Both had a significant effect on British society ... for me, one good and one bad.
Overall, the working class wouldn't have voted Thatcher in if Labour had been a credible alternative. Traditional working class areas remained Labour strongholds.
In my opinion: -
- It's having middle class Labour leaders like Foot (and I think Miliband) who can't marshall the working class vote that has resulted in the Tories have a clear run at elections.
- Kinnock was working class and cleaned up the party but was not up to leading the country.
- Smith was middle class but was not up to leading the country or the party.
- Blair was middle class but could just as easily have been a Tory leader. Still, he got us in. Ego got the better of him. I voted for him the first time, not afterwards.
- Brown meant well but was not a good communicator with either the middle class or the working class. He commanded respect but not much loyalty. I hope he will come back a wiser man without the siege mentality and with a more inclusive style of leadership.
On Smith, he was everything I wanted in a Labour leader. He was genuinely respected on both sides of the Parliamentary divide, had some solid Labour principles building on the good work of Kinnock and would have most likely been a fantastic Prime Minister. A sad loss to the party and probably the country.
On Brown, he has some fantastic loyalty from his voters in his constituency. It's all earned because of the work he puts into his constituent's needs. I remember an article written about him, must have been about 2007, showing that he held twice as many constituency surgeries as any other Cabinet minister and he kept that up as Prime Minister. An MP showing loyalty to his constituency is a rarity these days, most just use it as a stepping stone to get what they want. In Parliament though, Brown was a disaster as Prime Minister mainly because, as you say, he was an abysmal communicator who just didn't have the talent to be the figurehead as well as keeping the egos of the Parliamentary Party happy, if the majority of Labour MPs had supported him from when he took on the job as PM rather than spend most of their time briefing against him then who knows what would have happened in 2010.
On Blair, his 1997-2001 Parliament was almost picture perfect in terms of what a Labour supporter could want from a modern government, how much of that was driven by Brown, Prescott and the like is a different story though. From 2001 onwards, it was his ego that ran the thing.