The death of British Foreign Minister Anthony Crosland at Oxford this morning leaves a gaping hole in the Labor Cabinet and in the ranks of thinking social democrats everywhere in the West. Many are still living in the intellectual capitol of his [WORD ILLEGIBLE] "The Future of Socialism [WORD ILLEGIBLE] a generation ago in [WORDS ILLEGIBLE]war his suceed wife the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] certain writer Susan Berass. She [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] an almost unproven vig there smiles he suitgred [WORD ILLEGIBLE] stroke last Sunday, Crosland [WORD ILLEGIBLE]
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It is doubful whether, Grasland could have become prime minister here. Intellectuals rarely attain the top rung of politics because they have trouble seeing issues in black and white. Crossland long ago infuriated the Labor left by demonstrating the irrelevance of nationalizing industry. More recently, he angered the right by refusing to believe that Britain's membership in the Common Market was of passionate importance. He was too well-trained an economist to think otherwise.
In his brief, 10 months at the Foreign Office, Crosland made one solid contribution. He ended the humiliating war with Iceland over cod-fishing rights by yielding gracefully to the smaller country. Characteristically, the decision liquid Crosland's constituency interest. Since 1959, he had been elected to Parliament from Grimsby, a one-industry town of fishernien.
Crosland was compelled largely through circumstances created by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to play an active and fruities role in atempting to negotiate in Rhodesia. Although he never admitted as much, it is likely that he doubted the issue could be settled except at the end of gun.
Had he lived, Crosland was due to swap jobs this summer with Denis Healy, the chancellor of the exchequer. Thus Crosland would have finally reached the post for which is training experience and interest fitted hire in charge of Britain's ailing economy. Now, with his death, Prime Minister James Callaghan has a problem.
He may be reluctant to move Healey before the chancellor brings in a new budget next month designed to undo some of the deflationary damage created by the last one in December. But Healey is eager to go to the Foreign Office and unhappy about staying on at a post where he has suffered one defeat after another.
Callaghan could solve this by naming David Owen, now number two at the Foreign Office, to continue there until Healey can move. Then Callaghan would be faced with picking a new chancellor, probably from among Edmund Dell, the conservative trade minister; Peter Shore, the left-grounding environment minister on Merlyn Rees, the home secretary and Callaghan's closest associate.
If Healey stays on indefinitely as chancellor, the new foreign minister could be Rees or Shirley Williams, the moderate and much admired minister of education.
Crosland had held six ministerial posts in nine years of Labor government since 1964, but he never reached the public eye until his last as foreign secretary. A fastidious man, both in personal habits and quality of mind he disliked the camaraderie that is so much a part of politics everywhere. He affected the nonchalant, heavy lidded, off-hand-fashion of a bright Oxford undergraduate - which he once was - concealing intense powers of concentration and ability to work. Unsurprisingly, he ran for almost every party office in the Labor movement and never won a single position.
The son of a senior civil servant, Crosland was born in London on Aug. 29, 1918. He gained a scholarship to Trinity College, Oxford before the war and flirted with politics on the extreme left. After Russia invaded Finland, he and another promising undergraduate, Roy Jenkins, now Common Market president, formed Oxford's Democratic Socialist Coub to distinguish themselves from the doctrinaire leftists.
Crosland was an intelligence officer with a parachute-regiment during the war.Later, he returned to Trinity, because president of the Oxcord Union, the debating society and spawning ground for dozens of Cabinet ministers, and graduated with high honors in philosophy, politics and economics.
He stayed on as a lecturer in economics for three years before winning a seat in Parliament in 1950. There he became a close ally of Hugh Gaitskell, the Labor politician who fought the left and became party leader before Harold Wilson.
Crosland married Susan Barnes Wetson, daughter to a Baltimore San correspondent, in 1964, more than a decade after he was divorced from his first wife, Hilary Anne Sarson, Mrs. Crosland is well known for her profiles of leading Britons that appear often in the London Sunday Times.
Crosland's lasting achievement came while he was on the political sidelines from 1955 to 1958 with his crucial book on socialism's future. Crosland borrowed the theme first announced by A.A. Berle and Gardiner Means, the ownership no longer [WORD ILLEGIBLE] in a modern corporation, that the institution was controlled by self-perpetuating managers.
This meant, Crosland said, that socialists need not bother with owning or nationalizing industry. They could control corporate managers through other devices.
The book argued [WORD ILLEGIBLE] in favor of equality as a socialist goal and for a concern with the quality of life as well as the quantity of goods and services. Several years before J.K Galbraith wrote "The Affluent Society," Crosland contended that expanding public expenditures were needed to enlarge output, thereby making the redistribution of income easier and providing the amenities that enhanced life's quality.
Fittingly, Crosland was still arguing this thesis behind closed doors in his last important political act. In December, he fought vigorously inside the Cabinet against what he regarded as the madness of deflating a stagnant economy with high unemployment.
His colleagues agreed he won the intellectual argument hands down against Healy who put the contrary case on behalf of the International Monetary Fund and its key members, West Germany and the United States.
But in the end, Crosland yielded to a compromise, a modest, substantially cosmetic deflation. He said he gave in on political grounds because the Cabinet could not repuriate the pledges Callaghan gave Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and President Gerald Ford to win a big loan from the IMF.