126 Facts About Roy Jenkins


The son of Arthur Jenkins, a coal-miner and Labour MP, Jenkins was educated at the University of Oxford and served as an intelligence officer during the Second World War.


Roy Jenkins resigned from the position in 1972 after the Labour Party decided to oppose Britain's entry to the European Communities, which he strongly supported.


Two years later, when Wilson resigned as Prime Minister, Roy Jenkins stood in the leadership election to succeed him, finishing third behind Michael Foot and the winner James Callaghan.


Roy Jenkins subsequently chose to resign from Parliament and leave British politics, to accept appointment as the first-ever British President of the European Commission, a role he took up in January 1977.


In 1982, Roy Jenkins won a by-election to return to Parliament as MP for Glasgow Hillhead, taking the seat from the Conservatives in a famous result.


Roy Jenkins became leader of the SDP ahead of the 1983 election, during which he formed an electoral alliance with the Liberal Party.


Roy Jenkins subsequently lost his seat in Parliament at the 1987 election, and accepted a life peerage shortly afterwards; he sat in the House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat.


Roy Jenkins was later elected to succeed former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan as Chancellor of the University of Oxford following the latter's death; he would hold this position until his own death sixteen years later.


Roy Jenkins's father was imprisoned during the 1926 General Strike for his alleged involvement in disturbances.


Arthur Roy Jenkins later became President of the South Wales Miners' Federation and Member of Parliament for Pontypool, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Clement Attlee, and briefly a minister in the 1945 Labour government.


Roy Jenkins's constituency was abolished in boundary changes for the 1950 general election, when he stood instead in the new Birmingham Stechford constituency.


Roy Jenkins won the seat, and represented the constituency until 1977.


Roy Jenkins proposed further nationalisations and said: "Future nationalisations will be more concerned with equality than with planning, and this means that we can leave the monolithic public corporation behind us and look for more intimate forms of ownership and control".


Roy Jenkins later described this "almost Robespierrean" pamphlet as "the apogee of my excursion to the left".


Roy Jenkins contributed an essay on 'Equality' to the 1952 collection New Fabian Essays.


Roy Jenkins argued that the Labour leadership needed to take on and defeat the neutralists and pacifists in the party; it would be better to risk a split in the party than face "the destruction, by schism, perhaps for a generation, of the whole progressive movement in the country".


Roy Jenkins praised Anthony Crosland's 1956 work The Future of Socialism as "the most important book on socialist theory" since Evan Durbin's The Politics of Democratic Socialism.


Roy Jenkins was principal sponsor, in 1959, of the bill which became the liberalising Obscene Publications Act, responsible for establishing the "liable to deprave and corrupt" criterion as a basis for a prosecution of suspect material and for specifying literary merit as a possible defence.


Roy Jenkins argued that Britain's chief danger was that of "living sullenly in the past, of believing that the world has a duty to keep us in the station to which we are accustomed, and showing bitter resentment if it does not do so".


Roy Jenkins claimed that the Attlee government concentrated "too much towards the austerity of fair shares, and too little towards the incentives of free consumers' choice".


In May 1960, Roy Jenkins joined the Campaign for Democratic Socialism, a Gaitskellite pressure group designed to fight against left-wing domination of the Labour Party.


In July 1960 Roy Jenkins resigned from his frontbench role in order to be able to campaign freely for British membership of the Common Market.


At the 1960 Labour Party conference in Scarborough, Roy Jenkins advocated rewriting Clause IV of the party's constitution but he was booed.


When Harold Macmillan initiated the first British application to join the Common Market in 1961, Roy Jenkins became deputy chairman of the all-party Common Market Campaign and then chairman of the Labour Common Market Committee.


At the 1961 Labour Party conference Roy Jenkins spoke in favour of Britain's entry.


For Roy Jenkins, Asquith ranked with Attlee as the embodiment of the moderate, liberal intelligence in politics that he most admired.


Roy Jenkins redesigned his office, famously replacing the board on which condemned prisoners were listed with a fridge.


Roy Jenkins's visit to Chicago in September convinced him of the need to introduce two-way radios to the police; whereas the Metropolitan Police possessed 25 radios in 1965, Jenkins increased this to 2,500, and provided similar numbers of radios to the rest of the country's police forces.


Roy Jenkins provided the police with more car radios, which made the police more mobile but reduced the amount of time they spent patrolling the streets.


Immigration was a divisive and provocative issue during the late 1960s and on 23 May 1966 Roy Jenkins delivered a speech on race relations, which is widely considered to be one of his best.


In July 1967 Roy Jenkins recommended to the Home Affairs Select Committee a bill to end the Lord Chamberlain's power to censor the theatre.


