The Political Society were recently honoured to host Lord Hain for the first meeting of this academic year and a welcome return to in-person events. Lord Hain’s talk was titled From Pretoria Boy to the Lords; 50 Years in Politics and a healthy audience of students from Eton and partner schools gathered in Election Hall to hear about Lord Hain’s notable political career.
Lord Hain spoke about his upbringing in South Africa, detailing the social activism of his parents Ad and Wal, and explaining his own route towards the anti-apartheid activism which saw him decried as South Africa’s ‘Public Enemy Number One’. Lord Hain told us about a number of incidents during his activist days that he particularly remembers, including his receipt of an unsuccessful letter bomb and his having been framed for a bank robbery by South African secret agents.
A number of excellent questions from the audience encouraged Lord Hain to speak about his time in the cabinets of Prime Ministers Blair and Brown, his 24-year stint as an MP, and his life peerage and hope for House of Lords reform, before finishing with a few touching anecdotes about his friend Nelson Mandela.
Lord Hain had joked that a tabloid columnist once named him the “second most boring member of the Cabinet”, however our audience could not disagree more, and we are all hugely grateful to Lord Hain for his honesty and thoughtfulness which contributed to an excellent evening.