John O'Sullivan (columnist)

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John O'Sullivan, Prague

John O'Sullivan, CBE (born 25 April 1942) is a British conservative political commentator and journalist. During the 1980s, he was a senior policywriter and speechwriter in 10 Downing Street for Margaret Thatcher when she was British prime minister and remained close to her up to her death.[1][2] O'Sullivan served from 2008–2012 as vice-president and executive editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.[3] He is currently president of the Danube Institute[4] and editor of the Australian monthly magazine Quadrant.[5] He is also a member of the board of advisors for the Global Panel Foundation, a respected NGO that works behind the scenes in crisis areas around the world.[6]

Early life[edit]

Born in Liverpool, O'Sullivan was educated at St Mary's College, Crosby, and received his higher education at the University of London. He stood unsuccessfully as a Conservative candidate for the constituency of Gateshead West in the 1970 British general election.

John O'Sullivan – Director of Danube Institute, Budapest

In 2014 he moved to Budapest, to set up the Danube Institute.[7] He is the Director of 21st Century Initiatives and Senior Fellow at the National Review Institute in Washington, D.C..

Journalism career[edit]

O'Sullivan is a former editor (1988–1997) and current editor-at-large of the opinion magazine the National Review[8] and a former senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.[9] He had previously been the editor-in-chief of United Press International, editor-in-chief of the international affairs magazine, The National Interest, and a special adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.[10] He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1991 New Year's Honours List.

John O'Sullivan, Mark André Goodfriend – 2015

In 1998 O'Sullivan was a leading member of the journalistic team that founded the National Post, a right-leaning national newspaper in Canada.[11]

O'Sullivan is the founder and co-chairman of the New Atlantic Initiative, an international organisation dedicated to reinvigorating and expanding the Atlantic community of democracies. The organisation was created at the Congress of Prague in May 1996 by Václav Havel and Margaret Thatcher.

In 2013, O'Sullivan became first the director and then president of the Danube Institute, a Budapest-based think tank. The Danube Institute exists to provide an independent centre of intellectual debate for conservatives and classical liberals and their democratic opponents in Central Europe. Based in Budapest and Washington, D. C., it seeks to engage with centre-right institutions, scholars, political parties and individuals of achievement across the region to discuss problems of mutual interest. The Institute also seeks to establish a two-way transmission belt for centre-right ideas, policies and people between Central Europe, Western Europe, and the English speaking world, and to provide an authoritative source of rational and commonsense reporting and commentary for those covering Central Europe for the world outside the region.

Concurrently, in February 2015 O'Sullivan also became the editor of the Australian monthly magazine Quadrant.[5] Beginning in January 2017 he will step down as editor and become the international editor.

O'Sullivan has published articles in Encounter, Commentary, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Policy Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The American Spectator, The Spectator, The American Conservative, Quadrant, The Hibernian and other journals, and is the author of The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2006).[12][13] Philosopher Roger Scruton praises O'Sullivan's book, which "forcefully" argues "that the simultaneous presence in the highest offices of Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II was the cause of the Soviet collapse. And my own experience confirms this."[14] He also lectures on British and American politics and is the Bruges Group's representative in Washington DC.

O'Sullivan's First Law[edit]

He is known for "O'Sullivan's First Law" (O'Sullivan's Law): "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing."[15]

Private life[edit]

O'Sullivan currently resides in Budapest with his wife Melissa.



  • O'Sullivan, John (2008), The president, the Pope, and the prime minister: three who changed the world, Regnery Publishing, ISBN 978-1-59698-550-6 
  • O'Sullivan, John, (editor.); Pócza, Kálmán, 1976-, (editor.); Social Affairs Unit (publisher.) (2015), The second term of Viktor Orbán: beyond prejudice and enthusiasm, London Social Affairs Unit, ISBN 978-1-904863-67-0 

Essays and reporting[edit]

  • O'Sullivan, John (Jan–Feb 2016). "Chronicle". Quadrant. 40 (1-2): 5–6. 


  1. ^ John O'Sullivan, "She Kicked up and Kissed Down," The Globe and Mail, 9 April 2013.
  2. ^ John O'Sullivan, "The Two Sides of Margaret Thatcher," The Telegraph, 13 April 2013.
  3. ^ "RFE/RL Announces Senior Appointments," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 16 January 2008.
  4. ^ "Danube Institute honlapja". Retrieved 13 October 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "Quadrant's New Editor". Retrieved 13 October 2017. 
  6. ^ "Global Panel Foundation - Meeting the World in Person". Retrieved 13 October 2017. 
  7. ^ Gellért, Rajcsányi. "John O'Sullivan: Európát szabadabb hellyé kell tenni! - Mandiner". Retrieved 13 October 2017. 
  8. ^ "John O'Sullivan". Retrieved 13 October 2017. 
  9. ^ "Experts - John O'Sullivan - Hudson Institute". Retrieved 13 October 2017. 
  10. ^ "Former Thatcher Confidant John O'Sullivan On Her Life And Legacy," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 9 April 2013.
  11. ^ "John O'Sullivan". Retrieved 13 October 2017. 
  12. ^ Mark Steyn, "When Leaders Showed Courage" Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine., Maclean's, 29 January 2007.
  13. ^ John O'Sullivan, "The Rise of an Iron Lady," Human Events, 2013.
  14. ^ Scruton, Roger (2014). How to Be a Conservative. New York: Bloomsbury. p. 9. 
  15. ^ John O'Sullivan, "O’Sullivan’s First Law", National Review, 27 October 1989.