Roy Jenkins announced that he would introduce legislation banning racial discrimination in employment, which was embodied in the Race Relations Act 1968 passed under Callaghan.


In October 1967 Roy Jenkins planned to introduce legislation that would enable him to keep out the 20,000 Kenyan Asians who held British passports.


Roy Jenkins is often seen as responsible for the most wide-ranging social reforms of the late 1960s, with popular historian Andrew Marr claiming "the greatest changes of the Labour years" were thanks to Roy Jenkins.


Roy Jenkins' words were immediately reported in the press as "The permissive society is the civilised society", which he later wrote "was not all that far from my meaning".


For some conservatives, such as Peter Hitchens, Roy Jenkins' reforms remain objectionable.


Roy Jenkins replied by pointing out that Thatcher, with her large parliamentary majorities, never attempted to reverse his reforms.


From 1967 to 1970 Roy Jenkins served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, replacing James Callaghan following the devaluation crisis of November 1967.


Therefore, Roy Jenkins pursued deflation, including cuts in public expenditure and increases in taxation, in order to ensure that resources went into exports rather than domestic consumption.


Roy Jenkins warned the House of Commons in January 1968 that there was "two years of hard slog ahead".


Roy Jenkins had warned the Cabinet that a second devaluation would occur in three months if his budget did not restore confidence in sterling.


Roy Jenkins restored prescription charges and postponed the raising of the school leaving age to 16 to 1973 instead of 1971.


Roy Jenkins ruled out increasing the income tax and so raised the taxes on: drinks and cigarettes, purchase tax, petrol duty, road tax, a 50 per cent rise in Selective Employment Tax and a one-off Special Charge on personal incomes.


Roy Jenkins paid for an increase in family allowances by cutting child tax allowances.


Roy Jenkins was cautious about the stability of Britain's recovery and decided to present a more muted and fiscally neutral budget.


Historians and economists have often praised Roy Jenkins for presiding over the transformation in Britain's fiscal and current account positions towards the end of the 1960s.


Roy Jenkins was elected to the deputy leadership of the Labour Party in July 1970, defeating future Labour Leader Michael Foot and former Leader of the Commons Fred Peart at the first ballot.


Roy Jenkins told a fringe meeting that this would have no effect on his continued support for Britain's entry.


Benn said Roy Jenkins was "the figure dominating this Conference; there is no question about it".


Roy Jenkins' action gave the European cause a legitimacy that would have otherwise been absent had the issue been considered solely as a party political matter.


Roy Jenkins promised not to vote with the government again and he narrowly defeated Michael Foot on a second ballot.


Hattersley later claimed that Roy Jenkins' resignation was "the moment when the old Labour coalition began to collapse and the eventual formation of a new centre party became inevitable".


Roy Jenkins was elected to the shadow cabinet in November 1973 as Shadow Home Secretary.


Roy Jenkins was disappointed that the Liberal candidate in his constituency won 6000 votes; he wrote in his memoirs that "I already regarded myself as such a closet Liberal that I naively thought they ought nearly all to have come to me".


When Labour returned to power in early 1974, Roy Jenkins was appointed Home Secretary for the second time.


Roy Jenkins resisted calls for the death penalty to be restored for terrorist murderers.


Roy Jenkins opposed Michael Foot's attempts to grant pickets the right to stop lorries during strikes and he was dismayed by Anthony Crosland's decision to grant an amnesty to the 11 Labour councillors at Clay Cross who had been surcharged for refusing to increase council rents in accordance with the Conservatives' Housing Finance Act 1972.


Roy Jenkins unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Cabinet to adopt electoral reform in the form of proportional representation and to have the Official Secrets Act 1911 liberalised to facilitate more open government.


Roy Jenkins found it congenial to work with the centrists of all parties in the campaign and the 'Yes' campaign won by two to one.


Roy Jenkins threatened to resign if Prentice was sacked, telling Wilson that he was "a squalid little man who was using squalid little arguments in order to explain why he was performing so much below the level of events".


Roy Jenkins was heckled by both far-left and far-right demonstrators and he was hit in the chest by a flour bomb thrown by a member of the National Front.


Roy Jenkins warned that if Prentice was deselected "it is not just the local party that is undermining its own foundations by ignoring the beliefs and feelings of ordinary people, the whole legitimate Labour Party, left as well as right, is crippled if extremists have their way".


When Wilson suddenly resigned as Prime Minister in March 1976, Roy Jenkins was one of six candidates for the leadership of the Labour Party but came third in the first ballot, behind Callaghan and Michael Foot.


