Dr Ben Jackson

Featured Publication

The Case for Scottish Independence: A History of Nationalist Political Thought in Modern Scotland (CUP, 2020)


Scottish nationalism is a powerful movement in contemporary politics, yet the goal of Scottish independence emerged surprisingly recently into public debate. The origins of Scottish nationalism lie not in the medieval battles for Scottish statehood, the Acts of Union, the Scottish Enlightenment, or any of the other familiar historical milestones that regularly crop up in debates about Scottish identity. Rather, an influential separatist Scottish nationalism began to take shape only in the 1970s and achieved its present ideological maturity in the course of the 1980s and 1990s. The nationalism that emerged from this testing period of Scottish history was unusual in that it demanded independence not to defend a threatened ancestral culture but as the most effective way to promote the agenda of the left. This book provides the first detailed account of the political thought of Scottish nationalism. Drawing on a wide range of published and unpublished sources, it traces how the arguments for Scottish independence were crafted over some fifty years by intellectuals, politicians and activists and why these ideas had such a seismic impact on Scottish and British politics in the 2014 independence referendum.

For further information about the book see www.cambridge.org/9781108793186.



Equality and the British Left: A Study in Progressive Political Thought, 1900-64 (Manchester University Press, 2007)

Equality and the British Left

The demand for equality has been at the heart of the politics of the Left in the twentieth century, but what did theorists and politicians on the British Left mean when they said they were committed to 'equality'? How did they argue for a more egalitarian society? Which policies did they think could best advance their egalitarian ideals? Equality and the British Left provides the first comprehensive answers to these questions. It charts debates about equality from the progressive liberalism and socialism of the early twentieth century to the arrival of the New Left and revisionist social democracy in the 1950s. Along the way, it examines and reassesses the egalitarian political thought of many significant figures in the history of the British Left, including L. T. Hobhouse, R. H. Tawney and Anthony Crosland.

Newly available in paperback for the first time, this book demonstrates that the British Left has historically been distinguished from its ideological competitors on the Centre and the Right by a commitment to a demanding form of economic egalitarianism. It shows that this egalitarianism has come to be neglected or caricatured by politicians and scholars alike, and is more surprising and sophisticated than is often imagined.

Equality and the British Left offers a compelling new perspective on British political thought that will appeal to scholars and students of British history and political theory, and to anyone interested in contemporary debates about progressive politics.

Making Thatcher’s Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2012), co-edited with Robert Saunders

Making Thatcher’s Britain

Margaret Thatcher was one of the most controversial figures of modern times. Her governments inspired hatred and veneration in equal measure and her legacy remains fiercely contested. Yet assessments of the Thatcher era are often divorced from any larger historical perspective. This book draws together leading historians to locate Thatcher and Thatcherism within the political, social, cultural and economic history of modern Britain. It explores the social and economic crises of the 1970s; Britain's relationships with Europe, the Commonwealth and the United States; and the different experiences of Thatcherism in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The book assesses the impact of the Thatcher era on class and gender and situates Thatcherism within the Cold War, the end of Empire and the rise of an Anglo-American 'New Right'. Drawing on the latest available sources, it opens a wide-ranging debate about the Thatcher era and its place in modern British history.

  • The rise of the neo-liberal right and Thatcherism
  • The political thought of British liberalism and socialism
  • The history and politics of Scottish nationalism
  • The history and politics of the Labour Party
  • Twentieth century British social and economic policy

My academia.edu page

Political Quarterly

  • The Case for Scottish Independence: A History of Nationalist Political Thought in Modern Scotland

  • Whose Liberalism?

  • Free Markets and Feminism: The Neo-Liberal Defence of the Male Breadwinner Model in Britain, c. 1980-1997

  • Richard Titmuss versus the IEA: The Transition from Idealism to Neo-Liberalism in British Social Policy

  • Citizen and Subject: Clement Attlee's Socialism

  • Introduction

  • A Union of Hearts? Republican Social Democracy and Scottish Nationalism

  • The State of Social Democracy and the Scottish Nationalists

  • Progressivism in British Politics: Some Revisionist Themes

  • Currents of Neo-Liberalism: British Political Ideologies and the New Right, c. 1955-79

  • More

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students regarding:

  • Modern British political history
  • Twentieth century British social and economic policy;
  • The history of modern political and economic thought

I currently teach:



History of the British Isles 1815-1924

History of the British Isles 1815-1924

History of the British Isles Since 1900

History of the British Isles Since 1900

Theories of the State

The Making and Unmaking of the United Kingdom

Approaches to History

Political Theory and Social Science, c. 1780-1920

  War and Reconstruction: Ideas, Politics and Social Change, 1939-45
  Disciplines of History
In the Media

Great Thinkers: Beatrice Webb FBA

In 1931, the British Academy elected its first female fellow, Beatrice Webb. A sociologist, economist and social reformer, she was one of the four founders of the London School of Economics. In this episode, Professor Jose Harris FBA and Dr Ben Jackson take a closer look at Webb’s extraordinary life and legacy.

17 June 2019