Sunday, January 28, 2007

High Ranking Home Secretaries

Someone suggested I ought to do a list of Home Secretaries since 1970, which could then be debated in the comments. I freely admit to not knowing a lot about the Home Secretaries of the 1970s (I was at school!) so I may have made the odd misjudgement here... I am, however, quite sure about the position of number 15...

1. Michael Howard
2. Douglas Hurd
3. William Whitelaw
4. Roy Jenkins
5. Ken Clarke
6. Leon Brittan
7. David Blunkett
8. Kenneth Baker
9. Merlyn Rees
10. Robert Carr
11. David Waddington
12. Jack Straw
13. Charles Clarke
14. Reginald Maudling
15. John Reid

26 comments:

fr said...

All I can say is, looking at some of the names on that list, thank God they are not in charge of hanging people these days.

Paul Linford said...

The 1970 cut-off point is rather arbitrary, especially as Roy Jenkins served as Home Secretary both before and after that date.

I would rate Jenkins as comfortably the greatest Home Secretary since WW2 on account of his liberalising reforms and - correct me if I'm wrong Iain - I would have thought this might just be one thing on which we could agree!

Whitelaw was a vastly underrated figure in my view and I would definitely have him at the top of the post-1970 list. Apart from anything else, it fell to him to deal with the Brixton/Toxteth riots in 1981, at a time when the country appeared on the verge of social disintegration.

Anonymous said...

Should you not be putting a forename for Merlyn Rees to be consistent with the others ?

Anonymous said...

How can you possibly put Charles Clarke and John Reid below the lamentable performance of David 'machinegun' Blunkett ? Have you been hoodwinked by his memoirs ?

Surely the reason Clarke had to go and Reid is in such a mess can be traced directly back to Blunkett's totally unspectacular stint with years of rudderless leadership, a catatonic pace of change, and a complete failure to make progress with issues such as immigration, prison numbers and deporting failed asylum seekers ? Surely we cannot pretend that those problems did not exist before John Reid's fairly recent tenure ? And say what you like about JR, he isn't off shagging someone from the Spectator, or off to Annabel's to mix with the great and the good, who he 5 minutes later dismisses as the liberati when they turn out to be fair weather friends.

Anonymous said...

Should we not be having some 'head to head' contests here, so that there is an element of a league table, with a relegation zone for those deemed 'not fit for purpose..'.

Ross said...

Roy Jenkins ruined the criminal justice system and set crime levels on a generation long spiral until the early 1990s. Douglas Hurd like all of Margerat Thatcher's Home Secretaries was far too left wing and soft on crime.

Anonymous said...

ah, old willy whitelaw, we have a big picture on the wall inside our constituency office...

Mike said...

James Callaghan?

ConservativeHomo said...

Why on earth is David Blunkett so high up? Surely a large part of the mess that has engulfed the Home Office in recent years started with him?

Anyonebutblair said...

Conservaitvehomo is right, Blunkett sowed the seeds of the debacle that is the Home Office right not. Woy Jenkins sowed the seeds of criminality is the fault of society not the fault of the criminal. Something we are all paying for today. Thanks Roy.

verity said...

When are we getting the promised review of Blunkett's book, Iain?

Iain Dale said...

When I have finished it. About 100 pages to go.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a rogues gallery too me. There is so little to choose between Michael Howard and John Reid, and yet you have them at opposite ends of the spectrum. At least Douglas Hurd has rehabilitated himself somewhat and does champion penal reform. So, I suppose, he comes out best of a bad bunch.

Peter said...

Blunkett must be at number 15 with Reid at 14 and Clarke at 13. I think most of the Home Office problems now are a result of Blunketts mistakes and the Human Rights Act.

John Reid said...

I can see why you have Michael Howard as number one of the worst and myself as the best at number 15. I have now sorted the prison overcrowding crisis I inherited from Michael Howard. I intend to make use of the Millennium Dome, Butlin's Holiday Camps (out of season), the Tube Trains overnight and telephone boxes with no more than three inmates in each.

