Stephen Meredith

Dr. Stephen Meredith

Politics Subject Leader

School of Humanities, Language and Global Studies

Livesey House, LH307

+44 (0) 1772 89 2864

Subject Areas: History, Contemporary British History, Political History, Intellectual History

Stephen Meredith is Politics subject lead in the School of Humanities, Language and Global Studies, and specialises in contemporary British history and politics, political parties and political ideas. He has published widely in the areas of Labour history, social democratic and wider ‘progressive’ politics and political ideas. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and John Antcliffe Archives By-Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge 2018-19.

Stephen is research active within the area of History.

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Stephen Meredith’s current research examines the ‘progressive’ dimensions of Conservative intellectual and political responses to the perceived ‘decline’ and ‘crisis’ of the post-war British state from the 1960s. In so doing, it explores the wider, more diverse communication and exchange of ideas in the evolution and emergence of ‘Thatcherism’ in the Conservative Party and British politics at a critical juncture in attitudes and approaches to the standard form and management of the state, and seeks to explain the wider origins and influences of ideas and policy in Thatcher’s Conservative Party in opposition and government in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Stephen also continues to work in related areas of ‘progressive’ politics and political ideas. He focuses on the evolution and transitions of post-war British social democracy, reflected in work analysing Labour revisionist debates and divisions in the 1960s and 1970s over European membership, political economy and industrial relations and trade union reform as potential longer-term antecedents of the SDP and ‘New’ Labour, published in journals including British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Contemporary British History, Historical Research, Labour History Review and Parliamentary History. He is the author Labour's Old and New: The Parliamentary Right of the British Labour Party 1970-79 and the Roots of New Labour (Manchester University Press, Critical Labour Movement Studies)

The latter has been described as 'an excellent academic study of Labour's parliamentary right in the 1970s. It is a bedside must-read for anoraks of Labour history...and insightful on many of the continuing debates that still perplex social democracy on the central importance of the EU, the modern role of the trade unions and reform of the state'.

As well as studies exploring the multiple crises and divisions of revisionist social democracy in the 1960s and 1970s, he is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters concerned with issues ranging from transitions of ‘progressive’ politics in South Wales in the years following WW1, Michael Young as a ‘progressive’ alternative to Labour’s ‘state-centric’ socialism, and the oratorical and oppositional dimensions of political leadership. 

He has been awarded external funding from the British Academy and Arts and Humanities Research Council and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and John Antcliffe Archives By-Fellow at the University of Cambridge (Churchill College) in 2018-19. 

Stephen is an Elected Fellow at the Royal Historial Society.


  • PhD Politics/Political History, University of Sheffield, 2004
  • MSc (Econ) Politics and Public Administration, University of London (Birkbeck College), 1994
  • MA (Distinction) Contemporary British and European History, University of London (Queen Mary), 1990


S. Meredith, ‘‘Divided Within Itself’? The ‘Labour Right’ and the Decline of Post-war Revisionist Social Democracy, c. 1970-79’, Parliamentary History, Vol. 38, No. 2, 2019 (forthcoming)

S. Meredith, ‘A ‘brooding oppressive shadow’? The Labour Alliance, the ‘Trade Union Question’ and the Trajectory of Revisionist Social Democracy, c. 1969-1975’, Labour History Review, Vol. 82, No. 3, 2017, pp. 251-76 (ISSN 0961-5652)

S. Meredith, ‘Michael Young: An Innovative Social Entrepreneur’, in P. Ackers & A. Reid (eds.), Other Worlds of Labour: Alternatives to State Socialism in Twentieth Century Britain, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. pp. 271-302 (ISBN 978-3-319-34161-3)

S. Meredith, ‘Rethinking Revisionist Social Democracy: The Case of the Manifesto Group and Labour’s 1970s ‘Third Way’, Labour History Review, Vol. 79, No. 2, 2014, pp. 201-25 (ISSN 0961-5652)

S. Meredith, ‘A Prelude to Secession? European Debates and Divisions on the Parliamentary Right of the British Labour Party 1962-72, Historical Research, Vo. 85, No. 228, 2012, pp. 329-51 (ISSN 0950-3471)

S. Meredith, ‘A ‘Strange Death’ Foretold (or the Not So ‘Strange Death’ of Liberal Wales): Liberal Decline, the Labour Ascendancy and Electoral Politics in South Wales, 1922-1924’, North American Journal of Welsh Studies, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2012, pp. 18-37 (ISSN 1554-8112)

More publications

Teaching activities

  • PO1101 Politics, Power and the State
  • PO1112 British Politics
  • PO2400 Radical Politics and Political Ideas in Modern Britain: From Lloyd George to Tony Blair
  • PO3134 Continuity and Change in British Politics
  • PO3991/2 Politics Dissertation
  • MRes History


  • From the Big State to the ‘Big Society’: ‘Progressive’ Conservatism, Thatcherism and the State, 1964-79
  • From the Big State to the ‘Big Society’? Angus Maude and the ‘Origins’ of ‘Thatcherism’
  • ‘The Left Have All the Good Tunes’: The Manifesto Group and Labour’s ‘marriage between Keynesianism and Monetarism’, c. 1974-81

External Affiliations and Roles

  • Elected Fellow Royal Historical Society
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Cambridge Scholars Publishing
  • Academic manuscript review, including Manchester University Press, Routledge
  • Journal review, including Historical Journal, Historical Research


Stephen is currently completing a monograph concerned with the development of post-war ‘progressive’ Conservative ideas and approaches to the British state and their interaction with and influence on the evolution of ‘Thatcherism’. As part of this project, he will take up an Archives By-Fellowship of Churchill College, Cambridge in 2018-19 to work in key collections in the Churchill Archives, including the Hailsham, (Angus) Maude, (J Enoch) Powell and Thatcher papers.


‘From ‘In Place of Strife’ to ‘Social Contract’: (Post-) Revisionist Social Democracy and the ‘Trade Union Question’’, Northeast Conference on British Studies (NECBS), Saint Michael’s College, Burlington, Vermont, 14-15 October 2016

‘'Old-style disarray’: The Manifesto Group, Fighting the Left and (Post-) Revisionist Social Democracy’, Labour Pains Conference, University of Sheffield, People’s History Museum, Manchester, 30 June 2016

‘Michael Young: A Social Democratic Alternative’, Other Worlds of Labour, Girton College, Cambridge, 5-7 September 2014

‘A Catalyst for Secession? European Divisions on the Parliamentary Right of the British Labour Party 1962–72 and the Schism of British social democracy’, Montreal British History Seminar, McGill/Concordia Universities, Montreal, 28 March 2013

‘Beyond ‘Beveridge plus Keynes plus socialism’: Michael Young and ‘progressive’ alternatives of the ‘better society’’, European Social Science History Conference, University of Glasgow, 11-14 April 2012

‘James Callaghan as Leader of the Opposition 1979–80’, invited paper for the Leadership, Parties and Institutions Research Group conference, 'Leaders of the Opposition: From Churchill to Cameron', School of Politics and International Studies (POLSIS), University of Leeds, 9 July 2010