The election expert Professor Anthony King, who appeared on numerous BBC General Election specials from 1983 until 2005, has died at the age of 82. King was born in Canada and later became a fellow of Magdalen College in Oxford between 1961 and 1965. He joined the University of Essex in 1966 and published a large number of works on elections, politics and the constitution.
Professor Anthony Forster, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, said:
“Professor Anthony King was a giant of political science and one of the University of Essex’s longest serving members of staff, joining us in 1966 just two years after the University opened. An inspirational teacher, a great political thinker and a brilliant writer, Professor King analysed politics in books and on television with incredible intelligence, insight and wit. Our thoughts are with his family and his friends, including his many, many former students”.
Anthony Crewe, with who King wrote two books, said in a statement:
“Tony King was the foremost academic interpreter of British government and politics of the last 40 years. He applied a fierce intelligence, immense knowledge, and an elegant, lucid style to every aspect of the British political scene on which he wrote or broadcast. He made us all the wiser about the changing British constitution, how elections are won and lost, why successive governments blunder and much else besides.
Tony and the Department of Government were synonymous. He was critical to putting it on the map as a world-leading centre of political science. His brilliant lectures inspired generations of Essex students and he was unstinting in his encouragement of young academics, including myself. I mourn a wonderful friend, mentor and colleague”.
David Dimbleby, who hosted the BBC’s General Election coverage said:
“It’s very sad news, completely unexpected to me. Tony King was passionate about the way government worked, he was extraordinary. He also played a public role. He was on the committee for standards in public life, on a committee on reform of the House of Lords, so he was sort of embedded, in the way we do our politics. We used to have lunch every so often in between elections to talk about how things were going and he was always absolutely fascinating”.
King also served on the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life in 1994 and the Wakeham Commission on the Future of the House of Lords in 1999. Lord Bew, the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life said in a statement:
“Anthony King made a great contribution to standards in public life as one of the first members of this Committee under Lord Nolan’s chairmanship. He was a man of great knowledge, with impeccable judgement and wisdom”.