Our speaker on January 31 was David Howe on the subject of British prime ministers. With 54 to choose from, from the first and longest serving PM, Sir Robert Walpole (in office 1721-1742) onwards, he was necessarily selective.

He explained that the post evolved - it wasn’t created. It has no job description and no formal procedures, in fact it doesn’t officially exist as the holder is designated First Lord of the Treasury.

Sometimes there is a deputy, sometimes not. There is no automatic right of succession and quite often “you don’t see them coming”, the obvious exception being Gordon Brown.

David considered the popular conception that politicians are all the same was wrong and that it was unfair to remember PMs simply by their failures – Eden for Suez, Callaghan for the Winter of Discontent etc.

A lot of it was luck – as Macmillan put it “events, dear boy, events”. Had Nasser not nationalised the Suez Canal, how would we remember Eden?

Among the numerous interesting facts was how PMs’ private lives were kept out of the press such as Eden’s and Churchill’s health problems and Macmillan’s wife’s affair.

The whole relationship of politicians with the media has changed dramatically. Spiced with many entertaining anecdotes, David finished his talk with his personal choice of the three greatest PMs which were Gladstone, Churchill and Attlee (diplomatically, one from each main party!).

We meet at 10am every Thursday at The Boathouse, Evesham Rowing Club. On February 7 our member Robert Young will host a car quiz and on February 14 Tim Houlding will be speaking about Racing Bentleys of the Roaring 20s.

Full details can be found on our website, eveshamprobus.co.uk

Alan Smith