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I am Professor of Knowledge Exchange and Director of the University's Centre for English Identity and Politics (CEIP). Launched in 2015, CEIP was set up to explore the relationship between a growing sense of English identity and the development of local and national politics in England.

I was the Labour MP for Southampton Itchen from 1992 until standing down at the 2015 General Election. I served as a Minister in the Labour Government for 10 years, including periods as a junior minister and Minister of State at the Social Security (pensions), Health and Home Office before resigning over the Iraq War. I returned to government, as Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and then Communities and Local Government. During the period 2003-07 I was also Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Before entering Parliament I worked for a variety of voluntary sector advocacy groups including Friends of the Earth, the British Youth Council and War on Want. I took a leading role in establishing both the UK and European campaigns for Third World debt relief. I was also a Hampshire County and Southampton City Councillor.

In addition to my Winchester role I am currently a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, attached to their Institute of Public Affairs. I chair the Southern Policy Centre, a new think tank/policy forum for central southern England, launched at the University of Winchester in 2014.

I played a key role in the recent YouGov survey of English identity, conducted for the BBC's The English Question project. In June 2018, I delivered a speech on English identity in Westminster at the invitation of the Speaker of the House of Commons. The speech can be watched HERE until the end of July 2018.

Areas of expertise

  • National identities
  • Community cohesion and related issues
  • Constitutional reform
  • Innovative forms of public participation
  • Local and regional government
  • The politics of southern England


My writing has mainly been restricted to articles and blogs, some of which, relevant to my work at the University of Winchester, can be found on my blog www.theoptimisticpatriot.co.uk. 

On this blog you will find the article 'Are young people giving up on Englishness?', in which I share my thoughts on the outcomes of the recent groundbreaking BBC survey of England and its identities, which showed that young people are less likely to be proud to be English.

On this blog you will also find the transcript of my Enterprise Lecture at the University in Oct 2014 titled Re-imagining England. This forms a logical introduction to the work of CEIP. Read the transcriptWatch the lecture.

Recent publications

Online publications

Completing England (Policy Network paper, June 2018)

'Finding a role' (Demos Quarterly, 20 June 2017)

'England: a crisis' (Fabian Society review article, 28 July 2016)

'The Anglicisation of English politics' (Demos Quarterly, 31 July 2015)

'The Labour Party must embrace England or be doomed to failure' (The Telegraph 15 June 2015)

Edited volumes

Editor, The Shape of Things To Come (Fabian Society 2013).

Contributions to edited volumes

Reflections, in: England and the Politics of Patriotism, edited by Tristram Hunt. Download Labour's Identity Crisis.

Introduction to Who Speaks to England? Labour’s English challenge. The Fabian Society, 2016. Download Who speaks to England

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