Kenneth Minogue, 1930–2013

It was with great sadness that I heard the news that my friend Ken Minogue died yesterday, age 82, returning from a meeting of the fabled Mont Pelerin Society in Galapagos, Ecuador. The Conservative History Journal carries this report from Ed Feulner, the former head of the Heritage Foundation and a fellow MPS member with Ken:

Last night Ken Minogue and I shared the duties of the chair. I did the thanks, and Ken the introduction of Allan Meltzer, who spoke to us via teleconference. Over dinner, Ken was in great humour, telling us about the next book he was working on, etc. Earlier in the week he had given a fine paper, and yesterday afternoon he chaired a session with that fine, delicate and yet steady hand that made him so beloved to all.

This morning 8 of us were on a bus tour looking at iguanas, sea lions, birds, etc, and enjoying ourselves immensely. Then we went back to the town of San Cristobal, had sandwiches and an hour later left for the airport. Westholms, Lals, Feulners, Fr. Sirico and Ken Minogue.

After our lunch, we went to the Galapagos airport, where the group was split between two flights to Guayaquil, an easy hour-long flight back to the mainland (on an Airbus, not a small plane.) Ken and many of the others were on the other flight.

Our flight landed first at Guayaquil. The other plane ten minutes later. We were collecting our luggage when we heard the horrible news that Ken had been stricken on the plane (a heart attack, we assume). There were four MDs on the plane, including two from the MPS meeting. They tried everything, but to no avail.

Ken was one of the merriest, most gentle, and most philosophically acute people I have ever known.  He was also one of the most hospitable. He and his late wife, Beverly Cohen, presided over countless dinner parties at their London house, where the wine and comestibles were as delightful as the conversation was wide-ranging and tonic.  (I should also record that Beverly made the best steak and kidney pie I have ever had.)

Ken’s  jovial temperament — it was rare indeed to find him without a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eyes — was disarming. A student of the philosopher Michael Oakeshott, and for many years a beneficent presence at the London School of Economics,  Ken was deeply respected by a profession he regarded with, shall we say, a certain ironical distance.  Nevertheless, despite the high regard he commanded, it was my impression that many people tended to underestimate Ken. His coruscating intelligence was too obvious to overlook, so people took refuge in the idea that his character lacked steel. Ken was clearly a conservative, but could anyone possessing his calm demeanor and emollient personality really be counted a staunch conservative?  If a body wasn’t that, how could he be a reliable ally?