6 great rivalries in British politics

James Callagahan With Harold Wilson and Senior Labour Politicians 1975

Politics is about improving the world, but it's also about competition. Here are six great rivalries in British politics.

Harold Wilson and Edward Heath

Harold Wilson Comes To Belle Vue For A Labour Party Rally In 1965

Labour’s Wilson and the Conservatives’ Heath faced each other as respective party leaders on four separate electoral occasions. In 1966, Wilson came out triumphant, but only with a small majority government. Four years later, Heath won his only battle, winning a small Conservative majority which lasted four years. One all.

Then in February 1974, Wilson returned to Downing Street with a minority government. The arrangement only last eight months until an early election in October in which Wilson turned his minority into a slim minority

Three-one to Wilson was the final score in this great political battle.

Boris Johnson and Ken Livingston

Boris Johnson

In 2000, Ken Livingston became mayor of London as an independent. Four years later he repeated the feat, only this time as a Labour candidate. Then, in 2008 Boris Johnson entered London’s political scene. He beat Ken Livingston to become the city’s first Conservative mayor. One nil to Boris.

Then, four years later, Ken Livingston challenged Boris once again, but lost out.

Two nil to Boris Johnson was the final score.

Michael Heseltine and Margaret Thatcher

Maggie In Hard Hat

In 1990, Heseltine challenged the prime minister for the leadership of the Conservative party. According to the BBC, Thatcher was just shy of winning, which led to her resignation. Heseltine lost out on his bid to lead the party in the following round, in which John Major entered and subsequently won.

In terms of leadership battles, it was one nil to Heseltine, but in the end Major ran onto the pitch to score the winning political goal.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown

According to the BBC, in the run up to the 1997 election an alleged deal took place in Brown would let Blair run for Labour leader and that the latter would one day let the former take his role. The two Labour giants reportedly battled it out “behind closed doors”, according to the site.

Blair had three terms as PM compared to Brown’s one shorter term.

Three-one to Blair.

Ed Miliband and David Miliband

House of Commons Chamber: Speaker's table

The story of the two brothers begins with the downfall of New Labour in 2010. After Gordon Brown left the leadership position, the battle was on to find a replacement. In the end, five candidates put their names forward: Diane Abbot, Andy Burnham, Ed Balls, and the brothers Miliband, Ed and David.

The older brother, David, was widely seen as the favourite, as reported in the Guardian at the time, but it was Ed who was victorious in the end. David Miliband did not serve in his brother’s shadow cabinet and eventually stepped down as an MP before the 2015 election.

One nil to Ed, but was it all worth it when he lost to another David (Cameron) in the final?

Douglas Carswell and Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage Debate on Council meeting conclusions - with Brexit: MEPs agree on key conditions for approving UK withdrawal agreement - Nigel Farage (EFDD, UK)

Both men believed in taking Britain out of Europe, but the rivalry between the two men was widely reported.

According to the Telegraph, after the EU referendum, Nigel Farage said of Carswell, “Is he going to go on sniping from the sidelines? It's no good for Ukip, and I don't think looking at him, and he doesn't look very happy, I can't believe it's very good for him either.”