Brown Most Successful Chancellor, Say British Political Scientists

Gordon Brown has been rated the most successful post-War Chancellor in an exclusive Ipsos poll of nearly 300 academics belonging to the Political Studies Association (PSA).

Gordon Brown has been rated the most successful post-War Chancellor in an exclusive Ipsos poll of nearly 300 academics belonging to the Political Studies Association (PSA).

PSA members rated Gordon Brown's performance on average as 7.9 out of 10 -- his nearest rivals were Kenneth Clarke (Conservative Chancellor between 1993 and 1997) and Stafford Cripps (Labour Chancellor between 1947 and 1950), both rated as 6.1 out of 10. Norman Lamont (Conservative Chancellor between 1990 and 1993) was rated as the least successful of the UK's 20 post-War Chancellors, with an average score of just 2.3.

Brown is also rated as the most successful Chancellor in terms of providing economic stability, working independently from the Prime Minister and leaving a lasting legacy on Britain's economy.

The survey to be published as part of today's (28 November) PSA Annual Awards Ceremony in London, also shows that Brown has a clear lead over David Cameron as the most capable Prime Minister, according to PSA members. Forty nine per cent think the current Chancellor would make the most capable Prime Minister -- a 35 percentage point lead over Cameron (on 14%).

The survey also covered characteristics important to being a successful Chancellor and the predicted and preferred composition of the House of Commons after the next General Election.

Download the 2006 PSA Awards Ceremony Poll presentation pdf, 57KB

Topline Results

  • Results are based on 283 completed online responses from members of the Political Studies Association
  • Fieldwork dates 13 September - 31 October 2006
  • Where results do not sum to 100, this is due to rounding or the exclusion of don't knows / not stated
  • An asterisk (*) represents a value of less than one half of one per cent, but not zero

Q1 For each of the following Chancellors of the Exchequer, please indicate how successful or unsuccessful you think each were overall while in office (with 0 being highly unsuccessful and 10 being highly successful)?

  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Don't Know Mean
  % % % % % % % % % % % %
1945-1947 Hugh Dalton - Labour 1 1 4 6 5 9 15 13 9 3 2 33 5.7
1947-1950 Stafford Cripps - Labour 1 1 3 3 4 12 13 16 11 3 1 33 6.1
1950-1951 Hugh Gaitskell - Labour 1 1 5 6 10 16 11 11 6 2 2 29 5.4
1951-1955 Rab Butler - Conservative 2 1 4 3 8 10 15 18 9 2 * 29 5.7
1955-1957 Harold Macmillan - Conservative 3 2 2 5 6 19 15 14 5 1 1 28 5.4
1957-1958 Peter Thorneycroft - Conservative 4 4 4 8 15 11 7 4 1 * 0 42 4.0
1958-1960 Derrick Heathcoat-Amory - Conservative 4 3 5 11 13 11 5 3 1 0 0 45 3.8
1960-1962 John Selwyn Lloyd - Conservative 3 5 6 15 13 10 5 3 * * 0 41 3.6
1962-1964 Reginald Maudling - Conservative 3 3 12 10 12 13 7 4 2 1 0 33 3.9
1964-1967 James Callaghan - Labour 1 5 7 13 13 18 11 6 4 2 1 18 4.5
1967-1970 Roy Jenkins - Labour 2 1 3 5 6 13 15 20 12 6 2 16 6.0
1970 Ian Macleod - Conservative 6 4 4 6 11 12 7 5 1 0 0 45 3.9
1970-1974 Anthony Barber - Conservative 7 12 15 16 12 8 3 2 1 0 0 24 2.9
1974-1979 Denis Healey - Labour 2 3 7 13 12 16 12 13 7 4 1 11 5.0
1979-1983 Geoffrey Howe - Conservative 8 4 10 13 11 14 11 9 9 3 1 9 4.5
1983-1989 Nigel Lawson - Conservative 6 5 8 12 10 11 11 14 13 4 * 7 4.9
1989-1990 John Major - Conservative 8 9 11 14 16 16 11 6 1 1 * 6 3.7
1990-1993 Norman Lamont - Conservative 23 21 14 12 11 7 4 3 1 1 0 5 2.3
1993-1997 Kenneth Clarke - Conservative 3 2 5 4 7 13 13 18 20 9 2 4 6.1
1997 onwards Gordon Brown - Labour 1 1 1 * 1 5 6 12 29 27 15 2 7.9

Q2 Which two of the following Chancellors do you think were MOST SUCCESSFUL at providing the country with economic stability?

