Home Secretary the Poison Chalice?

Hello welcome to today’s blog. We are going to be looking to see if Home Secretary is the poison chalice job it is made out to be in the media. Recently Amber Rudd was forced to resign from the job due to being found to have lied to parliament. Many political commentators following it commented it being the hardest job in government and the apparent high turnover in occupants. I thought rather then take there word for it it could be tested with readily available data. I created my own data set from the last 100 years or so with the number of incumbents to the 4 great offices of state. Looking at the number of days they served in the role. I didn’t include anyone who died in the job as that’s nothing to do with difficulty of the job.

home sec

The first thing to look at is the number of holders of the 4 great offices of state since 1916. Clearly the “safest” job looks to be Prime Minister. This I think is because clearly the Prime Minister is responsible for hiring and firing the other three jobs and possibly Prime Ministers will often push incumbents out of those jobs in order to protect themselves. Also when we get back to the main question we were asking at the start of this blog then Home Secretary has had the most incumbents in the last 100 years suggesting there is a higher turnover then other jobs. However Chancellor and Foreign Secretary are no too far behind.

distribution

The plot above showing the distribution of days in office with the mean plotted as a black dot. Clearly the Prime Minister has the highest mean number of days in office but as you can see from the general spread its broadly similar to the other three jobs however it has been dragged up by the two outliers (Thatcher and Blair). The other three jobs have very similar means however home secretary does have the lowest. The general distribution though is similar to Foreign Secretary and Chancellor. Therefore it could be small sample size that is effecting the result. Looking at this i definitely don’t think its as clear the press make out.

trend

Finally we look at the general trend over the last 100 years for each of the 4 great offices of state. Overall you can see that generally Prime Minister and Chancellor times in office are increasing. Possibly because in the last 20 years there have been two Prime Ministers that have aligned themselves closely with their chancellors. Foreign and home secretaries however have not changed and there tenures have stayed around the same levels over the last 100 years.

In conclusion I don’t think its clear that home Secretary is the worst job in government however it does seem they spend generally shorter in position then other 3 great offices of state. What’s surprising is Foreign Secretary is pretty similar to Home Secretary when its a lot small area to cover and a lot less that can go wrong. Maybe its easy to move the Foreign Secretary around in a re shuffle. Thanks for reading this blog if you enjoyed and want to see more please let me know and give the blog a follow so you can see when I post a new blog.

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