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Lewes Speakers Festival 2022
22nd and 23rd of January 2022
At The All Saints Centre, Lewes

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Norman Baker

…And What Do You Do?: What The Royal Family Don't Want You To Know

Saturday 22nd January 11.20 – 12.30


The royal family is the original Coronation Street  - a long-running soap opera with the occasional real coronation thrown in. Its members have become celebrities, like upmarket versions of film stars and footballers. But they have also become a byword for arrogance, entitlement, hypocrisy and indifference to the gigantic amount of public money wasted by them.

The monarchy itself is an important part of our constitution with considerable influence on the kind of nation we are. Yet you will struggle to find much in the way of proper journalism that examines the monarchy in the way that their position and influence merit. Instead, we are fed a constant diet of sickeningly obsequious coverage which reports their activities with breathless and uncritical awe.

In this talk, former government minister Norman Baker argues that the British public deserves better than this puerile diet. He also considers the wider role the royals play in society, including the link with House of Lords reform, and the constitutional position of the monarch, which is important given Prince Charles's present and intended approach.

Norman Baker was the Lib Dem MP for Lewes from 1997 to 2015 and established a reputation as one of the most dogged and persistent parliamentary interrogators the modern House of Commons has known. Following the 2010 general election, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, then Minister of State for Crime Prevention at the Home Office. He is also a member of the Privy Council, the body that officially advises the monarch.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Simon Heffer

Staring at God: Britain in the Great War'

Saturday 22nd January 12.50 - 14.00


This talk, which is based on the book which Andrew Roberts labelled ‘brilliant’, describes ‘The Great War’ which evokes images of barbed wire and mud-filled trenches, and of the carnage of the Somme and Passchendaele, but it also involved change on the home front on an almost revolutionary scale. Heffer explores how Britain was drawn into this slaughter, and was then transformed to fight a war in which, at times, its very future seemed in question.

After a vivid account of the fraught conversations between Whitehall and Britain’s embassies across Europe as disaster loomed in July 1914, Heffer explains why a government so desperate to avoid conflict found itself championing it. He describes the high politics and low skulduggery that saw the principled but passive Asquith replaced as prime minister by the unscrupulous but energetic Lloyd George; and he unpicks the arguments between politicians and Generals about how to prosecute the war, which raged until the final offensive. He looks at the impact of four years of struggle on everyday life as people sought to cope with: dwindling stocks of food and essential supplies; conscription into the Army; air-raids and bereavement; and, in Ireland, with the political upheaval that followed the Easter Rising. And he shows how, in the spring of 1918, political obstinacy and incompetence saw all this sacrifice almost thrown away.


Professor Simon Heffer is an English historian, journalist, author and political commentator. He has held senior editorial positions on The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator and was appointed professorial research fellow at the University of Buckingham in 2017.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Lord Christopher Tugendhat And Asa Benne

Lord Christopher Tugendhat

A History of Britain Through Books: 1900 - 1964 

Saturday 22nd January 14.20 – 15.30


Former journalist, businessman and European commissioner Lord Tugendhat talks about his unique take on the history of Britain in the first half of the last century told through the books that were written.


Tugendhat explains how literature both shaped and reflected public concerns over the decades. He includes titles by writers such as Doris Lessing, Margaret Bondfield, CP Snow, Ernst Gombrich, Noel Coward, Evelyn Waugh, Robert Tressall, Elizabeth David and George Orwell, shining new light on both world wars, the end of empire, social change, the nuclear age, feminism, gay rights, race and immigration.

Lord Tugendhat is a Conservative member of the House of Lords. In a distinguished career in business and government he was a European commissioner between 1977 and 1985 (where he survived a personal IRA assassination attempt); and chairman of: Abbey National; Blue Circle Industries; and of the Civil Aviation Authority. He was also Chancellor of the University of Bath, and a Financial Times journalist for 10 years.


A Q & A Session will follow.

