RESPECTED political expert Professor Anthony King has died aged 82.

Prof King was one of the country's leading experts in the political sciences and wrote extensively on the people and trends which have shaped Parliament over the past 50 years.

His works included the Blunders of Our Governments, a book written in a collaboration with former University of Essex vice chancellor Sir Ivor Crew, which sought to explain why British governments make so many big mistakes. It sold in excess of 47,000 copies.

Prof King contended a Government could only be considered competent if it achieved what it set out to do.

He believed the most recent one to do so was the Thatcher government although he added that did not necessarily mean what it achieved was admirable.

He referred to Mrs Thatcher’s infamous poll tax as “one of the biggest cock-ups of the past 100 years”.

Born in Canada, Prof King studied at Queen’s University, Ontario, before going to Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar.

After ten years as a Fellow at Oxford, he moved to the University of Essex in 1966, when the university was in its infancy.

In an interview with the Gazette, he said it was "a case of push and pull”.

“The push was I’d got bored with the self-importance of Oxford. It had become complacent and self-satisfied.

"I felt it didn’t have that much to shout about. The pull factor was the founder of Essex’s government department, Jean Blondel, who had a

vision of what a good politics department should look like."

Prof King, who lived in Wakes Colne, arrived two years after Essex’s first students started their courses and stayed for the rest of his life.

He was among a number of academic political heavyweights recruited by the university including Sir Ivor Crewe, Prof Paul Whitely and

the country’s only regius political professor, David Sanders who all helped to make it one of the leading political departments in the country.

His numerous and articles included the Britain at the Polls series in 1997, 2001 and 2005, the SDP: The Birth, Life and Death of the Social Democratic

Party, and the British Constitution and Who Governs Britain?

Prof King was also a well-known face on TV on election nights and offered insightful political views for more than 20 years.

University of Essex vice-chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: "Professor Anthony King was a giant of political science and one of the University of Essex's longest-serving members of staff.

"An inspirational teacher, a great political thinker and a brilliant writer, Professor King analysed politics in books and on television with incredible intelligence, insight and wit.

"Our thoughts are with his family and his friends, including his many, many former students."