So, Winston Churchill has been voted the Greatest Briton.
I am frankly astonished that Shakespeare, Newton and possibly Darwin did not lead it.
They are the only three in the list whose achievements stand on the world stage and have remained important, useful, and fundamental for centuries.
Perhaps the measure of greatness was skewed by the categories. I do not consider 'Compassion' a valid metric of greatness. Compassion. Is that what made Britain great? No. Legacy is the most important category here, followed by Genius. Leadership and Bravery, while admirable qualities, are subject to being in the right place at the right time – which certainly was the case for Churchill.
It is also ridiculous to rate them on a 1 to 9 scale. It's simply not a wide enough scale to rate them effectively. I am supposed to believe that Diana's legacy is even one ninth of Shakespeare's, Newton's, Darwin's legacy? It's just not possible to put them on the scale together.
Here's my top ten.
1. Shakespeare, who moulded English, Britain's single greatest asset and export, and whose communication of the human condition remains relevant today. As Jonson said, “Not of an age, but for all time!”.
2. Newton, who put Mathematics into Science. His contribution cannot be underestimated.
3. Darwin, who had possibly the most important idea anyone has ever had. The idea of evolution through natural selection.
4. Brunel. The Victorians were the greatest engineers this country has known, and Brunel was the greatest of them. An astounding legacy of civil engineering that has lasted for a century and more.
5. Elizabeth I. Good Queen Bess gave her name to an age. An age of art, science, exploration, and a great age for Britain. She had no small part in that.
6, 7, 8, 9. Churchill, Lennon, Cromwell, Nelson were great, but definitely in the bottom half of the table.
10. Diana. Should not have been in the top ten, really. How will she be remembered in 300 years? Well, William III was king 300 years ago. Exactly.