I was born in Hackney, East London, in 1972. My dad was a signwriter; my mum was a cleaner, secretary and librarian. I went to Daubeney and Raines Foundations Schools from the ages of 4 - to 16, all 'inner city' state schools, and I am the first person in my family to have gone to University.
I left home at 17 and did many odd jobs, with the high point working in Hackney dole office signing people on during the 90s recession.
I finished my degree at London University in the mid-1990s and left London when I was 24. I lived and worked in Bosnia, where I helped establish an NGO focussed on ethnic reconciliation in the still conflict-prone town of Brcko. Whilst nearly killed several times, it was a walk in the park compared to my formative years in Hackney.
Upon returning to the UK, I started my post-grad degrees in Bristol, where I spent five happy years. Since then, I've lived and moved across the UK and ended up back in the beautiful West Country, my favourite bit of the UK by a long way.
My first book examined US counterinsurgency warfare in post-Cold War Latin America; my second was on US coercive statecraft's role in global energy markets.
My latest book examines the rise of the 'decolonisation' movement across British institutions, especially in our Universities. I argue that illiberal technocratic elites across the Anglophone world have weaponised moral panics to maintain power and unpack what this portends for the West and liberal world order in an era of rising geopolitical authoritarianism.
Lord Sumption argues that the arguments developed in my book have "rarely been made with such verve and force as they are in this succinct demolition of modern decolonisation theory." Dr Munira Mirza, former head of the No. 10 Policy Unit and CEO of Civic Future, argued that the book is a "highly insightful and persuasive contribution … going far beyond the walls of academia into wider institutions and the international world order." The Times Literary Supplement noted the book was ‘incisive, humane and brave’ and was nominated for its book of the year for 2023
I have acted as the Director of Exeter University's Strategy and Security Institute, was a Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) for over a decade and am the Thomas Telford Fellow at the Council on Geostrategy and the Senior Adviser to the Legatum Institute's Sovereignty Unit.
I write regularly for major news outlets, including The Times, The Telegraph, The Spectator and the Daily Mail, and enjoy doing the odd podcast with interesting people.
Aside from international relations, I enjoy cooking, keeping fit and combat sports.