My favourite books 33: BaldwinPosted: June 30, 2011
Baldwin by Roy Jenkins
This came from Hay, in a curious C-format edition. Since Baldwin, I’ve read several of Roy Jenkins’ elegant and informed political biographies, but this was the first. At 166 pages, it’s really more of an extended essay, which is probbaly aboput right for an enigmatic man who took Prime Ministerial office three times, after emerging without trace in the early 1920s. Today, Baldwin is remembered for:
- Appeasement. Prudent or cowardly?
- “The bomber will always get through.”
- “Power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.”
There was rather more to Baldwin than that, and to some extent he has been a victim of Churchill’s dictum about the history being written by the victors (precisely!).
Roy Jenkins had more hinterland than a modern cabinet. He was also a great liberalising Home Secretary, and was indirectly responsible for the eventual creation of the Liberal Democrat party. It is hard to imagine where he would have sat in today’s restricted political sphere, but I’d recommend any of his biographical works.