After the Virus: Lessons from the Past for a Better Future

History & Policy at the Institute of Historical Research was delighted to host a webinar to mark the launch of the new book,  After the Virus: Lessons from the Past for a Better Future, by Hilary Cooper (former government economist and senior policy maker), and Simon Szreter (Professor of History and Public Policy at Cambridge University and co-founder and editor of History & Policy). 

Why was the UK so unprepared for the pandemic, suffering one of the highest death rates and worst economic contractions of the major world economies in 2020? Hilary Cooper and Simon Szreter reveal the deep roots of our vulnerability and set out a powerful manifesto for change post-COVID-19. They argue that our commitment to a flawed neoliberal model and the associated disinvestment in our social fabric left the UK dangerously exposed and unable to mount an effective response, with particularly devastating consequences for deprived communities and elderly patients in care homes.

In the face of the coming century’s urgent problems, from climate change to biodiversity collapse and global inequality, the authors put the case for the vital role that history should play in enabling us to think differently – about the future economy, our future society, how we govern ourselves and who we want to be. Drawing on the history of British collectivist individualism, beginning with the Elizabethan Poor Laws, they argue that a strong and nurturing welfare state has facilitated the most successful periods of economic and social flourishing in our history; and a revival and adaptation of its principles can help us again in the twenty-first century. 

At this virtual event Hilary Cooper and Simon Szreter discuss the ideas in their book, which was followed by a Q&A facilitated by Professor Philip Murphy.

After the Virus: Lessons from the Past for a Better Future is published by Cambridge University Press in paperback and as an e-book. 

Get 20% off when you purchase this book – visit and enter discount code ‘COOPER21’ at the checkout. Discount expires 30th July 2022.

Hilary Cooper is a former government economist and senior policy maker with expertise in labour markets, children’s services and local development. Her current freelance work examines the challenges of ageing. She was the joint winner of the 2019 IPPR Economics prize for the essay Incentivising an Ethical Economics, with Simon Szreter and Ben Szreter.

Simon Szreter is Professor of History and Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, researching economic, social and public health history. His publications include Health and Wealth, which won the American Public Health Association’s Viseltear Prize, and Sex before the Sexual Revolution, longlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize. He is co-founder and editor of History & Policy.


A Champion of dignity at work: the TUC in the Citrine era

On Monday 13th September 2021, the History & Policy Trade Union & Employment Forum hosted an online seminar on instances of TUC and union promotion of dignity at work seen through the lens of Walter Citrine’s career as General Secretary and President of the International Federation of Trade Unions from the 1920s to the 1950s.   


  • Jim Moher (Author-Walter Citrine, Forgotten Statesman of the Trades Union Congress)
  • Mary Bousted (Joint General Secretary National Education Union and TUC General Council member )
  • Tom Wilson (Former Senior TUC Officer)
  • Philip Murphy (Director, History & Policy)
  • Gail Cartmail (President TUC & Assistant General Secretary, Unite)
  • Paul Nowak (Deputy General Secretary, TUC)

You can catch up on the launch event event of Dr Jim Moher's book- Walter Citrine: Forgotten Statesman of the Trades Union Congress. Jim is a former national trade union official and now historian.

Image Credit: Walter Citrine (1st left, front row) with a group of the TUC General Council members attending the 1943 Trade Union Congress held in Southport. The President of the 1943 congress was Dame Anne Loughlin. Blackpool Gazette & Herald Ltd-TUC Library Collections, London Metropolitan University.

Walter Citrine: Forgotten Statesman of the Trades Union Congress: Book Launch


Recorded on 24 March 2021

The History & Policy Trade Union & Employment Forum is launching an important new biography of this former giant of the Labour movement - Walter Citrine: Forgotten Statesman of the Trades Union Congress. The author, Dr Jim Moher, a former national trade union official and now historian, will be launching it in conjunction with the Institute of Historical Research, University of London and his colleagues in the History and Policy Trade Union & Employment Forum.

Lord John Monks, a distinguished former General Secretary of the TUC (and European TUC), who has a Foreword in the book, will interview Jim about Citrine. This will be followed by questions and a general discussion with full audience participation.

Trade Unions and Employment in a Market Economy


Thursday 21 May 2020, 6pm-8pm

Andrew Brady will introduce his recent book:

Unions and Employment in a Market Economy, Strategy, Influence and Power in Contemporary Britain (Routledge 2019)

Other speakers include Sir Ian McCartney and Tom Wilson.

The Seminar was chaired by Helen Hague

Andrew Brady was awarded his PhD from the University of Strathclyde in 2017. He has held various positions within Unite the Union and is currently based in Scotland in the union’s Political, Research & Campaigns Unit.

Sir Ian McCartney was Shadow Minister, Minister of State, and Cabinet Minister 1992–2007 and led the Labour Government’s work on employment and employment rights.

Tom Wilson was Director of Unionlearn at the TUC until 2017. He has also worked for the GMB, the Labour Party as Trade Union Liaison Officer, the AUT and Natfhe (now UCU).

Helen Hague is a journalist and has recently worked on a history of the Fire Brigades Union.

Roundtable 25 March 2020 - Coronavirus and the real lessons of the Second World War.

As the Coronavirus crisis intensified and the UK locked down, a group of historians got together for an online roundtable to discuss the government's emergency response and civil defence strategy during the Second World War. From blackout regulations and public safety communications to emergency field hospitals for Blitz casualties, from the difficulties of volunteer coordination to the emergence of fire fighters as essential "grimy-faced heroes", the government of the day faced a huge range of logistical and communications challenges.

The discussion showed there are lessons to be learned from the Second World War - just not the "Blitz spirit" lessons that were often invoked in the early days of Coronavirus.

Read the Policy Paper here.


Rosemary Cresswell (Hull)
Barry Doyle (Huddersfield)
Shane Ewen (Leeds Beckett)
Henry Irving (Leeds Beckett)
Mark Roodhouse (York)
Marc Wiggan (Oslo)

Chaired by Alix Mortimer, editing by Andrew McTominey


Page 4 of 9 pages

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We are the only project in the UK providing access to an international network of more than 500 historians with a broad range of expertise. H&P offers a range of resources for historians, policy makers and journalists.

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