Stanley Baldwin. Conservative Leadership and National Values

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Philip Williamson

Randolph Churchill, arguing in favour of the castration of 'political ineffectives', insisted that this would not be necessary in the case of Stanley Baldwin - who was already an old woman. Baldwin himelf seemed almost to connive at such judgements, referring to himself as 'just a wheel-greaser' and 'a lazy devil by nature'. Modest statements like these, oft-repeated, have in fact disarmed historians of their critical faculties.

Many have described him as a nonentity, and Robert Skidelsky has gone so far as to insist that 'the most interesting thing about Baldwin is that he was completely uninteresting'. Philip Williamson, however, not only describes this paradox as 'glib' but insists that more nonsense has been written about Baldwin than about any other modern prime minister. His new study puts the three-times premier back at centre-stage, as the most important politician in interwar Britain.

Williamson has not written a conventional biography. Instead, he has put the spotlight on the creation of Baldwin's public persona ('The man you can trust') and on his deeply-felt ideas, stemming from his religious convictions.

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