Jenkins, Hugh (Gater) 1908-2004

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JENKINS, Hugh (Gater) 1908-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born July 27, 1908, in London, England; died January 26, 2004, in Twickenham, Middlesex, England. Politician, trade unionist, and author. Jenkins was best remembered as a left-wing member of Parliament and arts advocate. The son of a dairy worker, he came from humble beginnings and began his career in insurance, working for Prudential Assurance Co. as an insurance collector for before enlisting in the Royal Air Force in 1941. Jenkins was part of the Royal Observer Corps and commissioned into the RAF Fighter Command. He served in Burma, where he ran the Forces Radio Service in Rangoon, but his great empathy for the native people—he even gave himself the name Uyan Kin—was not appreciated by the military, which consequently sent him back to England. Having started an association with unions when he was with Prudential, he returned to his concern for trade unions when he took a job as a publicity officer, editor, and bank officer at the National Union of Bank Employees in 1947. This was followed by a post as assistant general secretary of the British Actors Equity in London from 1950 to 1964. That year, Jenkins was elected to Parliament as a Labour Party member representing Putney. In this role, he became particularly well known for his advocacy of various positions concerning the arts. He supported commercial television and made his opinion known about the arts establishment, which he felt was elitist and which he called a "Snobocracy." He was also made minister of the arts from 1974 to 1976. Leaving Parliament in 1979, Jenkins continued to be involved in the arts as director of the Theatres Trust from 1977 to 1986, where he was also named joint life president in 1995; in addition, he was vice president of Theatres' Advisory Council from 1980 to 1995, after which he became president, and was president of Battersea Arts Centre from 1985 to 1988 and vice president of CND, beginning in 1981. Named Baron of Wandsworth in 1981, Jenkins served in the House of Lords, where he continued to voice his opinions about the arts. His philosophy concerning the arts establishment is laid out in his The Culture Gap: An Experience of Government and the Arts (1979); he was also the author of Rank and File (1980) and the radio play Solo Boy (1982).



Daily Telegraph (London, England), January 29, 2004.

Guardian (London, England), January 28, 2004, p. 29.

Independent (London, England), January 28, 2004, p. 20.

Times (London, England), January 28, 2004, p. 37; February 9, 2004, p. 26.

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Jenkins, Hugh (Gater) 1908-2004

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