My current research focuses on contemporary British politics and the political economy of the post-war British state. I maintain an interest in education policy, specifically the politics of higher education, which was the subject of my doctoral dissertation. My forthcoming monograph on the role of Anthony Crosland’s contribution to the politics of post-war British education policy begins a critique of state intervention in education within the context of a ‘moral economy’ of social fairness in the post-war period. This will be followed by a second book, The Birth of the Knowledge Economy, which interrogates the political economy of the post-war state in relation to British higher education. The two books taken together will offer a significant new interpretation of post-war British educational politics and its place in the wider life of the nation.
I have previously researched and published on a wide range of topics including the social history of the First World War, the politics of constitutional reform, contemporary education reform and the tenure in office of the coalition government between 2010 and 2015. I am also editing a forthcoming special section of the Political Quarterly on the role of history in the British political present.
I was born in Liverpool, where I studied for my first degree, receiving a BA in History from the University of Liverpool. An MPhil and PhD in History at Magdalene College, Cambridge followed, and I spent a year at Harvard University as Kennedy Scholar in History. I also read BA Theology at Exeter College, Oxford, specialising in the study of Islam and Catholicism. I have taught widely in universities, teaching History and Politics at both Oxford and Cambridge, Politics, Political Science and International Relations at the London School of Economics (for the Hansard Society) and in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham. I also taught education at a number of institutions, and was the founder of the Centre for Education Policy Analysis.
I worked in Westminster politics for a number of years as a speechwriter and political adviser, and I also have a background in journalism. My research draws on this diverse range of experiences; my writing of political history/contemporary political analysis is indebted both to my original training as an empirical historian and my subsequent work in politics and the media.
I have appeared in a range of broadcast media, and in May 2015 contributed election commentary to CNN and BBC local radio.