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Thursday 12 December 2019, Rob Lyons

The rise of toxic politics: can we be civil?

Listen to the debate from the Battle of Ideas festival 2019.

A recording of a debate at the Battle of Ideas festival on Sunday 3 November 2019.

The angry exchanges in parliament after the Supreme Court ruled against prorogation were typical of the ill-tempered discourse around Brexit. This year it was also deemed acceptable to ‘milkshake’ those you disagree with. Looking at a world seemingly filled with slurs, angry social-media comments, inflammatory remarks about migrants and nasty jibes about ‘gammons’ and ‘TERFs’, many commentators have called this an age of ‘toxic politics’. Should we lament a lost civility, or is the emergence of more forthright and angry disagreements in fact a good thing? What is the line between passionate disagreement and toxic bile? How can we find ways to disagree with other people constructively?

SPEAKERS

DOLAN CUMMINGS
associate fellow, Academy of Ideas; co- founder, Manifesto Club; author, That Existential Leap: a crime story

TIMANDRA HARKNESS
journalist, writer and broadcaster; presenter, Radio 4’s FutureProofing and How to Disagree: a beginner’s guide to having better arguments

DR DEBORAH E LIPSTADT
professor of Holocaust Studies, Emory University, Atlanta; author, Antisemitism: here and now

JACOB MCHANGAMA
executive director, Justitia, a Copenhagen based human-rights think tank; host and narrator, Clear and Present Danger: a history of free speech podcast

JAMES TOOLEY
professor of educational entrepreneurship and policy, University of Buckingham; author, The Beautiful Tree

CHAIR: ALASTAIR DONALD
co-convenor, Battle of Ideas festival; convenor, Living Freedom

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