‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Monday, 22 April 2013

Death of first Prime Minister

Today is the anniversary of the death of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who led the Liberal Party to its greatest ever election victory with 400 seats. CB, as he was popularly known, was the first person officially to be designated ‘prime minister’. He was the oldest person to become prime minister for the first time in the twentieth century, at the age of 69 and the only prime minister to have died at 10 Downing Street. He resigned the premiership on 3 April 1908 in very poor health, but was allowed to stay in the prime minister’s residence by his successor, Asquith. Campbell-Bannerman died at number 10 on 22 April 1908 at the age of 71.

CB died relatively young by prime minsterial standards. Despite having been a smoker, Margaret Thatcher lived to the age of 87. Her arch-rival and predecessor as Conservative leader, Ted Heath, reached 89. But Heath was not a record-breaker. The longest lived British prime minister to date has been James Callaghan who lived to 92 years and 364 days – just one day short of 93. Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home both made it to 92 and Churchill lived to 90.

Recent research has shown that politicians do indeed live longer than those in other professions, on average surviving to 83.0, compared to academics who have an average lifespan of 81.7 years and performing artists who only average 77.2. 

Currently though, the oldest living former prime minister is John Major, who is only 70.


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