New Chairman for the Centre for Opposition Studies (CfOS)

The Centre for Opposition Studies at the University of Bolton is delighted to announce the appointment of its new Chairman, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon.

Baroness Royall of BlaisdonJan Royall was Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords from 2010 to 2015, after serving in Gordon Brown’s Cabinet as Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council from 2008-2010. She is currently Principal of Somerville College, Oxford University, where she took up her appointment in September 2017.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, Professor George E Holmes DL, said:

‘We are very pleased Baroness Royall will be joining the academic community at the University of Bolton. The Centre for Opposition Studies is a unique venture in the study of politics, and to have someone of Baroness Royall’s experience and standing as its Chairman is a great tribute which will help it to go from strength to strength. I look forward to welcoming her to the University in due course’.

Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, who has served as Chairman of the Centre since its foundation, will now become its Executive Director. He announced the appointment of his successor, saying: ‘I am thrilled to welcome Baroness Royall as our new Chairman. She has been a big supporter of the Centre from the outset, and has a wealth of experience to bring to the role.’

Before being appointed to the House of Lords by Tony Blair in 2004, Jan Royall worked at the European Commission, initially as a member of the Cabinet of Neil Kinnock, for whom she had previously worked for nine years when he was Leader of the Opposition. Lord Kinnock now serves as an honorary president of CfOS, and he welcomed the appointment, saying:

‘Jan Royall has huge experience of government and opposition in the U.K. at very senior levels and in practical operational roles. She also has a long record of activity in assisting groups seeking liberty of expression and representation in other countries, so she will be a great and wise asset to the Centre as its Chair’.

Lord Howard of Lympne, who serves alongside Lord Kinnock as an honorary president of CfOS, added:

‘I welcome the appointment of Baroness Royall and wish the Centre for Opposition Studies continuous success’.

Commenting on her appointment, Baroness Royall said:

‘I am honoured to have been appointed as the new Chairman of the Centre for Opposition Studies at the University of Bolton. I have taken a keen interest in its work for many years, and am very much looking forward to playing an increased role in supporting Mohammed and Nigel in the Centre’s innovative research. Opposition is such an important part of the political process which we too often take for granted, and it is vital that it receives proper attention.’

The Centre for Opposition Studies was founded in 2010 by Nigel Fletcher and Professor Mohammed Abdel Haq as an independent cross-party think tank dedicated to the study of political opposition in the UK and overseas. The Centre joined the University of Bolton under a partnership agreement in March of this year.

For futher information, please contact Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq on:


The Centre for Opposition Studies, UoB and The Centre for British Politics and Government, KCL invite you to: “Margaret Thatcher as Leader of the Opposition, 1975-1979” with Sir Adam Ridley and Emily Stacey on Thursday, 28th November 2019 at 6.30pm at King’s College London, Strand Building, Room -1.04

In the first of a series of joint events to launch the Centre for Opposition Studies’ new academic network, the Centre for British Politics and Government at King’s College London will host a panel discussion examining Margaret Thatcher’s leadership of the Opposition between 1975 and 1979.

During this, the 40th anniversary year of Mrs Thatcher entering government, there has been much focus on her time in office. But less attention has been paid to how she got there, and the policy platform she developed in the years immediately prior to entering Number 10. We are pleased to present this seminar, featuring economist Sir Adam Ridley, who was a close adviser to Mrs Thatcher during those years, and Emily Stacey of Oxford Brookes University, whose research focuses on this period.

The event will be chaired by Dr Nigel Fletcher, who is Research Director of the Centre for Opposition Studies and a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Political Economy at King’s. To attend, please visit Eventbrite to reserve a place.

Sir Adam Ridley was a member of the Government Economic Service 1965-74 , serving in the DEA, HM Treasury and the Central Policy Review Staff. In 1974 he became Economic Adviser to the Shadow Cabinet and Assistant Director of the Conservative Research Department, becoming its Director in 1979. In conjunction with Chris Patten, he organised much of the party’s policy-making in opposition. From 1979 to 1985 he was Special Adviser to Sir Geoffrey Howe, Nigel Lawson and Lord Gowrie and was joint editor of the Conservative election manifestos of 1979 and 1983.


Senior Conservative tells The Centre for Opposition Studies (CfOS) that an early election is “less likely”

Photograph of Sir Graham Brady MP with Prof Mohammed Abdel-HaqThe Chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee has told a meeting of the Centre for Opposition Studies that he thinks an early general election is now “less likely”  following the defection of 11 MPs from the Labour and Conservative parties to form The Independent Group.

The Centre hosted “In Conversation with Sir Graham Brady MP” this week in Westminster, with over 60 people attending, including other senior MPs, civil servants and academics. Chaired by our Director Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, the event featured a substantial number of questions on Brexit and the ongoing turmoil in Westminster over the government’s attempts to win support.

