RAB BUTLER
The Best Prime Minister We Never Had?

MICHAEL JAGO
480pp PHOTOS 2015 LIST PRICE: £25.00 B860

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Description
Despite his tenure of three of the four Great Offices of State, his popularity with the electorate and the revolutionary 1944 Education Act that bears his name, Richard Austen 'Rab' Butler narrowly missed out on the premiership on three separate occasions, earning him the sobriquet attached to his name ever since -- The Best Prime Minister That Britain Never Had. Banished from the inner council of the War Cabinet for his support of appeasement, Butler used his time as Education Minister wisely to emerge as the progressive face of the post-war Tory Party, going on to spend four years at the Treasury before the gradual but relentless eclipse of his career after Anthony Eden's accession. Was Butler an over-ambitious, condescending intellectual who had antagonised enough colleagues to ensure he would ultimately be thwarted? Or did he simply not want the leadership enough? Could this liberal Tory, in tune with the electorate, have led the Conservatives to victory in the 1964 election?
[An] excellent political biography . . . well worth reading. SPECTATOR