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David Coates

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, in August, of Professor David Coates, former Professor of Contemporary Political Economy in the Department of Politics.   Friend and former colleague, Emeritus Professor David Beetham, has contributed the following tribute.

David Coates spent nearly half of his working life in the Department of Politics at the University of Leeds.  After a first degree at York, and a DPhil at Oxford, he was appointed in 1977 to a lectureship at Leeds.   He quickly proved himself an inspirational teacher and supervisor, and a prolific researcher into the politics of the UK and its relation to the country’s economy and class structure.   He was equally adept at the administrative side of the job, and after promotion to senior lecturer, he served a successful period as head of department from 1985 to 1988.   Promotion to Reader and then a Personal Chair in Contemporary Political Economy quickly followed.   In this capacity he co-founded the Leeds Centre for Industrial Policy and Performance, a collaborative venture with the School of Business and Economic Studies that flourished in the 1990s.

In 1995, David left Leeds to take up a Chair in Government at the University of Manchester and the Interdisciplinary Directorship of the International Centre of Labour Studies there.   In 1999, at the prompting of his American wife who wanted to return to the US, he was appointed to the Worrell Chair of Anglo-American Studies at Wake Forest University, North Carolina, subsequently taking joint US citizenship.   A flood of books followed on the comparative evolution of capitalism in the two countries in its neo-liberal phase, such as Models of Capitalism, Capitalism, the Basics, and, most recently, Flawed Capitalism.   His interests also extended to other topics, as shown by books such as Blair’s War and Getting Immigration Right.   He posted a weekly blog on US politics on his website, and achieved a national reputation as a leading progressive commentator.   Amidst all this, he found time for writing and publishing novels based on university life.   Tributes to him from former students at Wake Forest demonstrate that he never lost his enthusiasm for teaching, or his dedication to their intellectual and personal development.

Leeds University can surely take pride in having helped to provide the foundation for the remarkable late flowering of such an all-round talent.   He will be greatly missed on both sides of the Atlantic.