Professor of Political History, Faculty of Social Sciences
I am a Professor of Political History and Director of the Centre for British Politics: CBP
I am able to comment on most aspects of British contemporary politics and modern political history, but have a specialist interest in the Labour Party and popular perceptions of politics in general. I have appeared many times on Sky News, Channel Four News, Radio 4 and Radio 5 as well as various local and international radio stations. I have been interviewed for the Guardian, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and numerous other international publications. I have written for the Guardian, the BBC website, Yorkshire Post, Prospect, Progress as well as History and Policy. In July 2010 I wrote and presented a documentary on Radio 4, 'Dramatising New Labour'.
During my academic career I have found myself teaching any number of courses, from French social and economic history to cultural studies by way of Chinese politics. Most of my teaching has however… read more
The 'Crisis' of Trust in Politics - Most commentators believe political parties and government have lost the trust of the vast majority of the public, largely due to changes in the social and… read more
Contemporary British political history
Fictional and dramatic representations of politics
The Labour Party
PhD students currently supervised
Matthew Bailey (enrolled 2010)
PhD students recently completed
I have not been at Nottingham long enough to have yet supervised a student to completion.
During my academic career I have found myself teaching any number of courses, from French social and economic history to cultural studies by way of Chinese politics. Most of my teaching has however been focused on the history and politics of modern Britain and to a lesser extent the United States. I am generally interested in exploring how politics and culture are connected; and looking at the extent to which politics and history need to be understood together. I am therefore by experience and inclination not especially interested in teaching within disciplinary boundaries - I like casting my net a bit wider and hopefully thereby challenging students to do the same. Inter-disciplinary teaching can be challenging but it is invariably the most interesting. Most of my teaching now follows on from my past and present research interests - I think that is important as it means I can bring students not only the latest perspectives in the field but also provide them with insights into my own discoveries. This means that at the moment I am using fiction and drama from the US and UK as a way of helping students understanding politics and appreciate how it can structure how we feel about politics. Using fictions from both countries which are in some ways similar but in others very different means that I can provided students with striking and sometimes surprising contrasts and similarities. I am also concerned with understanding the changing nature of the Labour party from 'Old' to 'New' Labour and beyond to 'Next' Labour.
The 'Crisis' of Trust in Politics - Most commentators believe political parties and government have lost the trust of the vast majority of the public, largely due to changes in the social and economic structure. While individualism and declining deference may be new features of the cultural landscape, it is also true that the major political parties have endured an endemic 'crisis' of legitimacy. Amongst other things, I am interested in exploring the means by which the parties have sought - and are seeking - to negotiate their inherently problematic relationship with society.
The Fictional Representation of Politics - If it is indisputable that many look upon politics in negative terms - generally seeing their elected representatives as inherently untrustworthy - it is also plain that (following the work of Murray Edelman) such attitudes are to some extent constructed through art. I am interested in comparing and contrasting fictional representations of politics in Britain and the USA, using examples taken from novels, film and television from the time of Anthony Trollope to that of The West Wing and The Thick of It.
Rethinking British Political History - The writing of modern British political history is currently undergoing a transformation, one which involves opening out to other disciplines and approaches - most obviously to those influenced by the need to properly locate political institutions within their cultural context. Given Colin Hay's recent outlining of a 'post-disciplinary' political science this is an especially interesting time to revisit some of the key moments in political history and challenge established narratives of the past that underpin contemporary political analysis.
The British Labour Party - I have a long-standing interest in the history and contemporary politics of the Labour Party - especially during the post-war period up to an including its manifestation as 'New' Labour. I am especially interested in the party's culture, ideology and how it has tried to evoke a positive response from the electorate.