Making the Weather

Vernon Bogdanor

‘Vernon Bogdanor’s elegant and sharply observed collection provides a welcome reminder about the power of the essay as a form of political analysis. His ecumenical and unsentimental analysis illuminates a broad sweep of post-war British history and should provoke many a debate, including about who he has left out. The moral of the story is that our democratic life is richer for the fierce jousting between ideas and figures on either side of the left-ride divide, rather than simply being a battle to clamber onto an unmoored life raft somewhere in the so-called centre ground.’
John Bew

‘A fascinating study of six people who changed our country, right across the political spectrum. This book is a masterclass in how the power to shape ideas and lead debate is entirely different from holding of political office – and how its effect is dramatically more far-reaching.’
William Hague

‘Vernon Bogdanor makes a convincing case for the greater influence on British public life and attitudes of six politicans who never became prime minister – and one who has so far never been an MP – than many who have occupied 10 Downing Street.’
Peter Riddell

‘Vernon Bogdanor has written an engaging reminder that a politician doesn’t need to reach number 10 in order to have a profound impact on the mood or habits of a nation. In Making the Weather, he elegantly connects the often forgotten early thought of his chosen subjects with the still relevant political debates of today.’
David Torrance, author of The Wild Men: The Remarkable Story of Britain’s First Labour Government

‘Vernon Bogdanor, the doyen of constitutional historians, here brilliantly turns his gaze to six controversial figures who were all in their different ways the makers of modern Britain. Mixing sharp analysis with witty and even moving personal anecdotes, he cleverly shows how perhaps the most underrated attribute in politics comes as teacher to the nation. For those who can create a political vision and impart it successfully will often have influence that far outlasts those who occupy 10 Downing Street.’
Richard Aldous, author of The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone vs Disraeli


Making the Weather is the story of six post-war politicians, all of whom exerted an outsized influence on the political life of the UK; an influence greater than that of most prime ministers. Vernon Bogdanor’s cast includes three from the political Left – Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan, Roy Jenkins, and Tony Benn – and three from the political Right – Enoch Powell, Keith Joseph, and Nigel Farage. Each study is a fascinating analysis that examines how these men achieved such prominence and influence and how, though very different figures in many ways, they came to dominate the political landscape, often for a period of years.

Each of the six made fundamental contributions to the debate about Britain’s future and to the vibrancy of our democracy. From immigration to Europe, from the NHS to devolution, the issues and causes that brought these men to prominence are still of considerable contemporary relevance.

Vernon Bogdanor is professor of government at the Institute of Contemporary British History, King’s College London. He is a fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society and the Academy of Social Sciences. He has written a number of books on constitutional and political history, including Beyond Brexit and The Strange Survival of Liberal Britain.

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