Through the distorted lens of the media, often we cannot see that a great many politicians are genuinely trying to change the world for the better. The Book Festival is a place where politicians and audiences can share ideas about how to improve society, the economy and culture. This year brings together elected representatives from across the spectrum – individuals who are fighting for rights, interrogating our democratic systems and asking how and why a change is going to come. Plenty of other writers in the programme are crying out for change too and writing about the issues close to their hearts.
Mark Muller Stuart
WAR-WAR, NOT JAW-JAW
Saturday 11 August 11:00 - 12:00
When diplomacy fails and politicians turn to military action, how close do news headlines take us to the truth? Human rights lawyer and UN advisor Mark Muller Stuart gives an insider’s account in Storm in the Desert, shining a dazzling light on Britain’s intervention in Libya and the Arab Spring. Here, he explains to Ruth Wishart that a desire for civil society can be more powerful than government intervention.
PHOTOJOURNALISM FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
Sunday 12 August 18:45 - 19:45
The Hard Truths exhibition showcases 60 deeply personal and revealing images, each capturing social and political upheaval from across the world, including Venezuela, Iraq, Syria, the Philippines, Cuba and Iran. Join our panel of acclaimed journalists and photographers to examine how in this era of fake news, digital manipulation and image saturation, can the picture still tell the true story. In association with Beyond Borders Scotland
HOW RUSSIA HELPED TRUMP WIN THE WHITE HOUSE
Sunday 12 August 19:15 - 20:15
Luke Harding, the Guardian's Moscow bureau chief until he was expelled by the Kremlin in 2011, has kept on digging up more detail on how Russia is shaping the world. Collusion describes one of the most gripping political scandals of our time; an astonishing story of dirty money, sketchy property deals, a Miss Universe Pageant, money laundering, hacking and Kremlin espionage.
FIRST AMONG EQUALS
Wednesday 15 August 13:30 - 14:30
‘One of the most formidable chancellors that Britain has ever seen’, said one political journalist about Gordon Brown, the man who succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister in 2007. But how does he feel about his years in the top job? In My Life, Our Times, the influential Scot offers his own, painfully honest account of the highs and lows of an unforgettable political career.
STACKING UP THE GREAT ECONOMISTS
Wednesday 15 August 14:00 - 15:00
You may have seen Linda Yueh talking economics on BBC World News and she’s here to tackle the great thinkers of the past and link their ideas to solving the financial problems of today. Yueh’s writing and broadcasting skills come to the fore as she considers what Marx’s theories have to say about the modern Chinese economy and how Keynes’s methods could be applied to Brexit.
HOW MODERN ECONOMICS WORKS
Wednesday 15 August 20:30 - 21:30
Tipped as a potential future Tory leader and an advocate of ‘compassionate Conservatism’, Jesse Norman is here to talk all matters Adam Smith. Could the theories of the ‘father of modern economics’ still work today as the battle for the centre ground becomes more vital in British politics? Norman shares his thoughts with former MSP Andrew Wilson.
DISSECTING GERRY ADAMS
Thursday 16 August 12:15 - 13:15
Gerry Adams will forever remain one of the most divisive figures in modern British and Irish politics. Malachi O’Doherty’s experiences covering Ireland as a journalist and growing up in Belfast during the Troubles leave him well-placed to analyse the character and legacy of the man who transformed from a revolutionary street activist to a mover and shaker with Prime Ministers and Presidents.
A LIFE OF LABOUR
Thursday 16 August 17:00 - 18:00
Roy Hattersley first stood for Parliament in 1959. Since then, he has been at or near to the centre of politics – and has also found time to write twenty-five books. Today, he talks to Alan Little about his years in government and opposition, the Labour Party (past and present) and the books he has written and still hopes to write.
Yascha Mounk & David Runciman
CAN DEMOCRACY BE SAVED?
Friday 17 August 14:00 - 15:00
Did the fall of communism represent the ultimate victory for democracy? Recent events might indicate that liberal democracy is in fact now under serious threat, and today two writers look at why. Yascha Mounk’s book The People vs Democracy analyses whether, and how, it can be saved, while David Runciman’s How Democracy Ends identifies the signs of a collapsing system and considers what can come next. Chaired by Andrew Franklin.
Lewis Goodall & Isabel Hardman
WHO WANTS TO BE A POLITICIAN?
Friday 17 August 15:45 - 16:45
If Brexit is the effect, what are the underlying causes of Britain’s political upheaval? One side of the story is told by Sky News political correspondent Lewis Goodall as he charts the demise of New Labour in Left for Dead? Meanwhile in Isabel Hardman’s Why We Get the Wrong Politicians, the assistant editor of the Spectator argues that our political system dissuades large parts of society from taking part. Chaired by Ruth Wishart.
THE REMARKABLE RISE OF JEREMY CORBYN
Monday 20 August 11:45 - 12:45
In the 1980s, before his election as a Labour MP, Chris Mullin wrote a novel foretelling the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. A Very British Coup imagined a very left-leaning Labour Prime Minister and how the establishment sought to undermine him. In this context, Mullin talks today about Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpected ascent, as well as his own political career, described in his memoir Hinterland. Chaired by Ruth Wishart.
ORWELL: TRUTH AND LIES
Wednesday 22 August 17:00 - 18:00
'The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.' George Orwell’s writings on truth and lies have been gathered together in Orwell on Truth, a new collection of essays written over 70 years ago but still utterly relevant today. Labour politician and former Home Secretary Alan Johnson talks to Allan Little about Orwell and what he'd have made of fake news.
CHRONICLE OF THE BREXIT ERA
Wednesday 22 August 18:30 - 19:30
Having steered the New Statesman to an impressively high circulation, Jason Cowley looks back on a cornucopia of headline interviews in Reaching for Utopia. These essays, profiles and reportage from the last decade in British politics take in everything from the departure of Tony Blair to the arrival of Brexit in interviews and journalism shot through with a rare verve and authority. Join him for a race through a defining decade in British history. Chaired by Sarfraz Manzoor.
ELIMINATING GENDER INEQUALITY
Wednesday 22 August 18:45 - 19:45
As deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats and a former Government minister, Jo Swinson has seen all too clearly how power can be concentrated in the hands of men right across the business, cultural and political spectrum. Equal Power is the East Dunbartonshire MP’s call to arms; a practical and optimistic guide to what we can all do to make society truly gender equal, and she shares her ideas today.
Thursday 23 August 18:45 - 19:45
The people have spoken and they don’t like the way the West is run. In the EU referendum, and the American, British and French elections, millions made it known that they were sick to death of things never getting better. In WTF Robert Peston gives a highly personal account of what our rulers have got so badly wrong, and what we need to do to mend our fractured society. Chaired by Ruth Wishart.
Oliver Bullough & Dharshini David
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Sunday 26 August 12:30 - 13:30
Money definitely makes some parts of the world go round. In Moneyland, investigative journalist Oliver Bullough glues together the Panama Papers, Trumpism and inequality to expose the super-rich. Economist and broadcaster Dharshini David followed the money for The Almighty Dollar, finding that globalisation would buckle without the vast reserves of the stuff circulating, even aside from the enormous numbers of dollars kept in vaults by some countries. Chaired by Phil Harding.
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