People Feature

Ivor Crewe

Honorary Fellow

Sir Ivor Martin Crewe AcSS (born 15 December 1945) is the Master of University College, Oxford and President of the Academy of Social Sciences. He was previously Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex and Professor in the Department of Government.

Crewe was educated at Manchester Grammar School and then went to Exeter College, Oxford, where he gained a first-class BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics in 1966. He was appointed a Lecturer in Politics at Lancaster University at the age of 21, before returning to Oxford in 1969 for two years as a Junior Research Fellow, and moving to a Lectureship at the Department of Government at the University of Essex in 1971.

At Essex Crewe was Director of the ESRC Data Archive from 1974 to 1982, Co-Director of the British Election Study from 1973 to 1981. With Dr. David Rose he established the British Household Panel Study and founded the Institute of Social and Economic Research at Essex in 1990.

From 1977 to 1982, he was editor of the British Journal of Political Science and from 1984 to 1992 he was a co-editor.

Crewe undertook extensive research from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s in elections and voting behaviour, and published his results in Decade of Dealignment (1983, with Bo Sarlvik) and numerous articles, including the influential 'Partisan Dealignment in Britain 1964-74', British Journal of Political Science, 7(2), pp. 129–90 (with Bo Sarlvik and James Alt), which argued that voters' identification with the Conservative and Labour was steadily weakening as a result of the decline in class loyalty and in the connections voters made between class interests and party policies. He was a frequent commentator on UK elections for television and the press. He argued that the Labour party was destined for electoral defeat as the traditional working class contracted unless it both appealed to a wider social constituency embracing other classes and revised its assumptions about the policies that would appeal to a majority of voters. He regarded the electoral success of New Labour in the 1997 and 2001 general elections as a vindication of his electoral analysis.

He is generally credited with introducing the concepts of partisan dealignment, class dealignment and negative partisanship in the study of voting behaviour.

From 1995 to 1 September 2007, he was the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex and is a former Chair of the 1994 Group and President of Universities UK. As President of UUK from 2003 to 2005, he mobilised university Vice Chancellors in favour of the Government's proposal to introduce tuition fees.

The Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall at the university, completed in 2006, is named after him.

In July 2008, Sir Ivor succeeded Lord Butler of Brockwell as Master of University College, Oxford.

He was appointed Knight Bachelor in the New Year Honours List 2006.

In 2013 Crewe and King published The Blunders of our Governments, a study of major failures of public policy in modern Britain. Peter Preston's review in The Guardian commented "It should be a deeply distressing account of blunders past, present and pending from two of our most brilliant political analysts, but in fact you have to smile gallantly through many of the disasters that throng 400 or more of these pages".​

Ivor Crewe