Cover 9781785908101

History is written by the winners, they say. And more often than not, it is written about them too. A library’s worth of books have been published chronicling the UK’s Prime Ministers – those individuals who somehow made it to the top of the greasy pole of politics, however short or undistinguished their tenure.

But what about those who failed to make it? Leaders of the Opposition present themselves as the alternative Prime Minister, waiting in the wings, ready to move centre stage. Many of them have indeed gone on to take power. But many more have not. Who were these potential PMs? Why did they never reach the top job? Do they all deserve to be remembered as losers?

In this often wildly entertaining anthology, Dr Nigel Fletcher of the Centre for Opposition Studies brings together profiles of the opposition leaders who didn’t make it to No. 10, from Charles James Fox to Jeremy Corbyn. Packed to the brim with odd facts, amusing anecdotes and pub quiz trivia about each not quite Prime Minister, this compelling collection is a journey through British political history, bringing to life the figures from the other side of the political equation who had remained in the shadow of 10 Downing Street – until now.


“Amusing and readable.”

Literary Review

“Pithy, enlightening and witty.”

The Critic

“I loved this book. It’s full of things I didn’t know and needed to know. It’s fun too. Nigel Fletcher’s instinct that you can illuminate politics through the study of opposition is fully vindicated.”

Daniel Finkelstein, columnist, The Times

“A thoroughly entertaining and compelling journey through the too-often overlooked post of Leader of the Opposition and the various characters who have held it. Nigel expertly brings these opposition leaders to life, making for an amusing and informative read that is, above all, never dull for a single second.”

Ayesha Hazarika, Times Radio presenter

“A delightful account of the strange lives of the politicians who didn’t quite make it to the top job. A chocolate box of a book: wonderful to pick at slowly or to binge your way through in one long session.”

Stephen Bush, associate editor and columnist, Financial Times
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  • Hardback, 368 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785908101
  • 21 September 2023
  • £20.00
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  • eBook
  • ISBN: 9781785908361
  • 21 September 2023
  • £14.99
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