Winchester Speakers Festival 2018

20th and 21st of October 2018

Winchester Discovery Centre

Saturday 20th October 2018

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Vicky Pryce

Why Women Need Quotas

Saturday 20th October 10.00 – 11.15


Vicky Pryce's motorbike-riding mother wanted to study physics at university, but her family told her it was impossible for a woman. She was determined that her daughter would have the opportunities she hadn't - and the young Vicky went on to forge a glittering career as an economist, with high-profile posts spanning business, academia and government. But despite her own success, Pryce is still frustrated by the obstacles littering the paths of women in the workplace.

We have an abysmal record on gender parity. Rwanda and Laos have more women in Parliament than Britain does. Massive pay gaps prevail across the professions. Senior positions are male-dominated in all walks of life - and not only at board level. Discrimination, a lack of role models and unconscious bias are all barriers to women climbing the career ladder - and that's even before counting the professional cost of starting a family.

This isn't just a question of equality for women: by failing to remove the barriers to female progression, we're starving the UK of the talent it needs to grow and prosper to its full potential. Ultimately, Pryce argues, there is only one solution: women need quotas.

Vicky Pryce is an economist and commentator. Following a number of positions in the banking and oil sectors, she worked as partner and chief economist at KPMG; was director general for economics at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; and was the joint head of the UK Government Economic Service. She is currently chief economic adviser at the Centre for Economic and Business Research.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Jonathan Fenby

Crucible: Twelve Months that Changed the World Forever

Saturday 20th October 11.45 - 13.00


One year shaped the world we know today. This is the story of the pivotal changes which were forged in the space of thirteen months between 1947-48  

Two years after the end of the second conflict to engulf the world in twenty years, and the defeat of the Axis powers under Germany, this momentous time saw the unrolling of the Cold War between Stalin's Soviet Russia and the West. America also came to play a truly global role for the first time.

The British Empire began its demise with the birth of the Indian and Pakistan republics with the flight of millions and wholesale slaughter. 1948 marked the creation of the state of Israel and the refugee flight of Palestinians and the first Arab-Israeli war. It also saw the victories of Communist armies and their final triumph in China as well as the coming of apartheid to South Africa and the division of Korea.
Jonathan Fenby is a former editor of the Observer and of the South China Morning Post. In 2013 he was awarded the Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur by the French government for his contribution towards understanding between Britain and France.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Kamal Ahmed

The Life and Times of a Very British Man

Saturday 20th October 13.30 – 14.45


Kamal Ahmed's childhood was very 'British' in every way - except for the fact that he was brown. Half English, half Sudanese, he was raised in 1970s London at a time when being mixed-race meant being told to go home, even when you were born just down the road.

The Life and Times of a Very British Man makes the case for a new conversation about race in Britain through personal stories, political analysis and passionate belief in the ultimate good of this country. Kamal recounts the extraordinary circumstances that led to his father, a proud Sudanese scientist, marrying his mother, a grammar-school educated white woman from Yorkshire, and the first person he met off the plane. It was a time when wearing a miniskirt was an act of social rebellion, when 'niggers' and 'coloureds' still formed part of the national lexicon and when Enoch Powell's infamous 'Rivers of Blood' speech cast a shadow over the childhood of a brown schoolboy in Ealing.

Heartfelt, witty and profound, this is a modern state-of-the-nation talk from a man who adopted the name Neil growing up (it was better than 'camel') and went on to occupy one of the most elite positions in the British establishment.


