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Lawyers in politics...

A sidetrack in the comments on the A-list post prompted me to dig around in search of noted British Prime Minisiters, and I came up with this:


"Oddly enough, comparatively few of the great British prime ministers have been practicing lawyers - Pitt, Disraeli, Lloyd George. And Blair, as some people must think he's great, although most of them are relatives. Disraeli didn't stick at it, and Thatcher never practiced".

It is a rather different story on the other side of the Pond:

"It is has long been assumed that the vice presidency of the United States is the special preserve of second-rate politicians. This is only part of the story. The office is actually the province of third-rate lawyers. Whereas twenty-four of our forty-one presidents have been members of the bar, a whopping thirty-two of our forty-four vice presidents have held law degrees of some sort. And that's not counting Teddy Roosevelt, who started out studying law, quit, but would have still become the thirty­third veep/attorney had he proceeded with his original intention of studying for the bar exam during all the free time he expected to have as vice president. Instead, McKinley was assassinated shortly after his second inauguration, and Roosevelt had to shelve the law books for­ever". (Joe Queenan, 'Imperial Caddy' 1992).

To that we can add Clinton as President, and Veep Gore went to law school but did not graduate.
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Blogger Serf said... 2:06 pm

I have often thought that to be a Lawyer should automatically disbar someone from a career in politics.

Lawyers see the law as a tool and as a game, am this pushes them toward being legislation junkies. For the rest of us, the Law is something to protect our rights, a belief that a cynical lawyer would laugh at.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 2:10 pm

I got part of the way there (Uni and law school) before deciding that I did not want to spend the rest of my working life dealing with other lawyers. I've met /a few/ honourable exceptions....  



Blogger beethoven writes said... 2:21 pm

I understand that Blair was considered a terrible barrister which is why he went into politics...  



Blogger Croydonian said... 2:26 pm

Found this in Blair's wikipedia entry:

His biographer Rentoul records that, according to his lawyer friends, Blair voiced much less concern regarding party affiliation than to his aim of becoming Prime Minister.  



Blogger Rigger Mortice said... 3:20 pm

why am I not surprised?  



Blogger Rigger Mortice said... 3:32 pm

it's a shame about the a-list post because it has fascinated me during my time running campaigns in my patch that our parliamentary party are so out of touch but can't realise why.

Maude/Shamerons approach is to force candidates(ok not force but restrict choice...) but then you look at them and it's more of the same class of people.

With the exception of Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones(sic?) who genuinely is a departure-and a very welcome one-from our normal fodder,the rest of the a-list is just as the Parliamentary party is,posh-how many went to a comp?.

I realise Cameron is having a good time at the mo,but he should be looking at the disarray on the labour benches.What tees me off is the complete lack of substance and gravitas on our front bench.Letwin,Osbourne,DC,....

When DC goes,where will the next MP come from,yep,you've guessed it,K&C,the Law etc.

The reason a lot of our great PM weren't lawyers is because that's what they had for competition and in my experience,whilst they are clever,they lack personality/charisma and not surprisingly (having opted for a safe career) aren't really risk takers.

I hope you resurrect the a-list C,it had the makings of a great deabte but obviously involved a lot of hard work

sorry for the long post  



Anonymous verity said... 6:19 pm

James Cleverly looks OK. Regular fellow, keen on politics. Not posh. Just a middle class chap.

The A-List is the most undemocratic thing a major party has ever proposed in Britain and I would have thought it was illegal. Some worthy man with good, sound ideas and an appetite for serving the public will be done out of a chance to prove himself in order to make room for a woman barrister. It is the A-List that was the tipping point for me. I will not vote Tory again as long as the repulsive Cameron is leading the party.  



Anonymous verity said... 6:22 pm

Rigger Mortice - the really successful lawyers, as in the barrister earning three or four million pounds a year wouldn't dream of lowering themselves into politics. Those people do tend to have a lot of charisma, but they use it in the courtroom to better, and infinitely more lucrative, effect.

It's only the failed, like Blair, and the ones who chug out an unexceptional living in law who want to go into politics.  



Anonymous Ellee said... 7:37 pm

Blair was able to enjoy free legal studies at the taxpayers' expense, yet he will not be returning to his former honourable profession after he leaves public office. From the comments posted about his legal performance, he would not be wanted in many chambers.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 7:37 am

I'll have another go at posting the A-list thing over the next few days. I've still got the raw material, and I think it was probably just a formatting issues.

One of my narks tells me that one of the things asked of him at a selection meeting was to choose the candidate that he could imagine the man in the street wanting to have a drink with. Not a bad way of short circuiting the process.

The temptation to make mock over the sheer numbers of lawyers, wonks and hacks was just too great, but I don't doubt that there are a lot of excellent potential MPs on that list. After all, we all (?) love Boris, but a CV that read Eton, Oxford and the Telegraph would make many fear the worst.  



Blogger Rigger Mortice said... 10:41 am

if we don't broaen our appela with more people like Wilfed we will be in opposition a long time.

The pie eater doesn't count because he is funny and likelable  



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