I am an historian of modern Britain with a particular interest in twentieth century constitutional and party politics. I am at present writing the history of the University of Birmingham.
As a Morrell Scholar at the University of York between 1984 and 1987 I examined the relationship between the work of John Stuart Mill and the arguments used to support campaigns to widen the franchise in nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain.
I was awarded a Research Associateship of the Open University between 1998 and 2001 to examine the determinants of British parties’ attitudes to constitutional reform, and won the PSA’s David Butler Prize in 1998 for research on policy towards electoral reform. This work contributed to the content of a study Guide, 'Democracy in Britain' (Sheffield Hallam 2000; EUP 2006).
Between 2007 and 2011 the Scurrah Wainwright Trust funded my research into the history of the Liberal Party in the twentieth century, particularly to produce a biography of Richard Wainwright, former MP for the Colne Valley. This was published in 2011 as 'Richard Wainwright, the Liberals and Liberal Democrats: Unfinished Business' (MUP)
Between 2014 and 2015 I undertook a study supported by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust examining the impact upon their image and fortunes of Liberal Democrat MPs at the 2015 general election of their party's participation in government. The findings were published by the University of Birmingham in 2016 as 'Liberalism in Power: Watching the Titanic'.
I continue to write and research on politics and social history, and to broadcast and teach. In 2019 I was appointed Research Fellow in writing the new history of the University of Birmingham which will be published in 2021.