Sir Roger Scruton, one of the country’s most prominent conservative philosophers, has died aged 75 after a six-month fight with cancer.
The prolific intellectual – author of some 50 books on morals, politics, architecture and aesthetics – died on Sunday, with a family statement saying they are “hugely proud of him and of all his achievements”.
In December, he wrote: “Coming close to death you begin to know what life means, and what it means is gratitude.”
The author was knighted for his services to philosophy, teaching and public education in 2016 and received honours from Poland and Hungary for his work supporting dissidents behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.
Very sad news. Professor Sir Roger Scruton, the greatest conservative of our age, has died. The country has lost a towering intellect. I have lost a wonderful friend. pic.twitter.com/oEviNCozlO
— Daniel Hannan (@DanielJHannan) January 12, 2020
Tory MEP Daniel Hannan paid tribute to “the greatest conservative of our age”, adding: “The country has lost a towering intellect. I have lost a wonderful friend.”
Sir Roger made headlines last year after he was dismissed as a government housing tsar over a row about comments he made in a magazine interview.
But the father-of-two received an apology after the New Statesman admitted his views on topics including China and George Soros “were not accurately represented” on social media “to his disadvantage”.
Sir Roger said the row showed there was a “witch hunt” against people on the political right which he saw as an “attempt to silence the conservative voice”.
In December he wrote in the Spectator magazine: “During this year much was taken from me – my reputation, my standing as a public intellectual, my position in the conservative movement, my peace of mind, my health.
“Falling to the bottom in my own country, I have been raised to the top elsewhere, and looking back over the sequence of events I can only be glad that I have lived long enough to see this happen.
“Coming close to death you begin to know what life means, and what it means is gratitude.”
A statement on his website read: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Roger Scruton, FBA, FRSL.
Deeply sorry to learn of the death of Sir Roger Scruton.
His work on building more beautifully, submitted recently to my department, will proceed and stand part of his unusually rich legacy.
— Robert Jenrick (@RobertJenrick) January 12, 2020
“Beloved husband of Sophie, adored father to Sam and Lucy and treasured brother of Elizabeth and Andrea, he died peacefully on Sunday 12th January.
“He was born on 27th February 1944 and had been fighting cancer for the last 6 months.
“His family are hugely proud of him and of all his achievements.”
Sir Roger graduated from Cambridge University in 1965 and paid particular attention to aesthetics, architecture and music in his philosophical work.
He was appointed to a government body called Building Better, Building Beautiful to advise on improving modern architecture.
But he was dismissed from the role last year over a series of comments reported in the New Statesman.
He was reported as saying the Chinese were “creating robots of their own people”, but the magazine later clarified his criticism was of the restrictive regime of the Chinese Communist Party rather than the citizens.
Sir Roger also referred to a “Soros empire” in Hungary – a reference to Jewish billionaire George Soros – but the magazine did not include the rest of his statement that “it’s not necessarily an empire of Jews; that’s such nonsense”.
Sir Roger also repeated his claim that Islamophobia was a propaganda word “invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue”.
The magazine subsequently apologised for the way it had posted social media links to the article in which “the views of Professor Scruton were not accurately represented in the tweets to his disadvantage”.
Then-housing secretary James Brokenshire apologised to Sir Roger, writing in the Spectator he regretted dismissing the intellectual over what was a “clearly partial report of your thoughts”.
Current Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said in a statement: “Sir Roger was one of the foremost public intellectuals of our time: brave, forthright and wise.
“His support for freedom fighters in Eastern Europe demonstrated his willingness to risk his own safety for his ideals.
“Even in the final stages of his illness he was contributing new ideas to help transform the way we think about the built environment in this country and to turn the tide on ugly and thoughtless development.
“There were few subjects that he did not turn his mind to, and his work on the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, which recently submitted their report to my department, will proceed and stand part of his enormously rich legacy.”