Rebellion and Revolution at Holyrood this Autumn as Festival of Politics Line-up Revealed


Rebellion and revolution will be at the heart of this year’s Festival of Politics, taking place in October.Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP is joined in Holyrood by Street Artist, Craig Robertson to launch the 13th Festival of Politics Programme for 2017.

From the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love to the centenary of the Russian revolution, the Festival will celebrate its 13th birthday in true teenage fashion, pushing at boundaries and challenging the norms with an eclectic mix of political discussion, music and film.

Taking place from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 October, this year’s Festival, will also feature two exhibitions: Teenage Instamatics: Punk Rock in Edinburgh 1977 and the Scottish Press Photography Awards.

Announcing the 2017 programme, the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Ken Macintosh MSP said:

“From punk pioneers and the summer of love to fake news and the death of the expert. Rebellion and revolution in all its forms will be explored at this year’s Festival of Politics.

“As the Festival enters its teenage years, we will welcome those who have been willing to take risks, push boundaries and challenge the norms in order to make a difference to the world around us. From the lead singer of The Skids to genuine heavyweights of the political world like Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman, this year’s programme is guaranteed to bring out the rebel in all of us!”

Events include:


Speak Your Mind – Young Mental Health
11:00 – 12:30, Debating Chamber, £8.00/£6.00

Did you know that an estimated one in ten children and young people between the age of five and sixteen have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem? Join our panel including members of the Scottish Youth Parliament; Greg McHugh, aka Gary Tank Commander; and Dr Trevor Lakey, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, on this interactive exploration of the issues that make mental health what some young people call “our generation’s epidemic”, and how we can work together to challenge them.

We Are The People
The Canon Kenyon Wright Lecture: Uffe Elbæk
16:30 - 18:00, Debating Chamber, £8.00/£6.00

One of Kenyon’s last conversations was about the need for an alternative in modern politics, so this inaugural talk will be by Uffe Elbæk, political leader and founder of Denmark’s new green, entrepreneurial party, The Alternative. Uffe is a serial entrepreneur and an unusual politician. He describes himself as Senior Troublemaker and Solution Finder. In 2013 he launched The Alternative Party and in 2015 the Alternative entered parliament with nine seats, making it the sixth largest party in Denmark. He always refuses to accept how things are. Chaired by Presiding Officer, Ken McIntosh MSP.

Death of the Expert
17:00 – 18:30, £6.00/£4.00

With Brexit, shock elections and financial crisis; what do so-called experts really know? Do we even need experts when social media can directly validate our views? Join our panel including Professor Jonathan Portes, King’s College, London; Dr Julia Paul, Queen’s University, Belfast; and Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal, University of St Andrews, as they debate the necessity of experts, and the challenge to reclaim their integrity in the face of Michael Gove’s infamous criticism that Britain has had enough of experts.


Harriet Harman MP – A Woman’s Work
13:00 – 14:30, Debating Chamber, £8.00/£6.00

As one of Britain’s most prominent campaigning politicians, twice deputising as leader of the Labour Party and the country’s longest-serving female MP, Rt Hon. Harriet Harman QC MP, has had a distinguished career whilst also bringing women’s issues to the heart of the Labour Party and fighting for equality and respect for all women. Join Harriet in conversation with the Presiding Officer as they discuss her political memoir, A Woman’s Work, a unique insight on being a working woman in the macho bear-pit of Westminster set against the backdrop of the progresses and setbacks in the Labour Party, UK politics and the way the country has been governed since 1970.

A Rotten Establishment?
17:15 – 18:45, £6.00/£4.00

The pillars of the British Establishment are crumbling beneath us. Or so the media would have us believe if stories of our failing health, prison, justice and political systems are true. So are these Victorian pillars of our modern society a lost cause, or can and should we rebuild them? Join our panel including Fraser Nelson, Editor of The Spectator magazine; Sue Cameron, writer and broadcaster; and Jeremy Peat, International Public Policy Institute, University of Strathclyde as we debate the failings and future of the Establishment in Britain.

Richard Jobson – The Skids
17:30 – 19:00, £6.00/£4.00

As the lead singer of Fife’s legendary punk band The Skids, Richard Jobson graduated from gang member to poet, presenter, cutting-edge film maker and Armani model. As The Skids celebrate 40 years of punk classics with a UK tour, join Richard in conversation with music business expert Ronnie Gurr as they discuss growing up in punk rock Scotland and a career in the creative industries.


The Summer of Love’s Legacy
11:00 – 12:30, £6.00/£4.00

In 1967, free love, free speech and free spirits were the basis of a counter culture of change. Amidst the protest, the songs and the politics, critics have slated the culture of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll as self-indulgent and corrupted by the capitalistic materialist society it originally opposed. Join our panel of celebrants and cynics, including Rory MacLean, author of Magic Bus; Dr Mark Donnelly, St Mary’s University; and Dr Eleanor Bell, University of Strathclyde, as we explore the legacy of the summer of love.

Evan Davis – The Post Truth Toolkit
11:00 – 13:00, Debating Chamber, £8.00/£6.00

As a broadcaster, Evan Davis has seen and heard it all, from Newsnight to Dragons’ Den and Radio 4’s Today programme. Join Evan in conversation with the Presiding Officer as they discuss his new book, Post Truth: Why We Have Reached Peak Bullshit and What We Can Do About It, which provides a toolkit to handle the kinds of deceptions we encounter every day, and a route through the muddy waters of the post-truth age.

Kenneth Clarke MP – Kind of Blue
17:00 – 18:30, £8.00/£6.00

The Rt. Hon Kenneth Clarke MP is one of the genuine heavyweights of the UK political world with almost 50 years of serving as an MP at the heart of government under three Prime Ministers. Perceived as being on the left of the Conservative Party, his memorable Brexit speech is a reminder why he remains such a stalwart of British politics. Join Kenneth Clarke MP in conversation with the Presiding Officer as they discuss his candid autobiography, Kind of Blue, and the secret of balancing politics with lifelong passions for cricket, jazz and Nottingham Forest FC.

Programme availability and tickets

  • Tickets will go on sale online via at 10.00 am on Tuesday 27 June.
  • A limited number of tickets are available via the Scottish Parliament in person and via telephone on 0131 348 5200.
  • Full details of the festival programme are available from
  • Hard copies of the programme are available from most Waterstones and Blackwells bookstores.

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