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Originally published by HuffPost on 30/07/2019

A few weeks ago we launched our new Opinion and Personal sections as we announced the closure of the HuffPost blogs platform. Creating those discussion spaces was a deliberate move to place HuffPost front and centre in key conversations across news, politics, culture and lifestyle. It’s a way of making us a destination site for readers seeking thought-provoking pieces that make them see an issue in a new light, via the prism of relatable, accessible expertise – most often driven by knowledge and experience, rather than by people paid to be outraged by something on a rota basis.

We’re keen to be involved in the core conversations. And we do so on a non-partisan basis – we are not the types to tell you how to vote. That’s why hooking up with The Big Tent Ideas Festival this year makes a lot of sense.

The festival is a day-long political and cultural conversation across a range of topics from politics and society to communities and arts, taking place on 31 August in Mudchute, East London. We’ll be involved on the day, with HuffPost UK journalists leading, contributing, and chairing the debates, which will also include some familiar figures from across the political spectrum, such as Rory Stewart, Lisa Nandy, Dame Jaqui Smith, Penny Mordaunt, Ayesha Hazarika, Extinction Rebellion, The Jo Cox Foundation and WWF.

It’s a major event on the political calendar. French President Emmanuel Macron dubbed last year’s festival: “A significant contribution to the consideration of the big issues we jointly face”.

That’s a high bar we’re determined to raise, both on the day and in the run-up to the main event. So we’ll be featuring opinion pieces ahead of the day as a way of involving as many people as we can in those issues, and whetting the appetite for those who will be there.

The Big Tent’s managing director, Sam Julius, seems happy to have us in this not-at-all-pre-prepared quote: “We’re delighted to announce HuffPost as our primary media partners for this year’s Big Tent Ideas Festival. They are the media outlet that most aligns with our values as a non-partisan political organisation, and we’re really looking forward to their coverage of the many amazing organisations that will be contributing to this year’s event.”

Festival-goers get to choose from over 50 sessions, which are held in eight “big” tents, each focused on a specific area of public policy: Environment and health, politics, economy, society, communities, arts and culture, global and innovation.

So keep coming back to the Opinion and Personal sections, and keep an eye out for the thought-provoking pieces that will help set the political agenda in the next 12 months. Stay tuned.

Jimmy Leach is HuffPost UK’s editor-in-chief

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