John Barnes, Historian


John Barnes was born in Newquay, Cornwall and is married to Mary. They have three children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

He was educated at elementary school and Plymouth College and was a major scholar of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he read history. He took first class honours with distinction in both parts of the tripos and was elected into a Drosier Research Fellowship at Caius in 1961. In 1964 he was appointed to an assistant lectureship in Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science and to a lectureship in 1965. He continued to teach Government there until his retirement in 2003. He was the Archives Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge in 1990 and Director of the Centre for Educational Research at the LSE 1992-4. He was a Council Member of the Navy Records Society 1967-70 and served on the Advisory Council which helped set up the Institute of Contemporary British History. He acted as rapporteur to the first Presidential Press Secretaries Conference on Government-Press relations in 1994.

A founder member of the Conservative History Group, he served on its committee and as co-editor of the Conservative History Journal until 2009.

Among his publications are Baldwin. A Biography  (with Keith Middlemas 1969); The Day Before Yesterday (with Alan Thompson 1971); The Leo Amery Diaries 1896-1929 and The Empire at Bay (with David Nicholson 1980, 1986); The Alternative White Paper. Strategies for Higher Education (with Nicholas Barr 1988); The State, Markets and Education (1996); ‘The Record’ in C.Cook and D.McKie (eds): The Decade of Disillusion (1972); ‘From Eden to Macmillan’ in A.Seldon and P.Hennessy (eds): Ruling Performance (1988); ‘Should we trust the market in Higher Education?’ in S.Sexton (ed): Funding and management of Higher Education (1989); ‘Policies for Access, Expansion and Efficiency’ in R.Watts and J.Greenberg (eds): Post Secondary Education. Preparation for the World of Work (with N.Barr 1990); ‘Ideology and Factions’ and ‘Conservative Policy Making’ in A.Seldon and S.Ball (eds): Conservative Century (1994); Federal Britain. No Longer Unthinkable? (Centre for Policy Studies 1997); ‘Funding and University Autonomy’ in M.Henkel and B.Little (eds): Changing Relationships between Higher Education and the State (1999); ‘What if the Conservatives had won in 1964?’ in D.Brack and I.Dale (eds): Prime Minister Portillo and other things that never happened (2003); ‘The Prime Minister's Role in Foreign Affairs and Economic Policy: creeping bilateralism’ in S.James and Virginia Preston (eds): British Politics since 1945 (2003); and A Guide to the church of The Assumption of Blessed Mary and St Nicholas, Etchingham, and its History (3rd ed 2013).

He served on the Council for National Academic Awards 1988-91, the Schools Examination and Assessment Council 1990-92 and the National Council for Vocational Qualifications 1992-97.

He served on the South East Thames Regional Health Authority 1984-93. He was Chairman of the Bexhill and Rother Primary Care Trust 2001-2006 and of the East Sussex Downs and Weald PCT 2006-2010. He was Hon. Treasurer of the NHS Alliance 2003-10.

He chaired the Rochester Diocesan Education Committee and served on the Bishop's Council 1987-90.

Between 1956 and 1958 he did National Service in the Royal Navy and was commissioned as a Midshipman 1956 and promoted to Sub Lieutenant in 1957.

At Cambridge he edited the Conservative Journal New Radical and served on the committee of the Conservative Association. He was elected as Vice Chairman of the Federation of University Conservative and Unionist Associations 1960-62 and served as Trustee of the International Christian Democratic and Conservative Students 1962-64.

He fought Walsall North in the 1964, 1966 and 1970 General Elections.

In 1968 he was elected as an Alderman for the London Borough of Greenwich and served until 1973.

In 1973 he was elected to the Kent County Council and served until 1989. He was Vice Chairman of the Education Committee 1974-77, Chairman of the Education Committee 1977-82, Chairman of the Libraries Sub Committee 1984-5, Vice Chairman of the County Council 1985-87, and Vice Chairman of the Education Committee and Chairman of the Schools Sub Committee 1987-89.

In 1997 he was elected to the East Sussex County Council and served as Chairman of the Education Committee 1997-8. He was re-elected in 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017. He was elected Chairman of East Sussex County Council in May 2005 and re-elected for a further year, standing down in June 2007. He chaired the Music Management Committee and the East Sussex Music Trust; he was vice-chair of the Audit and Best Value Committee and served on the Adult Social Services Scrutiny Committee. He was appointed a Conservator of Ashdown Forest in May 2007 and re-appointed in May 2013; he served as Chairman of the Board of Conservators 2007-10. He has served as Vice-Chairman of the Rye Harbour Management Committee, and as both Chair and Vice-Chair of the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve; he was appointed to the East Sussex Fire Authority in May 2013 and re-appointed 2017, serving as Chairman 2017-19. Chairman of the Audit and Scrutiny Panel 2019-21. John stood down from the County Council in May 2021.

He was a member of the Conservative Party's Policy Groups on Machinery of Government 1964-5 and 1975-79, and on Regional and Local Government 1966-68. He served on the Secretary of State's manifesto group for education 1991-2.

He chaired the Conservative Party's SE Area Advisory Committee on Education 1971-74 and was a member of the National Advisory Committee from 1969 until 1985.

He was Vice Chairman of the Sevenoaks Conservative Association 1971-4 and of the Bexhill and Battle Conservative Association 2000-03. He was elected President of the Bexhill and Battle Conservative Association again in 2023 having previously served as President 2011-15 and 2016-19, Chairman 2003-06 and 2010-11, additional officer 2008-10, and Chairman of the constituency CPF 2007-08.

John was Chairman of the Etchingham Under Fives Trust 2010-12; he is a Trustee of the Etchingham Trust for Sport and Recreation (having been Chairman 2010-20 and Vice Chairman 2009-10); he is Chairman of Etchingham Parish Council (since 2015). John was appointed MBE in 2016.

Elected to Rother District Council for the Darwell Ward in 2016, John chaired the Housing Task Force; he was subsequently re-elected as one of the two members for Burwash and the Weald in 2019 and again in 2023; currently serving as Vice-Chairman of the Audit and Standards Committee.