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Polly Toynbee and  David Walker

The Lost Decade: 2010–2020, and What Lies Ahead for Britain

Saturday 22nd January 15.50 – 17.00


The ten years from 2010 have been devastating. A decade of austerity and paralysis nurtured contempt for leaders, institutions and fellow citizens and fertilised the ground for a rebellious Brexit. It has been a decade characterised by national tragedies from Grenfell to Windrush, and food banks to the property crisis.

But, as Adam Smith said, ‘there’s a great deal of ruin in a nation’. No truthful portrait of an era can be monochrome. Bright spots included the rise of renewable energy, lower crime rates, legalisation of same-sex marriage and the creative industries continuing to punch well above their weight in spite of cuts.

In this talk, Polly Toynbee and David Walker offer the definitive survey of this most tumultuous of periods in British history and look to what lies ahead for us. This is the anatomy of a dark decade, bringing hope for better to come.


Polly Toynbee has been a star columnist for the Guardian since 1998. David Walker is a contributing editor to the Guardian Public and former director of public reporting at the Audit Commission.


A Q & A Session will follow.

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Professor Sir David Omand GCB

How Spies Think: Ten Lessons in Intelligence

Saturday 22nd January 17.20 – 18.30

From the former director of GCHQ, Professor Sir David Omand, learn the methodology used by British intelligence agencies to reach judgements, establish the right level of confidence and act decisively. Full of revealing examples from a storied career, including key briefings with Prime Ministers and strategies used in conflicts from the Cold War to the present, in this talk Professor Omand arms us with the tools to sort fact from fiction, and shows us how to use real intelligence every day.

Sir David Omand was the first UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator, responsible to the Prime Minister for the professional health of the intelligence community, national counter-terrorism strategy and “homeland security”. He served for seven years on the Joint Intelligence Committee. He was Permanent Secretary of the Home Office from 1997 to 2000, and before that Director of GCHQ. Previously, in the Ministry of Defence as Deputy Under Secretary of State for Policy, he was particularly concerned with long term strategy, with the British military contribution in restoring peace in the former Yugoslavia and the recasting of British nuclear deterrence policy at the end of the Cold War. He was Principal Private Secretary to the Defence Secretary during the Falklands conflict and served for three years in NATO Brussels as the UK Defence Counsellor.


A Q & A Session will follow.

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Rachel Reeves MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 

Women of Westminster: The MPs who Changed Politics

Saturday 22nd January 18.50 – 20.00


In 1919 Nancy Astor was elected as the Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton, becoming the first woman MP to take her seat in the House of Commons. Her achievement was all the more remarkable given that women (and even then only some women) had only been entitled to vote for just over a year. 

In the past 100 years, a total of 489 women have been elected to Parliament. Yet it was not until 2015 that the total number of women ever elected surpassed the number of male MPs in a single parliament. The achievements of these political pioneers have been remarkable - Britain has now had two female Prime Ministers, and women MPs have made significant strides in fighting for gender equality, from the earliest suffrage campaigns to Barbara Castle's fight for equal pay to Harriet Harman's recent legislation on the gender pay gap. Yet the stories of so many women MPs have too often been overlooked in political histories. 

In this talk Rachel Reeves brings many forgotten MPs out of the shadows and looks at the many battles fought by the women of Westminster, from 1919 to 2019.


Rachel Reeves is the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and has served as Member of Parliament for Leeds West since 2010.  She has previously served as Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office; Chair of the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee and as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. 

Before entering Parliament, she worked as an economist for HBOS and for the Bank of England


A Q & A Session will follow.

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Marina Chapman

Marina Chapman, who as a very small girl of 5 years old spent around 5 years living alone with Capuchin monkeys in Colombia, tells her extraordinary story.

Saturday 22nd January 20.20 – 21.30


In 1954, in a remote South American village, a four-year-old girl was abducted and then abandoned deep in the Colombian rainforest. So begins the incredible true story of Marina Chapman, who went on to spend several years alone in the jungle, her only family a troop of capuchin monkeys. Using instinct to guide her, she copied everything they did and soon learned to fend for herself.