Kamal Ahmed is Economics Editor of the BBC and one of Britain's most respected journalists. He joined the BBC in April 2014 as Business Editor after a 21 year career in newspapers. He has also worked for the Guardian, the Observer and the Sunday and Daily Telegraph.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Anabel Inge

The Making of a Salafi Muslim Woman: Paths to Conversion

Saturday 20th October 15.15 – 16.30

Why would a young, educated British woman actively choose a life behind a ‘burqa’? Anabel Inge turns the spotlight on to the growing phenomenon of women converting to Salafism (or Wahhabism), a fundamentalist yet overwhelmingly non-violent version of Islam that is spreading fast. The author gained unprecedented access to Salafi women’s groups in the UK, where she conducted fieldwork for more than two years. Often converts or from less conservative Muslim backgrounds, these women are embracing Salafism’s strict regulations, including heavy veiling, wifely obedience and seclusion from non-related men. But they also face many personal dilemmas as they try to reconcile the difficult demands of their faith with life in a liberal, secular society.


Anabel Inge has taught courses on Islam and the Anthropology of Religion at SOAS (University of London) and King’s College London. 


A Q&A Session will follow.

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John Crace

I, Maybot: The Rise and Fall
Saturday 20th October 17.00 – 18.15

Throughout 2017/18 John Crace, the Guardian’s parliamentary sketch writer, has watched Theresa May’s efforts to remain strong and stable - and, indeed, Prime Minister. He coined the term 'Maybot' for her malfunctioning public appearances. And now, in this recollection of his unremittingly witty sketches, he tells the full story of Theresa May’s turbulent first year in No 10.

Examples of his catchphrases include: 'The Maybot is rebooted as strong and humble. Stumble for short.' 'Kim Jong-May awkward and incredulous as journalist asks question’. 'Supreme leader produces pure TV Valium on The One Show.'
As waspishly hilarious as Craig Brown's diaries in Private Eye, this talk is essential and hysterically funny for anyone trying to make sense of a political annus horribilis.

John Crace is the Guardian's parliamentary sketch writer and author of ‘I Never Promised You a Rose Garden’. He writes the Digested Read for G2.



A Q&A Session will follow.

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Professor Ali Ansari

Iran: A Very Short Introduction
Saturday 20th October 18.45 – 20.00

Iran has rarely been out of the headlines. Not least in 2018 with President Trump’s actions in May. Yet media interest and extensive coverage has tended to hinder rather than help our understanding of Iran as an idea, an identity, and a people, leading to a superficial understanding of what is a complex and nuanced political culture and civilization.

This Very Short Introduction presents a radical reinterpretation of Iranian history and politics, placing the Islamic Revolution in the context of a century of political change and social transformation. By considering the various factors that have contributed towards the construction of the idea of Iran and the complex identity of Iranians themselves, Ansari steers a clear path towards a more realistic understanding for us all.

Ali Ansari is professor of Iranian history and founding director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews, as well as senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and president of the British Institute of Persian Studies. He is the author of numerous books, including The Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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David Fraser

A Licence to Kill: Britain's Surrender to Violence
Saturday 20th October 20.30 – 21.45

Based on over 30 years of research of government sentencing policy and work in the criminal justice system, Fraser's talk demonstrates that the state's increased reliance on alternatives to imprisonment has allowed all types of violent crime to flourish in Britain. The homicide rate, for example, doubled between 1964 and the turn of the millennium. Justice officials have simply hidden this development with deceptive statistics.

Anti-prison groups and other apologists for offenders tell the public that violent offenders can be 'managed' in the community under supervision and that prison doesn't work because it makes offenders 'worse'.  The analysis presented here shows that none of this is true.

Listeners will be presented with evidence that criminals, under probation as an alternative to imprisonment, commit hundreds of murders and other serious crimes every year. Indeed, the government’s own figures, kept away from the public eye, makes it clear that long prison sentences are our best protection against violent (and other) crime,

David Fraser was a senior probation officer and criminal intelligence analyst with the former National Criminal Intelligence Service.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Sunday 21st October 2018

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Sarah Churchwell

Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream

Sunday 21st October 0915 - 10.30


​'The American dream is dead,' Donald Trump said when announcing his candidacy for president in 2015.  How would he revive it? By putting 'America First'. This talk is based on the book which was described by the Sunday Times as ‘enormously entertaining’ and by the Guardian as ‘enthralling’.

