Le Roi Jean Quinze

Stefan Collini

  • BuyRoy Jenkins: A Well-Rounded Life by John Campbell
    Cape, 818 pp, £30.00, March 2014, ISBN 978 0 224 08750 6

Three hopes or dreams have played important parts in modern progressive politics in Britain in the decades after 1945. The first is the dream of the social-democratic equivalent of the philosopher-king. This expresses the hope that even in contemporary mass democracies a figure will emerge who can work the political machine and at the same time embody intellect, sensibility and liberal values, someone who can win power and then exercise it in the name of reason and enlightenment. The longing of those with intellectual and radical inclinations to be governed by someone like them can, of course, encourage the investment of unrealistic hopes in potential candidates and the chosen champion can become the target of unreasonable blame.

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