Sir Graham was asked if he believed an early election was a likely outcome to break the deadlock, and responded that the defection of eight Labour MPs vehemently opposed to Jeremy Corbyn made that opposition prospect less likely, given they would not wish to see the Labour leader enter number 10. He also commented that he had no indication that Prime Minister Theresa May intended to stand down in the immediate aftermath post EU departure.

Having chaired the 1922 Committee since 2010, Sir Graham Brady has played a significant role in managing the often complicated relationship between the Conservative Party’s MPs and the leadership. He remarked that he still sees the role of the Committee as a “critical friend” of the leader, providing an internal channel for communicating dissent and making known the views of MPs outside the government. He was the centre of intense speculation last December as the person who oversaw the process by which Theresa May faced a vote of no-confidence from inside her party.

Commenting on his relationship with the Prime Minister, Sir Graham described how he faces a challenge in balancing his role in communicating the views of all backbenchers with expressing his own views. He added that his meetings with Theresa May were rather more formal than those with her predecessor David Cameron, who often used to kick-off his shoes and put his feet up on his desk. In contrast, Mrs May conducts their meetings over a pot of tea.

Brady said of the parliamentary Conservative Party that despite the strains of conflicting views over Brexit, “90% of us agree on 90% of issues”. On the wider political system, he commented that all parties should be broad churches, and that he preferred a system in which parties sought agreement on a common platform before an election, rather than a more fractured party system where negotiations took place after people had voted.

The event was the latest in a series of seminars the Centre for Opposition Studies has organised with leading UK politicians from across the parties in recent years, including Sir Vince Cable MP, Neil Kinnock, Baroness Royall and Phillip Lee MP.


Recent events:

In conversation with Sir Graham Brady

The last few months have seen an extraordinary degree of turmoil in British politics, with the government suffering defeats in Parliament over its Brexit plans, the main parties split on the question of what to do next, and the Prime Minister subjected to an unsuccessful vote of no-confidence by her MPs. In such volatile circumstances, it has become clear that the most significant opposition to leaders often comes from within their own parties.

Read more ]


Accountability and Justice, Genocide recognition in the framework of international law – the Islamic State’s crimes against the Yazidis in Iraq.

The Conservative Middle East Council alongside the Centre for Opposition Studies at the University of Bolton, the APPG on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, and the Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the UK are delighted to host this event on Monday 26 November 2018 (17:00-18:30) at the Palace of Westminster. 

Read more ]


UK Defence experts make the case for nuclear weapons

The case for maintaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent was explored this week at a high-level seminar in the Houses of Parliament organised by the Centre for Opposition Studies at the University of Bolton.

Read more ]


Credible threat – Does nuclear deterrence work?

Tuesday 30 October 2018 at 5.30pm - Room 8, House of Commons, Westminster

The Centre for Opposition Studies at the University of Bolton invites you to a discussion seminar with Dr Andrew Corbett, Kings College London, and Dr Julian Lewis MP, Chairman of the Defence Select Committee. Chaired by John Hayes CBE, MP.

[ Read more ]



The Rt. Hon. Lord Kinnock

Monday 24 April 2017 at 5pm - Room G, House of Lords, Westminster

Neil Kinnock, who led the Opposition from 1983-1992, was speaking at an event organised in Westminster by the Centre for Opposition Studies at the University of Bolton. He offered his reflections on his time as Leader, and on the current leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

[ Read more ]



In Conversation With Dr Phillip Lee, MP

Dr Phillip Lee has been the Member of Parliament for Bracknell since 2010. During that time he has developed a reputation for not only addressing the most challenging issues that face society and our world in the next 20 years, but also for putting forward solutions that challenge conventional wisdom and the established interests that support them. 

[ Read more ]




Centre for Opposition Studies - Russia is a Threat, But Remains Open To Deals, Say Experts

The threat to the West from Russia is real and serious, according to expert speakers at a seminar organised by the Centre for Opposition Studies at the University of Bolton in the House of Commons this week.

[ Read more ]




Russian Foreign Policy: Threats and Scenarios

With global tensions between East and West reasserting themselves and new geopolitical factors further complicating conflicts around the world, Russian influence is a matter of serious international concern. Added to this potent mix are allegations of state-sponsored cyber-attacks on other countries and interference in western elections, including the 2016 US presidential election.

[ Read more ]




In conversation with the Rt. Hon. The Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

Baroness Royall will reflect on her experiences in government and opposition, as well as giving her views and insights into current political issues such as Brexit, student fees etc. and challenges in the UK and beyond.

[ Read more ]