John Smith Centre announces new leadership

Published: 8 May 2024

Political strategist Eddie Barnes has been announced as the new Director of the University of Glasgow’s John Smith Centre.

Political strategist Eddie Barnes has been announced as the new Director of the University of Glasgow’s John Smith Centre.

He succeeds Professor Kezia Dugdale, who has joined the University’s Centre for Public Policy as Associate Director.

The John Smith Centre was established to inspire and empower new and diverse voices to engage with and enter British politics.

Eddie brings substantial political experience to the role. Currently he is director of Our Scottish Future, set up by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to promote devolution and reform of the UK.

Prior to this, Eddie was Head of Strategy and Communications to Ruth Davidson, the former leader of the Scottish Conservative Party. He was also political editor of the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday titles.

Eddie is a graduate of the University of Glasgow.

As Director, Eddie will lead on shaping and developing the Centre’s 10 year anniversary celebrations during 2024, as well as focusing on its internship programmes.

Eddie Barnes said: "I’m absolutely delighted to be taking on this role at such an exciting moment in the country's public life.

“Over the last decade, the John Smith Centre has been a beacon for a better type of politics, and has done a tremendous job introducing diverse voices and fresh perspectives to the public arena.

"I believe the political life remains the most absorbing and meaningful life you could hope to have. With the Centre marking its 10th anniversary this year, I’m looking forward to working with the brilliant team at the University of Glasgow to help strengthen our democratic system in Scotland and the UK, and to inspire more young people to claim a stake in our political future."

Catherine Smith KC, co-founder and Chair of the John Smith Centre, said: “As we celebrate our 10th birthday and enter a period of growth at the John Smith Centre, we are thrilled to be doing this with Eddie Barnes taking over as our new Director. He understands politics from all sides, and it is hard to think of anyone with better experience and skills to help us persuade people that politics matters to us all. Exciting times ahead for the Centre.”

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “We are proud to have hosted the John Smith Centre for the past 10 years at the University of Glasgow and I am pleased that Eddie has been appointed at such a pivotal time for the Centre. There is much to look forward to in the years ahead, and I know Eddie will bring a wealth of experience from working across the political spectrum to this role.

“On behalf of the University I’d like to wish Eddie well as he takes on this venture and I very much look forward to advancing and deepening our partnership with the John Smith Centre, and working together to ensure our students continue to benefit from the fantastic programmes led by the Centre.”

Eddie will commence the role of Director in July 2024.

First published: 8 May 2024