A tribute to Professor Stephen Haseler

Stephen Haseler RIP (9 January 1942 – 20 July 2017)
Date: 9 August 2017

We are sad to announce that Professor Stephen Haseler, Director of the Global Policy Institute, died suddenly on Thursday, 20 July.

European, Atlanticist, radical, controversialist, academic, activist, debater, writer, teacher, and mentor, he achieved so very much over a long career and his enthusiasm touched many of us. He will be sorely missed.

Stephen was the driving force behind the Global Policy Institute (GPI) since its inception in 2006. While the immediate focus of the GPI was on the nature and directions of globalisation, in the context of the global financial crisis this developed rapidly to encompass the failures of neoliberalism and related accelerated shifts in the global power structure. Stephen’s own writings (Meltdown, 2008 and Meltdown UK, 2010), and many other publications and media and conference appearances, played an important part in expanding the work of the GPI. His many contacts, in America and in Europe, enabled the GPI to open up a dialogue with significant politicians and academics, giving the Institute access to experience and hard-won knowledge. For Stephen this was always an important component of any public event.

While Stephen was best known as Director of the GPI, he came to this role relatively late in his political and academic life. He obtained his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and this led to his first publication The Gaitskellites (1969). Hugh Gaitskell was a friend and mentor as well as formative to Stephen’s own political and moral outlook. His introduction summarising Gaitskell’s views and beliefs perhaps best describes Stephen’s own view of the world:

…though not a socialist, Gaitskell remained ‘a man of the left.’ In his sense he was a true English radical. For him, like the Fabians, the power of morality and reason was always greater than of inherited interest and privilege. And it was this great belief in the power of reason that led him to become both a republican and an atheist….Like all English radicals Gaitskell saw Britain as a dauntingly unequal society and detested Britain’s stubborn class system. His intense fondness for America, particularly for its informal and unstuffy social and cultural life, sprang from this egalitarian outlook. But Gaitskell’s belief in equality was more than equality of worth. It led him, partly under Tony Crosland’s influence, to become something of a tax and spend re-distributionist… He was attracted to meritocracy. After all, he was one himself. And his decided preference was for a country governed by educated public intellectuals – and not by standard landed and business classes…

Already Stephen had become an active politician, standing as a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party in Saffron Walden, where he was the youngest candidate in the 1966 general election. He was elected to the Greater London Council (1973-77) and became Deputy Leader.

Stephen helped to establish the Social Democratic Alliance in 1975. He was a key player in the forming of the Social Democratic Party in 1981.

His enthusiasm for most things American was nurtured by visiting professorships at Georgetown University, John Hopkins, George Mason University and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. He made contacts with policy makers and was a close observer of the Reagan-Thatcher ideological axis and its determination to bring the Cold War stasis to an end. Stephen was a radical, in that he believed the job of the politician was to move the agenda forwards, even if this meant political conflict.

Overall Stephen published 13 single authored books and another 17 in collaboration with other writers, as well as numerous articles, book chapters and pamphlets. He made the final changes to his last book, England Alone, days before he died. To be published Autumn 2017, this book reprised many of his critiques of the ‘English tribe,’ the ‘political elite’ and ‘the establishment.’ Stephen was a fervent promoter of European integration, European federalism, and a prominent place for Britain in the EU as well as a long-term critic of the UK’s semi-detached relationship with Brussels (The English Tribe, 1996 and Super State, 2004).

Stephen was particularly focused on writing and arguing for the urgent need of a United States of Europe in order to safeguard European values and interests in the context of neoliberal globalisation, which he saw as the principal cause of growing inequality in the West and the empowerment of a new class of ‘global super rich,’ the title of his 2001 book. In the face of growing inequalities in core advanced countries, Europe offered a unique model of political and individual freedoms coupled with social welfare and economic safety nets. He was of the view that individual nations such as Britain on their own could not survive in a world of competing great powers like the United States, China and Russia.

In light of all these activities and interests, Stephen was also a teacher – an activity that he particularly enjoyed – with a long career in higher education. He joined City of London College in 1967 having just completed his PhD at the London School of Economics. It was here that he met his future wife Bay, an East-coast American. He continued to teach in the Politics, International Relations and Business areas of its successor institutions (City of London Polytechnic, London Guildhall University, London Metropolitan University) until 2017. In 1986 Stephen was one of the first professors appointed by the City of London Polytechnic. He was very proud of his US visiting professorships and latterly (2012) he was made Emeritus Professor of Governance at London Metropolitan University. He was a Senior Fellow and Council Member at The Federal Trust and a board member of the Richmond American University in London.

Throughout his career Stephen was a very gifted and powerful orator and frequent speaker at public events. In February 2017 he presented his policy pamphlet ‘Trump’s New World Order: Brexit and Europe in a World Turned Upside Down,’ to an extremely well-attended meeting (pictured). It was keenly debated.

But maybe most important of all, Stephen was a very dear friend and mentor to a great many students and colleagues, and he will leave a void that can’t be filled. His advice and support was always freely available, whenever requested, and was considerate and genuine. He was a keen listener and learner who, while holding some strong convictions, was open to questioning many of his own assumptions and conclusions, and to reflect on the experience and analyses of others. Stephen was an enormous presence in the world of academia. Everyone who was fortunate enough to have been able to spend some time with Stephen benefitted from his energy, intellectual curiosity, insights and political experience.

Stephen will be missed greatly. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Stephen’s wife, Bay Haseler, and his sister Sue Yates.

Credit: The Global Policy Institute