Richard Grayson (academic)

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Richard Grayson
Richard Grayson academic.jpg
Personal details
Born (1969-04-18) 18 April 1969 (age 50)
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England
NationalityBritish & Irish
Political partyLabour (2013 - present) Liberal Democrats (1988 - 2013)
Spouse(s)Lucy Grayson
ChildrenEdward Grayson
Alma materUniversity of East Anglia
The Queen's College, Oxford
OccupationProfessor of Twentieth Century History
ProfessionGoldsmiths, University of London

Professor Richard Sean Grayson (born 18 April 1969 in Hemel Hempstead)[1] is Professor of Twentieth Century History at Goldsmiths, University of London.[2] He was educated at Lime Walk Primary School, Hemel Hempstead (Comprehensive) School, the University of East Anglia (1st Class BA Honours in English and American History), and The Queen’s College, Oxford (Doctor of Philosophy in Modern History).[3]

Academic research[edit]

His historical research is currently concentrated on Ireland and the First World War, with his most important book being Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War (Continuum, 2009). It has been widely well reviewed.[4] He also edited At War with the 16th (Irish) Division, 1914-18: The Staniforth Letters (2012)[5] and co-edited (with Fearghal McGarry) Remembering 1916: The Easter Rising, the Somme and the Politics of Memory in Ireland (2016).[6] Previous work includes books on Austen Chamberlain’s term of office as foreign secretary and the inter-war Liberal Party, and articles on Leo Amery and appeasement, the Channel Tunnel project, and Mods and Rockers in the 1960s.[7]

Grayson is involved in a number of First World War centenary projects. He is the chair of the Academy Advisory Group for the digital projects run by the Imperial War Museums,[8] including Operation War Diary[9] and Lives of the First World War.[10] He is an Associate Member of the First World War Centenary Committee in Northern Ireland and contributed to the two-part Ireland’s Great War first broadcast on BBC 1 Northern Ireland in February 2015.[11][12] He co-edits the IrelandWW1 website[13] and is involved in the Living Legacies 1914-1918 First World War Engagement Centre.[14] Work as part of this has included leading a walking tour of West Belfast around sites connected with First World War veterans.[15]

Political activities[edit]

Labour Party (since 2013)[edit]

Grayson joined the Labour Party in September 2013.[16] Later that year he co-authored with Dan Jarvis an article about commemoration of the First World War arguing that Britain needs to ‘emerge from 2014-18 having not only paid tribute to sacrifice, but also remembering survivors and service, and more accurately understanding the true significance of the Great War.’ During the 2015 general election Grayson actively supported Labour candidates in Hemel Hempstead,[17] St Albans[18] and Watford.[19] In the 2015 Labour leadership election Grayson declared support for Yvette Cooper[20] and for Caroline Flint as deputy.[21] In November 2015 he was elected to the executive of Hemel Hempstead Constituency Labour Party.[22]

Public policy and political commentary[edit]

His work on public policy includes an edited volume on social liberalism co-edited with David Howarth and Duncan Brack and including contributions from Chris Huhne, Matthew Taylor, Nick Clegg and Steve Webb. In 2002 he co-wrote a pamphlet with Nick Clegg on secondary education systems, based on research in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.[23] The pamphlet recommended the policy which became the ‘pupil premium’ included in the 2010 coalition agreement.[24] With Jonathan Rutherford he co-edited After the Crash: Reinventing the Left in Britain[25] which included chapters from Jon Cruddas, Caroline Lucas and Steve Webb. He has published an article on public policy in Newark, New Jersey, examining the work of Mayor Cory Booker, a friend from his time studying at Oxford.[26] He has commentated on politics for both the Independent and the Guardian (see ‘Political Commentary’ section below) and appeared on Any Questions[27] and was the only member of the panel to reach the venue on time when Any Questions? was cancelled for the first time in its history in April 2011.[28] He has blogged for the Huffington Post having written on subjects from politics and history to his support for Queens Park Rangers F.C.[29]

Liberal Democrats (1988-2013)[edit]

