All Souls brothers

June 30, 1995

A mid all the comments that John Redwood appears to have come from another planet, a simple explanation for his otherwordliness has been overlooked. Mr Redwood is a fellow of All Souls, that formidable Oxford nursery for the politically weird - would-be statesmen who share the facility of great comedians for seeing the world slightly out of focus, although often with more serious consequences. Mr Redwood's vulcanisation of Wales is merely the logical follow-up to Sir Keith Joseph's intellectual contortions, William Waldegrave's local difficulty over the Scott report and Robert Jackson's entire history as minister for higher education.

Earlier history reinforces the view that an All Souls fellowship is almost as much a handicap to premiership aspirants as the presidency of the Cambridge Union. George Nathaniel Curzon, archetypal combiner of giant intellect with deficiency in political sense, was seen off by the rather Major-like Baldwin in 1923. Edward Wood, Lord Halifax lost out to Churchill in 1940 and was forced to settle for the Washington Embassy. Wheth- er Redwood will be treated as gently as Ed Wood should his bid also fail, is very much in question.

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