Tristram Hunt

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Person.png Tristram Hunt   Powerbase Sourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician, journalist, academic)
Tristram Hunt1.jpg
Tristram Hunt: "Hey, I know! Why don't I resign too? Then we can try to lose TWO seats!!"
BornTristram Julian William Hunt
31 May 1974
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Alma materTrinity College (Cambridge)
Children2 daughters 1 son
SpouseJuliet Thornback
British Labour Party politician

Employment.png Director

In office
January 2017 - Present
EmployerVictoria and Albert Museum

Employment.png Shadow Secretary of State for Education Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
7 October 2013 - 12 September 2015
Succeeded byLucy Powell

Tristram Hunt is a British Labour Party politician, activist, historian, broadcaster and newspaper columnist, who resigned as the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central on 23 January 2017.[1] Hunt's aunt Baroness Bottomley, chair of head-hunters Odgers Berndtson, is understood to have recruited him to be the next Director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum.[2] (In June 2010 when The Guardian asked who she would hire to lead the Labour party now that Gordon Brown had departed, Lady Bottomley immediately picked historian and newly-elected MP Tristram Hunt – a nephew.)[3]

In October 2013, Tristram Hunt was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Education. Responding to reports in November 2014 that some Labour MPs were calling for Ed Miliband to step down as leader, Tristram Hunt said Miliband was on course to become an “innovative, reforming, radical” prime minister.[4] Following Labour's defeat in the 2015 General Election, and Ed Miliband's resignation as Leader of the Labour Party, Hunt decided not to stand for the leadership and resigned from the Shadow Cabinet. As a Blairite Hunt had been a constant critic of Jeremy Corbyn, and his resignation from Parliament therefore did not come as a surprise.[5]

Tristram Hunt also teaches and lectures on modern British history at Queen Mary, University of London[6] in Mile End, East London. He has written several books and in his work as a broadcaster has presented history programmes on television. Hunt is a regular writer for the Guardian and the Observer.[7]

Early life and education

Tristram Hunt is the son of Julian Hunt, Baron Hunt of Chesterton, a meteorologist and leader of the Labour Group on Cambridge City Council in 1972-3, who was created a Labour Life Peer on the recommendation of Tony Blair in 2000.[8] After attending University College School where he got two As (History and Latin) and a B (English Literature), Tristram Hunt read History at Trinity College (Cambridge) and the University of Chicago, and was for a time an Associate Fellow of the Centre for History and Economics at King's College (Cambridge). His PhD, Civic thought in Britain, c.1820– c.1860, was taken at Cambridge and was awarded in 2000. While at Cambridge he was a member of the Footlights, where he was a contemporary of the comedian David Mitchell and Robert Webb.

Career as a historian

Hunt was a Fellow of the Institute for Public Policy Research and is on the board of the New Local Government Network (2004). He has made many appearances on television, presenting programmes on the English Civil War (2002), the theories of Isaac Newton (Great Britons, 2002), and the rise of the middle class, and makes regular appearances on BBC Radio 4, having presented broadcasts on such topics as the history of the signature. His first book is The English Civil War: At First Hand (2002, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 029782953X).

Hunt's main area of expertise is urban history, specifically during the Victorian era, and it is this subject which provided him with his second book, Building Jerusalem (2004, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 0297607677). This book, covering such notable Victorian minds as John Ruskin, Joseph Chamberlain and Thomas Carlyle received many favourable reviews, but some criticism, notably a scathing review in the Times Literary Supplement by J. Mordaunt Crook ('The Future was Bromley', TLS, 13 August 2004). In 2006, Hunt wrote Making our Mark, a publication celebrating CPRE's eightieth anniversary. He then completed a BBC series entitled The Protestant Revolution, examining the influence of Protestantism on British and international attitudes to work and leisure for broadcast on BBC Four.[9]

Turning to biography, Hunt wrote The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, ISBN 0713998520 (US title: Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, ISBN 0805080252), published in May 2009. For the book, Hunt researched at German and Russian libraries and begins with an account of the author's own trip to Engels, Russia. The biography received a number of favourable reviews, including one from Roy Hattersley, the former deputy leader of the Labour party, in The Observer.[10] In 2007 he was a judge for the Samuel Johnson Prize,[11] the winner being Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

Political career

Tristram Hunt worked for the Labour Party at Millbank Tower in the 1997 General Election; he also worked at the Party's headquarters during the following 2001 General Election; during the 2005 General Election he supported Oona King's campaign in Bethnal Green and Bow.