At around 10 years old, a completely feral Marina was returned to civilisation by hunters, who sold her as a slave to a brothel. Beaten daily and groomed to be a prostitute, she escaped - to live the perilous existence of a Colombian city street kid. Marina's life as a wild child wasn't over. In some ways, it had only just begun.

This is her astonishing story.


A Q & A Session will follow.

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Sunday 23rd January 2022

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The Age-Well Plan: The 6-Week Programme to Kick-start a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life

Susan Saunders

Sunday 23rd January 9.50 - 11.00


Diseases of older age take root decades before symptoms appear. For a longer, happier life, we need to plan ahead - but what exactly should we do? For almost a decade, Susan Saunders has immersed herself in the latest science of longevity, radically overhauling her life and documenting her findings on the popular blog she co-authors.


In The Age-Well Plan, Susan draws on her extensive research and her experience as a health coach to give you the tools you need to live your own age-well life. She shows you how to make the changes – small and large – that support healthy ageing, including: how, when and what to eat; when, where and how to exercise; the most useful medical tests; how to avoid health-threatening chemicals; the best methods for keeping the brain sharp; and how to sleep better.

This talk gives essential tips for making the second half of your life happy, healthy and disease-free.


Susan Saunders is a health coach, writer and TV producer. Through one-to-one coaching, workshops and classes, she helps people across the world age well. Susan has been featured in The Guardian, Observer, Daily Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, Prima, The Big Issue and Woman & Home, amongst many others. 

A Q&A Session will follow.

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Lord David Howell

Look Where We’re Going
Sunday 23rd January  11.20 - 12.30


This talk is a fresh look at the ideas, hopes, lessons and largely unintended consequences of successive generations of political leaders; it shows us how to Look Where We’re Going.
Based on deep personal experience – the speaker is one of the few left who served in Margaret Thatcher’s first Cabinet of just over forty years ago – Howell gives us a new picture of the dramas deep inside government and how yesterday’s clashes of ideology and personality have led to today’s unanticipated turmoil. Old assumptions are torn apart and accepted versions of what occurred are unraveled.

Howell shows how technology has made much of our conventional political vocabulary obsolete, how we now need quite different types of leadership serving new priorities and how, while we wrestle with the issues just before our eyes, much bigger forces are at work which are re-shaping our lives and our future.


Lord Howell of Guildford acted as policy adviser to Edward Heath in the 1960s and in the late 1970s he became head of Margaret Thatcher's speech-writing team. He served as Minister of State in Northern Ireland, under William Whitelaw, from 1972 to 1974, at the height of the troubles, before going on to serve as Secretary of State for Energy & Secretary of State for Transport in the first Thatcher Cabinet.  In 2010 he was enrolled as Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office with special responsibilities for the Commonwealth and for international energy issues. He is currently chairman of the newly set-up House of Lords Committee for International Relations.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Stanley Johnson
From an Antique Land

Sunday 23rd January 12.50 - 14.00


Life in Washington DC is getting back to normal after the trauma of September 11, 2001 (9/11). George W. Bush is President and Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and now Senator for New York, already has her eye on higher things. One morning Su Soeung, who first came to the US as a child refugee from Cambodia and the horrors of Pol Pot, receives a job offer from SAVE, an international charity specializing in relief work in Cambodia. This is the beginning of an extraordinary train of events. Su's efforts to discover the fate of her father, Hong Soeung, who 'disappeared' during Cambodia's Pol Pot nightmare, seem to be inextricably intertwined with politics at the highest level. Just how much did the US know about Pol Pot and his band of 'brothers'? What deals were done between Washington and Beijing?  And, in the end, was Su Soeung just a puppet of forces beyond her control? 


