Born in 1874, the son of a Chancellor of the Exchequer contemporary with Gladstone and Disraeli, he made his name as a journalist covering the Boer War, became an MP at 26, President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, and the scapegoat of the catastrophe at Gallipoli in 1915. He was rehabilitated in his father Lord Randolph’s old post in 1924, but by 1930 – with the Conservatives in Opposition – he was in the wilderness.
There he might well have stayed. On 13 December 1931 when visiting New York, he looked right rather than left crossing Fifth Avenue and was hit by a cab. He nearly died. His autobiographical My Early Life (1929) would have been his epitaph. What a farewell it would have made to one of the nearly men of the twentieth century!