Ipsos MORI has recently published a couple of books about Britain after Blair’s ten years. One of them recounts what happened to long-serving Prime Ministers’ previous successors:
Before Tony Blair, only seven men and one woman have previously held office as British Prime Minister for ten years or more (Robert Walpole, Henry Pelham, Lord North, William Pitt the Younger, the Earl of Liverpool, William Gladstone, the Marquess of Salisbury and Margaret Thatcher); they include some of our history’s most distinguished leaders. The worry for Gordon Brown is that their successors have been less conspicuously successful.
John Major’s premiership is a recent memory, and Brown would certainly not want to take him as a role model. Of the other seven, after assuming power Canning was dead within the year and Wilmington after not much longer, whilst Rockingham and Grenville left office alive but in just as short order. Rosebery is best remembered, if at all, for being the winning owner in the Derby both times it was run while he was at Number Ten. Balfour is known not for any achievements in office but for the apparent nepotism that helped his early career, which supposedly gave rise to the phrase “Bob’s your uncle”. The Duke of Newcastle’s most conspicuous ability was in the efficient diverting of government money to help him win elections, acceptable by the standards of the day but no comfortable precedent for a modern Prime Minister.