Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lord Harris Dies

The Adam Smith Institute reports the death of Lord Harris of High Cross:

We are sorry to report that Ralph Harris (Lord Harris of High Cross) died of a suspected heart attack at 8am this morning.

Together with Arthur Seldon and John Wood, Ralph Harris built the Institute of Economic Affairs into a power-house of free-market and classical liberal ideas, and for many years Ralph was the IEA's public face. This work was marked by the peerage which came soon after Mrs Thatcher's election in 1979. True to his principles, however, he allied himself with no political party, and sat on the cross benches in the House of Lords.

Ralph was a leading figure in the Mont Pelerin Society, the international body of pro-freedom scholars set up by F A Hayek in 1947, and became its President 1982-84.

His outgoing, optimistic personality, won him many friends – even among those politicians he chided for doing the wrong thing. It enabled him to bring many people into the free-market movement, and those of us who created the Adam Smith Institute were among those who benefited from his early support and encouragement.
I can vouch for the latter. In October 1983, I opened a shop selling reading glasses without prescription, and Harris attended the opening party to offer his support. He was exceedingly kind to my exhausted 23 year old self (we had still been painting the shop interior at 4:00am that morning, sustained only by the 24 hour sandwich shop in Upper Street).

He was animated, fiercely intelligent and always willing to engage in a quick exchange of correspondence. I have a card from him on my mantlepiece at home at the moment, a cartoon of Harris as St George fighting off the dragon of European bureaucracy on the front, on the rear a reply to a question I raised over a point made in his book Murder A Cigarette.

His willingness to engage so widely even in what must sometimes have been irksome dialogue undoubtedly helped spread the awareness of the merits of free markets and liberty. We could use a few more like Lord Harris.

via Guido Fawkes

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