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24th and 25th February
The Assembly Rooms, Chichester City Council, The Council House, North Street, Chichester
 
 Friday 24th February 2017
 

 

General Lord Dannatt
General Lord Dannatt
Boots on the Ground: Britain and her Army since 1945
Friday 24th February 11.45 - 13.00
 
On Lüneberg Heath in 1945, the German High Command surrendered to Field Marshall Montgomery. In 2015, 70 years after this historic triumph, the last combat units of the British Army finally left their garrisons from the same place.
 
Boots on the Ground is the story of those years, following the British Army against the backdrop of Britain's shifting security and defence policies. From the decolonisation of India to the 2 interventions in Iraq, and, of course, Northern Ireland, this talk tracks the key historical conflicts, big and small, of Britain's transformation from a leading nation with some 2 million troops in 1945, to a significantly reduced place on the world stage and fewer than 82,000 troops in 2015. Despite this apparent de-escalation, at no point since WWII has Britain not had 'boots on the ground' - and with the current tensions in the Middle East and the rise of terrorism, this situation is unlikely to change.
 
General Sir Richard Dannatt  has 40 years of military service, and was Chief of the General Staff of The British Army. He also served as a defence adviser to David Cameron
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
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Peter Clark
Peter Clark
Damascus Diaries: Life Under the Assads
Friday 24th February 13.30 – 14.45
 
When Peter Clark arrived in Damascus 1992 to open the new British Council office, he was not to know that the next five years were to give him a unique window into the upper echelons of Syrian society in the last few years of Hafez Al-Assad's rule. He witnessed the dramas and routines of everyday life played out against the backdrop of the world's oldest continually inhabited city on the eve of collapse into civil war. Enchanting and alarming by turns, everyday events combined to paint a vivid and almost nostalgic picture of life in this remarkable city.
 
Dr. Peter Clark OBE is a writer and consultant. For thirty years he worked for the British Council in Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Syria. He has translated eight works by contemporary Arab writers including fiction by Muhammad al-Murr and Liana Badr. He is a Trustee of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
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Harry Mount
Harry Mount
Summer Madness How Brexit Split the Tories, Destroyed Labour and Divided the Country
Friday 24th February 15.15 – 16.30
 
Shortly after Boris Johnson was knifed in the back by Michael Gove, a close friend of Boris's said, white-faced, to Harry Mount, 'Brexit is like some horrible curse. It kills everything it touches.' In less than 3 weeks, from the referendum vote on 23 June to Theresa May's elevation to Prime Minister, Brexit had morphed into a mass murderer. The Bullingdon boys, Cameron and Osborne had been 'whacked', Mafia style, the Cabinet was drained of blue blood and the Notting Hill set - who had holidayed, worked and lived together for 30 years since Oxford - were torn asunder. Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, who had fought the Brexit campaign together and plotted with their wives, were ripped apart by Gove's sudden desertion. For Corbyn, who remained in his post after the referendum,  23 out of 31 of his shadow Cabinet resigned and Farage, arguably the only real victor of the referendum, resigned his UKIP leadership within days of the result being announced.
 
Harry Mount gives an insider's tale of those 3 chilling weeks. He talked with many of the principal combatants as he wrote for the Evening Standard, Spectator, Mail, Telegraph and Sunday Times,
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
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Peter Stothard
Peter Stothard 
The Senecans: Four Men and Margaret Thatcher
Friday 24th February 17.00 – 18.15
 
A year after the death of Margaret Thatcher, a young woman arrives to ask Peter Stothard, former Editor of The Times, some sharp questions about his memories of the Thatcher era. During her interview, the offices from where he long observed British politics, are being flattened by wrecking balls. Forgotten stories return. From the destruction of a collapsing newspaper plant emerge portraits of the Senecans: a Hollywood screen-writer who wrote her speeches, a socialite former socialist who comforted her with flattery, a comic political columnist whom she admired but rarely read and a multi-millionaire film-producer whom she consulted but never acknowledged.
 
The Senecans took their name from their taste for the work of Lucius Seneca:- a philosopher, courtier and acquirer of massive wealth from the age of the Emperor Nero. Blending memoir with ancient and modern politics in the manner of his acclaimed diaries: ‘On the Spartacus Road and Alexandria’, Stothard sheds a sideways light on recent history. In finally identifying his interviewer he also answers questions about his own literary and political journey.
 
Peter Stothard was from 1992 to 2002 Editor of The Times, during which time it reached a circulation of more than 900,000 - the highest in its history. The Senecans was considered the Best Book of 2016 by The Evening Standard.
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
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Andrew Monaghan
Andrew Monaghan
The New Politics of Russia
Friday 24th February 18.45 – 20.00
 
From the conflict in Syria to the crisis in Ukraine, Russia continues to dominate the headlines. Yet the political realities of contemporary Russia are poorly understood by Western observers and policy-makers. In this talk Monaghan explains why we tend to misunderstand Russia - and the importance of 'getting Russia right'. Exploring in detail the relationship between the West and Russia, he charts the development of relations and investigates the causes of the increasingly obvious sense of strategic dissonance. He also considers the evolution in Russian domestic politics, introducing influential current figures and those who are forming the leadership and opposition of the future. By delving into the depths of difficult questions such as the causes of the Ukraine crisis or the political protests surrounding the 2011-12 elections, he offers a dynamic model for understanding this most fascinating and elusive of countries.
 
