7 political giants that never made prime minister

A list of seven modern politicians that could have made it to the top if circumstances and events had happened differently.

1. John Smith

Unlike the rest of the big political beasts that made this list, Smith's route to the top was blocked by tragedy rather than political circumstances or electoral miscalculations. This Labour giant, and strong advocate of devolution, was elected Labour leader after the party lost the 1992 general election. However, in 1994 he suffered a heart attack and passed away. Three years later, Tony Blair led Smith's party to a massive victory.

Many political commentators have suggested that John Smith would have led his party to victory like Blair if he had he survived.

2. Alan Johnson

For many in Labour, Johnson may well have been the best leader the party never had. The former home secretary and shadow chancellor is a prominent figure in the party, but he never made it to the top. Furthermore, he stood to be deputy leader in 2007, but was beaten by Harriet Harmon, according to the BBC.

Interestingly, the Independent reported that in 2015 that he "hinted" that he regretted not leading his party.

3. Neil Kinnock

The former Labour leader led the party to defeat in two elections - in 1987 and 1992.

In the run-up to the latter vote, during which polls indicated a hung parliament according to the BBC, it looked likely that Neil Kinnock could end up prime minister. In the end, John Major won a decisive victory and Kinnock resigned. In slightly different circumstances, Labour could have been returned to government five years earlier.

4. Kenneth Clarke

Ken Clarke has stood to be Conservative leader on numerous occasions. He did not put his name forward last time round, but in 2005 he came in fourth place, behind David Cameron, David Davis and Liam Fox, according to the Guardian. Cameron went on to win in 2010, and while different leaders can mean different circumstances, it is within the strong realm of possibility that Clark could have gone on to take the top-job in 2010.

5. David Miliband

Another of Labour's big political beasts who never made it to the top was David Miliband. The former Labour minister almost took over from Gordon Brown after the party's 2010 election defeat, but narrowly lost out to his brother, Ed.

Perhaps if things had been different the other Miliband could have succeeded where Ed Miliband failed.

6. George Osborne

Eighteen months ago Osborne was seen as a likely successor to his political partner David Cameron, but then Brexit happened, May took over and Osborne stepped down at the recent election.

Perhaps if 'remain' had won the referendum, Osborne would be preparing to take over from Cameron, as Brown did from Blair.

He may no longer be an MP, but a political comeback is not off the table.

7. David Davis

The current Brexit secretary, like Clarke, has stood for the Conservative leadership on more than one occasion, having never made it to the top.

But in the current situation, could it now be Davis' time to step forward and take himself off this list?

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