In the news

November 6, 1998

A man said to have held every major office except prime minister - "the best prime minister we never had" - and founder of a "third route" political party, the Social Democrats, long before Tony Blair, Roy Jenkins may be expected to know the odd thing about elections.

Now, at 78, Blair's acknowledged mentor, he has passed on to the prime minister some of his profound knowledge of 20th century political history. Called "Smoothy Chops" by his late rival Harold Wilson and "Woy" to everyone else because of an inability to pronounce his Rs - he was once described as "Nature's old Etonian".

In fact, he was educated at Abersychan Grammar School before achieving a place at Balliol College, Oxford.

Although he was the son of a Welsh miner sent to prison in the 1920s for taking part in the General Strike, he soon made friends at Oxford with members of the aristocracy.

He took a first in politics, philosophy and economics but was also a keen sportsman, meeting his future wife, Jennifer Morris, while playing in a cricket match at a Fabian Society summer school.

Jenkins was secretary and librarian of the Oxford Union Society and chairman of the Oxford University Democratic Socialist Club, as well as having a wild social life.

Among the many women who apparently succumbed to his charms was Lee Radziwill, sister of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who was also linked to Rolling Stone Mick Jagger.

Later known as a Swinging Sixties Home Secretary for reforming laws on divorce, abortion and homosexuality, he was a respected chancellor of the exchequer before leaving to head the European Commission in Brussels after being turned down as Labour Party leader.

He has been Oxford University chancellor since 1987 with honorary degrees or doctorates from 25 universities around the world.

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People is edited by Harriet Swain and researched by Lynne Williams.

Send all information to Lynne Williams. The THES Admiral House 66-68 East Smithfield London E1 9XY. Tel 0171 782 3375.

Full listings of grants, appointments and honours appear on The THES website

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