Voyager said...

4. Reginald Maudling

= Operation Countryman

= John Poulson

= Which Lodge ?

Iain Dale said...

Er, he wasn;t 4, he was 14.

Anonymous said...

Come on Iain. Blunkett is the worst of the lot by a country mile.

Anonymous said...

Should I be ashamed for knowing of 14 of them, or knowing of *only* 14 of them? I'm 40.

straightlabourvoter said...

harold wilson was really irked by robert carr, for some reason. apparently, he used to mutter about carr's membership of the all england club whenever he was at the despatch box. funny, because carr is rightly regarded as one of the most decent men to hold the job.

as for blunkett's book, iain, for god's sake, don't finish it. you're using time and oxygen that you will bitterly regret when you're an old man. i have read obscure political books by everyone, including efforts by jim prior, jock bruce-gardyne, rab butler, bryan gould, philip gould - all have taught me something about them, their times, their colleagues and the challenges they faced.

blunkett's strange, lazy, ill-disciplined, self-serving (to a monumental degree) effort comes right at the bottom of the pile.

it reminds me of the Alan Partridge biog, Bouncing Back, where he uses the phrase "Needless to say, I had the last laugh", on 14 occasions, tho Blunko uses it about four hundred times.

it will only be "beaten" if and when diane abbott writes a book, presumably with a blunt crayon, with lots of nice pictures.

Voyager said...

Er, he wasn;t 4, he was 14.

My cut-and-paste error was of more concern than that he was a Freemason receiving gifts from Fellow Mason and Wakefield architect corrupter of Jack Cunningham's father, and Reggie was i/c of the Met where Commissioner Robert Mark was busy rooting Masonic corruption from The Yard ?


BTW - is Lord Macpherson a Mason ?

michael howard said...

I haven't finished with you yet, Reid

Anonymous said...

Rees and Carr should definitely rank ahead of Blunkett,Brittan and Baker.Roy Jenkins should be 7 1/2.Depending on your point of view,he was either the best or the worst.

John Reid said...

Michael Howard @11.20: Should I fret at your threat? Jeremy Paxman and Anne Widdecombe. Ring any bells?

Anonymous said...

Merlyn Rees was a fine Home Secretary, as was Roy Jenkins. I have to admit that that I have a small bias as I am a Labour support, as you do because you are a conservative, but those two especially are men who were pragmatic. Plus, I recently read interestingly that Jenkins was a muniturist as well, BEFORE Thatcher. Oh, yes he was!

lalalalalalala... said...

Must confess to having suggested the task. Looking at the list, its a harder one to sort than i had thought...

But here goes - Hurd up at top, with Merlyn Rees, Straw, Whitelaw and Jenkins pretty high up too. I think David Waddington much under-rated - a bit of a buffoon, but surprisingly sensible most of the time (like many Tory grandees, which I guess he sort of was). Howard completely cocked up his tenure - the most disgraceful Tory Home Sec in living memory - which given where he started from must shove him down the rankings second only to Blunkett (at the bottom). Both shared the same weaknesses of knee jerk populism and administrative incompetence. Can't remember Carr (I can only plead youth (sort of)), and Leon Brittan was completely unmemorable in the Home Office. Clarke(K) was his usual chancer self whilst in post, attractive, but must score below mid-ranking; Charles Clarke and John Reid score below par but not bottom - they were the poor saps left to deal with Blunketts complete trashing of what was always a difficult department to run properly.

Find it hard to rate Ken Baker - as a Labour activist at the time, I hated him out of principle and find it hard now to disintangle his legacy from the cruel Spitting Image puppet...

What it does highlight as an exercise is the calibre of politician who held the post in the 70s and 80s and how (Jack Straw excepted) the status and talent of successive holders of the Home Secretaryship visibly diminished from the early 90s onwards.