Professor Scott Newton

Professor Scott Newton

Emeritus Professor of Modern British and International History

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

Media commentator

Research Interests

My most recent book, The Reinvention of Britain 1960-2016. A Political and Economic History, was published in September 2017.

The Reinvention argues that since 1960 there have been two reinventions of the political economy of the United Kingdom. The first, started by the Conservative government of Harold Macmillan and developed by Labour under Harold Wilson, was social-democratic. This was based on commitment by the State and both sides of industry to the development of new industries, full employment, economic growth, and modernization of the Welfare State. The intention was to ensure greater social equality, rising affluence and prosperity for all.

During the 1970s, however, the project came under increasing internal and external political and economic pressures. These culminated in the discrediting and breakdown of the first reinvention in the winter of 1978-79.

The second reinvention was attempted by the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher after 1979. It represented a change of direction towards a free market, or neo-liberal model characterized by low inflation and privatization of State industries. Individualism, personal aspiration, self-employment and private enterprise were all encouraged. New Labour under Tony Blair did not challenge the free market revolution and focused on removing its social injustices.

The second reinvention ran into crisis in 2007-8, with the financial crash. Governments since have not attempted another reinvention, although it is arguable that neo-liberalism generated profound social and economic problems which now threaten the future existence of the British State.

The book's thesis turns on its head the conventional view of British history over the last 60-odd years, that the country was experiencing a spiral of decline during the 1960s and 1970s until the Thatcher administrations rescued it and presided over an era of prosperity, growing personal freedom and robust international influence. Instead, it argues that a prosperous and decent social democracy, not without serious problems, was destabilised by a neo-liberal revolution backed by some of the most conservative and powerful interests within the British State. This, in turn, has produced a society characterised by gross social division, a rising tide of xenophobia, an unstable and dysfunctional economy dependent on finance, services and multinational capital, and  regional fractures sharp enough to bring into question the future of the Union.

2) Preparing a second edition of The Global Economy 1944-2000 (first published in 2004 by Hodder Arnold) for Bloomsbury. This will deal with major developments since the turn of the century such as China's rise to the status of economic superpower and the causes and consequences of the financial crash of 2007-8.

Education and qualifications

  • King Edward's School Birmingham
  • Sidney Sussex College Cambridge (MA History)
  • PhD (Birmingham) 1982

Career Overview

2016 -  present: Emeritus Professor of History, Cardiff School of History, Archaeology and Religion

2011-16: Professor of Modern British and International History, Cardiff School of History, Archaeology and Religion

2006: Reader in Modern British and International History, Cardiff School of Archaeology and History

1997: Senior Lecturer in Modern British and International History, Cardiff School of Archaeology and History

1985-86: Visiting Lecturer in Economic and Social History, University of Birmingham

1983: appointed Lecturer in Modern British and International History, University College, Cardiff (now Cardiff University)

1982-83: Temporary Lecturer in Economic and Social History, University of Birmingham

1982: Temporary Lecturer in Modern History, Worcester College of Higher Education

1981: Part-time lecturer in Modern History, Crewe and Alsager College of Higher Education (now part of Manchester Metropolitan University)

1979-83: Part-time lecturer in Extra-Mural Studies, University of Birmingham

Honours and awards

2005: ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) grant to support 2 years' full-time research (2006-8)  into the Labour Governments of 1964-70 and the International Economy

2002: AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) grant to fund study leave while writing The Global Economy, 1944-2000

1994: British Academy Small Grants fund to assist research and travel while writing Profits of Peace

1983: Wolfson Foundation: support for research into British governments' policy towards sterling convertibility in the early 1950s

Professional memberships

Royal Historical Society

Economic History Society

History and Policy Network