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In his recent book John Campbell argues the case for the neglected Lord Haldane (1856-1928) being considered a pre-eminent statesman of the first decades of the 20th century. This lecture investigates Haldane's importance in a historic context and draws attention to his extraordinarily relevance for political practice and public service today.

Long-term principled philosophical thinking underpinned Haldane's every activity. The great causes he espoused - social advancement, education reform, judicial interpretation to embrace the underlying spirit of the age, effectiveness and efficiency of government, cross-party cooperation, the nobility of public service, science as the bedrock of progress and economic growth - are intergenerational qualities.

As Minister for War, Lord Chancellor in both Liberal and the first Labour governments and university educational reformer sans pareil he shaped modern Britain and greatly influenced the constitutional development of Canada.

Haldane's fingerprints are found all over the development of the British military, not least the creation of the BEF, the Imperial General Staff, the Territorial Army and the RAF, and in the security arena, the foundation of MI5 and MI6. He was the first holder of the Lord Chancellorship to call for an independent Supreme Court, independent Lord Speaker of the House and for a Ministry of Justice.

He was midwife to the birth and early development of LSE, Imperial, the wider English civic universities, the structure of London University and the Welsh and the Irish university systems. He worked to found the University Grants Committee, the Medical Research and other specialist scientific and social councils and the late and much lamented Institute of Public Administration. For 26 years he was President of the Royal Economic Society, was a President of the Aristotelian Society, an FRS and an FBA.

Haldane's ubiquitous networking assiduously deployed in pursuit of great causes from Kings to Kaiser, Einstein to Wilde, politicians across all parties, public servants, lawyers, academics, philosophers, writers and philanthropists was unparalleled. His ability to translate original thinking into practical change, overcoming prejudice and vested interests, was masterful.”

Haldane: The Forgotten Statesman Who Shaped Modern Britain published by Hurst July 2020 and in paperback April 2022. Visit for more information on the book and on Lord Haldane. 

All welcome- this event is free but booking is required.