Eton College has furnished us (the British) with twenty prime ministers. Two of them have been pretty good, on the whole – Gladstone and the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. Most of the rest have been rubbish.
One of the most rubbish was the 5th Earl of Rosebery, prime minister from March 1894 to June 1895. He was a ‘Liberal Imperialist’, but also projected himself as a social reformer. He had ‘charisma’, and a – sometimes confusing – way with words. His ambition was always to be prime minster; but before that he served as Chairman of the new London County Council, and then as a not very distinguished Foreign Secretary. When he eventually became PM – succeeding Gladstone – he turned out to be hopeless. Contemporaries said that this was because he didn’t put the work into it. As one of them put it: he wanted the accolade without the effort – ‘the palm without the dust’.
Remind you of anyone?