Stanley Johnson, 81, is a former MEP, environmental campaigner and author of 25 books, including 12 non-fiction works on environmental topics. He has appeared on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Celebrity Mastermind and The Real Marigold Hotel. He is also the father of several children in the public eye, including the present Prime Minister.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Robin Ince

The Importance of Being Interested: Adventures in Scientific Curiosity
Sunday 23rd January 14.20 – 15.30

Comedian Robin Ince quickly abandoned science at school, bored by a fog of dull lessons and intimidated by the barrage of equations. But, 20 years later, he fell in love and he now presents one of the world's most popular science podcasts. Every year, he meets hundreds of the world's greatest thinkers.

In this erudite and witty talk, Robin reveals why scientific wonder isn't just for the professionals. Based on interviews featuring astronauts, comedians, teachers, quantum physicists, neuroscientists and more - as well as charting Robin's own journey with science, this talk explores why many wrongly think of the discipline as distant and difficult. From the glorious appeal of the stars above to why scientific curiosity can encourage much needed intellectual humility, this optimistic and profound talk will leave you filled with a thirst for intellectual adventure.


Robin Ince is co-presenter of the award-winning BBC Radio 4 show, The Infinite Monkey Cage. He has won the Time Out Outstanding Achievement in Comedy, was nominated for a British Comedy Award for Best Live show and has won three Chortle Awards. He has toured his stand- up across the world both solo and with his radio double act partner, Professor Brian Cox. He is the radio critic for the Big Issue and writes a monthly column about science for Focus Magazine. He has two top-ten iTunes podcast series to his name.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Vince Cable

Money and Power: The World Leaders Who Changed Economics

Sunday 23rd January 15.50 – 17.00


Through economics, our politicians have the power to transform people's lives for better or worse. Think Deng Xiaoping who lifted millions out of poverty by opening up China; Franklin D Roosevelt whose 'New Deal' helped the USA break free of the Great Depression. Or Peron and his successors in Argentina who brought the country to the brink of ruin.

In this magisterial history, economist and politician Vince Cable examines the legacy of 16 world leaders who transformed their countries' economic fortunes and who also challenged economic convention. From Thatcher to Trump, from Lenin to Bismarck, this talk provides a whole new perspective on the science of government. Examining the fascinating interplay of economics and politics, this is a compelling journey through some of the most significant people and events of the last 300 years.

Vince Cable is the former Liberal Democrat leader 2017-2019. He was also Secretary of State for Business, Innovation, and Skills 2010-2015. Some of his achievements include the world’s first ever Green Investment Bank, support for young people through apprenticeships and the promotion of socially responsible capitalism.

A Q&A Session will follow.

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Steve Richards

The Prime Ministers: Reflections on Leadership from Wilson to May

Sunday 23rd January 17.20 - 18.30


At a time of unprecedented political upheaval, this magisterial history explains who leads us and why. From Harold Wilson to Theresa May, it brilliantly brings to life all nine inhabitants of 10 Downing Street over the past fifty years, vividly outlining their successes and failures - and what made each of them special. Based on unprecedented access and in-depth interviews, and inspired by the author's BBC Radio 4 and television series, Steve Richards expertly examines the men and women who have defined the UK's role in the modern world and sheds new light on the demands of the highest public office in the land.


Steve Richards is a political columnist, journalist, and presenter. He regularly presents The Week in Westminster on BBC Radio 4 and has presented BBC radio series on Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Dan Cruickshank

Cruickshank’s London

Sunday 23rd January 18.50 – 20.00


In this talk, Britain's favourite architectural historian draws on his perennial fascination with London and describes some walks through one of the greatest cities on earth commenting on its architectural history. From the mysterious Anglo-Saxon origins of Hampstead Heath, via Christopher Wren's magisterial City churches, to the industrial bustle of Victorian Bermondsey, each walk explores a crucial moment in our history - and reveals how it helped forge the modern city. He looks, with particular interest, at Chelsea and Soho and peppers the talk with vivid photographs, sketches and maps. 


Dan Cruickshank is an architectural historian and television presenter.. His recent work includes the BBC television programmes Civilisation Under Attack (2015) and At Home with the British (2016), and the books A History of Architecture in 100 Buildings (2015) and Spitalfields (2016). He lives in London.


A Q&A Session will follow.

Click Here to purchase tickets