Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead, OM, PC (11 November 1920 – 5 January 2003) was a British politician.
The son of a Welsh coal miner who later became a union official and Labour MP, Roy Jenkins served with distinction in World War II. Elected to Parliament as a Labour member in 1948, he served in several major posts in Harold Wilson's First Government. As Home Secretary from 1965–1967, he sought to build what he described as "a civilized society", with measures such as the effective abolition in Britain of capital punishment and theatre censorship, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, relaxing of divorce law, suspension of birching and the legalisation of abortion. As Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1967–1970, he pursued a tight fiscal policy later praised by Margaret Thatcher. On 8 July 1970, he was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, but resigned in 1972 because he supported entry to the Common Market, while the party opposed it.
When Wilson re-entered government in 1974 Jenkins returned to the Home Office, but, increasingly disenchanted by the swing to the left of the Labour Party, he chose to leave British politics in 1976 and was appointed President of the European Commission in 1977, serving until 1981: he was the first and to date only British holder of this office. In 1981, dismayed with the Labour Party's continuing leftward drift, he was one of the "Gang of Four" - Labour moderates who formed the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In 1982 he won a famous by-election in a Conservative seat and returned to parliament; but after disappointment with the performance of the SDP in the 1983 election he resigned as SDP leader.
In 1987, Jenkins was elected to succeed Harold Macmillan as Chancellor of the University of Oxford following the latter's death; he held this position until his death. A few months after becoming Chancellor, Jenkins was defeated in his Hillhead constituency by then-Labour politician George Galloway. He accepted a life peerage and sat as a Liberal Democrat. In the late 1990s, he was an adviser to Tony Blair and chaired the Jenkins Commission on electoral reform. Roy Jenkins died in 2003, aged 82.
In addition to his political career, he was also a noted historian and writer.
Read more about Roy Jenkins: Early Life, Member of Parliament, In Government, Chancellor of The Exchequer, Shadow Cabinet 1970–1974, Return To Government, President of The European Commission, The Social Democratic Party, Peerage, Books and Subsequent Death
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“Ive seen things you people wouldnt believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched seabeams glitter in the dark near the Tennhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.”
—David Webb Peoples, U.S. screenwriter, and Ridley Scott. Roy Batty, Blade Runner, final words before dyingas an android he had a built-in life span that expired (1982)
“As I get older I seem to believe less and less and yet to believe what I do believe more and more.”
—David Jenkins (b. 1925)