Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship

Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship

St Antony’s College, Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship Seminar Series 


 21st Century Democracy and the Challenges to Political Parties”


A series of seven seminars, Weeks 1-4 and 6-7, Hilary Term 2017 and Week 8, Trinity Term 2017

Investcorp Lecture Theatre, St Antony’s


Visiting Parliamentary Fellows and Convenors:

Lord Ray Collins and Baroness Kate Rock


Week 1 (17th January)  The Decline of the Two-Party System in the UK

Lord Ray Collins (Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, and former General Secretary, Labour Party)

Baroness Kate Rock (former Vice Chair, Conservative Party)


Week 2 (24th January)  Beyond the Duopoly

Natalie Bennett (former leader, Green Party)

Douglas Carswell MP (UKIP)

Lord Paul Tyler (former chairman, Liberal Party)


Week 3 (31st January)  Secessionist and Independence Parties

Lord Dafydd Wigley (Plaid Cymru)

Prof Nicola McEwen (University of Edinburgh)

Dr Sergi Pardos-Prado (Merton College)


Week 4 (7th February)  Party Modernization: Strategies and Outcomes

Declan McHugh (former Director of Strategic Planning, Labour Party)

Lord Francis Maude (former Cabinet Office Minister)


Week 6 (21st February)  Political Parties, Diversity, and Inclusion

Baroness Margaret Prosser OBE (Labour Party, former deputy chair, EHRC)

Baroness Sandip Verma (Conservative Party)

Lord Ray Collins (former General Secretary, Labour Party)


Week 7 (28th February)  Traditional Parties and the Populist Challenge

Lord Stephen Gilbert (Deputy Chairman, Conservative Party)

Lord Peter Hennessy FBA (Queen Mary University of London)

Tara Corrigan (The Messina Group)



Week 8  (12 June) The Challenge of Party Leadership: A Dialogue

The Visiting Parliamentary Fellows in conversation with two former party leaders:

Lord Michael Howard (Conservative Party, Leader of the Opposition 2003-2005)

Lord Neil Kinnock (Labour Party, Leader of the Opposition 1983-1992)


MONDAY, 12 JUNE 2017


College Convenors: Dr Timothy Power and Prof Robert Service


This series is open to the public

please note the new location in the Investcorp Building.

Queries may be addressed to:


Although St Antony's has always included many Fellows and students with an interest in contemporary politics and world affairs, a notable addition to the College's activities was launched in May 1993 when the Governing Body approved a proposal by Professor Archie Brown to create a Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship. The idea was that two Members of Parliament - one from the governing party and the other from one of the main opposition parties - would be elected to the Fellowship each year. The hope, which has been fully realised, was that they would visit the College regularly and in one term help to organise a seminar on important political matters.

The origins of the Fellowship were a chance encounter between Patrick (now Lord Patrick) Cormack, MP, and Professor Brown in Moscow in January 1991 which later led to their putting to Ralf Dahrendorf, the College Warden at the time, the idea that there would be intellectual benefits for both sides if an academic relationship between Parliament and the College could be established. Once the question of the modest amount of funding needed to launch the enterprise had been resolved, the idea took off.

Over the years, the Visiting Parliamentary Fellows have included such notable former Cabinet Ministers as the Rt Hon. Gillian Shephard, MP, the Rt Hon. Sir Brian Mawhinney, MP, and the Rt Hon. Ann Taylor, MP. Three influential Chairmen of House of Commons Committees - Donald Anderson, MP (Foreign Affairs Committee), Dr Tony Wright, MP (Public Administration Committee) and Martin O'Neill, MP (Trade and Industry Committee) have been among the Fellows. In addition to these very senior parliamentarians, those elected have included also several of the brightest of the younger Members, among them Dr Calum MacDonald, MP (Labour), Alan Duncan, MP (Conservative) and Michael Moore, MP (Liberal Democrat).   In recent years, as the pressure on MPs from the whips' offices grew, the programme increasingly turned to the House of Lords for its Parliamentary Fellows.   Among them have been some of the country's most distinguished political figures:  David Trimble, David Steel, Alex Carlile and Des Browne.

A tradition rapidly developed that in Hilary Term - on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. - the two Visiting Parliamentary Fellows would, along with the St Antony's Governing Body Fellow who co-ordinates the Fellowship, put on a seminar that brought together politicians and academics. The format involves three speakers, whose presentations would take a maximum of twenty minutes each, and then the floor is opened for questions and general discussion.

The unifying theme of the seminar each term is invariably a broad one with a current global importance, and it cuts across all Centre boundaries. It is by far from unusual for the 150-seat lecture theatre to be full, or almost full, for these events. Speakers in Hilary Term 2004 included no fewer than three former British Foreign Secretaries. The annual series is aimed at tackling the mix of contentious domestic and international issues that have attracted attention in both parliament and the unviesities.

Many of the MPs have in the other two terms convened informal seminars for any St Antony's students wishing to take part, and several of them have arranged for groups of students from the College to visit the House of Commons. The Parliamentarians' presence in the College (from late Tuesday afternoon until after High Table that evening) has helped to keep resident Antonians in touch with the politics of the 'real world' and it has given the MPs access to arguments that, at their best, are more analytical and also based on more specialised knowledge, than they would generally encounter in the Commons. Other advantages to both sides include the fact that some of the MPs have consulted specialists in one or other of the College Centres when they wished to better briefed on a particular country, while our Parliamentary Fellows have, for example, helped out when graduate students in this most international of Oxford Colleges have encountered excessive delays in the renewal of visas. Former Visiting Parliamentary Fellows have also hosted social events in the House of Commons for London-based Antonians.

From the launch of the Fellowship in 1993 until 2005 the Governing Body's co-convenor was Archie Brown. From the 2005 till 2008, he was succeeded by Dr Alex Pravda, who has previously served as a Special Adviser to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. From academic year 2008-9, the co-convenor was Professor Robert Service, who was succeeded by Dr Tim Power in 2015.   Professor David Marquand and Dr Phyllis Starkey, both of whom are former MPs, have also served as valuable co-convenors.

Our current Visiting Parliamentary Fellows for 2016-2017 are Lord (Ray) Collins and Lady (Kate) Rock.


Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship Events

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