Political party

So, you think politics is dead boring? Caroline Pretty says there’s something for everyone at Edinburgh’s inaugural FESTIVAL OF POLITICS.

t was back in 196‘) that Karl lless warned of the

“death of politics‘. That his article appeared in

Playboy. rather than some learned sociological journal. did not detract from its striking and influential claim. It‘s one that has been oft—repeated in recent years. as turn-outs at the ballot box tumble and the main parties try to claim ideological distinction while scrapping over an ever diminishing area of middle ground.

But looking around the various lidinburgh festivals this year. it seems that if politics was on its last legs. then something or someone has given the ailing beast a sharp dose of (‘PR in the nick of time. We can speculate about what its salvation might have been the ‘War on Terror‘. the excessive inequities of global capitalism. mounting concerns about global warming and environmental degradation. third world poverty but the fact remains that politics is everywhere.

So while just 61% of voters bothered to exercise their franchise at the last general election. the recent resurgence of political comedy. theatre. art and debate is testament to the public's revived interest in politics.

Now a dedicated Festival of Politics has been organised by the Scottish Parliament. Billed as ‘the Edinburgh festival where politics meets the people‘. it will be held at Holyrood from 24—26 August. The packed programme includes more than 20 events bringing together politics. media and the arts. The festival will explore issues as diverse as human rights and gender inequality. political journalism and land reform. Notable speakers include Oscar-winning actress and UNICEF ambassador Vanessa Redgrave. distinguished politicians Neil Kinnock and Shirley


Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the polticians

Williams. and the BB("s political editor Andrew Marr.

Baroness Williams. who will be taking part in a debate on the changing face of British politics on Wednesday 24 August. alongside Scottish (‘onservative chairman Peter Duncan and former Scottish Nationalist MliP Neil MacCormick. particularly welcomed the inclusive ethos of the liestival.

'Politics seems to have become rather stodgy and you need new ideas coming in from a whole range of people‘. she says. ‘I have always thought that Scotland was very good at pioneering new approaches to the participation of people in democracy and the Festival of Politics is a continuation of that tradition of accessibility and dialogue.‘

'l‘here is a strong musical strand running through the festival. including performances from Alistair llulett of (ilasgow's (‘entre for Political Song. and Rise Kagona of African music band. the Bhundu Boys. The festival will also host the first play to be staged in the Parliament‘s debating chamber. Iintitled ()(lrl Times at lidin/nug/i. the play is a one-woman show about the Jacobite Lady Nairne. written and performed by acclaimed Scottish writer. singer and broadcaster Dr Anne Lorne (iillies.

In keeping with the access for all theme. for those who are unable to make it along in person. there will be live. streamed coverage of events in the main chamber online at

‘Revolution is a trivial shift in the emphasis of suffering’ - Tom Stoppard

Neil Kinnock

Famous ginger. ex-Ieader of the Labour Party. and a European Commissioner. Kinnock now represents the UK worldwide as British Council Chair and comes to tell presiding officer George Reid all about it. Wed 24 Aug,

7 lam—72pm, £5 (£3).

The Changing Face of British Democracy Thatcherism, the birth of Liberal Democrats, the rise of new labour. devolution and Europe are all on the agenda for a discussion with chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Peter Duncan, former Nationalist MEP Neil MacCormick and Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Shirley Williams. Wed 24 Aug, 3—4pm. £35 (£33).

=~.‘< Reporting Democracy The BBC’s lovely Andrew Marr chats to film producer and chair of Hansard Society’s Commission on Parliament in the Public Eye David Puttnam about how democracy is reported inside and out. Thu 25 Aug, 7—2pm, £5 (£3).

>E< Vanessa Redgrave

The Oscar winner and UNICEF ambassador Vanessa Redgrave presents her view that without human rights there is no democracy and discusses how her professional life connects with her political principles. She will do this while being effortlessly beautiful at all times. Fri 26 Aug, 7 lam—12pm, £5 (£3).

Most of the events in the Festival are free, with tickets available at the Parliament on the day. Payment is required for just nine of the 22 events, with tickets priced at £5 (£3). For advance tickets call the Hub on 0131 473 2000 or go to