Q3 Which two of the following Chancellors do you think were MOST SUCCESSFUL at leaving a lasting legacy on Britain's economy?

Q4 Which two of the following Chancellors do you think were MOST SUCCESSFUL at working independently from their Prime Minister?

  Q2 Q3 Q4
  % % %
1945-1947 Hugh Dalton - Labour 9 16 1
1947-1950 Stafford Cripps - Labour 10 15 6
1950-1951 Hugh Gaitskell - Labour 2 6 2
1951-1955 Rab Butler - Conservative 14 7 9
1955-1957 Harold Macmillan - Conservative 3 3 7
1957-1958 Peter Thorneycroft - Conservative * 0 1
1958-1960 Derrick Heathcoat-Amory - Conservative 0 0 0
1960-1962 John Selwyn Lloyd - Conservative * 0 *
1962-1964 Reginald Maudling - Conservative 0 * 2
1964-1967 James Callaghan - Labour 1 3 3
1967-1970 Roy Jenkins - Labour 9 5 14
1970 Ian Macleod - Conservative * * *
1970-1974 Anthony Barber - Conservative * 1 0
1974-1979 Denis Healey - Labour 3 7 7
1979-1983 Geoffrey Howe - Conservative 6 20 2
1983-1989 Nigel Lawson - Conservative 9 27 17
1989-1990 John Major - Conservative * * 2
1990-1993 Norman Lamont - Conservative * 4 2
1993-1997 Kenneth Clarke - Conservative 32 17 15
1997 onwards Gordon Brown - Labour 80 42 64
Don't know 7 11 19

Q5 Here is a list of characteristics some scholars consider to be important for a Chancellor to possess in order for his / her Chancellorship to be considered to be successful. Please look through this list and tick those three that you consider to be most important to being successful.

  %
Leadership skills 10
Charisma 1
Decisiveness 24
Down-to-earth 2
Good in a crisis 22
Good quality colleagues 7
High-level ministerial government experience 5
Honesty 5
Integrity 8
In touch with ordinary people 4
Luck 38
Patriotism 0
Poor opposition 1
Has a good relationship with the PM 14
Ruthlessness 5
Sound judgement 45
Stable parliamentary majority 10
Strong convictions / ideology 6
Understands economics 42
Understands the problems facing Britain 29
Understands world problems 12
Other 3
None of these 1

Now thinking about the present and future ...

Q6 Who do you think would make the most capable Chancellor of the Exchequer?

  %
Gordon Brown 68
George Osborne 4
Vincent Cable 8
Other 6
None 4
Don't Know 11

Q7 Who do you think would make the most capable Prime Minister?

  %
Gordon Brown 49
David Cameron 14
Sir Menzies Campbell 10
Other 11
None 10
Don't Know 6

Q8 What do you think will be the composition of the House of Commons after the next General Election?

  %
Labour landslide (100+ seat majority) *
Comfortable Labour win (50-99 seat majority) 5
Narrow Labour win (1-49 seat majority) 48
Hung Parliament - no overall majority for Labour or Conservatives 28
Narrow Conservative win (1-49 seat majority) 15
Comfortable Conservative win (50-99 seat majority) 3
Conservative landslide (100+ seat majority) 0
Other 1
Don't Know 1

Q9 What would you personally like the composition of the House of Commons after the next General Election?

  %
Labour landslide (100+ seat majority) 4
Comfortable Labour win (50-99 seat majority) 25
Narrow Labour win (1-49 seat majority) 25
Hung Parliament - no overall majority for Labour or Conservatives 21
Narrow Conservative win (1-49 seat majority) 9
Comfortable Conservative win (50-99 seat majority) 5
Conservative landslide (100+ seat majority) 1
Other 7
Don't Know 3

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