Renowned UK political figures to headline the Festival of Politics


Renowned UK politicians Lord Michael Heseltine and Dame Margaret Hodge will reveal the highs and lows of their political careers as part of this year’s Festival of Politics, it was announced today.Festival of Politics 2018

The 14th Festival of Politics will take place at the Scottish Parliament from 10-13 October and tickets for its headline acts have gone on sale today.

On Wednesday 10 October, Conservative grandee Lord Michael Heseltine will open the Festival with an “in conversation” style event with the Presiding Officer. He will talk about his life serving in the Governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major as well as his current political views on issues such as Brexit.

The highly respected and formidable former Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Dame Margaret Hodge MP will talk about her role in holding to account everyone from the Government to multinational companies such as Google, Amazon and Starbucks. This event will take place on Friday 12 October.

The Festival will also feature global best-selling author and academic Professor Mary Beard. Professor Beard will feature on day four of the Festival talking about her book Woman and Power as well as the BBC Civilisations series which she co-wrote and presented.

Booker prize winning novelist and poet Ben Okri, social commentator and Orwell Prize winner Darren McGarvey aka Loki and Historian Professor Emeritus Sir Tom Devine OBE will also appear.

The Presiding Officer, Rt Hon Ken Macintosh MSP said:

“This year’s Festival of Politics is set to challenge how we see and think about the world and offers you the opportunity to join the political debate.

“Our headline guests are varied and thought-provoking. From UK political giants who will reveal all about life behind the scenes as a politician and government minister to global best-selling authors and prominent academics. This year’s Festival has something for everyone.

“At its heart, the Festival is about opening up the Parliament to the people and inviting us all to debate the big issues. That discussion is often illuminating, sometimes surprising but never dull!”

Tickets go on sale today for these six events, with the full programme of over 40 events being announced in September.


More information about these events and how to purchase tickets is available below. These tickets will only be available to purchase online until the full programme is announced in September

After all of these events, a book signing will follow.

Wednesday 10 October

In Conversation with Lord Michael Heseltine
18:00 -19:30, £8.00/£6.00

Lord Michael Heseltine is often accorded the title, Conservative grandee, reflecting a distinguished career at the heart of politics and a party he served for 35 years as MP, including ministerial office in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, not least as Deputy Prime Minister. Join Lord Heseltine in conversation with the Presiding Officer as they discuss a life at Westminster as President of the Board of Trade, Defence Minister; champion of urban renewal and as arch critic of Brexit, having described the 2016 Referendum result as - “the greatest constitutional crisis of modern times.” A must for any fan of politics.

Thursday 11 October

In Conversation with Ben Okri
20:00 – 21:30, £8.00/£6.00

The Booker Prize winning novelist of The Famished Road and poet Ben Okri’s latest publication Rise Like Lions: Poetry for the Many, could not be more timeous. Having penned his own devastating eulogy, Grenfell Tower June 2017 for the victims of the tragedy, Okri has selected 100 poems from around the world – from Bob Marley to Marvin Gaye and Shakespeare - celebrating the many voices of politics, from polemics and rallying cries to lyrics and meditations. Join the Presiding Officer and Ben Okri to discuss the need for political poems and their impact on ideas, vision, protest, change and truth.

Friday 12 October

In Conversation with Dame Margaret Hodge MP
15:00 - 16:30, £8.00/£6.00

Despite boasting a 40-year political career in local and national government, it could be argued that Dame Margaret Hodge really came to public prominence in 2010 as the fearsome Chair of the Public Accounts Committee overseeing £750 billion of public expenditure annually. Join the Presiding Officer and Dame Margaret Hodge to discuss her book, Called to Account; How Corporate Bad Behaviour and Government Waste Combine to Cost Us Millions, and her Committee’s dogged pursuit of transparency and accountability in grilling everyone from corporate giants Amazon, Starbucks and Google to civil servants and HMRC.

A Forgotten History: The Scottish Clearances
17:30 - 19:00, £8.00/£6.00

Historian Sir Tom Devine’s ground breaking new book The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed (1600-1900) is a unique and challenging reinterpretation of one of the most controversial subjects in Scottish history – The Clearances. Join Chair Presiding Officer and Professor Emeritus Sir Tom Devine OBE as they discuss fresh perspectives on the many men, women and children affected by the clearances. Sir Tom claims this is his most ambitious and challenging project in Scottish history to date. Come and learn why the book threatens to undermine some of the nation’s most cherished orthodoxies about its past.

In Conversation with Darren McGarvey aka Loki
20:00 - 21:30, £8.00/£6.00

Darren McGarvey, aka LOKI, is a writer, performer, community activist and columnist. His book Poverty Safari, has recently won the prestigious Orwell Prize, is described by Irvine Welsh as, “an intellectual and spiritual rehab manual for the progressive left,” and McGarvey’s views are being sought on everything from BBC Question Time to The Guardian and rapper-in-residence at Police Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit. Join Darren and the Presiding Officer to discuss the “industry of deprivation”; how to achieve political representation for the unrepresented and working-class masculinity in the 21st century, as explored in McGarvey’s new album Trigger Warning. Join us for an energising mental-flossing from one of Scotland’s most inspiring commentators.

Sponsored by The Open University in Scotland

Saturday 13 October

In Conversation with Professor Mary Beard
13:30 – 15:00, £8.00/£6.00

She is the doyenne of classical scholars; fond of Anglo-Saxon expletives and a feminist to her bones. Professor Mary Beard is the academic who wrote and presented on the BBC Civilisations series; authored the globally best-selling book Women and Power and is the poster woman for every opinionated, outspoken fan who recognises misogyny did not cease post the ancient world. Join the Presiding Officer and Professor Mary Beard to discuss her trajectory from scholar to public combatant in febrile debates on everything from #MeToo; to no-platforming and Pompeii; in this unmissable exhilarating event.

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