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Archives By-Fellowship Report 2018-19: Dr Stephen Meredith

10th October 2019 in Archives Centre, People

Stephen Meredith

Dr Stephen Meredith.

I am delighted to have been awarded an Archives By-Fellowship of Churchill College, Cambridge, in the Easter term of 2018-19, with the generous assistance of the John Antcliffe Memorial Fund.

My project examines the contours of post-war Conservative debates over the state from the early 1960s. Particularly, it considers Conservative intellectual and political responses to concepts and prospective dilemmas of ‘decline’ and ‘crisis’ in the post-war British state. It attempts to address some of the neglected and muddied waters of these debates, which are often conflated in a contest between ‘progressive’ One Nation Conservatives and those of a ‘proto-Thatcherite’ variety. It looks to consider something more of the range, diversity and complexity of perspectives and relationships of Conservative political thought in relation to the state and state forms, and of Conservative ideological and political development and wider origins, influences and evolution of ‘Thatcherism’.

While in Cambridge, I was able to benefit enormously from the rich and dare-I-say unrivalled political collections of the Churchill Archives Centre. I was able to consult essential and illuminating material from the papers of Conservative ‘luminaries’ such as Lord Hailsham (Quintin Hogg) and Enoch Powell, and the more curiously neglected papers (and figure) of Angus Maude. Based in Cambridge – a stone’s throw from the Archives Centre itself – I was also able to benefit from other essential collections, including the papers of R.A. Butler held at Trinity College, Cambridge, and a range of relevant – and not so relevant – lectures and seminars.

I am currently completing a monograph, made possible by the award of a By-Fellowship, provisionally entitled, From the Big State to the Big Society: ‘Progressive’ Conservatism, Thatcherism and the State, 1964-79. The book builds on the primary research of the Archives By-Fellowship to address both the neglected dimensions and evolution(s) of so-called post-war ‘progressive’ Conservatism and more complex ideational origins and development of ‘Thatcherism’ within the context of a wider, compound and often fluid Conservative intellectual milieu.

I would like to record my thanks to the friends of John Antcliffe for the award which allowed me to take up residence in Cambridge for the period of the By-Fellowship. I would also like to emphasise the professionalism and efficiency of the Archives Centre staff (the speediest in the land) and wonderful working environment it offers, and special thanks to Director, Allen Packwood, and Senior Archivist, Andrew Riley (and to Dr Jackie Ui Chionna), for food, a few beers and excellent company. I would certainly return, if they would have me.

Dr Stephen Meredith

Archives By-Fellow, 2018-19

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