Keith Taylor

Political scientist and charity founder
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Keith Taylor, political scientist and charity worker: born Manchester 25 March 1949; twice married (one son); died Coventry 3 January 2006.

Keith Taylor was a political scientist who shared his natural gifts with the widest body of people. Whether writing scholarly texts, editing papers, teaching students, organising musicals or, latterly, campaigning for the rights of cancer patients, Taylor was in his element working for others.

His first book, an edited collection of essays by the founder of French socialism, Henri Saint-Simon 1760-1825: selected writings on science, industry and social organisation (1975), earned him early recognition. His seminal work The Political Ideas of Utopian Socialists (1982) followed, a thorough evaluation of the icons of modern political thought. His The Politics of Utopia: a study in theory and practice (1983), co-written with Barbara Goodwin, enjoys continuing prominence.

Taylor was a caring and stimulating teacher, first at Coventry Polytechnic (now Coventry University) from 1975 to 1991, and then at the University of Westminster until his retirement in 2002. He would make it his business to assess the potential of each student early, and thereafter accept nothing less than their best.

Keith Taylor was educated at Manchester Grammar School, and read Politics at the University of Kent followed by a Master's at Leicester. He taught first at Ealing Technical College in London, before taking up a lectureship at Coventry. Over three decades, he presented many scholarly papers to the UK Political Studies Association, and served for a period on the editorial board of its supplementary journal Politics. He wrote prodigiously for all the leading political science journals, and served as an A-level examiner for the London University exams board.

In 1998 Taylor and his wife Dinah were each diagnosed with terminal tumours, just months after their marriage; she on the breasts and he on the kidney and lung. In addition to caring for his wife - she died in 2003 - Taylor resolved to do something positive for cancer sufferers. In January 2000 he founded Kidney Cancer UK, Britain's first support organisation for kidney cancer patients and their carers. A national charity, it aims to raise consciousness of the disease and lobby for funding for research and care provision. In 2001 he wrote an academic paper based on his work, "The Micropolitics of Medicine: doctors, patients and their power relations".

During the seven years of his illness Taylor lobbied the Department of Health, met parliamentarians and civil servants, wrote articles and addressed various groups. Just weeks before his death, he struggled along to brief a Liberal Democrat policy meeting in Coventry.

In September 2002 he produced and directed a concert performance of Les Misérables at the Adrian Boult Hall in Birmingham, as part of the first Kidney Cancer Awareness week.

Vincent McKee