UK festival set for big name bust-ups
publication date: 19 September 2006
With nearly 200 heavyweight speakers from the world of politics, business, media and academia, the Battle of Ideas festival promises more trenchant debate than Westminster has seen in years.
Notable names gearing up to argue their case to hundreds of eager participants include David Aaronovitch, Marcel Berlins, George Brock, Wendy Cope, Henry Porter, India Knight, Minette Marrin, Sir Bernard Crick, Mark Easton, Eliot Forster, Claire Fox, Sir Christopher Frayling, Professor Frank Furedi, Professor Conor Gearty, Philip K. Howard, Brian Iddon MP, Kenan Malik, Munira Mirza, Professor Avner Offer, Sara Parkin, Dr Raj Persaud, Philippe Sands QC, John Ralston Saul, Peter Tatchell, Zoe Williams, Professor John Sutherland and Raymond Snoddy.
Dumbing-down and shutting-up is not an option as the media’s reporting on just about everything faces accusations of playing to the lowest-common denominator in the Battle for the Media debates. In a keynote debate, the ‘clash of civilisations’ will be brought home and juxtaposed with the West’s own cultural crisis.
And environmentalists will face stiff opposition from Cheapflights.co.uk boss David Soskin who recently labelled greens ‘ignorant’, ‘reprehensible’ ‘snobs’ who ‘don’t like the fact that [a certain quality] of holiday is now affordable for millions of people whom they find it difficult to relate to’.
Elsewhere today’s therapy culture will be interrogated on issues ranging from child protection hysteria to society’s new obsession with euthanasia, from the punishment of criminals to the economics of happiness.
UK and US human and civil rights campaigners Wendy Kaminer and Michael Mansfield QC are controversially set to question whether human rights legislation actually distracts from the true exercise of democratic self-government, while freedom in academia and the arts comes up against the government’s insistence to stop being irrelevant and do something ‘useful’.
Even Bob Geldof comes in for criticism: ‘You are not our messiah. We don’t need you’ asserts Ghanaian filmmaker DeRoy Kwesi Andrew, who is showcasing his film Damned by Debt Relief and who has invited Sir Bob to ‘come and live in a mud hut and do my mother’s farming’.
With the range of opinion and ideas at the festival escaping the narrow confines of party-politics, a genuine ‘battle’ is guaranteed. As is the right to free speech. The right to not be offended, however, is not.
Notes to editors
- The Battle of Ideas takes place on 28-29 October 2006 at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7.
- David Soskin is quoted in spiked-online Battle of Ideas interview ‘Cheap flights should be a cause of national rejoicing’. www,spiked-online.com
- DeRoy Kwesi Andrew is quoted in spiked-online ‘Battle of Ideas’ interview ‘Bob Geldof, you are not our messiah’. www,spiked-online.com
- For further information or a press pass, please contact the Battle of Ideas press officer Shirley Dent (0207 269 9229) or assistant press officer Alex Hochuli (0207 269 9225)