Robert Skidelsky

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The Lord Skidelsky

Official portrait of Lord Skidelsky crop 2, 2022.jpg
Official portrait, 2022
Born
Robert Jacob Alexander

(1939-04-25) 25 April 1939 (age 83)
NationalityBritish
Other namesRobert Skidelsky
Alma mater
Political partyCrossbench
WebsiteOfficial website

Robert Jacob Alexander, Baron Skidelsky, FBA (born 25 April 1939) is a British economic historian. He is the author of a three-volume award-winning biography of British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946). Skidelsky read history at Jesus College, Oxford, and is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick, England.

Early life[edit]

Skidelsky's parents, Boris Skidelsky and Galia Sapelkin, were British subjects of Russian ancestry, Jewish on his father's side and Christian on his mother's.[1] His father worked for the family firm L. S. Skidelsky which leased the Mulin coalmine from the Chinese government. Boris had three brothers, one of whom was the British novelist and bridge player and writer S. J. "Skid" Simon (1904–1948). In 1919, a factory was built by L. S. Skidelsky in Harbin for obtaining albumin from blood.[2]

When war broke out between Britain and Japan in December 1941, he and his parents were interned first in Manchuria then Japan and finally released in exchange for Japanese internees in England. He then went back to China with his parents in 1947, living for a little over a year in Tientsin (now Tianjin). They left for Hong Kong just before the Chinese Communists took the city.[3]

Education[edit]

From 1953 to 1958, Skidelsky was a boarder at Brighton College. He went on to read history at Jesus College, Oxford. Between 1961 and 1969 he was successively research student, senior student and research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. In 1967 he published his first book, Politicians and the Slump, based on his DPhil dissertation, which explores the ways in which British politicians handled the Great Depression.[4]

Academic career[edit]

During a two-year research fellowship at the British Academy Skidelsky published English Progressive Schools (1969) and began work on his biography of Oswald Mosley, which was published in 1975. In 1970, he became an associate professor of history in the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. However, the controversy surrounding the publication of his biography of Mosley, which some critics felt let Mosley off too lightly, led Johns Hopkins to refuse him tenure. Oxford also proved unwilling to give him a permanent post.

From 1976 to 1978, Skidelsky was Professor of History, Philosophy and European Studies at the Polytechnic of North London. In 1978, he was appointed Professor of International Studies at the University of Warwick, where he has since remained, although he joined the Economics Department as Professor of Political Economy in 1990. He has been a professorial fellow at the Global Policy Institute at London Metropolitan University, and a Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1994.[4] Since 2016 he has been a director and trustee of the School of Civic Education.[5] He is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick.[6][7]

Skidelsky currently writes a column on economic history for Project Syndicate, an international media organization.[8]

Political career[edit]

Skidelsky has been a member of four political parties. Initially a member of the Labour Party, he left to become a founding member of the Social Democratic Party, in which he remained until it merged with the Liberal Party to become the Liberal Democrats in 1988. He objected to the merger and remained in the continuing SDP until its dissolution in 1990. On 15 July 1991 he was created a life peer as Baron Skidelsky of Tilton in the County of East Sussex[9] and in 1992 he joined the Conservative Party.[4] Around the time of the announcement of his peerage it was speculated that David Owen, a co-founder of the SDP, had lobbied then Prime Minister John Major for Skidelsky's appointment.[10] He was made an opposition spokesman in the Lords, first for Culture, then on the Treasury (1997–1999), but he was removed by William Hague, then party leader, for publicly opposing NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.[4]

In 2001 Skidelsky left the Conservative Party for the cross benches. He was Chairman of the Social Market Foundation between 1991 and 2001.[4]

In September 2015 Skidelsky endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election, writing in The Guardian: "Corbyn should be praised, not castigated, for bringing to public attention these serious issues concerning the role of the state and the best ways to finance its activities. The fact that he is dismissed for doing so illustrates the dangerous complacency of today's political elites. Millions in Europe rightly feel that the current economic order fails to serve their interests. What will they do if their protests are simply ignored?"[11]

Russia[edit]

In March 2014, it was reported that Skidelsky was a director on the board of the Russian state-owned company Rusnano Capital.[12] After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Skidelsky declined to resign from Rusnano, criticised sanctions that targeted Russia and argued that the Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine should be given an opportunity to separate from Ukraine.[12]

Between 2016 and 1 January 2022, Skidelski was a non-executive director on the board of Russian oil company Russneft, a company 50% owned by the Russian government.[13][14][15]

On 28 February 2022, he signed a letter to the Financial Times on the subject of Ukraine, along with David Owen and others, that stated: "NATO governments have rightly said they are willing to address Russia's security concerns, but then say in the same breath that Russia has no legitimate security concerns because NATO is a purely defensive alliance. Whether we like it or not, a NATO that now borders Russia and could in future border even more of Russia is seen by Russia as a security concern."[16][17]

