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Dr Alan Sked is Reader in International History at the London School of Economics (LSE). He studied History at Glasgow, then Merton College, Oxford. His doctoral supervisor at Oxford was A. J. P. Taylor, who was a major influence on Sked. In particular, Sked's writings on the Habsburg Monarchy owe much to Taylor, although their interpretations are very different. Sked himself is now a world authority on Habsburg history but has also written standard texts on British and European history. His books have been translated into German, Italian, Czech, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese. At LSE he teaches popular courses on US and modern intellectual history as well as on the history of sex, race and slavery.

He once stood as a Liberal candidate, but later rejected the party's pro-European Union (EU) stance. He served for ten years (1980-1990) as Convenor of European Studies, a postgraduate MA programme at LSE, where he examined many theses on the EU and served as joint Chairman of LSE's European Research Seminar. He came to believe that the EU was corrupt and anti-democratic, and a liability to the British economy. He was a founding member of the Bruges Group and until 1991, when he was expelled by its executive committee. This was because in 1991 he had founded the Anti-Federalist League (AFL), an anti-EU political party that promised to run candidates in the 1992 general election. It did so, which Sked believed to cause{} the defeat at Bath of Chris Patten, Conservative Party Chairman and presumed successor as prime minister to John Major, by forcing him to refuse to apologise for the poll tax. In 1993 Sked stood in two parliamentary by-elections, one at Newbury, where he shared a platform with Enoch Powell, who spoke in his support, and soon after at Christchurch. On both occasions he came fourth after the major parties (there were 19 candidates at Newbury) and encouraged by these results, the AFL changed its name that year to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Sked, however, resigned the leadership shortly after the 1997 general election, dismayed{2} at party factionalism and the growing influence of radical, far-right opinion in the party's ranks, saying that it was "doomed to remain on the political fringes". He was also firmly opposed to its plan to take up places in the European Parliament if seats should be won there. Instead, he wanted all party efforts to be concentrated on the Westminster Parliament which alone could repeal the Act of Accession of 1972. In any case, he found that UKIP was detracting too much from his academic career.

Shortly before each subsequent national election (1999, 2001 and 2004) he published articles accusing UKIP of extremism and incompetence. A few days before the 2004 election to the European Parliament, in which UKIP increased their representation from three to twelve seats, he criticised his former party in a national newspaper, saying, "they are racist and have been infected by the far-right."[1] He also went on record as saying, "UKIP is even less liberal than the BNP. Certainly, there is a symbiosis between elements of the parties,"[2] and, "UKIP’s MEPs are a standing joke at Strasbourg, where their attendance record, even by the standards of most MEPs, is relatively poor and where, according to independent research by the European Studies centre at the London School of Economics, the three often vote in different ways on the same issue."[{{{2}}}] An account of his political career can be found in his short article, 'Reflections of a Eurosceptic' published in Mark Baimbridge (ed) 'The 1975 Referendum on Europe', Vol. I: 'Reflections of the Participants', Exeter, 2007, pp. 140–147 (imprint-academic.com).

Partial bibliography

  • Sked, A. & Cook, C. (eds.) (1976) Crisis and Controversy: Essays in Honour of A.J.P. Taylor. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-18635-4.
  • Sked, A. (1979) The Survival of the Habsburg Empire: Radetzky, the imperial army and the class war, 1848. London: Longmans. ISBN 0-582-50711-1.
  • Sked, A. (1987) Britain's decline: problems and perspectives. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-15084-6.
  • Sked, A. & Cook, C. (1993) Post-war Britain: a political history (1945–1992). (4th ed.) Harmondsworth: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-017912-7.
  • Sked, A. (2001) The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire, 1815–1918. (2nd ed.) London: Longman. ISBN 0-582-35666-0.
  • Sked, A. (2007), Metternich and Austria: An Evaluation. (London: Palgrave MacMillan) ISBN 1403991146

Notes

  1. Sked, Reflections of a Eurosceptic, p. 144.
  2. Generally assumed at the time.
  3. Sked, Reflections of a Eurosceptic, p. 146.
  4. ^ The People (6 June 2004).
  5. ^ Sunday Telegraph (30 May 2004).

External links

Preceded by
New Office
Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party
1993–1997
Succeeded by
Craig Mackinlay
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