Grayson was involved in the Liberal Democrats at several levels of the party between 1988 and 2013 when he left, joining Labour shortly afterwards. He was the party’s National Youth and Student Officer in 1991-2, Director of the Centre for Reform (now called CentreForum) in 1998-9, and was Director of Policy of the Liberal Democrats in 1999-2004. That role also included spending two years as Charles Kennedy’s speechwriter.[30] He was the party’s parliamentary candidate for Hemel Hempstead constituency in the 2005 and 2010 general elections, gaining 4.4% and 6% increases in the vote to move into second place.[31][32] In 2008 he was listed as 48th on the Daily Telegraph’s list of the 50 most influential Liberal Democrats[33] and in 2009 was placed in 39th.[34] He was Vice-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Federal Policy Committee in 2008-10[35] and was a critic of the coalition between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. In particular, he argued that ‘The Liberal Democrat leadership believed in "savage cuts" long before they entered government’, that they have ‘no electoral mandate’ for parts of the 2010 Budget and that ‘Liberal Democrats may soon realise that a centre-left party is being led from the centre-right.’[36][37] This argument was cited in several newspapers, and was developed in longer pieces for Compass and the New Statesman.[38][39][40] In December 2010 he urged Liberal Democrat members to seize the opportunity of Ed Miliband's leadership by engaging in dialogue with Labour.[41] Following that, he was invited by Ed Miliband to contribute to Labour's policy review and he accepted the invitation.[42][43] However, he remained a member of the Liberal Democrat 'Facing the Future' policy review, which reported in July 2011.[44] Grayson left the Liberal Democrats in 2013[45] and has since joined the Labour Party.[46]


Grayson is Head of Boys Cricket at Hemel Hempstead Town Cricket Club.[47] His main Twitter account is @ProfRGrayson[48] but he also Tweets on inter-war cricket history as @InterWarCricket.[49]

Main publications[edit]

  • At War with the 16th Irish Division 1914-1918: The Letters of J H M Staniforth (London: Pen & Sword Military, 2012)
  • British Politics: A Beginner's Guide (Oxford: One World, 2010)[50]
  • (Co-editor with Jonathan Rutherford), After the Crash: Reinventing the Left in Britain (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2010).[51]
  • Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War (London: Continuum, 2009).
  • (Co-editor, with Duncan Brack and David Howarth), Reinventing the State: Social Liberalism for the 21st Century (London: Politicos, 2007).
  • 'Leo Amery's Imperialist Alternative to Appeasement in the 1930s', Twentieth Century British History, 17, 4 (2006), pp. 489–515.
  • (Co-author with Nick Clegg), Learning from Europe : Lessons in Education, (London : Centre for European Reform, 2002).[52]
  • Liberals, International Relations and Appeasement: The Liberal Party, 1919–39, (London: Frank Cass, 2001).
  • 'Mods, Rockers, and Juvenile Delinquency in 1964: The Government Response', Contemporary British History, 12, 1 (1998), pp. 19–47.
  • Austen Chamberlain and the Commitment to Europe: British Foreign Policy, 1924–29, (London: Frank Cass, 1997).
  • 'The British Government and the Channel Tunnel, 1919–39', Journal of Contemporary History, 31, 1 (Jan. 1996), pp. 125–144.

Political commentary[edit]

  • Clegg and Cameron's Illiberal 'Big Liberal Society', Guardian Comment is Free, 20 July 2010 [53]
  • 'The Struggle for the Soul of Liberalism', New Statesman, 12 July 2010, pp. 30–33 [54]
  • 'The Liberal Democrat Journey to a Lib-Con Coalition - and Where Next?' (London: Compass, 2010)[55]
  • The Lib Dem leadership’s self-flagellating appetite for cuts’, Guardian Comment is Free, 22 June 2010[56]
  • ‘Lib Dems must dare to be different over prisoners’ voting rights’, Guardian Comment is Free 9 June 2010[57]
  • ‘Lab and Lib: a dream team’ with Neal Lawson, Guardian Comment is Free, 9 May 2010[58]
  • ‘Leader still needs to show that he is the man for No 10’, Independent, 19 September 2005
  • ‘The Liberal Democrats Still Face a Long Journey’, 14 May 2005, Independent, 14 May 2005[59]
  • ‘Don’t become too safe in your views Mr Kennedy’, Independent, 25 September 2004.


