The Forgotten Statesmen Who Shaped Modern Britain
A new biography of a towering figure in twentieth-century British politics, revealing his relevance for our contemporary crises.
Can you name the creator of the Territorial Army, the British Expeditionary Force, the Imperial General Staff and the Officers’ Training Corps? The man who laid the foundation stones of MI5, MI6, the RAF, the LSE, Imperial College, the ‘redbrick’ universities and the Medical Research Council?
This book restores Richard Burdon Haldane to his rightful place among the greatest figures of British history. Serving as war minister in the 1905 Liberal government, his groundbreaking proposals on defence, education and government structure were astonishingly ahead of his time—the very building blocks of modern Britain. Even the Canadian Constitution, as now interpreted, is unthinkable without Haldane. His ubiquitous networks ranged from Wilde to Einstein, Churchill to Carnegie, King to Kaiser; his polymathic interests enabled pioneering cross-party, cross-sector cooperation. Yet in 1915 Haldane was ejected from the Lord Chancellorship, unjustly vilified by an ignorant press campaign as a German sympathiser.
John Campbell charts these ups and downs, reveals the intensely personal side of Haldane through previously unpublished private correspondence, and shows Haldane’s enormous relevance in our search for just societies and states today. Amidst political and national instability, it is surely now right to reinstate Haldane as Britain’s outstanding example of true statesmanship.
John Campbell OBE is the co-founder and Chair of Campbell Lutyens, an international private equity and infrastructure advisory house. He read Economics at the University of Cambridge and began his career in corporate finance at N M Rothschild. Married with three children, he has long been inspired by Lord Haldane’s story.