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Tuesday, 7 January, 2003, 15:49 GMT
Roy Jenkins: Your tributes
Former Home Secretary Lord Jenkins of Hillhead has died.
Lord Jenkins' political career spanned more than 50 years.
He served a Labour government twice as home secretary and also as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Lord Jenkins was one of the "Gang of Four" who formed the breakaway SDP party.
Thank you for your tributes to Roy Jenkins. Read a selection of your comments below.
A great man, with pure liberal ideas that could have changed our nation for the better, he will be missed by me, his family and the Liberal Democrats. God Bless, Lord Roy Jenkins, just simply, pure kind Liberalism from the heart.
I feel as a great loss the death of Lord Jenkins, a brilliant academic mind, an outstanding statesman and a champion of liberal and social ideas, and as a great fighter for the cause of united Europe. I wish History will give him as great a biographer as he was Churchill's and Gladstone's.
P Osborne, Wigan, England
Politician, biographer, historian, "Renaissance Man". We have sadly lost an intellectual giant who excelled at interpreting the past and in his political life, addressing the issues of the future.
Roy Jenkins will be fondly remembered for the breath of his interests and his achievements, as well as for the heights which he scaled. As President of the European Commission he brought grace and increased influence to a key position in European integration. He raised the stature of the office. The quality of inspiration which he brought to the Commission was outstanding.
Rosa Gillibrand, UK
He was a highly impressive politician and accomplished biographer. One of a very few who can point to a substantial legacy. Whilst few can blame him for wanting to leave the Labour Party of the early 1980s, the creation of the SDP can directly point to the reason that the current Labour Party is centre left without being the slightest bit liberal. Notwithstanding he was a highly impressive politician, academic, biographer and agent of change.
One of the best PMs we never had. His political vision and integrity allowed him to modernise the Home Office and British economic thinking at a time of Labour's stagnant politics. His innate interests on the importance of politics and history on the development of democratic governments made him a great man of letters. His excellent biography on Winston Churchill amply attests to these skills. Many current European politicians would enhance their political appeal and effectiveness by taking notice of this great man's life work. Britain is poorer for his loss!
John Haughey, Ireland
One of a dying breed of politicians who truly stuck by his guns, and was not swayed by the media or spin. George Galloway, Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner are but a few left with true political venom and compassion, striving to achieve true social equality at home and abroad. His presence shall be sadly missed.
My brief encounters with the late Lord Jenkins took place at Oxford in the mid-eighties, when the left backed Ted Heath against him for the Chancellorship, out of sheer spite. My most abiding memory is of watching Lord Jenkins reversing his BMW into a very large tree in Balliol Quad. I took this to be indicative of a rather touching other-worldliness - an impression which still remains.
Roy Jenkins was indeed a great man. Few politicians of his generation could match his intelligence, wit and foresight. As a liberal I feel very sad at his passing. Both British politics and the world of letters has lost a great character and someone who gave more than many ever could.
A true political "character", and a genuinely great man with a genuinely great legacy. I myself have much to thank him for, and I'm sure that many more people on the liberal side of the political compass do too. I only regret that I never had an opportunity to give him my thanks in person.
Ed Green, UK
Although I never supported any of his views at the ballot box you cannot fail to be impressed by his fulsome lifetime achievements - to my mind the greatest of which were his political biographies of Gladstone and Churchill. With respect to Churchill it is perhaps ironic that the most readable biography comes from a man who spent his entire life opposing the Conservative Party. A tribute to both Churchill and Jenkins both.
I have had a life long interest in politics, and the difference, intelligent, good natured, heartfelt people can make for the good. Roy was one such, and as, now, an active Liberal Democrat, Roy was an inspiration to me. A man with a breathtaking intellect, sound judgement and common sense. His books I love too. He will be sorely missed by all those in the Lib Dems, and by those who genuinely care that our country should be governed with care, intellectual rigour and common sense. I will miss his presence a great deal. God bless his soul.
