Gordon Brown headlines at Festival of Politics 2012


Former Prime Minister Rt. Hon Gordon Brown MP will headline the eighth Festival of Politics at the Scottish Parliament in delivering the inaugural Campbell Christie Lecture.


This year’s festival includes a four-day programme of politics, music, art, theatre, literature and debate under the theme of ‘Politics. Culture. Creativity. A Force for Positive Change’.

Speaking at the launch of the programme today, Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP said:

“The Festival of Politics shows the kind of innovation that sets the Scottish Parliament apart from others in engaging both the head and the heart. While debate and discussion remain the bedrock, we have added contemporary art, music and theatre to our programme that continues to push boundaries.

“This year’s Festival of Politics continues to offer an exciting and intelligent addition to Edinburgh’s festivals’ season. We are delighted to be part of these internationally renowned cultural events.”

From political heavyweights like Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP and the Rt Hon Dr Jack McConnell to contemporary literary stars Louise Welsh and Iain Banks to the sculpture of George Wyllie and the music of Mull Historical Society, the Festival of Politics once again will be a hub of creative activity and debate.

The topics of sectarianism, immigration, human trafficking and the shaping of Scotland’s history will all come under the microscope and there will be a special focus on young people with a range of sessions on the  talent of young people, a music industry session and a roster of cutting-edge Scottish bands playing live.

Events include:

Art in Focus – George Wyllie and Sculpture Garden Tour
Friday 17 August, 16:30-17:30, Committee Room 3. Free.
George Wyllie MBE (1921-2012). George is well known for iconic works such as the Straw Locomotive and the Paper Boat, art that was displayed out of a gallery and in public spaces. Discussing the artist’s philosophy on creativity and influence on younger generations will be a panel including his daughter Louise Wyllie; film maker, writer and curator Murray Grigor; Neil Baxter, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, artist Roddy Buchanan and David Harding from Glasgow School of Art.
It will be followed by an optional viewing of Wyllie’s sculptures in the Parliament garden with Murray Grigor.

The Talent of Our Young People
Friday 17 August,  17:15 -18:15, Debating Chamber. £4.00/£2.50
In this ‘Year of Creative Scotland 2012’, panellists Ricky Ross, BBC presenter and member of the band Deacon Blue joins Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the National Theatre of Scotland ; Andrew Dixon, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland and David Drever, Convener of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).  The panel will discuss what inspires and promotes creativity and how we should support our young people to play their part in the creativity and culture of the country. Chaired by Deputy Presiding Officer Elaine Smith MSP.
In association with the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

Singin I'm No a Billy He's a Tim
Friday 17 August, 18:30-20:00, Members’ Restaurant, £10.00/£7.50
A play exploring bigotry  and ethnic identity.  What happens on the day of the Old Firm Match, when you lock a Celtic and Rangers fan in a cell together?  Des Dillon's anti-sectarian comedy about two footie fans from either side of the Old Firm divide who are forced to confront each other's point of view and culture, after being locked up together.  This challenging drama puts sectarianism firmly in its place.  A crowd pleasing look at the Old Firm divide makes for entertaining, high quality, theatre. “…a breezy piece of popular theatre that makes its point without hectoring” Hi Arts

The importance of reading to children and to society
Saturday 18 August, 11:30-13:00, Debating Chamber, £4.00/£2.50
Encouraging children to read, and enjoy reading, is one of the most significant ways to improve their life chances.  This event sponsored by the Carnegie UK Trust will explore how we can encourage children to read and what we can learn from practice outside Scotland.  Chaired by the Deputy Presiding Officer John Scott MSP; with panellists including children’s author Theresa Breslin; Annie Mauger, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals; Marc Lambert, Chief Executive, The Scottish Book Trust; and Miranda McKearney, the Reading Agency, the event will debate the key issues.
In association with the Carnegie UK Trust

An Audience with History
Saturday 18 August, 15:00 - 16:30, Debating Chamber. £4.00/£2.50.
From the swing plough to Dolly the sheep, we debate the most important events in Scottish history, with leading historians and the team behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland. Panellists include author Alexander McCall Smith; historians Alistair Moffat and Tom Devine, and The Herald Literary Editor and author Rosemary Goring. Join us to have your say in which historical figures should be included in the Great tapestry of Scotland’s ‘Parliament of our Ancestors’ panel. Chaired by Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP.
In association with the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

An Evening with JJ Gilmour
Saturday 18 August, 18:30-20:30, Members’ Restaurant, £10.00/£7.50
Internationally acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter JJ Gilmour made his recording debut in 1989 with The Silencers, one of Scotland’s top bands.  A naturally gifted musician, he soon progressed to lead vocalist.  Seven years of gigging and recording ensued during which The Silencers had gold albums and sold over half a million records.  His critically acclaimed debut solo album Sunnyside P.A.L established his fiercely loyal fan base and gained wide spread acclaim from his peers as an ‘outstanding debut album’.  Join JJ for an intimate evening of the best in Scottish song writing.

