Skip to main content
School of Politics and International Relations

Dr Colm Murphy, BA, Cambridge; MPhil, Cambridge; PhD, QMUL.


Lecturer in British Politics

Room Number: ArtsOne, 2.05
Twitter: @colm_m
Office Hours: Tuesday 14:30-15:30 and Thursday 10:30-11:30 (in person or online). Please book via the link below.


I became Lecturer in British Politics at Queen Mary University of London in 2022. Previously, I had studied at the University of Cambridge, before undertaking a PhD at Queen Mary. I was then a Past & Present Fellow (2020-22) at the Institute of Historical Research. I have taught and worked in research and public engagement roles at Queen Mary, Cambridge, and Fordham universities.

My research focuses on the contemporary history of British and Irish party politics, political culture, and political economy. My first book interrogates socialist and social-democratic debates about the political future of the Labour Party (UK) from the 1970s to the 1990s, a period of electoral defeat and ideological disorientation for the left. I have, in addition, published articles on the left’s political culture in the English Historical Review and on sexuality, race, and electoral strategy, in Twentieth Century British History, and I contributed a chapter on Labour’s economic policymaking to the edited volume Rethinking Labour’s Past (2022). I also wrote a journal article on Irish labour relations and nationalism in the 1910s for History Workshop Journal.

More recently, I co-edited a special section on the ‘future of British political history’ for The Political Quarterly (2023), with Lyndsey Jenkins and Robert Saunders. At present, I am researching the political history of British Keynesianism from 1973 to 1993, focusing particularly on Keynesian debates about protectionism, European integration, and global north-south relations.

Elsewhere, I am a Deputy Director of Queen Mary’s Mile End Institute, and I have written on British politics for ProspectUK in a Changing EuropeInstitut Montaigne, LabourList and Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy. I am also a co-convenor of the ‘Britain at Home and Abroad since 1800’ seminar (IHR), and a Contributing Editor for Renewal.

Students who wish to book an advice and feedback appointment in my office hours should visit my Calendly page.


Research Interests:

My research lies at the intersection of British party politics, ideology and political culture, and the political economy of the ‘West’ or ‘global north’.

Much of my work focuses on political and ideological change on the British left in the late twentieth century. My first book Futures of Socialism (Cambridge University Press) explores debates over the ‘modernisation’ of socialism, and their influence on the Labour Party, 1973-1997. It challenges existing accounts of ‘Labour’s modernisation’ and illuminates the trajectory of social democracy from the ‘Alternative Economic Strategy’ to ‘New Labour’. In addition, it situates British politics in its European, postcolonial, and transatlantic contexts, and intervenes in debates over constitutional reform, new social movements, and neoliberalism. I also have published or will publish articles on race, sexuality, and 1980s political culture in Twentieth Century British History and English Historical Review and a chapter on the infamous 1983 Labour Party manifesto in an I.B. Tauris volume on ‘rethinking Labour’s past’.

Since late 2020, I began a new project on the ‘crisis of British Keynesianism, 1973-1993’. By exploring Keynesian advocacy for import controls, a prominent but now neglected campaign, my research unsettles narratives that emphasise ‘neoliberalism’ and highlights the importance for Keynesian economists and sympathetic politicians of deindustrialisation and European integration at the Cold War’s climax. It thus sheds light on current debates about Brexit and ‘deglobalisation’. Once this project is completed, I hope to broaden research into a book-length study on the politics of Britain and Ireland’s relationships with the global economy.

Methodologically, I am interested in the relationships between the disciplines of history, political science, and political economy. With Lyndsey Jenkins and Robert Saunders, I organised a research workshop on the ‘future of British political history’ in July 2022, which became a co-edited special section for The Political Quarterly.

Examples of research funding:

Grant from The Political Quarterly, for a conference and special issue on ‘Does British Political History Have A Future?’ (with Lyndsey Jenkins and Robert Saunders) (2022)

Past & Present postdoctoral fellowship, Institute of Historical Research, London (2020-2022)

PhD Studentship, Queen Mary University of London (2017-20)

Dissertation Bursary, Society for the Study of Labour History (2016)



Futures of Socialism: “Modernisation”, the Labour Party, and the British Left, 1973-1997 (Cambridge University Press, 2023).

Journal articles

‘Introduction: The Future of Political History’, The Political Quarterly 94:2 (2023), 201-207.

‘The forgotten rival of Marxism Today: the British Labour Party’s New Socialist and the Business of political culture in the late twentieth century’, The English Historical Review (forthcoming).

‘The “rainbow alliance” or the focus group? Sexuality and race in the Labour Party’s electoral strategy, 1985-7’, Twentieth Century British History 31:3 (2020), 291-315.

‘Rival Imagined Communities in the Dublin Lockout of 1913’, History Workshop Journal 86 (2018), 184-204.

Co-authored journal articles

Nigel Kettley and Colm Murphy, ‘Augmenting excellence, promoting diversity? Preliminary design of a foundation year for the University of Cambridge’, British Journal of the Sociology of Education 42:3 (2021), 419-434.

Edited collections

Lyndsey Jenkins, Colm Murphy and Robert Saunders (eds), ‘The Future of Political History’, The Political Quarterly 94:2 (2023), 201-320.

Book chapters

‘What did the 1983 manifesto ever do for us?’, in Nathan Yeowell (ed.), Rethinking Labour’s Past (I.B. Tauris, 2022), 215-231.

Selected Reviews

The Neoliberal Age? Britain since the 1970s, edited by Aled Davies, Ben Jackson and Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (Twentieth Century British History, 2023).

The modernisation of the Labour Party, 1979-97 by Christopher Massey (Party Politics, 2022).

Michael Young, Social Science & the British Left, 1945-1970, by Lise Butler (Reviews in History, 2021).

Selected articles and blogs

‘People say Starmer needs a vision. But rigid visions come back to bite you’, LabourList (2023).

‘Keir Starmer and the Philosopher’s Stone’, Renewal 30:3 (2022).

‘Kinship to Daggers Drawn: Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’, Institut Montaigne (2022).

‘Who can Stop the War? The British Left, NATO, and Russia’, UK in a Changing Europe (2022).

‘Starmer’s Labour Party and UK-EU relations’, UK in a Changing Europe (2020).

‘Are the 1930s the true historical parallel for Labour today?’, Prospect (2020).                                                                       

'Editorial: The unspoken dilemmas of Corbynomics’, Renewal 27:3 (2019).



I would be interested in supervising PhD projects on British and Irish domestic politics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including parties, elections, institutions, and political thought. I am especially interested in topics relating to: a) British social democracy and/or socialism; b) nationalism(s), the Union, and the implications of European integration for domestic politics; or c) the politics of economic policy. Projects that have a historical dimension and which work at the boundary of history, political science, and political economy are particularly welcome.

Public Engagement

Co-convenor, ‘Britain at Home and Abroad since 1800’, Institute of Historical Research Seminar

 Contributing Editor, Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy.

Back to top