Tristram Hunt

The Honourable
Tristram Hunt
Shadow Secretary of State for Education
In office
7 October 2013  12 September 2015
Leader Ed Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded by Stephen Twigg
Succeeded by Lucy Powell
Member of Parliament
for Stoke-on-Trent Central
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Mark Fisher
Majority 5,179 (16.6%)
Personal details
Born Tristram Julian William Hunt
(1974-05-31) 31 May 1974
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Juliet Thornback
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Religion Anglicanism

Tristram Julian William Hunt FRHistS MP (born 31 May 1974) is a British Labour Party politician, historian and broadcast journalist, who has served as the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central in Staffordshire since the 2010 general election.

Hunt is a lecturer in modern British history at Queen Mary University of London.[1] He has written several books and in his work as a broadcaster has presented history programmes on television. He is a regular writer for The Guardian and The Observer.[2]

Early life and education

Hunt was born in Cambridge, the son of Julian, Baron Hunt of Chesterton, a meteorologist and leader of the Labour Group on Cambridge City Council in 1972–73, who was created a Labour Life Peer on the recommendation of Tony Blair in 2000.[3] He was educated at University College School, an independent school in London, where he achieved two As (History and Latin) and a B (English Literature) at A-Level. He read History at Trinity College, Cambridge. He later attended the University of Chicago, and was for a time an Associate Fellow of the Centre for History and Economics at King's College, Cambridge. He undertook postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge and completed his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in 2000. His thesis was titled Civic thought in Britain, c.1820– c.1860. While at Cambridge he was a member of the Footlights, where he was a contemporary of David Mitchell and Robert Webb.

Career as a historian

Hunt was a Fellow of the Institute for Public Policy Research and sits 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 Sir Isaac Newton (Great Britons, 2002),[4] 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 was The English Civil War: At First Hand (2002, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 029782953X).

Hunt's specialism 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.[5]

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.[6] In 2007 he was a judge for the Samuel Johnson Prize,[7] the winner being Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

Hunt's book Ten Cities That Made an Empire was published by Allen Lane in 2014 (US title: Cities of Empire: The British Colonies and the Creation of the Urban World, Metropolitan Books).

Political career

A member of the Labour Party, Hunt supported the party as an activist for several years before working on the party's staff. Hunt worked for the Labour Party at Millbank Tower during the 1997 general election; he also worked at the party headquarters during the following 2001 general election and during the 2005 general election he campaigned for Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow.

Hunt twice submitted his name unsuccessfully for selection as a Labour parliamentary candidate: Liverpool West Derby, where Stephen Twigg was selected (2007),[8] and Leyton and Wanstead, where John Cryer was reselected (2009).[9]

Hunt was selected to contest the constituency of Stoke-on-Trent Central on 1 April 2010, succeeding Labour's outgoing MP, Mark Fisher.[10][11] 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 against Hunt as an independent candidate in protest.[12][13] Despite the controversy of being "parachuted in" to the district Hunt was elected with 38.8% of the vote. Despite being the constituency's closest fought contest in decades, Hunt still had a majority of 5,566 over his nearest rival.[14]

In April 2013, Hunt was appointed a Shadow Education Minister, replacing Karen Buck who advanced as 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, Hunt crossed an authorised University and College Union picket line at Queen Mary University of London to teach his students about "Marx, Engels and the Making of Marxism", defending himself on the grounds that although he was not a member of the union, he supported the right to strike and picket by those who had been balloted.[15] He was strongly criticised by West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson, who described Hunt's behaviour as "preposterous".[16]

He was re-elected in May 2015 with a majority of 5,179.[17] On 12 September 2015, it became known Hunt was leaving the shadow cabinet following Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader because of their "substantial political differences", as Hunt told the Press Association.[18]

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).[19]

Speaking of his constituency, Hunt said that "The key to helping manufacturing is investing in education and schools and also selling Stoke nationally and internationally as a place to invest."[20] 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".[21] He instead believed that the city's reputation as a quality pottery maker should be exploited.[21] He has also stated he could better serve his constituency were he to become a Government Minister.[21]

In February 2015, Hunt was accused of implying, in a BBC Question Time discussion on teachers without qualifications, that nuns do not make good teachers. His comments were criticised by Conservative MPs and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson. Hunt stated that he did not mean to cause offence to nuns.[22]

In 2014 Hunt proposed that private schools should be required to form "partnerships" with local state schools if they wanted to keep their charitable status.[23]

Personal life

Hunt is married to Juliet Thornback[24] with whom he has one son and two daughters; they live in London.



  1. "Dr Tristram Hunt". Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  2. "Tristram Hunt". BBC. 21 March 2007. Archived from the original on 9 March 2008. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  3. Peerage creations since 1997 House of Lords: Library Note
  4. Great Britons at the Internet Movie Database
  5. BBC, The Protestant Revolution.
  6. Roy Hattersley (26 April 2009). "A communist and a gentleman". The Observer. The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009.
  7. "Judges of the Samuel Johnson Prize 2007". BBC Four. Archived from the original on 11 August 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  8. Nick Coligan (18 September 2007). "Stephen Twigg ends career of another political stalwart". Liverpool Echo. Archived from the original on 19 March 2012.
  9. Claire Hack (26 February 2010). "Leyton/Wanstead: Labour candidate announcement expected tomorrow". East London and West Essex Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 February 2010.
  10. Michael Crick (19 March 2010). "The battle for Stoke-on-Trent Central". Newsnight. BBC blog. Archived from the original on 29 March 2014.
  11. "Tristram Hunt picked to represent Labour in election". BBC News. 1 April 2010. Archived from the original on 4 April 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  12. Roland Watson (2 April 2010). "Grassroots revolt as Labour parachutes Tristram Hunt into Stoke seat". The Times. London. Retrieved 2 April 2010.
  13. "Labour secretary to stand against party in Stoke". BBC News. 2 April 2010. Archived from the original on 5 April 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  14. "Elections 2010: Tristram Hunt wins Stoke-on-Trent Central seat". The Sentinel. 7 May 2010. Archived from the original on 10 May 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  15. "BBC News – Tristram Hunt defends crossing picket line for socialism lecture". BBC Online. BBC. 11 February 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  16. Eaton, George (11 February 2014). "Tom Watson attacks Tristram Hunt for crossing a picket line". New Statesman. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  17. "Tristram Hunt MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  18. "Hunt leaves frontbench as Corbyn elected Labour leader". ITV News. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  19. Tristram Hunt (17 December 2001). "Britain's very own Taliban". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 29 March 2014.
  20. "Stoke-on-Trent 'needs government help'". BBC News. 17 April 2010. Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  21. 1 2 3 Parkinson, Justin (8 February 2011). "Historian Tristram Hunt on switching to life as an MP". BBC News. Archived from the original on 10 February 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  22. "BBC News – Tristram Hunt: 'No offence' meant to nuns in TV comments". BBC News. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  23. Hunt, Tristram (24 November 2014). "Private schools have done too little for too long". Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  24. "Thornback and Peel". Retrieved 7 February 2015.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Mark Fisher
Member of Parliament
for Stoke-on-Trent Central

Political offices
Preceded by
Stephen Twigg
Shadow Secretary of State for Education
Succeeded by
Lucy Powell
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