Saturday, 2 May 2015

Clive Jenkins

Today would have been the 89th birthday of this son of Port Talbot. He will justly be remembered for his building the membership and influence of technical trades unions ASTMS and ASSET. If it were not for his incomprehensible absence from the major anthologies, he would equally be remembered for his telling turn of phrase. If Twitter were available in his day, he would easily have seen off all trolls. His biting epigrams and his socialism (contrasted with his chablis life-style) did not endear him to Tories nor to many people on the Labour side of the fence. For those outside the left-right battle, he was an endless source of thought-provoking squibs.

The Indy's obituary recalls: "I was only wrong about my being wrong." "I have never been criticised by anyone I respect." and "Say whatever you like about me and I will sue you." I also remember his description of Britain's "independent" nuclear deterrent as "irrelevant as the flush on a dead man's cheek", which has become more relevant in the current election campaign, centred as it is on Trident.

He was a frequent contributor to Any Questions? but never became a life peer, which he should have been. He had clearly made just too many enemies in high circles.

For younger readers: Harry Secombe did an uncannily accurate impression of Clive Jenkins, which he deployed in this programme, available to hear again for the next two weeks. 

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