Michael Steed – Obituary

Emeritus Professor Richard Sakwa pays tribute to our colleague, who passed away in September.  

‘Michael Steed was a man of many parts. He became an honorary lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations when he retired on health grounds from the University of Manchester in the late 1990s.

In Canterbury he threw himself into local politics while retaining a keen interest in national affairs, focusing on the academic analysis of elections and electoral processes. A passionate Liberal Democrat, he served as the national president of the Liberal Party in 1978-79, campaigning in favour of proportional representation. He stood for parliament six times, and in 1979 was a candidate in the inaugural European Parliament elections, calling for greater popular control over what was then the European Economic Community. In Canterbury he turned his energies towards local matters.

He served on the city council for four years, representing Barton Ward from 2008 to 2012. He was also a leading gay rights campaigner, serving on the executive committee of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. He was a leading member of the Canterbury Commemorative Society, which successfully campaigned for the placing of the statues of Ethelbert and Bertha in Lady Wootton’s Green, where they proudly stand as a daily reminder of Kent’s illustrious history. He also played an important part in getting the statue of Geoffrey Chaucer placed in the High Street, where he still points the way to London. Michael was active in all sorts of other ways and to the end remained a prominent member of the local community.

At University events, he invariably provided sharp and informed analysis. Few would dare to take him on when it came to psephological analysis! His passing at the age of 83 on 3 September leaves a gap that will never be filled.’