Welcome to my website. It is intended to provide information about what I am doing now, to offer access to a selection of the archive of my past activities and to provide a means to contact me if you wish to do so.
My work, in varied fields, takes place around the common theme that good governance is a pillar of civilised society.
Without a political system that truly reflects contemporary society and its international context, is responsive and can effectively deploy cutting edge academic research, the public realm is doomed to fail in fulfilling the needs of the citizens it exists to serve.
Bad laws undermine both civil society and the market, in a vicious circle of ineffectual gestures and stagnation.
On the other hand, institutions, regulations and laws that are crafted with attention to the latest policy and technological innovations will enable individuals to better develop the rich networks of relationships that characterise a just society and a productive economy. Government must have a proper understanding of the people and organisations that are its social partners – how they co-operate, compete, and conceptualise each other – and then marry this with a clear-headed analysis of problems and solutions according to values.
Through my years of political work I have become increasingly convinced that the quality of public policy and public debate in Britain could achieve far higher standards. The disconnect between “politics” and “policy” has seemed to me something that limits our potential for realising the potential of Britain’s talented citizens, both individually and communally.
Too often politics seems shallowly vote-grabbing or irredeemably short-termist. Politics must be popular in that in a democratic society its practitioners must convince voters that this or that decision is a sensible route across the rough seas of globalisation. Yet this is no excuse for populism which demeans both the politician and the elector. Only if politicians are brave enough to tackle the big challenges of 21st-century politics will voters accord them the respect to make the hard choice inevitably necessary along the way.
This is my objective in the work I do. Using my experience in politics and, since leaving Parliament in 2010, greater associations with academics and policy experts, I aim to contribute in any way possible to getting serious political problem solving. My three main areas of activity are Academic politics, International education and Migration. They represent different aspects of discussion of the ways in which democratic politics needs to develop in a globalising world and I hope to able to contribute something to this process. This is the work which I currently do:-
I am a Visiting Professor in Politics at the University of East Anglia.
Other than general lecturing and teaching, my main purpose is to improve the relationship between academic politics and the world of practical political activity.
One aspect of this was the ‘Too Difficult Box’ lecture series at the University which took place between January 2011 and November 2013. This resulted in a book, The Too Difficult Box published in June 2014.
I am also a Visiting Professor in Politics and Faith at the University of Lancaster. The University has established a department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, within which I am doing some teaching and lecturing. More generally I believe that the relationship between faith and politics needs to be much better considered and discussed than is currently the case. I set out my basic approach on this subject to the Royal Commonwealth Society in November 2006 and with Professor Linda Woodhead at Lancaster I have established a substantial range of activity through the Westminster Faith Debates. In June 2013 we published a report “A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools”.
I am a Research Fellow at CREAM (the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration) at University College London.
In September 2015 I joined the Policy Institute of Kings College London as a Visiting Professor.
I also do other occasional academic lectures and events.
I am active in the field of international education and am a non-executive member of the board of Open University Worldwide.
I am an advisor for Macat, a London based education technology company.
I was a member of the Committee of the Royal Society Vision Project.
I am a Trustee of the Alexandria Trust a charity which promotes education in the Arab world).
In addition I attend and give papers at various international education events and am seeking to promote educational development internationally, particularly focusing upon the strengths of UK education at all levels. I am an active participant in the Education World Forum.
In 2011 I wrote for the Centre for European Reform “The EU and Migration: A call for action” which dealt with the need for a migration policy for the European Union and sought to promote debate around these very important issues.
In 2011 I was invited to join the Transatlantic Council on Migration, which is a project of the Migration Policy Institute.
In addition to these areas I retain an active interest in international affairs.
I am a Council member of the European Council for Foreign Relations , which is the first pan-European think-tank. Its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values based foreign policy.
I am a member of the International Advisory Board of the Schengen White List Project, which is run by the European Stability Initiative, The main purpose of this project is to stabilise and normalize democratic development in the Western Balkans, with a view to future full membership of the European Union.
I make frequent media and other appearances and give lectures on contemporary politics.
Prior to May 2010, I have a lengthy political history which includes being President of the National Union of Students, a Councillor in the London Borough of Hackney, work in the Office of Rt Hon Neil Kinnock MP when he was leader of the Labour Party, Member of Parliament for Norwich South and ministerial responsibilities in the department of education, Home Office and as Labour Party Chair.