Stephen Jolly

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Stephen Jolly
Academic background
Alma mater Christ's College, Cambridge
Academic work
Sub-discipline Communications, linguistic science, information operations, psyops
Institutions Ministry of Defence
Cabinet Office
University of Cambridge
Cambridge Judge Business School
Clare College, Cambridge
St Edmund's College, Cambridge

Stephen William Jolly (b.1960) is a Fellow Commoner of St Edmund's College, Cambridge.[1] A former Fellow of the Cambridge Judge Business School, he was a Fellow and Bye-Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, between 2005–17. Jolly served two distinguished Vice-Chancellors – Professor Dame Alison Richard DBE and Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz FRS – as the University's Director of External Affairs & Communications between 2005–13.[2] He is known for his academic research on the history of propaganda as well as his work as a senior British Defence official.


A linguistic scientist, Jolly was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge where he took First Class Honours in English, was a Bachelor Scholar and College Prizeman; the University of Sussex; and the University of British Columbia, Canada, where he held both a Commonwealth Scholarship and a Killam Fellowship[3] in the late 1980s.

Jolly has a research interest in black propaganda and has published extensively on the topic, with particular reference to the work of British propagandist Sefton Delmer. His research was cited as evidence by the House of Commons Defence Select Committee in its Third Report on Information Operations in 2003–4.[4] Jolly is a member of the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar and associate of former official MI5 historian, Professor Christopher Andrew.

A former instructor at the British Defence Intelligence and Security Centre, Chicksands, Jolly was a visiting fellow in Psychological Warfare at the International Centre for Security Analysis, King's College, London (1999–2002).[5] Web sources link Jolly to Shadow, a precursor to the now defunct 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group, which was subsumed into the British Army's 77 Brigade in 2015.[6][7][8][9][10] A certified psyops planner, Jolly has been identified as a leading member of the Black and White Association of British psychological warfare veterans as well as the holder of a 15 (UK) Psyops Group service award marking his contribution to the work of the group.[11]


Jolly has been a Freeman of the City of London since 2000. In 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of St Lazarus (CLJ) in recognition of his contributions to charity.

In addition, Jolly holds or has held a Fellowship in Defence & Security[12] at the British think-tank ResPublica, an Honorary Research Fellowship in Defence and Security at the global think tank, RAND Europe, and a Visiting Fellowship at the Centre for Strategic Communications, War Studies Department, King's College, London.[13] He served as Honorary Captain of the Light Blue Volunteers, the Cambridge University Officers' Training Corps, between 2009–16.[14]

Recent developments[edit]

In 2013, Jolly became the UK's Director of Defence Communications, a two-star appointment at the Ministry of Defence.[15] In his two years in post, Jolly made waves in military circles by driving forward a "full spectrum" approach to Defence communications, encompassing public relations, media operations, information operations and psyops.[16] Defence commentators dubbed this "post-Afghan reset" of communications the "Rainbow in the Dark" doctrine.[17] It was an approach that entailed the most radical shake-up in British Defence communications in more than thirty years.[18][19] Jolly was also instrumental in the creation of the Forster Review that led to the reform of the D-Notice Committee in 2015. This unique combination of responsibilities positioned Jolly in the eyes of conspiracy theorists as an inheritor of the traditions of MI7, the clandestine propaganda and censorship arm of the British military that operated during both World Wars.[20][21][22]

Jolly served as chairman of the cross-government National Security Communications Committee in 2014–5 and was a member of the Government Communications Board during that period. Jolly was seconded briefly to the Cabinet Office in 2015 before joining UK Joint Forces Command, where he advised the Director-General, Joint Force Development on reform of British military influence operations.[23] Jolly was the most senior serving psyops officer in British defence, equivalent to a major-general, before his retirement from government service.[13] Since 2016, he has worked as Director of the Saatchi Institute, a private global think-tank headquartered in London.