Dr Andrew Monaghan is senior research fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. He is also the founder and director of the Russia Research Network, an independent organization for the generation of information and expertise on Russian politics, security and economic issues.
 
A Q&A session will follow
 
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Alison Weir

Alison Weir
The Lost Tudor Princess: A Life of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox
Friday 24th February 20.30 – 21.45
 
Royal Tudor blood ran in her veins. Her mother was a queen, and she herself was the granddaughter, niece, cousin and grandmother of monarchs. Some thought she should be queen of England. Beautiful and tempestuous, she defied her uncle, Henry VIII, and created scandal by indulging in two illicit affairs. She was forgiven and served five of Henry’s wives. The marriage arranged for her turned into a love match. A born political intriguer, she was imprisoned in the Tower of London on several occasions. She helped to bring about one of the most notorious royal marriages of the sixteenth century, but it brought her only tragedy. Her son and her husband were brutally murdered, and there were rumours that she herself was poisoned. She warred with two queens, Mary of Scotland and Elizabeth of England. A brave survivor, Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was a prominent and important figure in Tudor England, and yet today she is largely forgotten and overlooked. Her story deserves to be better known, and Alison Weir brings it to life in this biography.
 
Alison Weir is the UK’s best-selling female historian. She has written over 20 books on the Tudor period.
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
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 Saturday 8th October 2016
 
Marina Benjamin
Marina Benjamin
The Middlepause
Saturday 25th February 10.00 - 11.15
 
In a society obsessed with living longer and looking younger, what does middle age nowadays mean? How should a fifty-something be in a world ceaselessly redefining ageing, youth, and experience? This talk offers hope and heart. Cutting through society’s clamorous demands to work longer and stay young, it delivers a clear-eyed account of midlife’s challenges. Spurred by her own brutal propulsion into menopause, Marina Benjamin weighs the losses, joys and opportunities of our middle years, taking inspiration from literature and philosophical example. She uncovers the secret misogynistic history of HRT and tells us why a dose of Jung is better than a trip to the gym. Attending to ageing parents, the shock of bereavement, parenting a teenager, and her own health woes, she emerges into a new definition of herself as daughter, mother, citizen and woman.
 
Marina Benjamin suggests there’s comfort and guidance in memory, milestones and margins, and offers an inspired and expanded vision of how to be middle-aged happily and harmoniously.
 
Marina Benjamin is a writer and journalist. A former Arts Editor of the New Statesman and Deputy Arts Editor of the Evening Standard, she is now Senior Editor at Aeon magazine.
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
Click HERE to purchase tickets

 

 

John Simpson
John Simpson
We Chose to Speak of War and Strife: The World of the Foreign Correspondent
Saturday 25th February 11.45 - 13.00
 
In corners of the globe where fault-lines seethe into bloodshed and civil war, foreign correspondents have, for hundreds of years, been engaged in uncovering the latest news and - despite obstacles bureaucratic, political,  and violent - reporting it by whatever means available. It's a working life that is difficult, exciting and undeniably glamorous.
 
Simpson brings us pivotal moments in our history - from the Crimean War to Vietnam; the siege of Sarajevo to the fall of Baghdad - through the eyes of those who risked life and limb to witness them first hand and the astonishing tales of what it took to report them. These stories celebrate an endangered tradition. Where once despatches were trusted to the hands of a willing sea-captain, telegraph operator or stranger in an airport queue prepared to spirit a can of undeveloped film back to London, today the digital realm has transformed the relaying of the news - even if the work of gathering it in the field has changed little. Weaving the tales of the greats of yesterday and today, such as Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway with extraordinary accounts from his own lifetime on the frontlines, this is a deeply personal book from a master of the profession - the most distinguished foreign correspondent of our time.
 
John Simpson is a foreign correspondent and world affairs editor of BBC News. He has spent all his working life at the BBC, and has reported from more than 120 countries, including 30 war zones, and interviewed many world leaders.
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
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Lord David Owen
Lord David Owen
Cabinet's Finest Hour: The Hidden Agenda of May 1940
Saturday 25th February 13.30 – 14.45
 
Former Foreign Secretary David Owen speaks about the pivotal British War Cabinet meetings of May 1940. The minutes and documents reveal just how close Britain came to seeking a negotiated peace with Nazi Germany. Cabinet’s Finest Hour is both the story of Churchill’s determination to fight on and a paean to the Cabinet system of government. The Cabinet system, all too often disparaged as messy and cumbersome, worked in Britain’s interests and ensured a democracy on the brink of defeat had the courage to assess the alternatives to fighting on. The post-war denial of both the existence and legitimacy of the war cabinet debates had far-reaching consequences for Britain’s foreign and defence policy for the rest of the century, starting over the Suez Crisis but reaching its nadir over the Second Iraq War.
 
