Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Not-A-Poll: Best Prime Minister Of The Last 45 Years - The Winner Is ...

Image: Bill Bradley

Grand Final: Whitlam 262 - Keating 173

"But the best team, the best policies, the best advisers are not enough. I need your help. I need the help of the Australian people; and, given that, I do not for a moment believe that we should set limits on what we can achieve, together, for our country, our people, our future."

I'm very busy with the Tasmanian election but a quick note that Gough Whitlam has easily won the final round of my Best Prime Minister Of The Last 45 Years Not-A-Poll.  It's been a long road full of unexpected reversals and some comically foolish stack attempts but in the end the candidate who has generally dominated has won.  

Whitlam won the first four rounds (some narrowly) as various lesser lights were eliminated, and tied with Paul Keating in round five, but the final was a fizzer.  Gough bolted to a fifty-vote lead in the early days, and while the percentage margin closed from then on in, the vote margin never did.  In the end it was a very easy win with 60.2% two-candidate preferred; presumably the Gillard voters of previous rounds mostly switched to him.  In the early days of this round I scanned the voting for anything suss, but since it became obvious Whitlam was going to win I've been less diligent, and in any case there have been no suspicious movements in the total. 

Whitlam was always going to be a contender as (the left-wing bias of this site's readerbase aside) his government had great reforming successes in its few turbulent years, hence his widespread reputation as the political father of modern Australia.  As a reader mentioned in one of the earlier rounds, there was also no shortage of chaos and governance failure, so his position will forever be debated.  As an ex-PM he carried his legacy with dignity despite the provocations of his contentious removal and hence became a living legend.  (How a PM nurtures their legacy after leaving office has had quite a bit to do with some of the results here, in my view).

Gough wins immunity from the Worst PM Of The Last 45 Years poll, which will be started in April and run in two rounds (a primary round and then, if nobody gets 50% in the first round, a runoff for the top two.)

Thanks all for the interest in this one; it has been quite a fun exercise.  


  1. Kevin,

    you obviously have idiots who vote.

    People forget but Whitlam was highly influenced by the Vernon committee. His platform was pretty right wing in economic terms. The IAC, Cutting of tariffs etc. If only he had Hayden as Treasurer from the beginning.

  2. Whatever Whitlam's messes at the time, his achievements have stood up.

    Objectively it probably should be Hawke except for the perception that his achievements as PM were really Keating's. Hence the high placement of Keating even though most of his best work was as Treasurer.

    There are no other viable options in the timeframe of the question unless you're a big fan of the guy who had the luck of a global boom and mostly wasted it while trying to keep Australia frozen in the 1950s socially. History already isnt looking kindly on that era.

    1. Incidentally, we all know that Tony Abbott wins the worst PM poll despite sympathy votes for Rudd and Turnbull Wouldn't Worst Opposition Leader be far more interesting? Does Latham get it more for his after the fact behaviour? Abbott despite winning an election? Repeat election losers like Peacock and Beazley? Short term embarrassments like Downer? Much more interesting.

    2. I'll be interested to see if Abbott does in fact deservedly win or if reflexive voting against the incumbent by Labor partisans causes Turnbull to win. After I've done Worst PM I may run other such Not-A-Polls. Worst Opposition Leader is a good suggestion.


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