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Tony Wright

Professorial Fellow in the Department of Politics

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About Tony Wright

Tony Wright is Professorial Fellow in the Department of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London, working on the development of the new Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life and contributing to the teaching of British Politics.

Tony was educated at LSE, Harvard and Oxford.

Before being elected to Parliament in 1992, he was Reader in British Political Thought at the University of Birmingham, where he taught in the School of Continuing Studies. In the House of Commons he chaired the Select Committee on Public Administration for over a decade; and also chaired the Select Committee on Reform of the House of Commons which recommended major changes in how the Commons works. He stood down from the Commons at the last election.

His many books include GDH Cole and Socialist Democracy (1979), Socialisms: Theories and Practices (1986), RH Tawney (1987), Citizens and Subjects (1994) and several edited volumes including The British Political Process (2000). His British Politics: A Very Short Introduction (2003) has sold over 25,000 copies and is soon to have a new edition. A collection of his other writing, with a new introduction, is to appear shortly as Doing Politics.

He is joint editor of The Political Quarterly.

Principle publications

  • GDH Cole and Socialist Democracy, Oxford University Press, 1979.
  • Local Radio and Local Democracy: A Study in Political Education, Independent Broadcasting Authority, 1982.
  • British Socialism: Socialist Thought from the 1880s to the 1960s, Longman, 1983.
  • Worlds of Labour: Essays in Birmingham Labour History, (ed., with R. Shackleton), University of Birmingham, 1983.
  • Socialisms: Theories and Practices, Oxford University Press, 1986.
  • RH Tawney, Manchester University Press, 1987.
  • Party Ideology in Britain, (ed., with L. Tivey), Routledge, 1989.
  • The Alternative, (ed., with B. Pimlott), WH Allen, 1990.
  • Consuming Public Services, (ed., with N. Deakin), Routledge, 1990.
  • Political Thought Since 1945, (ed., with L. Tivey), Edward Elgar, 1992.
  • Contemporary Political Ideologies, (ed., with R. Eatwell), Pinter, 1993 (revised
  • edition, 1999).
  • Citizens and Subjects: An Essay on British Politics, Routledge, 1994.
  • Values, Visions and Voices, (ed., with Gordon Brown), Mainstream, 1995.
  • Socialisms: Old and New, (with preface by Tony Blair), Routledge, 1996.
  • Who Can I Complain To? Hodder Headline, 1997.
  • Why Vote Labour? Penguin, 1997.
  • The People’s Party: The History of the Labour Party, with M. Carter, Thames and Hudson, 1997.
  • The New Social Democracy, (ed., with A. Gamble), Blackwell, 1999.
  • The English Question, (joint ed.), Fabian Society, 2000.
  • The British Political Process, ed., Routledge, 2000.
  • British Politics: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Restating the State? (ed., with A. Gamble), Blackwell, 2004.
  • Britishness: Issues and Perspectives, (ed., with A. Gamble) Wiley Blackwell, 2009.

Contributions to books

  • Socialism and Nationalism, in The Nation-State: The Formation of Modern Politics, (ed. L. Tivey), Martin Robertson, 1981.
  • Tawneyism Revisited: Equality, Welfare and Socialism, in Fabian Essays in Socialist Thought, (ed. B. Pimlott), Heinemann, 1984.
  • Guild Socialism and RH Tawney, in The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought, (ed. D. Miller), Blackwell, 1987.
  • GDH Cole, in The Blackwell Dictionary of Political Institutions, (ed. V. Bogdanor), Blackwell, 1987.
  • HM Hyndman and GDH Cole, in The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economic Theory and Doctrine, (ed. J. Eatwell), Macmillan, 1987.
  • RH Tawney and GDH Cole and Harold Laski, in The Blackwell Biographical Dictionary of British Political Life in the Twentieth Century, (ed. K. Robbins), Blackwell, 1990.
  • The Constitution, in Party Ideology in Britain, (ed. Tivey and Wright), 1989.
  • Ideological Politics and the Future, in Party Ideology in Britain, (ed. Tivey and Wright), 1989.
  • CB Macpherson, Democracy and Possessive Individualism, in Political Thought Since 1945, (ed. Tivey and Wright), 1992.
  • Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism, in Contemporary Political Ideologies, (ed. Eatwell and Wright), 1993 (revised edition, 1999).
  • GDH Cole and RH Tawney, in Encyclopaedia of Twentieth Century Britain, (ed. F. Leventhal), Garland, New York, 1995.
  • Reinventing Democracy? in Reinventing Democracy, (ed. P. Hirst and S. Khilnani), Blackwell, 1996.
  • Reforming the Patronage State, in M. Flinders and M. Smith, Government for the 21st Century: Towards the Quango State, Macmillan, 1998.
  • Inside the Whale: The Media from Parliament, in Politics and the Media, (ed. J. Seaton), Blackwell, 1998.
  • New Labour, Old Crosland? in Crosland and New Labour, (ed. D. Leonard), Macmillan, 1999.
  • Values and Ideology, in Radicals and Reformers: A Century of Fabian Thought, (ed. M. Thomas and G. Lodge), Fabian Society, 2000.
  • Finding the Third Way, in Politics UK, (ed. B. Jones), Longman, 2001 (4th edition).
  • Liberal Socialism: Then and Now, in The Progressive Century, (ed. N. Lawson and N. Sherlock), Palgrave, 2001.
  • How Mrs. Thatcher Saved the Labour Party (and Destroyed the Conservative Party), in The Political Legacy of Margaret Thatcher (ed. S. Pugliese), Politico’s, 2003.
  • The Candidate, in Britain Decides: The UK General Election 2005 (ed. A. Geddes and J. Tonge), Palgrave, 2005.