Roy Jenkins had wanted to become Foreign Secretary, but Foot warned Callaghan that the party would not accept the pro-European Roy Jenkins as Foreign Secretary.


Roy Jenkins then accepted an appointment as President of the European Commission after Callaghan appointed Anthony Crosland to the Foreign Office.


The main development overseen by the Roy Jenkins Commission was the development of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union from 1977, which began in 1979 as the European Monetary System, a forerunner of the Single Currency or Euro.


Roy Jenkins's biographer calls Jenkins "the godfather of the euro" and claims that among his successors only Jacques Delors has made more impact.


In speech in Florence in October 1977, Roy Jenkins argued that monetary union would facilitate "a more efficient and developed rationalisation of industry and commerce than is possible under a Customs Union alone".


Roy Jenkins added that "a major new international currency" would form "a joint and alternative pillar of the world monetary system" which would lead to greater international stability.


Roy Jenkins conceded that this would involve the diminution of national sovereignty but he pointed out that "governments which do not discipline themselves already find themselves accepting very sharp surveillance" from the IMF.


President Roy Jenkins was the first President to attend a G8 summit on behalf of the Community.


Roy Jenkins received an Honorary Degree from the University of Bath in 1978.


Roy Jenkins blamed the story on a "malicious Trot in the North Kensington Labour Party".


However, his friend Woodrow Wyatt claimed that Roy Jenkins "had other and fresh fish to fry".


The Director-General of the BBC, Ian Trethowan, invited Roy Jenkins to deliver the Richard Dimbleby Lecture for 1979, which he did on 22 November.


The title Roy Jenkins gave to his lecture, "Home Thoughts from Abroad", derived from a Robert Browning poem.


Roy Jenkins delivered it in the Royal Society of Arts and it was broadcast live on television.


Roy Jenkins analysed the decline of the two-party system since 1951 and criticised the excessive partisanship of British politics, which he claimed alienated the bulk of voters, who were more centrist.


Roy Jenkins advocated proportional representation and the acceptance of "the broad line of division between the public and private sectors", a middle way between Thatcherism and Bennism.


Roy Jenkins said that the private sector should be encouraged without too much interference to create as much wealth as possible "but use the wealth so created both to give a return for enterprise and to spread the benefits throughout society in a way that avoids the disfigurements of poverty, gives a full priority to public education and health services, and encourages co-operation and not conflict in industry and throughout society".


Roy Jenkins believed that the quarrel was unnecessary and regretted that it soured Britain's relationship with the Community for years.


In November 1980 Roy Jenkins delivered the Winston Churchill memorial lecture in Luxembourg, where he proposed a solution to the British budgetary question.


Roy Jenkins publicly aired these views in a speech to the Parliamentary Press Gallery in June 1980, where he repeated his criticisms of the two-party system and attacked Labour's move to the left.


At the previous month's Wembley conference, Labour had adopted a programme which included non-cooperation with the EEC and "a near neutralist and unilateralist" defence policy that would, Roy Jenkins argued, render meaningless Britain's NATO membership.


Labour's proposals for further nationalisation and anti-private enterprise policies, Roy Jenkins claimed, were more extreme than in any other democratic country and it was not "by any stretch of the imagination a social democratic programme".


Roy Jenkins added that a new party could reshape politics and lead to the "rapid revival of liberal social democratic Britain".


Roy Jenkins then joined David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams in issuing the Limehouse Declaration.


Roy Jenkins delivered a series of speeches setting out the SDP's alternative to Thatcherism and Bennism and argued that the solution to Britain's economic troubles lay in the revenue from North Sea oil, which should be invested in public services.


Roy Jenkins attempted to re-enter Parliament at the Warrington by-election in July 1981 and campaigned on a six-point programme which he put forward as a Keynesian alternative to Thatcherism and Labour's "siege economy", but Labour retained the seat with a small majority.


Roy Jenkins said after the count that it was the first parliamentary election that he had lost in many years, but was "by far the greatest victory in which I have ever participated".


At the SDP's first annual conference in October 1981, Roy Jenkins called for "an end to the futile frontier war between public and private sectors" and proposed an "inflation tax" on excessive pay rises that would restrain spiralling wages and prices.


The evening after his victory in Hillhead Roy Jenkins told a celebration dinner of 200 party members held at the North British Hotel in Edinburgh "that the SDP had a great opportunity to become the majority party".


Whereas earlier in his career, Roy Jenkins had excelled in the traditional set-piece debates in which he spoke from the dispatch box, the focus of parliamentary reporting had now moved to the point-scoring of Prime Minister's Questions, which he struggled with.


Roy Jenkins held on to his seat in Hillhead, which was the subject of boundary changes.


