On the subject of unelected Prime Ministers…
From the BBC, October 18th 1963
Aristocrat is new prime minister
A Scottish Earl has won one of the most bitterly-fought leadership contests in the history of the Conservative Party to become Britain’s next Prime Minister.
As Lord Home arrived at 10 Downing Street, he told reporters, “It is a great honour to be asked to do this.”
He now has three days in which to persuade two of his bitterest rivals in the leadership contest, the former deputy Prime Minister Rab Butler, and former Chancellor, Reginald Maudling, to join his cabinet, so that he can form a government.
The former Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, has been battling illness for some time, and announced his resignation at the Conservative Party conference less than a week ago.
Four candidates emerged to take over: Mr Butler, Mr Maudling, Lord Hailsham and Lord Home.
The leadership battle became increasingly bitter, and split the party into two camps – one supporting Mr Butler, and another behind Mr Maudling.
Lord Home, who was foreign secretary in the Macmillan Government, was initially regarded as an outsider, and was the only one of the four who expressed reluctance to take up the post.
He also has a low public profile outside the House of Commons, although he is well-liked and respected at Westminster.
But as the rivalry between the two camps became a bitter feud, Lord Home’s name was increasingly mentioned as the compromise candidate.
Mr Macmillan’s choice of a peer to succeed him as prime minister – the first to hold the office since 1895 – is highly controversial, and has been greeted with bewilderment by the supporters of Rab Butler, who was widely believed to have been the prime minister’s favoured candidate.
The press and the opposition have also attacked Lord Home’s aristocratic background and perceived lack of a public profile.
“No party can ever have portrayed such a total lack of confidence in each other as to have to resort to such a drama in order to find the lowest common denominator,” commented the deputy leader of the opposition, George Brown.
The Liberal leader Jo Grimond said of Lord Home, “He has many admirable qualities, but they do not seem to have counted as much as the fact that he did not want the job.
“That surely is an insufficient reason for giving it to him.”