Leighton has written for an extensive range of publications in both print and digital format, including the Guardian, the Irish TimesNew Statesman, Times Higher Education Supplement, the Western Mail, the New EuropeanAgenda, ClickonWales, Open Democracy, The Conversation, Nation.Cymru and many others.

He has written several peer-reviewed academic articles: on broadcasting policy in Media, Culture and Society, Cyfrwng and in The Public Affairs Handbook; on political communication in the European Journal of Marketing and the Journal of Public Affairs, on the regulation of Algorithms, Big Data and Big Tech in Public Administration, the International Communications Gazette and in a chapter in a new book from OUP , and on Ministerial ethics and the Nolan standards in Political Quarterly. He has also published two academic articles on life as a minister. A full list of his academic papers and articles can be found on Researchgate.

He has written on devolution and identity for books including The Blair Agenda, Gordon Brown: the Bard of Britishness and Welsh Politics comes of Age: Responses to the Richard Commission and The Road to the National Assembly for Wales. 

He has lectured widely on a range of subjects from public service reform to education and the media and political communication. He is Module Leader for two postgraduate modules at Cardiff University.

Leighton is the author of three books so far:

Fb book

Facebook, the Media and Democracy examines Facebook Inc. and the impact that it has had and continues to have on media and democracy around the world. Drawing on interviews with Facebook users of different kinds and dialogue with politicians, regulators, civil society and media commentators, as well as detailed documentary scrutiny of legislative and regulatory proposals and Facebook’s corporate statements, the book presents a comprehensive but clear overview of the current debate around Facebook and the global debate on the regulation of social media in the era of ‘surveillance capitalism.’

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Ministering to Education is the first book written by a former Welsh Government Minister on their experience in office. You can read more here. Leighton’s blog about some of the background to the book can be found here.

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Leighton has been actively involved in the Welsh devolution project since returning to Wales to live in 1996. He co-founded the all-party Yes for Wales campaign in 1996, and convened the steering committee for the Yes campaign in the 2011 referendum. Wales Says Yes is his account of the 1997 referendum campaign.