A graduate of the LSE with a B.Sc (Economics) in Government, Simon James is the author of several academic books, including “British Cabinet Government” (second edition 1999, third edition in preparation) and, edited jointly with Virginia Preston, “British Politics since 1945: the Dynamics of Historical Change” (2001). He has published numerous articles in academic journals including Contemporary British History, Public Administration, Britain and the World, Policy Studies, Parliamentary Affairs and Public Law, and has contributed many chapters to edited collections. He is one of the convenors of the British Contemporary History Seminar at the Institute for Historical Research. He previously held visiting fellowships at the Institute of Contemporary British History, the Constitution Unit at University College London and the University of Newcastle, and has acted as course adviser to the College of Europe and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
He worked for 20 years in, successively, London local government, the Department for Education and Employment, the Cabinet Secretariat (working on the Blair government's constitutional reform programme) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. Since 2001 he been a freelance adviser to governments in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, his work funded mainly by the World Bank and the British government. His main area of expertise is central government policy-making, specialising particularly in the reform of Prime Ministers' Offices and Cabinet Secretariats; he also works on all aspects of political and civil service reform, and public policy management. He is currently advising the governments of Macedonia, Morocco and Somaliland.
He is the author of a number of research reports commissioned by the OECD and has contributed to publications of the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. He was winner of the Royal Institute of Public Administration's Haldane Silver Medal essay competition in 1988. Since 2015 he has chaired a project in north London to divert young people from gang membership and knife crime.