It was noted by Anthony Seldon in the Telegraph that we’ve had 54 prime ministers since 1721 – and “ranking them in order is a popular game”. If we were to ask SME bosses to take part in that game though, who would they pick as favourite prime minister?
In Seldon’s opinion, ten stand out above the rest. Charles Grey abolished slavery, David Lloyd George led the nation through the Great War and Clement Attlee notably transformed Britain after 1945.
“Benjamin Disraeli was as successful leading foreign as domestic policy,” he added. “Robert Peel put the country before his party on both Catholic emancipation and repealing Corn Laws and Margaret Thatcher led economic and trade union reforms.”
One can’t go far without mentioning Robert Walpole, considered both the first and longest-reigning prime minister (21 years). He ranks among the top four leaders on Seldon’s list for successfully “embedding the position of prime minister”. Then there’s William Gladstone, a stunning financial administrator Seldon notes, William Pitt – “a great fiscal reformer” – and in top place Winston Churchill.
Of course, everyone has various opinions on the matter, and just because someone led a country through one predicament doesn’t mean they captured the hearts of its population.
Zoning in particularly on the SME landscape, Informi research hoped to find which prime minister – current and old – garnered the highest respect.
Using the responses of 800 SME owners, it revealed most were enamoured by those who led over the last 30 years – Walpole, Grey and George were nowhere to be seen. More recent leaders fell flat in terms of expectations though. Instead, Margaret Thatcher came out as the nation’s favourite.
Darren Nicholls, product manager at Informi, claimed: “Nearly 30 years after her term in office finished, Thatcher remains a controversial former prime minister who polarises many opinions.
“But under her leadership, the shrinking of the public sector helped many entrepreneurs to thrive with the number of private small businesses in the UK thriving. Since then, SME owners have suggested to us they do not believe more recent prime ministers have been as successful in helping small businesses.”
Indeed, those less favoured were David Cameron, named by 13 per cent of SME owners, with Gordon Brown receiving a vote from 12 per cent. John Major trailed behind with ten per cent, while Theresa May was named by only four per cent.
“This could of course reflect the fact May has only been in office for less than a year, but equally may reflect her diminished image in the public eye since losing the Conservative’s majority in the recent general election,” the company explained.
“Some business owners also seem pessimistic about trusting the new government, with 34 per cent saying they don’t think they will deliver a good Brexit for their business.”