Reports, booklets and pamphlets

  • Adult Education and Participation, joint author, Universities Council on Adult and Continuing Education, 1983.
  • Local Radio and the Education of Adults, joint author, National Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education, 1983.
  • Socialism and Decentralisation, with N. Deakin and J. Stewart, Fabian Society, 1984.
  • Matters of Death and Life: A Study of Bereavement Support in Hospitals, joint author, King’s Fund, 1988.
  • Preparing for Partnership: Governor Training Evaluation for the City of Birmingham, with S. Ranson, University of Birmingham Faculty of Education and Continuing Studies, 1991.
  • Beyond the Patronage State, Fabian Society, 1995.
  • Who Wins Dares, Fabian Society, 1997.
  • A New Social Contract: From Targets to Rights in Public Services, with P. Ngan, Fabian Society, 2004.


  • Guild Socialism Revisited, Journal of Contemporary History, 9, 1, 1974.
  • The Referendum: The Case Against John Mackintosh, Political Quarterly, 46, 2, 1975.
  • From Fabianism to Guild Socialism: The Early Political Thought of GDH Cole, Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History, 32, 1976.
  • What Sort of Crisis? Political Quarterly, 48, 3, 1977.
  • Fabianism and Guild Socialism: Two Views of Democracy, International Review of Social History, XXIII, 2, 1978.
  • Law and Politics: An Issue Approach, Teaching Politics, 7, 3, 1978.
  • Labour and the Lessons of 1931, with R. Eatwell, History, 63, 208, 1978.
  • A Political Literacy Campaign?, Adult Education, 53, 1980.
  • Adult Education and Political Participation: Self-Critical Notes From Britain, with B. Groombridge, Convergence, 14, 1981.
  • Local Broadcasting and the Local Authority, Public Administration, 60, 3, 1982.
  • Local Radio and Local Government, Local Government Policy Making, 9, 1, 1982.
  • Whose Local Radio? Media Project News, The Volunteer Centre, July 1982.
  • Local Radio and Local Democracy in Britain, Combroad, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, September 1982.
  • A Century of Fabianism, History Today, 34, May 1984.
  • Decentralisation and the Socialist Tradition, in Socialism and Decentralisation, Fabian Society, 1984.
  • The Politics of Constitutional Reform, Political Quarterly, 57, 1986.
  • British Decline: Political or Economic? Parliamentary Affairs, 40, 1987.
  • The Red Dame in the Stage Army, Society for the Study of Labour History Bulletin, 3, 1987 (review article).
  • British Socialists and the British Constitution, Parliamentary Affairs, 43, 3, 1990.
  • Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism: Britain and Beyond, Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences, 35, 1991.
  • New Ideas and Old, Labour History Review, 56, 1, 1991.
  • Party Games, Representation, 32, 117, 1996.
  • Does Parliament Work? Talking Politics, 9, 3, 1997.
  • Prospects for Parliamentary Reform, Parliamentary Affairs, 57, 4, 2004.
  • Reforming Parliament, Prospect, October 2004.
  • Note: Excluded from this list are articles and reviews for assorted magazines, newspapers and other publications, and regular Commentary pieces for The Political Quarterly .The most recent pieces to appear are:
  • Doing Politics Differently, The Political Quarterly, 80, 3, 2009.
  • What are MPs For?, The Political Quarterly, 81, 3, 2010.

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