Professor Michael Kenny

Inaugural Director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy

Professor Kenny is the Inaugural  Director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy.


Before he arrived in Cambridge, Michael held positions at: Queen’s University, Belfast; the University of Sheffield, where he was appointed Head of the Department of Politics; and Queen Mary University of London, where he was the inaugural Director of the Mile End Institute. He served on the Leverhulme Trust’s Advisory Committee (2010-2018), was co-director of the British Academy’s “Governing England” programme (2015-2018), and is currently a visiting Fellow at the UCL Constitution Unit and a member of the advisory board of the Constitution Society. In 2021 he was made a Fellow of the UK’s Academy of the Social Sciences. As well as being a Professor of Public Policy at Cambridge, he is a Professorial Fellow at Fitzwilliam College.

Research interests

Public policy; governance and devolution; territorial politics; British politics and political ideas.

Michael is currently involved in research projects exploring various issues relating to infrastructure policy. He is part of a research team funded by The Productivity Institute examining various institutional and governance questions. He is currently writing “The World Island”, with Nick Pearce, which will examine the policy and ideological implications of shifting conceptions of the UK as a maritime state.


Michael teaches on the M.Phil in Public Policy.

Key publications


Fractured Union: Politics, Sovereignty and the Fight to Save the UK (Hurst Publishers, 2024).

(With I.McLean and A.Paun (eds)) Governing England (Proceedings of the British Academy, 2018).

(With N.Pearce) Shadows of Empire: the Anglosphere in British Politics (Polity, 2018).

The Politics of English Nationhood (Oxford University Press, 2014); winner of the UK Political Studies Association’s ‘Mackenzie’ prize for best book in political studies.

(With M.Flinders, A.Gamble, and C.Hay) eds., The Oxford Handbook of British Politics (Oxford University Press, 2009).

The Politics of Identity: Liberal Political Theory and the Dilemmas of ‘Difference’ (Polity Press, 2004).

(With R.English) Rethinking British Decline (Macmillan, 1999).

The First New Left in Britain, 1956-64: British Intellectuals after Stalin (Lawrence and Wishart, 1995).


(With D.Luca) ‘The urban-rural polarisation of political disenchantment: an investigation of social and political attitudes in 30 European countries’, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, early view, July 2021:

‘Governance, Politics and Politicals Economy – England’s Questions after Brexit, Territory, Politics, Governance, early view, July 2021: Governance, politics and political economy – England’s questions after Brexit: Territory, Politics, Governance: Vol 0, No 0:

(With J.Sheldon) “‘A place apart’, or integral to ‘our precious Union’? Understanding the nature and implications of Conservative Party thinking about Northern Ireland, 2010–19”, Irish Political Studies, 2020:

(With L.Aqui and N.Pearce) ‘“The Empire of England”: Enoch Powell, Sovereignty and the Constitution of the Nation’, Twentieth Century British History, early view, July 2020:

(With J.Sheldon) ‘When Planets Collide: the British Conservative Party and the Discordant Goals of Delivering Brexit and Preserving the Domestic Union, 2016–2019’, Political Studies, early view, June 2020:

(With J.P.Reynolds, M.Archer, S.Piling, G.J.Hollands, and T.M.Marteau) ‘Public Acceptability of Nudging and Taxing to Reduce Consumption of Alcohol, Tobacco and Food: a Population-based Survey Experiment’, Social Science and Medicine, 236, 2019.

(With D.Gover) ‘Answering the West Lothian Question? A Critical Assessment of ‘English Votes for English Laws’ in the UK Parliament, Parliamentary Affairs, 71, 4, 2018, pp. 760-82.

‘Back to the Populist Future?; Nostalgia in Contemporary Ideological Discourse’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 22, 3, 2017, pp. 256-73.

‘The Politicisation of Englishness: towards a framework for political analysis’, Political Studies Review, 14, 2016, pp. 325-34.

‘The Return of Englishness in British Political Culture’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 53, 1, 2014, pp. 35-51.

‘A Traditional English (Not British) Country Gentleman of the Radical Left’; Understanding the Making and Unmaking of Edward Thompson’s English Idiom’,  Contemporary British History, 28, 4 (14), 2014, pp 494-516

‘Englishness Politicised?; unpicking the normative implications of the McKay Commission’,  British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 17, 2015 pp. 152-70.

‘History and Dissent: Bernard Crick’s The American Science of Politics’,  American Political Science Review, 100, 4, 2006, pp 547-53.

‘Isaiah Berlin’s Contribution to Modern Political Theory’, Political Studies, 48, 5, 2000, pp 1026-39.

‘Politics as an Academic Vocation’, in M.Flinders, A.Gamble, C.Hay and M.Kenny, eds., The Oxford Handbook of British Politics (Oxford University).

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