Dr David Owen practised as a neurologist before being elected a Labour MP in his home city of Plymouth in 1966. He served as Foreign Secretary under James Callaghan from 1977 until 1979, and later co-founded and went on to lead the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Between 1992-95 Lord Owen served as EU peace negotiator in the former Yugoslavia. He now sits as an Independent Social Democrat in the House of Lords.
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
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Luke Harding
Luke Harding
A Very Expensive Poison: The Definitive Story of the Murder of Litvinenko and Russia's War with the West
Saturday 25th February 15.15 – 16.30
 
1st November 2006. Alexander Litvinenko is poisoned in central London. 22 days later he dies, killed from the inside. The poison? Polonium; a rare, lethal and highly radioactive substance. His crime? He had made some powerful enemies in Russia. Based on extensive interviews with those closest to the events (including the murder suspects) and access to trial evidence, Harding gives the inside story of the event. He finds a deadly trail that seemingly leads back to the Russian state itself.
 
Harding argues that the assassination marked the beginning of the deterioration of Moscow's relations with the West and a decade of geo-political disruptions--from the war in Ukraine, two million people displaced and a Russian president's defiant rejection of a law-based international order. This is a tragedy involving the Russian mafia, the KGB, MI6 agents, dedicated British coppers and Russian dissidents.
 
Luke Harding is a foreign correspondent for The Guardian and was posted in Russia from 2007 until 2011 when he was officially refused re-entry.
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
Click HERE to purchase tickets

 

 

Liam Bryne
Liam Byrne
Dragons: Ten Entrepreneurs who built Britain
Saturday 25th February 17.00 – 18.15
 
Byrne tells the story of British business endeavour through the lives of ten titans of commerce. Beginning with the Tudor merchants who transformed England's economy via trade with the New World, he traces an entrepreneurial golden line through men such as Thomas Pitt, saviour of the East India Company; financier Nathan Rothschild, creator of the modern bond market; William Lever, brand-builder, philanthropist, and creator of Britain's first great multinational; and John Spedan Lewis, founder of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership.
 
At the start of the 21st century Britain remains a major economic power. Bynre gives us both a rousing celebration of British business genius and a fascinatingly informative narrative of a neglected but essential strand of our island's story.
 
Liam Byrne is a British Labour Party politician who has been MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill since 2004. He served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in Gordon Brown's Government.
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
Click HERE to purchase tickets

 

 

Denis Macshane
Denis MacShane vs Iain Martin
Debate: Brexit will leave the UK and Europe weaker in terms of security, economy and trade
Saturday 25th February 18.45 – 20.00
 
This is the debate between a former Minister of Europe, described by Euractive as ‘one of the most pro- European politicians of his generation’ and former Editor of the Scotsman: Iain Martin, as Britain navigates its new position on Europe and future place in the world. The debate will cover issues such as national sovereignty, trade, economics and immigration.
 
Denis MacShane was a Labour MP who served in Tony Blair's government as Minister for Europe.
 
Iain Martin is a journalist and former Editor of The Scotsman (2001–04) and Deputy editor of the Sunday Telegraph (2006), and head of comment for the Telegraph Media Group (2008–09). In 2016 he founded and is Editor a of pro-market news website Reaction that focuses on commentary and analysis on politics, economics, and culture.
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
Click HERE to purchase tickets

 

 

Erwin James
Erwin James
Redeemable – A memoir of darkness and hope
Saturday 25th February 20.30 – 21.45
 
Erwin James was born to itinerant Scottish parents in 1957. A family lifestyle described as, “brutal and rootless” by a prison psychologist following the death of his mother when James was 7, led to a limited formal education.  Aged 10 he was sleeping rough when he gained his first criminal conviction, for the burglary of a sweet shop, which resulted in him being taken into care. He left the care home at 15 and spent the rest of his teenage and early adult years drifting and often sleeping rough. During that time he also committed relatively petty but occasionally violent crimes (criminal damage, common assault.) His directionless way of life, which included a period as a fugitive in the French Foreign Legion continued, until 1984 when he began his life sentence for murder.ᅠ
 
James went to prison an inarticulate and ill-educated individual with, in his own words, “massive failings to overcome.” With few apparent skills, his prison beginnings were unpromising. After some encouragement, he embarked on a programme of part-time education. 6 years later he graduated with the Open University, gaining an arts degree in History. Around the same time he developed an interest in writing. His first article in The Guardian appeared in 1998 and he began writing a regular column for the paper entitled A Life Inside. The columns were the first of their kind in the history of British journalism. 
 
James Erwin is a patron of Blue Sky, the award winning social enterprise company that trains and employs ex-offenders. He also now works full-time as a freelance writer.
 
A Q&A session will follow.
 
Click HERE to purchase tickets
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