I am a historian of modern Britain, with particular interests in political thought, labour history, and the history of social and economic policy. I have written about the political thought of the British left, the conceptual history of equality and social justice, corporatism and its critics, and Anglo-American political rhetoric. My current research focuses on the history of neo-liberalism, especially the international development of neo-liberal political and economic ideas between the 1930s and the 1960s. I am also working on the reception of these ideas in British politics in the 1960s and 1970s, on the history of Thatcherism, and on the history and politics of Scottish nationalism.
I teach undergraduate papers in modern British history and the history of political thought. I supervise Masters and DPhil students working on topics in modern British political history, twentieth-century British social and economic policy, and the history of modern political and economic thought. I am happy to hear from prospective research students interested in working in these fields.
I am a convener of the History of Political Thought Seminar and of the Modern British History Seminar. I am the Co-Editor of Political Quarterly and I serve on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the Journal of British Studies; Renewal; and Twentieth Century British History.
Equality and the British Left: A Study in Progressive Political Thought, 1900-64 (Manchester University Press, 2007)
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
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