Roy Jenkins was challenged by Neil Carmichael, the sitting Labour MP for the Glasgow Kelvingrove constituency which had been abolished and a ministerial colleague of Roy Jenkins in the Wilson governments.


Roy Jenkins defeated Carmichael by 1,164 votes to retain his seat in the House of Commons.


Roy Jenkins was disappointed with Owen's move to the right, and his acceptance and backing of some of Thatcher's policies.


Roy Jenkins delivered a series of speeches in the Commons attacking the Thatcherite policies of the Chancellor, Nigel Lawson.


Roy Jenkins called for more government intervention to support industry and for North Sea oil revenues to be channelled into a major programme of rebuilding Britain's infrastructure and into educating a skilled workforce.


Roy Jenkins attacked the Thatcher government for failing to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.


Roy Jenkins continued to serve as SDP Member of Parliament for Glasgow Hillhead until his defeat at the 1987 general election by the Labour candidate George Galloway, after boundary changes in 1983 had changed the character of the constituency.


From 1987, Roy Jenkins remained in politics as a member of the House of Lords as a life peer with the title Baron Roy Jenkins of Hillhead, of Pontypool in the County of Gwent.


Also in 1987, Roy Jenkins was elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford.


Roy Jenkins was leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords from 1988 until 1997.


Roy Jenkins was magnanimous to most of those colleagues with whom he had clashed in the past, except for David Owen, whom he blamed for destroying the idealism and cohesion of the SDP.


However, there were critical voices: John Smith in The Scotsman charged that Roy Jenkins never had any loyalty to the Labour Party and was an ambitious careerist intent only on furthering his career.


Roy Jenkins hailed Tony Blair's election as Labour Party leader in July 1994 as "the most exciting Labour choice since the election of Hugh Gaitskell".


Roy Jenkins tried to persuade Blair that the division in the centre-left vote between the Labour and Liberal parties had enabled the Conservatives to dominate the 20th century, whereas if the two left-wing parties entered into an electoral pact and adopted proportional representation, they could dominate the 21st century.


Roy Jenkins was an influence on the thinking of New Labour and both Peter Mandelson and Roger Liddle in their 1996 work The Blair Revolution and Philip Gould in his Unfinished Revolution recognised Roy Jenkins' influence.


In December 1997, Roy Jenkins was appointed chair of a Government-appointed Independent Commission on the Voting System, which became known as the "Roy Jenkins Commission", to consider alternative voting systems for the UK.


The Roy Jenkins Commission reported in favour of a new uniquely British mixed-member proportional system called "Alternative vote top-up" or "limited AMS" in October 1998, although no action was taken on this recommendation.


British membership of the European single currency, Roy Jenkins believed, was the supreme test of Blair's statesmanship.


Roy Jenkins was critical of New Labour's authoritarianism, such as the watering down of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and their intention to ban fox hunting.


Roy Jenkins voted for the equalisation of the homosexual age of consent and for repealing Section 28.


Roy Jenkins wrote 19 books, including a biography of Gladstone, which won the 1995 Whitbread Award for Biography, and a much-acclaimed biography of Winston Churchill.


Roy Jenkins's then-designated official biographer, Andrew Adonis, was to have finished the Churchill biography had Jenkins not survived the heart surgery he underwent towards the end of its writing.


Roy Jenkins underwent heart surgery in the form of a heart valve replacement on 12 October 2000 and postponed his 80th birthday celebrations whilst recovering, by having a celebratory party on 7 March 2001.


Roy Jenkins died on 5 January 2003, after suffering a heart attack at his home at East Hendred, in Oxfordshire.


At the time of his death, Jenkins was working on a biography of US President Franklin D Roosevelt.


Roy Jenkins was both radical and contemporary; and this made him the most influential exponent of the progressive creed in politics in postwar Britain.


For Roy Jenkins was the prime mover in the creation of a form of social democracy which, being internationalist, is peculiarly suited to the age of globalisation and, being liberal, will prove to have more staying power than the statism of Lionel Jospin or the corporatist socialism of Gerhard Schroder.


Roy Jenkins was the first leading politician to appreciate that a liberalised social democracy must be based on two tenets: what Peter Mandelson called an aspirational society ; and that a post-imperial country like Britain could only be influential in the world as part of a wider grouping.


On 20 January 1945, Roy Jenkins married Mary Jennifer Morris.


Roy Jenkins was made a DBE for services to ancient and historical buildings.


Early in his life, Roy Jenkins had a relationship with Anthony Crosland.


Roy Jenkins was a main character in Steve Waters' 2017 play Limehouse, which premiered at the Donmar Warehouse; Roy Jenkins was portrayed by Roger Allam.