Saturday 29 November 2014

Peter Allen and former prime ministerial reputations

Hip, hip, hooray! (according to YouGov)

Here's a recent comment from Biased BBC (the blog not the broadcaster):
Will all end in tears
Have a listen to Peter Allen on Five Live (01:46.30)
The item is about whether or not an award should be withdrawn from Labour’s Tony Blair because of his involvement in the invasion of Iraq.
But note how easily Allen turns it into an anti-Thatcher piece.
All to do with Blair. Flip all to do with Thatcher. But not on the biased BBC.
Been said before, will be said many, many, many times again – there is not even an effort to disguise the bias nowadays.
The discussion in question was a rather confrontational one between former Tony Blair advisor Matthew Doyle and the Stop the War Coalition's Chris Nineham. Peter Allen, perhaps seeking to calm things down, decided to reach for potential common ground. He asked Matthew Doyle this:
Something which you might agree a bit more is the way his legacy is know, by and large, when you say "Tony Blair" you don't get cheers any more. Like when you say "Lady Thatcher" you used to get cheers, you certainly don't any more. What happens, Matthew? What happens between power and afterwards that we in the end...people become...I know you might say it's all about Iraq...I wonder whether it's a symptom of the years going by. We turn on those who were esteemed to be responsible for the way the world is. What goes on? 
He then asked Chris Nineham this:
Yeah, what about this....whatever happens to people's reputations, Chris?  I mean, I know you feel very strongly about Tony Blair. You probably feel equally strongly about the late Lady Thatcher, negatively as well, I guess. But do we have a tendency in this country to rubbish those who lead us?
Now, is it true that Lady Thatcher's reputation has fallen in the same way as Tony Blair's? Her reputation was always fiercely contested but I don't think it's sunk in the way Peter Allen assumes; indeed, the most recent YouGov polling (from December 2013) shows her reputation still soaring way above other recent former UK prime ministers.

48% of people consider her to have been a "great" or "good" prime minister, compared to 30% who think of her as a "poor" or "terrible" prime minister. 

Tony Blair fares far less well, with 34% believing him to have been a "great" or "good" prime minister  compared to 37% who think him a "poor" or "terrible" prime minister. 

Still, at least Tony Blair fares better than Sir John Major - only 18% believing him to have been a "great" or "good" prime minister as against 31% who think him a "poor" or "terrible" prime minister.

And Sir John fares better in turn than Gordon Brown - a mere 12% of people believing him to have been a "great" or "good" prime minister as against 59% who think him a "poor" or "terrible" prime minister.

In fact, come to think of it, when you consider the sheer scale of opprobrium felt towards Lady Thatcher throughout her years in power, and the sense of fatigue among many of her erstwhile supporters in the run-up to her downfall, it might credibly be claimed that - uniquely - she has disproved Peter Allen's point by becoming more "cheered" after losing power than she was when she was actually in power.

Here endeth the history lesson.


  1. P.S. In a past blogging life I'd have posted a 'Ha ha!' and a picture of Nelson from 'The Simpsons' at the very, very, very poor showing of poor old Crash Gordon there, but I'm beyond such things these days. Snigger.

  2. Yes, all those people at Mrs. Thatcher's funeral were their to rubbish her. Not. There are no cheers at the BBC or at Islington/Salford dinner parties, or on BBC comedy panel shows, of course.

    The thing is, Blair's sunken reputation is due pretty much exclusively to Iraq. Sure, he lied about plenty of things and messed up the country in a variety of ways, and there are many valid reasons he should have a bad reputation, but nobody at the BBC hates him for his immigration fiasco or for letting Gordon Brown sell the gold or rely on the City to prop up the socialist spending sprees. It's all about Iraq, full stop. In fact, we can probably recall watching the BBC turn on him after Gilligan-gate.

    Peter Allen is either being disingenuous to make a point, or is an erstwhile Blair supporter fooling himself as to how things have turned out.

  3. I run a general knowledge competition for schools. Even 11-year-olds who don't know any other British Prime Minister know the names of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher - slightly more, in fact, than know the name of our current PM.

    1. As a 'Pointless' fan, that's almost promising. The politics questions almost always results in disaster for the contestants. It's quite staggering how low some of the answers for senior politicians are.


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