The 'American Dream' and 'America First' are two of the most loaded phrases in America today, and also two of the most misunderstood. The American Dream began as a pledge for equality rather than as a dream of supremacy and 'making it big'. America First has not just served as an isolationist term, but as an early slogan of the Ku Klux Klan with surprising links to the present. In 1927, a KKK riot led to the arrest of seven men - among them a certain Fred C. Trump.

Both phrases were born nearly a century ago and instantly tangled over capitalism, democracy and race, coming to embody opposing views in the battle to define the soul of the nation. Behold, America recounts the unknown history of these expressions using voices from Capitol Hill to the newsroom of the New York Times, from students to senators and from dreamers to dissenters. As America struggles again to project a shared vision, Churchwell argues that the meanings and history of these terms need to be understood afresh.

Sarah Churchwell is Professorial Fellow in American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of London. Her journalism has appeared in the Guardian, New Statesman, and FT. She also comments regularly on UK TV and radio on Question Time, Newsnight and The Review Show.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Gregory Claeys

Marx and Marxism

Sunday 21st October 11.00- 12.15


Why was Marx so successful as a thinker? Did he have a system and if so, what does it consist of? How did Marxism develop in the twentieth century and what does it mean today? He remains one of the most influential and controversial political thinkers in history. The movements associated with his name have lent hope to many victims of tyranny and aggression but have also proven disastrous in practice and resulted in the unnecessary deaths of millions. If, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, his reputation seemed utterly eclipsed, a new generation is reading and discovering Marx in the wake of the recurrent financial crises, growing social inequality and an increasing sense of the injustice and destructiveness of capitalism. Both his critique of capitalism and his vision of the future speak across the centuries to our times, even if the questions he poses are more difficult to answer than ever.

In this wide-ranging talk, Gregory Claeys, one of Britain's leading historians of socialism, considers Marx's ideas and their development through the Russian Revolution to the present, showing why Marx and Marxism still matter today.

Gregory Claeys is Professor of History at Royal Holloway, University of London, and a leading historian of socialism and utopianism. He is the author of several books, including Searching for Utopia, which has been acclaimed as 'magnificent' by the Times Higher Education. 


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Martin Bell

War and the Death of News: From Battlefield to Newsrooms – My Fifty Years in Journalism

Sunday 21st October 12.45 – 14.00


A smoke bomb went off. Then shots were fired from buildings overlooking the square… The camera had a BBC News sign on it. Someone cried out from the crowd: ‘You are the world, you are the world, you have to tell what they are doing to our people.’

From Vietnam to Iraq, Martin Bell has seen how war has changed over the last fifty years. It is neither fought nor reported the way it used to be. Truth is degraded in the name of balance and good taste and reports are delivered from the sidelines and social media. Rumours and unverifiable videos have ushered in a post-truth world.

As modern news increasingly seeks to entertain first and inform second, the man in the white suit provides a moving account of all he has witnessed throughout his career and issues an impassioned call to put the substance back into reporting. 


Martin Bell is both a former BBC war correspondent and a former MP. He is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

A Q&A Session will follow.

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Peter HItchens

The Phoney Victory - The World War Two Illusion

Sunday 21st October 14.30 – 15.45


Was World War II really the `Good War'? In the years since the declaration of peace in 1945 many myths have sprung up around the conflict in the victorious nations. In this talk, Peter Hitchens deconstructs the many fables which have become associated with the narrative of the `Good War'. Whilst not criticising or doubting the need for war against Nazi Germany at some stage, Hitchens does query whether September 1939 was the right moment, or the independence of Poland the right issue. He points out that in the summer of 1939 Britain and France were wholly unprepared for a major European war and that this quickly became apparent in the conflict that ensued. He also rejects the retroactive claim that Britain went to war in 1939 to save the Jewish population of Europe. On the contrary, the beginning and intensification of war made it easier for Germany to begin the policy of mass murder in secret as well as closing most escape routes. In this provocative, but deeply-researched talk, Hitchens questions the most common assumptions surrounding World War II, turning on its head the myth of Britain's role in a `Good War'.


