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Research Topic

Not Fit for Purpose? The Decline of Centre-left Political Parties

Research Summary

Over the past two decades, centre-left and social democratic parties across Europe have suffered a significant decline. Many of the parties that were in power during the 1990s and 2000s have struggled to recover after significant election defeats and have spent many years in opposition or, at best, relegated to the role of junior partners in coalition governments.

This study is an attempt to understand that change and to explore why these previously dominant parties have failed to recover. It is not intended to explain this failure by examining the impact of social and economic changes on parties of the left. Instead, it will draw on organisation theory to explain this decline.

In particular, the study will engage with work on sensemaking and organisational failure to investigate how participants dealt with decline, attempted to develop strategies to respond to it, and their impact on the organisations they led.


Research Area


Education and Qualifications

Institute Award Dates
St. Hugh's College, University of Oxford MA Oxf (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) 2004–2007

Professional Experience

  • Councillor, Inverclyde Council (2022–present)
  • Director, Kempock & Co. (2017–present)
  • Political Director, Scottish Labour Party (2016–2017)
  • Political Advisor to the Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland (2012–2016)
  • Parliamentary Relations and UK Advocacy Manager, VSO UK (2010–2012)
  • Advisor to the Chair and Chief Executive, Equality and Human Rights Commission (2008–2010)
  • President, Oxford University Student Union (2007–2008)

Voluntary Experience

  • Chair, Scottish Fabians (2021–Present)
  • Board Member, The Fabian Society (2018–present)
  • Board Member, Beacon Arts Centre (2017–present)
  • Trustee, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (2011–2017)