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Serendipity in Political Life

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Politics is a conjuncture of ideas, external realities and public mood – the Cleopatra’s nose theory is therefore a correct description of a lot of what happens – most of the chance occurrences are unfortunate – but serendipity does occur – the interesting question is whether politicians themselves have any capacity to increase the likelihood of serendipitous occurrences – my answer is that they do, but exclusively by changing the ideas that cause the moods.


The Rt. Hon. Oliver LETWIN , MP Conservative Dorset West (majority 2461); s of Professor W Letwin, and Dr S R Letwin (d 1993); b 19 May 1956; Educ Eton, Trinity College, Cambridge (MA, PhD); m 1984, Isabel Grace, da of Professor John Frank Davidson, FRS ; 1 s (Jeremy John Peter) 5 July 1993, 1 da (Laura Shirley – twin);

Career visiting research fellow Princeton University 1980-81; research fellow Darwin College, Cambridge 1981-82; special adviser Department of Education and Science 1982-83; member Prime Minister’s Policy Unit 1983-86; director N M Rothschild and Sons Ltd 1991-2003; non-executive director 2005-; MP (Conservative) Dorset W 1997 -; Appointed to the Privy Council June 2002; FRSA 1991 ; Publications Ethics, Emotion and the Unity of the Self (1984), Privatising the World (1987), Aims of Schooling (1988), Drift to Union (1990), The Purpose of Politics (1999); numerous articles in learned and popular journals; Recreations philosophy, walking, skiing, tennis.

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