Tim Soutphommasane, drafted into the office of the UK Opposition Leader, might have served some brief time with Bob Carr when he was a Premier and Kevin Rudd during his successful election campaign but he did complete his Doctor of Philosophy in political theory at the University of Oxford, from where he also holds a Master of Philosophy degree (with distinction). Now he has been drafted in to UK Labour's policy review.
Of Chinese and Lao extraction, and a first-generation Australian, Tim was raised in the southwest suburbs of Sydney. On his website the explains for those curious about the correct pronunciation of his surname, that the phonetic spelling of it is Soot-pom-ma-sarn.A recent interview for the New Statesman explained Soutphommasane's thesis, elaborated in his book Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives, that the left must promote a common national identity if it is first to win and then retain power. "One of the reasons why you need to have a cohesive, collective identity in any liberal democratic society is that you need to have a sense of fellow feeling in order to redistribute resources." Since societies have become more diverse, he said, "You can't take it for granted that citizens will have an identity in common or will be willing to contribute to the common good, and so you have to work hard to ensure that people feel like they belong to a community."
In that interview there was also a veiled criticism of the Australian party of which he is still a member.
The Rudd-Gillard governments, he said, "have great achievements to their name – the apology to the indigenous people, the establishment of a carbon pricing scheme, the creation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a massive school-building programme – but they’ve lacked a nation-building story, they’ve lacked a nation-building project."