Explore the building blocks of democracy at Festival of Politics

The Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable will talk about his political life at the Festival of Politics at the Scottish Parliament in August.
The Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable will talk about his political life at the Festival of Politics at the Scottish Parliament in August.

The building blocks of democracy will be the focus of this year’s Festival of Politics as political statesmen, big thinkers, Borgen and even Lego come together at Holyrood this August.

From dissecting the concept of democracy, to getting the inside track from elder statesmen such as the Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable and Chris Mullin, the festival will look at all aspects of politics, both national and international.

Taking place from Thursday, August 18, to Saturday, August 20, this year’s festival will, for the first time, also host a family day where kids both young and old can let their imaginations run free helping build a giant vertical map of Scotland made entirely from Lego.

Announcing the 2016 programme, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP said: “This year’s festival programme is bursting with big and thoughtful sessions covering everything from the art of political speech writing and the current campaign for the White House, to the implications of artificial intelligence.

“For the first time we also have a series of family events too, so there really is something for everyone at this year’s Festival of Politics.

“No other festival has Vince Cable, Borgen and Lego all under one roof!”

Events include:

Thursday, August 18

Debating Chamber – The Future of Scottish Sport. After the high of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, and the promises to raise the bar and embed sport in the lives of all Scottish people, are we on track to achieve gold in the effort and outcome race? Panellists include Louise Martin, former president of the Commonwealth Games Federation; Eve Muirhead, 2014 Olympic medallist and 2013 World Champion curler; and Jason White, former Scotland rugby captain and British and Irish Lion. Chaired by Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh.

Members’ Room – Borgen v the Rest of the World. Who knew Danish coalition politics could be so compelling? Borgen is the ultimate political TV drama with millions of fans worldwide, including Hillary Clinton and former French presidents. Join Borgen producer Camilla Hammerich and Borgen writer Jeppe Gjervig Gram to discover the secrets of this Danish phenomenon.

Members’ Room – Borgen (15). There will be a free screening of the first episode of Borgen introduced by series producer Camilla Hammerich.

Friday, August 19

Debating Chamber – The 21st century mind: problems and possibilities. Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE is an internationally recognised research scientist, author and broadcaster, whose latest book Mind Change explores how digital technologies leave their mark on our brains. This lecture will discuss both the transformative effects of new technologies upon the human brain, our minds and, in particular, the unprecedented changes that could occur in the young developing brain. Baroness Greenfield will also discuss what she calls “one of the biggest problems of our time” – Alzheimer’s disease. She will talk about the research that may one day lead to detection and a therapy that will stop degeneration in the future.

Debating Chamber – Chris Mullin in Conversation. Author, journalist and former Labour minister Chris Mullin discusses his new book, a memoir entitled Hinterland. He is the author of three widely acclaimed volumes of diaries and the novel A Very British Coup, the television version of which won several BAFTAs and an Emmy. His investigation into the Birmingham pub bombings has been described by the Independent on Sunday as “one of the greatest feats ever achieved by an investigative reporter”. Chaired by Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP.

Saturday, August 20

Debating Chamber – Who Will Win America? As the US election heats up to sizzling point and the nominees for both Democratic and Republican parties having been decided by mid-August, it is time to analyse the respective campaigns and place all bets on the likely outcome of the next President of the United States of America. Helping do that will be Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP and panellists Jason Boxt, US pollster and communications and political strategist; Robert Moran, US pollster and political strategist; Barton Swaim, author and former speechwriter to a Republican Senator; and Glenn Thrush, chief political correspondent for Politico and former Senior White House Correspondent.

Lego Big Build. Help build the giant Lego map of Scotland with professional Lego builders, and watch it get bigger by the hour. You can also let your imagination loose on 25 kilos of mixed Lego at the general play table.

Debating Chamber – A Life in Politics. The Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable served as an MP from 1997 until 2015 having served as Deputy Leader and Acting Leader (2007) of the Liberal Democrats and as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in the coalition government. He is credited by some as predicting the global financial crisis of 2007-10 and his book After the Storm: The World Economy and Britain’s Economic Future, provides a unique insight on the post-crash global economy. Join him in conversation with Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh as he discusses life in politics.

For full details of the festival programme, and to buy tickets online, click here.

A limited number of tickets are available via the Scottish Parliament in person and via telephone on 0131 348 5200.