Peter Hitchens is a journalist and commentator. He has a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday and is the author of several books, including The Abolition of Britain; The Cameron Delusion; The Rage Against God and The War We Never Fought.

A Q&A Session will follow.

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Philip Collins

Start Again

Sunday 21st October 16.15 – 17.30


This talk is a life-raft for all those who find themselves politically adrift and a rallying cry for a better kind of politics. Britain is divided today - class against class, region against region, nativist against cosmopolitan, old against young, rich against poor and London against the rest. Our country is divided by generation, by education, by place and by attitude. Politics needs to be turned off and started again. At a time when Britain is wrestling with the question of what sort of nation it wishes to be, our politics is stuck. Our archaic constitution is cracking. Power is hoarded by a distant and unresponsive centre and our two largest political parties have both been captured by those on their outer edges. A large tract of political ground lies unoccupied and too many of us have become politically homeless.


Collins offers a road map to a different political future. Tracing the fault lines in our current, fractured political landscape he proposes new answers to the urgent questions facing us today – questions of education, of work, of health, of housing, of security, of inequality, and above all of how we can achieve a better future.

Philip Collins is a columnist for The Times and an Associate Editor of Prospect magazine. He was Chief Speech Writer to Prime Minister Tony Blair in 10 Downing Street between 2004 and 2007 and has subsequently written keynote speeches for a range of senior politicians, leaders of charities and NGOs and Chief Executive Officers.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Louis de Bernieres

So Much Life Left Over

Sunday 21st October 18.00 - 19.15


This talk is based on a beautiful, heart-breaking novel centred on a couple’s troubled marriage as they navigate the unsettled time between the World Wars.   Rosie and Daniel have moved to Ceylon with their little daughter to start a new life at the dawn of the 1920s, attempting to put the trauma of the First World War behind them, and to rekindle a marriage that gets colder every day.  However, even in the lush plantation hills it is hard for them to escape the ties of home and the yearning for fulfilment that threatens their marriage.   Back in England, Rosie's three sisters are dealing with different challenges in their searches for family, purpose and happiness. These are precarious times, and they find themselves taking unconventional means to achieve their desires. Around them the world is changing, and when Daniel finds himself in Germany he witnesses events taking a dark and forbidding turn.  By turns humorous and tragic, gripping and touching, So Much Life Left Over follows a cast of unique and captivating characters as they navigate the extraordinary interwar years both in England and abroad.


Louis de Bernières is the best-selling author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Best Book in 1995. His most recent novels are Birds Without Wings and A Partisan's Daughter and a collection of stories Notwithstanding.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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Angela Eagle and Imran Ahmed

The New Serfdom
Sunday 21st October 19.45 – 21.00

Great Britain is one of the wealthiest, most successful nations in the world. Why, then, do so many people feel short-changed?

The old assumption that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get on in life looks increasingly like a cruel joke. Homeownership, secure employment and fair wages seem like relics of a bygone era. Meanwhile exploitative workplace practices have created a new serfdom, leaving many people trapped in unfulfilling, underpaid work.
At a time of huge political upheaval and ever-increasing inequality, this powerful talk asks: how can we build a successful economy, powered by a happy and productive workforce that benefits everyone in the twenty-first century?

Angela Eagle MP has been the Labour MP for Wallasey since 1992 and has served as a minister, including in the Treasury, as shadow minister and as chair of Labour s NEC and National Policy Forum.

Imran Ahmed has worked as a political advisor to senior Labour politicians from across Labour’s political spectrum for eight years, including in three elections and two referendums.


A Q&A Session will follow.

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