On 17 April 2022, he argued against Finland's joining NATO[18][19] and shortly after against the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.[20]

Awards[edit]

External video
video icon Booknotes interview with Skidelsky on John Maynard Keynes: Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946, 28 April 2002., C-SPAN

The second volume of Skidelsky's three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes The Economist as Saviour, 1920–1937 won the Wolfson History Prize in 1992.[4] The third volume Fighting for Britain, 1937–1946 won the Duff Cooper Prize in 2000, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography in 2001, the Arthur Ross Book Award for international relations in 2002 and the Lionel Gelber Prize for International Relations[4] and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction writing in 2001.

Personal life[edit]

Skidelsky has two sons, Edward Skidelsky, a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Exeter;[21][22] and William Skidelsky, a journalist and author of Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession.

Selected works[edit]

  • 1967: Politicians and the Slump
  • 1969: English Progressive Schools
  • 1975: Oswald Mosley
  • 1983: John Maynard Keynes: Hopes Betrayed, 1883–1920
  • 1992: John Maynard Keynes: The Economist as Saviour, 1920–1937
  • 1993: Interests and Obsessions: Historical Essays (Macmillan)
  • 1995: The World After Communism: A Polemic for Our Times (Macmillan)
    • Published in America as The Road from Serfdom: The Economic and Political Consequences of the End of Communism
  • 1996: Keynes (Oxford University Press: Past Masters)
  • 2000: John Maynard Keynes: Fighting for Freedom, 1937–1946
  • 2009: Keynes: The Return of the Master (London: Allen Lane)
  • 2012: How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life. with Edward Skidelsky (Allen Lane)
  • 2018: Money and Government: The Past and Future of Economics
  • 2020: What’s Wrong with Economics?: A Primer for the Perplexed
  • 2022: Economic Sanctions: A Weapon out of Control?[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lord Skidelsky (12 September 2003). "My A-level hell, by Lord Skidelsky". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Yin-tʻang Chang (1933). The Economic Development and Prospects of Inner Mongolia (Chahar, Suiyuan, and Ningsia). Commercial Press, Limited. p. 117.
  3. ^ Skidelsky, Robert (1 January 2006). "Essay: A Chinese Homecoming".
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Biography". Archived from the original on 9 October 2008.
  5. ^ "SCHOOL OF CIVIC EDUCATION filing history – Find and update company information – GOV.UK". find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk.
  6. ^ "Professor Lord Robert Skidelsky". University of Warwick. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  7. ^ "How Much is Enough? The Economics of the Good Life". University of Warwick. Archived from the original on 17 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Robert Skidelsky – Project Syndicate". Project Syndicate. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  9. ^ "No. 52606". The London Gazette. 18 July 1991. p. 10975.
  10. ^ "Pendennis: Lord Owen of lost cause". The Observer. 16 June 1991.
  11. ^ Skidelsky, Robert (10 September 2015). "Why We Should Take Corbynomics Seriously". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  12. ^ a b Pickard, Jim (26 March 2014). "Leading Britons' business links with Russians under spotlight". Financial Times. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  13. ^ "Skidesky, London's new oil baron". Intelligence Online. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  14. ^ "Biographies of the Members of the Board of Directors | Corporate Governance | Shareholders and Investors". russneft.ru.
  15. ^ "Lord Skidelsky". members.parliament.uk. n.d. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  16. ^ "Letter: Remember Kissinger's advice to the Ukrainians". Financial Times. 28 February 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  17. ^ "Letter: Remember Kissinger's advice to the Ukrainians". Robert Skidelsky. n.d. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  18. ^ Skidelsky, Robert [@RSkidelsky] (17 April 2022). "Application by Finland to join NATO would be a catastrophic mistake" (Tweet). Retrieved 29 May 2022 – via Twitter.
  19. ^ "Letter: Remember Kissinger'".
  20. ^ Inman, Phillip (11 June 2022). "Sanctions are hitting hard enough to hurt Russia, if not stop it". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 June 2022. Robert Skidelsky, the economist and Labour peer who until last year was a board member of a Russian company, argues against the use of wide-ranging sanctions during the current war in a new pamphlet, Economic Sanctions: A Weapon Out of Control
  21. ^ "Dr Edward Skidelsky". University of Exeter. Archived from the original on 2 June 2021.
  22. ^ Fraser, Giles (15 June 2012). "How Much is Enough? by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky; What Money Can't Buy by Michael Sandel – review". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  23. ^ "Books".

External links[edit]

Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Skidelsky
Followed by
The Lord Craig of Radley