Roy Jenkins

NewStatesman
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As a contender for the Labour leadership, Campbell acknowledges, Jenkins lacked the stomach for the fight. Jenkins grew up in the Welsh coalfields; his father, Arthur Jenkins, was a miner and trade unionist who was imprisoned during the General Strike.

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Attlee kept a benevolent eye on his progress, commissioning him to edit a volume of his speeches in When Arthur died, in , Violet Attlee picked up Roy and his mother at the hospital and brought them to Downing Street for the night. Jenkins could hardly have had better Labour credentials if he had been born down a mine; but he was never especially comfortable among the horny-handed sons of toil. His closest Oxford friend was Tony Crosland, who appeared one afternoon in his doorway and chatted for two hours.

The two became friends, sparring partners and probably lovers, exploring a revolutionary socialism that was far removed from the labourism of Pontypool. This was to change with the coming of war in Crosland joined up in , and was stunned to find himself in a railway carriage filled with cockney recruits.

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In he was transferred to Bletchley Park, where he befriended the historian Asa Briggs and worked as a cryptographer. Two years later he switched to Birmingham Stechford, which he would represent for the next 26 years. He never bought a home in the constituency and spent as little time there as possible. Aged just 27 in , Jenkins was the youngest MP in the House, and his youthful politics retained a considerable left-wing zest.

His two political heroes were Aneurin Bevan and Sir Stafford Cripps like many sybaritic politicians, Jenkins took a distinctly puritanical view of the public finances. His book Pursuit of Progress rowed back from the assault on private fortunes and abandoned the goal of abolishing public schools. He established his bedroom as a sort of aristocratic salon, playing host between the sheets to a series of well-heeled women.

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Some sections drag on a little - which, when the book is damn near pages, can be exhausting - but it's the most clear-eyed look at a subject as I've ever seen. Apr 11, Duncan rated it really liked it. Nevertheless, I found Churchill to be worthwhile. His life outside politics was immensely productive: Books, articles, painting and building. Cultural escape, wellbeing gateway, gastronomic pleasures or business offers: find the formula that best suits you.

His two most enduring mistresses, Caroline Gilmour and Leslie Bonham Carter, were married to two of his closest friends, and it was a requirement that his paramours should be on good terms with his wife. As his finances became more robust, Jenkins began to indulge his self-image as an Edwardian grandee.

He had called for the decriminalisation of homosexuality long before this was conventional on the Labour benches, and spoke out against censorship, capital punishment and restrictions on Sunday trading. His patrician progressivism had an obvious ancestry in the Liberal Party of Asquith and Campbell-Bannerman, from which it had been absorbed into elements of the Labour tradition. Such positions made Jenkins suspect to some on the Left, but they did not impede his ministerial progress. Jenkins was a highly effective minister, despite a remarkably relaxed working day.

He would return to the office nourished and lubricated shortly before three, then refused to take work home though he sometimes did half an hour in the car. His first spell at the Home Office, from to , lasted less than two years, but left behind a remarkable legacy.

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He backed private members bills decriminalising homosexuality and legalising abortion, as well as reforming the law on race relations and immigration. Success at the Home Office made Jenkins the obvious candidate for the Exchequer, following the devaluation of Untainted by the crises which had engulfed his predecessor, Jenkins drove through a series of defence cuts and accelerated the withdrawal from military bases in the Far and Middle East.

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By , Jenkins had held two of the big three departments of state. Had Labour won in , he would probably have completed the set with the Foreign Office; but his eyes were already on a larger prize. In a sign of things to come, however, Jenkins prevaricated, first asking for signatures and then for He then requested that 70 per cent of the party should sign.

Jenkins would have further opportunities for the leadership, but his position was never so strong again. He emerged with little credit from the debacle over In Place of Strife in , having first backed the proposals and then retreated in the face of opposition.

Most importantly, Jenkins was increasingly at odds with his party over the European question, which was to become the dominating passion of his career.

Primary Sources

Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead, OM, PC (11 November – 5 January ), was a British Labour Party, SDP and Liberal Democrat politician, . [Roy Jenkins] agreed with many of the criticisms levelled against the performance of private industry and he agreed that the country needed a sharp change.

He voted with the Conservatives in for membership, and, when the Shadow Cabinet agreed to demand a referendum, he resigned the deputy leadership. Murdoch, the Coughing Major and a Kids Company musical: theatre gets real. Playwrights James Graham and Steve Waters discuss the legal and ethical risks. Published: PM. Limehouse review — timely account of Labour's split is beautifully acted 3 out of 5 stars.

This play makes you wonder Polly Toynbee. Dame Jennifer Jenkins obituary.

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Chair of the National Trust who faced down opposition to hunting on its land. Published: 8 Feb A look back From the Observer archive: this week in Ronald Reagan becomes 40th president of the United States. Published: 22 Jan Labour is in crisis. Will history repeat itself? Published: 19 Jul From the Guardian archive Labour rocked by resignation of Roy Jenkins - archive. Published: 11 Apr Harold Wilson was no liberalising reformer.

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Letters: Callaghan persuaded the PM that to ban plays that portrayed living people in them was a non-starter. Published: 13 Mar Greenslade Did national papers' pro-European bias in affect the referendum?

Roy Jenkins interview- Liberal Democrats - SDP - Afternoon plus - 1982