Is Participation In Sport A Level Playing Field?
Friday 24 August, 13:30 - 14:30, Committee Room 3. Free.
Sport can help improve the quality of life for individuals but how accessible is sport and are all groups given the same opportunities to participate? Chaired by John Park MSP with panellists John Beattie, rugby player and broadcaster; Liz McColgan, former athlete and Olympic medallist; Kim Atkinson, Policy Director of the Scottish Sports Association; and Alison Walker, sports journalist and TV presenter.

The Power of Small Nations
Friday 24 August, 14:00 - 15:30, Debating Chamber. £4.00/£2.50.
The influence of small nations in a world of global powers continues to rise. How do they maintain their cultural and political independence in the face of such forces in the 21st century?
A panel including Mark Muller Stuart QC, former Heads of State, Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta and Kim Campbell, former First Minister of Scotland the Rt. Hon Dr Jack McConnell, and Tim Phillips.
In association with Beyond Borders and the Club de Madrid.

Scotland’s Futures Forum: The Campbell Christie Lecture with Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP
Friday 24 August, 16:30 -17:30, Debating Chamber. FREE.
Campbell Christie CBE (1937-2011) was one of Scotland’s most outstanding civic leaders as well as the founding Director of Scotland’s Futures Forum. As a man who contributed to all sectors of society from politics to football, it is most fitting that the inaugural Campbell Christie Lecture will be delivered by former Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Gordon Brown MP.
Scotland’s Bookshelves - Politics and Society in Scottish Writing
Friday 24 August, 18:30-19:30, Debating Chamber. £4.00/£2.50
Hear Iain Banks, James Robertson and Louise Welsh, among others discuss how Scottish writing has reflected our politics and society over the last century. Stuart Kelly will chair the discussion as the top contemporary writers discuss class, religion, identity and how literature reflects the reality of our experience.
In association with Aye Write! Festival.

Mull Historical Society
Friday 24 August, 18:30 - 20:00. Members’ Restaurant. £10.00/£7.50
Colin MacIntyre is one of the UK’s most respected songwriters and performers who has also released music under the alias of Mull Historical Society. His most recent chart album City Awakenings offers a tribute to Glasgow, London and New York – the three cities that have most influenced the musician as an islander abroad.

The Future of the Music Industry
Saturday 25 August, 17:00-18:00, Debating Chamber, £4.00/£2.50
In an age when music is commonly available via the internet and CD sales are declining, this event will explore what this means for the future of the industry and asks what it means for future generations of musicians.  What can we learn from countries such as Norway and Canada?  Join panellists including Scott Cohen, founder The Orchard; Scott Hutchinson, Frightened Rabbit; Caroline Gorman, Rage Music and the Scottish Music Industry Association; Olaf Furniss, Wide Days; and Inger Dirdal,  Music Export Norway in a lively discussion on the future of the music industry in Scotland.  Chaired by the Deputy Presiding Officer Elaine Smith MSP.

Festival of Politics Partners

Our Festival partners are Carnegie UK Trust, Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and The Law Society of Scotland and our media partner is the Holyrood Magazine.

Programme availability and tickets

  • Tickets will go on sale at 10am on Friday 22 June.
  • Online via www.festivalofpolitics.org.uk
  • A limited number of tickets are available via the Scottish Parliament in person and via telephone on 0131 348 5405.
  • Full details of the festival programme are available from www.festivalofpolitics.org.uk

Or follow us on
Twitter @FoP2012
Hashtag #fop12
Facebook on www.facebook.com/FestivalofPolitics

Photographs of the event will be available free of charge from the following gallery: scottishparliament.photoshelter.com/gallery/Frestival-of-Politics-2012 (password: 2012fop)

Contact information


Public information

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