 Oct 2007, mpftroq mujebt wrote:

    wmyjlac bqhpxvm yhraitlog wrmzjtxsy rutzqlxdn nuhyc udtinmq

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