  1. ^ Jock Gallagher, ed., Who’s Who in the Liberal Democrats, 3rd Edition, (Malvern: PCA Books, 2002), pp. 154-5
  2. ^ "accessed 1 September 2010".
  3. ^ "(accessed 24 June 2010); Jock Gallagher, ed., Who's Who in the Liberal Democrats, 3rd Edition, (Malvern: PCA Books, 2002), pp. 154-5". Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  4. ^ "Belfast Boys". Bloomsbury Publishing.
  5. ^ "(accessed 11 July 2014)".
  6. ^ "Remembering 1916 easter rising somme and politics memory ireland - Twentieth century British history". Cambridge University Press.
  7. ^ "(accessed 11 July 2014)".
  8. ^ (accessed 11 July 2014).
  9. ^ "11 July 2014)".[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Lives of the First World War - WW1 Digital Memorial".
  11. ^ "(accessed 11 July 2014)".
  12. ^ "Episode 1, Ireland's Great War - BBC One". BBC.
  13. ^ "(no title)".
  14. ^ "(no title)".
  15. ^ "(accessed 3 December 2015)".
  16. ^ "The Lib Dems left me disillusioned. Labour has made me hopeful again". 15 September 2013 – via The Guardian.
  17. ^ "A candidate's lessons from Hemel Hempstead".
  19. ^ "Labour and Lib Dems in war of words over election leaflets". Watford Observer.
  20. ^ Grayson, Prof Richard (14 August 2015). "I'm backing #YvetteForLabour. Join me here --> @YvetteForLabour".
  21. ^ Grayson, Prof Richard (26 May 2015). "I signed up to volunteer for caroline4deputy. Join me! …".
  22. ^ Grayson, Prof Richard (24 November 2015). "Pleased to be elected this evening to Executive of @Hemellabour and take on role of Political Education Coordinator".
  23. ^ "(accessed 24 June 2010)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2009.
  24. ^ "The Coalition documentation - GOV.UK" (PDF).
  25. ^ "(accessed 24 June 2010)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  26. ^ 'Localism the American Way', Public Policy Research, 17, 2 (2010), pp. 75-9.
  27. ^ "BBC - Error 404 : Not Found".[dead link]
  28. ^ "Any Questions? cancelled for first time in its history".
  29. ^ "Richard Grayson - HuffPost UK".
  30. ^ "(accessed 29 June 2010)". Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  31. ^ "BBC NEWS - Election 2005 - Results - Hemel Hempstead".
  32. ^ "BBC News - Election 2010 - Constituency - Hemel Hempstead".
  33. ^ Dale, By Iain. "The 50 most influential Liberal Democrats: 41-50".
  34. ^ "Top 50 most influential Liberal Democrats: 50-26".
  35. ^ "Richard Grayson". the Guardian.
  36. ^ "The Lib Dem leadership's self-flagellating appetite for cuts". 22 June 2010 – via The Guardian.
  37. ^ Stratton, Allegra; correspondent, political (22 June 2010). "Budget 2010: Senior Liberal Democrat warns concessions are a 'fig leaf'" – via The Guardian.
  38. ^ "VAT increase poses first real challenge to unity of the coalition". The Times. 23 June 2010. p. 7. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  39. ^ "Budget 2010: Osborne's claims of fairness are now exposed as a fraud". The Guardian. 24 June 2010. p. 33. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  40. ^ "CLEGG REVOLT The Lib Dem rebellion against the Budget grew yesterday". Daily Mirror. 24 June 2010. p. 8. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  41. ^ Richard Grayson. "Liberal Democrats should engage with like-minded members of Labour | Richard Grayson | Opinion". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  42. ^ Patrick Wintour, political editor. "Ed Miliband calls on disillusioned Liberal Democrats to work with Labour | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-23.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  43. ^ "Richard Grayson". The Guardian. 2010-10-06. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  44. ^ "(accessed 7 September 2011)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
  45. ^ Richard Grayson. "Why I'm leaving the Liberal Democrats | Richard Grayson | Opinion". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  46. ^ Richard Grayson. "The Lib Dems left me disillusioned. Labour has made me hopeful again | Richard Grayson | Opinion". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  47. ^ "Junior Cricket at HHTCC | Hemel Hempstead Town Cricket Club". Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  48. ^ "Prof Richard Grayson (@ProfRGrayson)". Twitter. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  49. ^ "InterWarCricket (@InterWarCricket)". Twitter. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  50. ^ "British Politics - A Beginner's Guide". Archived from the original on January 1, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  51. ^ "After the Crash - Reinventing the left in Britain" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 24, 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  52. ^ "Learning from Europe - Lessons in education" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 9, 2009. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  53. ^ Richard Grayson. "Clegg and Cameron's illiberal 'Big Liberal Society' | Richard Grayson | Opinion". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  54. ^ Grayson, Richard (2010-07-12). "Yellows in peril: the struggle for the soul of liberalism". Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  55. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2010-07-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  56. ^ "The Lib Dem leadership's self-flagellating appetite for cuts". 22 June 2010 – via The Guardian.
  57. ^ "Lib Dems must dare to be different over prisoners' voting rights". 9 June 2010 – via The Guardian.
  58. ^ Lawson, Neal; Grayson, Richard (9 May 2010). "Lab and Lib: a dream team" – via The Guardian.
  59. ^ "Richard Grayson: The Liberal Democrats still face a long journey". 14 May 2005.

External links[edit]