Articles published include:[24]

  • "Understanding the Drivers of Organisational Capacity", with Kate Cox, Simon Van Der Staaij, Christian Van Stolk, RAND Europe research report published in collaboration with the Saatchi Institute (March 2018)
  • "Who's Afraid of Viktor Shklovsky? On The Nature of Persuasion and the Work of an Unjustly Neglected Russian Formalist", Impact: The Magazine of the Association of Commonwealth Universities PR, Marketing and Communications Network, 6–7: No 11 (August 2011)
  • "We are all Marketeers Now", CAM: Cambridge University Alumni Magazine, 39: Issue 63 (Easter 2011)
  • "Crimes of Coercive Persuasion: Rectification under the Khmer Rouge", Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 173, 52–55 (2001)
  • "Ungentlemanly Warfare: A Reassessment of British Black Propaganda Operations 1941–1945", Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 171, 148–156; 172, 23–37 (2001)
  • "From SOB to I/OPs: The Unwritten History of British Black Propaganda 1947–97", Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 171, 130–134 (2001)
  • "The Mardin Essay: Psychological Warfare and Public Relations", Frontline: The Global Public Relations Quarterly, 22 (4), 22–30 (2000)
  • "Wearing the Stag's Head Badge: British Combat Propaganda since 1945", Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 170, 86–89 (2000)
  • "Morale Operations: The Cinderella of Covert Propaganda Operations?", Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 170, 114–116 (2000)
  • "Understanding Body Language: Birdwhistell's Theory of Kinesics", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 5 (3), 133–139 (2000)
  • "Delmer's Maxims of Subversion: British Black Propaganda Techniques in WW2", Falling Leaf: The Journal of the Psywar Society, 169, 64–70 (2000)
  • "Text or Context: Östman's Theory of Persuasion", The Journal of Communication Management, 4 (2), 159–163 (1999)
  • "Corporate Advocacy in Public Affairs: Winning a Voice in the Marketplace of Ideas", International Public Relations Review, 21 (3), 10–13 (1999)


  1. ^ Stephen Jolly, Fellow Commoner, St Edmund's College
  2. ^ "Stephen Jolly". University of Cambridge. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Killam Fellowship". University of British Columbia. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "House of Commons Defence Select Committee Third Report 2003-4". Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "International Centre for Security Analysis". King's College London. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Sengupta, Kim (31 January 2015). "New British Army unit 'Brigade 77' to use Facebook and Twitter in psychological warfare". The Independent. 
  7. ^ "Army sets up new brigade for the 'information age'". BBC News Online. 31 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "British army sets up social media 'brigade'". Al Arabiya News. 31 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "15(UK) Psychological Operations Group". British Army. Archived from the original on 29 November 2004. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  10. ^ "HQ Force Troops Command". British Army. Archived from the original on 10 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "Fellows' awards" (PDF). Clare News (30): 19.  (Autumn/Winter 2012)
  12. ^ "Fellow, Defence & Security". ResPublica. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Visiting staff: Stephen Jolly, Visiting Senior Research Fellow". Centre for Strategic Communications, Dept of War Studies King's College, London. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. 
  14. ^ "Cambridge University OTC". British Army. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  15. ^ Bartlett, Norman. "Thin red line versus red ink" (PDF). The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Journalists (Spring 2013). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Greenslade, Roy (11 September 2014). "Army's Press Team Locked in Embrace with the 'Dark Arts' Squad". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  17. ^ Richards, Lee. "Rainbow in the Dark: One Hundred Years of British Information Operations". Defence Strategic Communications. Riga: NATO Strategic Communications COE. pp. 42–67. 
  18. ^ de Silva, Richard (28 July 2014). "MOD must "significantly transform the way we communicate," says Stephen Jolly, Director of Defence Communications". Defence IQ. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "UK Merge of All Influence Activities – Portent For US". Psyop Regimental Blog. 16 May 2014. 
  20. ^ History of M.I.7(b) (March, 1916 - December,1918)
  21. ^ Red Tape, White Lies,5753,-20949,00.html
  22. ^ AA Milne may not have liked MI7, but propaganda played a vital wartime role
  23. ^ Reynolds, Anna (16 June 2015). "MoD Director of Defence Comms Stephen Jolly Departs". PRWeek. Retrieved 16 June 2015. 
  24. ^ "Stephen Jolly". LinkedIn. Retrieved 4 March 2017.