Roy Jenkins

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Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead OM PC (11 November 19205 January 2003) was a British politician. Prominent as a Labour Member of Parliament and government minister in the 1960s and 1970s, he went on to be one of the four principal founders of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the early 1980s. He was also a distinguished writer, especially of biographies.


  • There has been a lot of talk about the formation of a new Centre Party. Some have even been kind enough to suggest that I might lead it. I find this idea profoundly unattractive...I do not believe that such a grouping would have any coherent philosophical base...I cannot be indifferent to the political traditions in which I was brought up...the Labour Party is and always has been an instinctive part of my life.
    • Speech in Oxford (9 March, 1973).
  • I do not think you can push public expenditure significantly above 60 per cent and maintain the values of a plural society with adequate freedom of choice. We are here close to one of the frontiers of social democracy
    • Speech in Anglesey (23 January, 1976).
    • Michael Hatfield, "Inflation fight goes on, Mr Jenkins tells left", The Times (24 January, 1976).
  • I therefore believe that the politics of the left and centre of this country are frozen in an out-of-date mould which is bad for the political and economic health of Britain and increasingly inhibiting for those who live within the mould. Can it be broken?
    • Speech to the Parliamentary Press Gallery (9 June, 1980)
  • Many of the early nationalisation measures were right. They have remained part of the social fabric. I favour measures of that type.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (Hansard, 10th November 1982, Col. 579).


  • A substantial extension of public ownership is an essential prerequisite of greater equality of earned income.
    • 1952
  • The first duty of a party of the left is to be radical in the context of the moment, to offer a prospect of continuing advance and to preserve the loyalty of those whose optimistic humanism makes them natural supporters.
    • 1953
  • The permissive society has been allowed to become a dirty phrase. A better phrase is the civilised society.
    • 1969
  • I am sure Mr. Heath thinks he is honest but I wish he didn't have to have his friends say it so often.
    • 1970
  • We must not expect a full-scale peaceful revolution every time a Labour Government is elected.
    • 1970
  • A social democratic party without deep roots in the working-class movement would quickly fade into an unrepresentative intellectual sect.
    • 1972
  • There are always great dangers in letting the best be the enemy of the good.
    • 1975
  • Each successive Labour government has been the most rapacious, doctrinaire and unpatriotic conspiracy to be seen this side of the Iron Curtain.
    • 1979
  • The fact is that Harold Wilson is a person no one can like, a person without friends.
    • 1981
  • The great disadvantage of our present electoral system is that it freezes the pattern of politics, and holds together the incompatible because everyone assumes that if a party splits it will be electorally slaughtered.
    • 1982

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