Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Professor Kevin Theakston

Professor of British Government

I am a specialist in British government and politics. I have a long-standing interest in Whitehall, the civil service and government ministers, and have written several books on those subjects. British prime ministers are a major focus of my current research and teaching. My latest single-authored book was on the lives and careers of former prime ministers from the 18th century to the present.

I am also interested in constitutional issues and constitutional reform, and in the life and career of Sir Winston Churchill, and have written on those subjects too. Some of my work has a strongly historical character and I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. But I am also regularly interviewed by the mass media about contemporary political issues and developments, appearing on or being quoted by BBC radio programmes, Sky News and in the press in the UK and internationally.

Research Interests

I am currently working on various projects, including: the political leadership of David Cameron; the roles and activities of former Members of Parliament; and the life and career of Sir William Armstrong (a leading British civil servant in the 1960s/70s).


My teaching interests cover institutional, constitutional and historical aspects of British government. I teach on undergraduate modules on 'British Politics', 'British Central Government', and 'Prime Ministers and British Politics'. I also teach on the postgraduate module 'Developments in British Politics'.

PhD Supervision

I am currently supervising postgraduate research on the leadership of John Major as prime minister 1990-97; the Labour Government 1997-2010 and ballistic missile defence; the leadership of the Liberal Democrats from Ashdown to Clegg.

I welcome research applications and proposals on projects relating to British politics and government, political leadership, constitutional issues, and political biography.

Key Publications


Chapters in Books

  • Theakston, K. (2015) ‘The oratory of Winston Churchill’, in: Richard Hayton and Andrew S. Crines (eds.) Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron, Manchester Univrersity Press
  • Theakston, K. (2013) ‘ Evaluating Prime-Ministerial Performance: The British Experience’, in: Paul Strangio, Paul t'Hart and James Walter (eds.) Prime Ministerial Leadership: Power, Party and Performance in Westminster Systems, Oxford University Press
  • Theakston, K. and Crowcroft, R.. (2013), ‘The Fall of the Attlee Government 1951’, in Timothy Heppell and Kevin Theakston (eds.), How Labour Governments Fall: From Ramsay MacDonald to Gordon Brown,  Palgrave.
  • Theakston, K. (2012) ‘David Cameron as Prime Minister’, in Tim Heppell and David Seawright (eds) Cameron and the Conservatives: The Transition to Coalition Government. Palgrave.
  • Theakston, K. (2012) ‘Winston Churchill, 1945-51’, in Tim Heppell (ed) Leaders of the Opposition: from Churchill to Cameron. Palgrave.
  • Theakston, K. (2012) ‘Introduction’, ‘Former Prime Ministers in Britain since 1945’, and ‘Conclusion’, in Kevin Theakston and Jouke de Vries (eds) Former Leaders in Modern Democracies. Palgrave
  • Theakston, K. (2011) ‘Walter Bagehot The English Constitution’, in Kevin Theakston (ed) (2011) Volumes of Influence. Manchester University Press.


  • Crines, A. and Theakston, K. (2015) ‘ Doing God” in Number 10: British Prime Ministers, religion and Political Rhetoric, Politics and religion, vol. 8, no. 1.
  • Theakston, K., Gill, M., and Atkins, J. (2014) 'The Ministerial Foothills: Labour Government Junior Ministers 1997-2010’, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 67, no. 3.
  • Atkins, J. Heppell, T. and Theakston, K. (2013), ‘The Rise of the Novice Cabinet Minister: The Career Trajectories of Cabinet Ministers in British Government from Attlee to Cameron’, Political Quarterly, vol. 84, no. 3.
  • Theakston, K. (2012) ‘Life After Political Death: Former Leaders in Western Democracies’,Representation, vol. 48, no. 2.
  • Theakston, K. and Gill, M. (2011) ‘The Postwar Premiership League’, Political Quarterly, vol. 82, no. 1.
  • Theakston, K. (2011) ‘The afterlives of former Liberal prime ministers’, Journal of Liberal History, issue 71.
  • Theakston, K. (2011) ‘Gordon Brown as prime minister political skills and leadership style’, British Politics, vol. 6, no.1.

Media Contact Areas

  • British politics and government
  • Political leadership
  • Constitutional issues

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