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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: October 2011

Twenty-six - The Troubles at LSE


For those of us who were at LSE at the time, what quickly became known as ‘the troubles’ began in the Michaelmas term 1966 following the appointment of Walter Adams as the next director of the School. At a time when the white minority government of Rhodesia was defying the British government and world opinion, the appointment of the first Principal of the multiracial University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in Salisbury (now Harare) was instantly controversial. Robbins was not involved in his appointment, but with strong feelings of loyalty towards Adams because of his work for Jewish refugees in the 1930s, he could not but defend him when his appointment was criticized in the first round of troubles at LSE in 1966/7. This year was the first after Robbins’s retirement from the academic staff, when he was only a parttime lecturer and largely an observer of developments at the School. He was intimately involved, however, in the second, more serious round of the troubles, which began a year after Adams’s arrival just when Robbins succeeded Bridges as Chairman of the Court of Governors.

Sydney Caine had agreed to continue as director until he was sixty-five in 1967. When the selection committee for his successor asked for the views of the academic staff, Lionel responded to Michael Wise (a member of the committee) on 26 November 1965 (Adams, RP) that he wanted to put on record that he thought the ‘fundamental desiderata’ for a new director were ‘capacity for leadership, real administrative ability and good standing with the world of affairs’. He thought the committee would have difficulty finding a distinguished scholar who also had these characteristics. He made his opinions known when names were mentioned in the Senior Common Room, objecting particularly to Aubrey Jones: Lionel was ‘disgusted’ when Jones, who had specialized in economics (see Chapter 7), described himself in his memoirs as a pupil of Laski rather than of Hayek and Robbins ‘which…would have put an entirely different complexion on his up-bringing at the university’ (LCR to Wise and Roberts, 5 January 1966, Adams, RP).

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