In the summer of 2007 he failed to be selected for the safe Labour seat of Liverpool West Derby, where Stephen Twigg was selected instead,[12] and in 2009 for the safe seat of Leyton and Wanstead.[13]

Tristram Hunt was finally selected to stand for Stoke-on-Trent Central on 1 April 2010.[14][15] Because the candidacy was filled just before the election, the shortlist was drawn up by Labour's ruling National Executive Committee selection panel, with none on the shortlist local to Stoke-on-Trent. This led to the secretary of the Constituency Labour Party, Gary Elsby, standing as an independent candidate against Hunt in protest.[16][17] Despite the controversy of being "parachuted in" to the district Hunt was elected with 38.8% of the vote. The closest fought contest in the constituency in decades, he still boasted a majority of 5,566 over his nearest rival.[18]

In April 2013, he was appointed Shadow Junior Education Minister, replacing Karen Buck who became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ed Miliband. On 7 October 2013, Hunt was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet, replacing Stephen Twigg as Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

In February 2014, Dr Hunt crossed a legal University and College Union picket line at Queen Mary University of London to teach a course on 'Marx, Engels and the Making of Marxism', defending himself on the grounds that he was not a member of the Union.[19] He was strongly criticised in the Morning Star[20] and by West Bromwich MP Tom Watson, who described Hunt's behaviour as 'preposterous'.[21]

Political views

Hunt is a Trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund and has a column with the British Sunday paper The Observer. He wrote an essay in the New Statesman comparing Cromwell's Republic to the Islamic fundamentalism dominant in Afghanistan at that time, 2001.[22]

Speaking of his constituency he said "The key to helping manufacturing is investing in education and schools and also selling Stoke nationally and internationally as a place to invest."[23] He also criticised the local council's decision "to try to obliterate the past out and sort of 'cleanse', removing the old bottle ovens and other relics".[24] He instead believed that the city's reputation as a quality pottery maker should be exploited.[24] He also stated he could better serve his constituency if he were to become a government minister.

Speaking on BBC Question Time on 30 October 2014 Hunt made clear his support for the continued prohibition of drugs, including cannabis.

Personal life

Tristram Hunt is married with one son and two daughters. He lives in London. His brother-in-law is the author Giles Foden. His cousin is Virginia Bottomley, the former National Heritage Secretary, who is married to Sir Peter Bottomley MP, a former minister under the Thatcher government and the uncle of fellow Labour politician and fellow Blairite Kitty Ussher.

Titles from birth

  • Tristram Hunt (1974–2000)
  • The Hon Tristram Hunt (May 2000 – October 2000)[25]
  • The Hon Dr Tristram Hunt (October 2000 – 2010)[26]
  • The Hon Dr Tristram Hunt MP (2010–present)


  • The English Civil War: At First Hand (2002, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 029782953X)
  • Building Jerusalem (2004, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 0297607677)
  • The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels (2009, ISBN 0713998520) (US title: Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, ISBN 9780805080254)
  • Ten Cities That Made an Empire (2014) (US title: Cities of Empire: The British Colonies and the Creation of the Urban World, Metropolitan Books, ISBN 9780805093087)

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  1. "Jeremy Corbyn Facing UKIP By-Election Threat As Labour MP Tristram Hunt Quits"
  3. "Big-name hunter Virginia Bottomley fights to bag more jobs for women"
  4. "Senior Labour MPs: Miliband leadership speculation is ‘utter garbage’"
  5. "Tristram Hunt Tears Into Jeremy Corbyn At Labour Party Conference"
  6. "Tristram Hunt, Queen Mary, University of London".
  8. Peerage creations since 1997 House of Lords: Library Note
  9. BBC, The Protestant Revolution.
  24. a b
  25., Person Page – 19143.
  26. Newton Library Catalogue, University of Cambridge, Civic thought in Britain, c.1820– c.1860. Hunt, Tristram Julian William.

External links