Obituary – Jack Hayward

I remember it as if it were yesterday. Jack Hayward strolled into my office in the Social Studies Faculty in Oxford. Beaming, sat down, and declared, ‘I’ve decided to review this dreadful book’. He then proceeded to critically assess the various chapters that Vincent Wright and I had gathered together in a Festschrift in his own honour. Jack clearly thought this was the funniest thing ever. And he’d also clearly read the whole thing in the twenty-four hours since I’d given it to him.

The incident comes back to me now because it highlights all that I most loved and admired about the man. The peerless intellect hardly needs remarking upon. His writing was clear, frequently acerbic, and always to the point. His knowledge of Europe and of France in particular, was encyclopedic.

In terms of this journal, he was a frequent and valued contributor on everything from Trade Unions (1980) to political counter cultures in France (1978). He edited an extremely successful special issue on the ‘Crisis of Representation in Europe’ in 1995, which contains much of relevance to the Europe of today.

He was a foe to be reckoned with. As a child, he was interned by the Japanese near Shanghai. And the experience came back to haunt him when, after the government had decided to compensate those who had survived that experience, they further decided Jack himself was not sufficiently British to qualify.  His response merits rereading:

‘The Japanese did not inquire whether I had a blood-link to the United Kingdom. Had the British government at the time alerted them to the fact that I was a third-class British subject who didn’t deserve to be put in incarceration because they were not real Britons. It might have been of some interest to my family.’

I (almost) pitied the poor government minister he subsequently dissected on the Today programme.

He ceaselessly encouraged others to be equally clear and to the point. He handed back the first book review I had written with his trademark pencil written comments, remarking ‘you obviously didn’t like the book, why don’t you just say so?’ Nor did he spare himself. A colleague once recounted how, having shown Jack a draft of something in which he had made a claim ‘in contrast to Hayward,’ Jack had encouraged him to turn this into a full-blown critique of his own work. 

Beyond his intellectual contribution, Jack of course did an enormous amount for the profession. He transformed the department of Hull. And much has been written about the ‘Oxford insurgency,’ or ‘colonel’s revolt’ within the Political Studies Association which saw Jack elected as its President after a rebellion by younger academics against the old guard.

To his credit, Jack himself never turned into one of the staid old guard his coup replaced. He never took neither himself nor his discipline too seriously, commenting once that political science was a discipline with ‘the capacity to offer a little insight and almost no foresight.’

Jack was a fantastic colleague. If he said he’d do something he’d do it, and immediately. He spoke his mind and encouraged other to do so. He encouraged me, advised me, and inspired me. I was privileged as an academic starting out on a career studying France and Europe to spend so much time with him and his close friend Vincent Wright. I learned more in my evenings listening to the two of them bicker over some arcane aspect of French politics than I could have myself in a lifetime.

I will treasure the memories of sitting in his little flat, often with Vincent, as the latter rolled his eyes as Jack stuck the Tom Lehrer record on. Vincent’s pain was lessened noticeably by drinking a bottle of one of the wines Jack was ‘testing’ in his role as wine Fellow at St Antony’s – a position he relished. He will be greatly missed.

Jack Ernest Shalom Hayward was born 18 August 1931 and died 8 December 2017. He was a Professor of French Politics and Fellow of St Antony’s College between 1993 and 1998 and an Emeritus Fellow until his death.

Anand Menon (MPhil IR 1988-1990)
Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at Kings College London
Lecturer in European Politics and Fellow of St Antony’s College (1996 – 2000)