Michael Moran, 1946-2018

Professor of government rose from poverty in childhood to become leading expert on British public policy

April 26, 2018
michael moran

A leading authority on British government and public policy has died.

Michael Moran was born in Birmingham in April 1946 but spent most of his childhood in County Clare, Ireland. He was raised in rural poverty and, when the family returned to Birmingham in 1959, attended a secondary modern school (for those who had not been selected for grammar schools). Nonetheless, he secured a place among the first cohort of students at Lancaster University in 1964 and went on to a PhD at the University of Essex – another new university – where his thesis analysed how the British Union of Post Office Workers determined its goals (1967-70).

This led to Professor Moran’s first job as a lecturer and then senior lecturer in the Department of Social Science at Manchester Polytechnic, now Manchester Metropolitan University (1970-79). He later moved across to the Victoria University of Manchester, which became the University of Manchester, first in the government department (1979-2011) – from 1990 as W. J. M. Mackenzie professor of government – and then part-time at the Alliance Manchester Business School. He was preparing a new MBA course at the time of his death.

A highly compelling speaker to whose lectures students would often bring friends and housemates along, Professor Moran was also a prolific and wide-ranging writer on politics and policy issues. The Politics of the Financial Services Revolution: The USA, the UK and Japan (1991) provides a standard account of the deregulatory process known as the Big Bang. The British Regulatory State: High Modernism and Hyper-Innovation (2003) uses a range of historical and philosophical sources rare for a political scientist, while his most recent monograph, The End of British Politics? (2017), offers many timely insights into the possible break-up of the UK. Equally significant were his co-written textbook, Politics UK, which went through six editions between 1990 and 2006, and the solo-authored Politics and Governance in the UK (2005; third edition: 2015).

Karel Williams, professor of accounting and political economy at the Alliance Manchester Business School, described Professor Moran as a man of “exceptional commitment, modesty and fundamental decency” whose “life shows what a child of migrants could achieve under the post-war settlement”. The last of Professor Moran’s books, The Foundational Economy: The Infrastructure of Everyday Life, is forthcoming in September 2018, according to Professor Williams, who noted: “Appropriately, it is about the citizens’ right to collective goods and services, whose provision in 1960s Britain gave Mick his start in academic life.”

Professor Moran died of a heart attack on 3 April 2018 and is survived by his wife Winifred; two sons, Liam and Joe; and two grandchildren.


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Reader's comments (1)

A crying shame Mick has left us; his death was such a shock. My sincere condolences go to Winifred who I had the opportunity of meeting 18 months ago at their home. As my PhD supervisor, and probably Mick's final student, I consider myself fortunate to have received his guidance and will remember him fondly. Mick's work is a wonderful legacy for us all to recount. RIP Mick.


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