A great person, who has served our people well. He will not only be missed by his wife and family, the people of the UK will also miss him.
Roy Jenkins was the greatest Home Secretary this country has ever had. His liberal reforms in the 1960s partly explain why Britain is now the most secular, vibrant and individualistic country in Europe.
I mourn the passing of a great politician and I believe that Roy Jenkins was a great politician a man who as home secretary in the 60's did so much to liberalise our nation, everything from censorship to the legalisation of homosexuality and not forgetting government support for the ending of the death penalty.
But sadly there was also a down side in the great man - his decision to form the gang of four kept the Labour party in the hands of the left for far too long and made it hard for people of the right of the party to fight its corner.
So yes thank you Roy for the liberal country you helped build a land with a free press and social laws we can be proud of no death penalty and yes the right of a woman to choose, but at the same time I think of those lost years of the 80's and how the decision of four people if it had been different might not have been the lost decade.
Even though I eventually decided to pursue a political career in another party, Roy could hardly have been kinder or more encouraging. When I asked him, rather nervously, whether he might be willing to cast an avuncular eye over my first attempt at a biography (250,000 words on his old friend Jo Grimond), little did I expect that he would come back to me within only a week, with a series of extremely helpful and detailed comments. This is a real loss.
Roy Jenkins made many significant contributions to the political evolution of the United Kingdom. The true importance has yet to be fully realized. A sad loss to both the political and the literary scene.
I knew Roy Jenkins in a minor way from the 60s onwards. He was one of the few politicians in the Labour party who seemed able to define a future. He would not have been at home with the present "nanny knows best" government. I knew him during the latter part of his period as President of the then EEC Commission. I think his work has not been fully evaluated. He can certainly claim to have been a leading figure in the establishment of Monetary Union. Had he stayed in the Labour Party it might have been elected earlier but he was always quintessentially a Liberal with both a large and a small L.
Andrew F Leitch, Scotland
Lord Jenkins was a politician who understood history. His lifelong research into figures of British politics in years past informed his own political opinions and enhanced his wisdom. He was British and European at the same time - being the one did not preclude being the other.
David Walker, Bridgnorth, UK
Roy Jenkins was a wonderful man, and one of the very few truly great politicians of the last 50 years. I had the privilege of working with him on his electoral reform commission, and it was a joy throughout - he was warm, kind, generous, unbelievably energetic, entertaining and very wise. It's a sad day, but what an enormous contribution he has made to our society - we'll crack open a bottle of claret in his honour this evening.
A true loss to the cause of liberalism. Roy was the last liberal home secretary we ever had, and perhaps, could ever hope to have. A sad day for the nation.
I remember hearing a comment from Lady Castle that 'I told Harold (Wilson) that you should do the social things first; they don't cost any money'. And how Lord Jenkins put that into practice!
A great man, a reforming Home Secretary who helped to create the liberal Britain of today, perhaps the most successful Chancellor of the Exchequer between Lloyd George and Gordon Brown. As the creator of first the SDP and then the Liberal Democrats the man that did so much to restructure the liberal Left.
Finally a great man of letters. If you haven't read his biography of Winston Churchill DO SO!!
Lord Jenkins will sadly be missed by people who beleived in his vision of europe. British politics will be poorer as a result of the loss of a such a great man. He was a champion of the individuals in relation to the state.
There are so few politicians of honour and integrity - John Smith, John P Mackintosh - that when one passes, we should mark that special quality. I believe Jenkins was such a man: how interesting that these men of integrity were never Prime Minister!
An absolute surprise that the Chancellor of Oxford should leave the world now. His life will be cherished by many. His career was dedicated and of the highest standard in every field he contributed. Only wish there were more people of such caliber in politics.
I am reading his masterly biography of Winston Churchill. And I so appreciated his similar tour de force on William Gladstone. They exhibit Jenkins immensity as a man and a writer, and will be a lasting tribute to someone who was, if not a memorable politician, a most memorable and wonderfully talented man.
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