Politics and Other Interests


Stephen Mennell is a lifelong social democrat. He joined the British Labour Party in 1960 at the age of 16, later serving as chairman of the Cambridge University Labour Club (Michaelmas Term 1965) and as an Exeter City councillor (1971–4). Increasingly disillusioned with Labour’s anti-European tone in the 1970s, he resigned from the party in early 1981 and was one of the first 100 signatories of the Limehouse Declaration, which preceded the establishment of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In the 1983 General Election he stood as the SDP–Liberal Alliance candidate in the Exeter constituency, pushing the Labour candidate into third place but being soundly beaten by the Conservative.

After returning to Europe from Australia in 1993, he drifted back into the British Labour Party as an international member, but resigned from it a second and utterly final time over Tony Blair’s illegal, undemocratic and outrageous support for the Americans in their invasion of Iraq in 2003. He is now a member of the Irish Labour Party.

For the most part, his writings are not overtly political. Exceptions are the 1971 Fabian Society pamphlet, The Universities: Pressures and Prospects, co-authored with Colin Crouch, and more generally his 1986 Tawney Society pamphlet On Social Democratic Ideology. And, although The American Civilizing Process (2007) is a purely academic book, it certainly bears the mark of having been written mainly during the catastrophic presidency of George W. Bush and in the light of what that presidency revealed about the true underlying character of the USA.

Stephen Mennell’s other interests include travel, fellwalking (especially in the English Lake District), and classical music. He was chairman of the Wagner Society of Ireland in 2007–9 and is currently its vice-chairman.