Matt Cavanagh

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Matt Cavanagh (born 1971) was a special adviser in the UK Labour government (2003–10). He worked for Home Secretary David Blunkett; for Chancellor Gordon Brown; for Defence Secretary Des Browne; and for Gordon Brown again as Prime Minister from June 2007 to May 2010. Subsequently, he was an Associate Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research, working on UK immigration policy.[1] He now works in the private sector.


Matthew Cavanagh was born in 1971.[2] He was educated at Bedford Modern School[3] and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read PPE, and then took a BPhil and DPhil in Philosophy. From 1996 to 2000 he was Lecturer in Philosophy at St Catherine's College, Oxford. From 2000 to 2003 he was a strategy consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.

Cavanagh is the author of Against Equality of Opportunity a controversial work of 2002 that criticises conventional understandings of the doctrine of equality of opportunity.[4] It gained positive reviews across the political spectrum, including in the Times Educational Supplement[5] and in The Spectator.[6] Other reviews were mixed, including Jeremy Waldron in the London Review of Books[7] and in the Guardian.[4]

Two years later in 2004, with Cavanagh now working as a special adviser, the Guardian returned to the book with a front page story arguing that his views on race and equal opportunity made him unfit to work in government.[8] This led to widespread calls for Cavanagh to be sacked, with questions tabled in Parliament, and the affair rumbled on for a few days. The Guardian letters page carried a balance of letters for and against Cavanagh.[9]

In 2009 he was briefly in the news again, when he was accused of putting pressure on NHS statisticians to release statistics on knife crime prematurely. The UK Statistics Watchdog reprimanded Downing Street, and again there were calls for his sacking, including from the Public Administration Committee.[10]

Cavanagh has written on Afghanistan and other subjects for Prospect[11] and The Spectator[12] magazines. He is a regular contributor to a number of blogs including the New Statesman,[13] The Spectator,[14] and Labour Uncut.[15]

He was the British national champion at Rugby Fives in 2004 and 2006.[16]


  1. ^ "Matt Cavanagh > Associate Director for UK Migration Policy". IPPR. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  2. ^ "Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records at". Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  3. ^ The Eagle, Magazine of Bedford Modern School
  4. ^ a b John Crace (2002-03-26). "Equal wrongs | Education". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  5. ^ "Why we should spurn equality and meritocracy". Times Higher Education. 2002-06-21. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  6. ^ "Against Equality of Opportunity | Matt Cavanagh | Review by The Spectator". 2002-03-16. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  7. ^ "Jeremy Waldron reviews ‘Against Equality of Opportunity’ by Matt Cavanagh · LRB 19 September 2002". Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  8. ^ Kevin Maguire (2004-03-29). "Blunkett aide in row over race | Politics". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  9. ^ "Letters: Philosophy and the real world | Politics". London: The Guardian. 2004-03-22. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  10. ^ "Uncorrected Evidence 504". 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  11. ^ "Inside the Anglo-Saxon war machine". Prospect Magazine. 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  12. ^ "Operation amnesia". The Spectator. 2011-04-13. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  13. ^ "Matt Cavanagh". New Statesman. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  14. ^ "Matt Cavanagh | Find Articles | Spectator Magazine". Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  15. ^ Cavanagh, Matt. "Labour-Uncut". labour-uncut. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  16. ^ "The Rugby Fives Association". Retrieved 2012-02-14.