Looking at today’s political landscape we can see how some very divisive issues have split public opinion across the country and turned everyday political debate into a binary affair. It’s now difficult to have a constructive conversation without raising your voice and the lack of any consensus is stunting public policy. Holding different opinions should not be a bad thing; on the contrary, it’s what our democratic system is all about. Listening to other people and really thinking about what can be done collaboratively. It’s about building a solution together, not ideological purity and hard line party politics. Today we’re seeing large segments of the population turning their backs on the main political parties and in some cases on politics all together. Just look at the success of smaller parties such as Change UK, the Brexit Party, and even the resurgence of the Liberal Democrats. 

Our founders, George Freeman MP and Baroness Sally Morgan, looked around and saw the need for a neutral political space where people from all backgrounds feel comfortable expressing their opinions and can talk about issues that desperately need solving. But the questions was: what does this space look like? That’s how they came up with The Big Tent Ideas Festival. A non-partisan political and cultural summer festival where people can actually get involved in discussions rather than just listening to politicians drone on.

They tested it back in 2017 and 300 people showed up. That’s when they realised that this could really turn into something bigger. And they were right, over 1,000 people turned up in 2018.

This year the festival will be at Mudchute Farm on the Isle of Dogs in South-East London, and we are expecting over 2,000 people from across the country. There will be eight ‘policy’ tents where people can mingle with over 250 speakers from business leaders to charities, think tanks to politicians, entrepreneurs and journalists, young people, old people, everyone and anyone. People will get a chance to vote on real life practical policy ideas at the end of each session and can even sign up to speak at our very own Speaker’s Corner. 

There aren’t many places where you can listen to Rory Stewart talk about the future of British politics followed by Lisa Nandy, Labour MP for Wigan, weighing in on how to regenerate communities across the UK. So whether you’re interested in energy or education, democracy or diplomacy, healthcare or homelessness, the Big Tent Festival is for you.

Tickets for the Big Tent Ideas Festival are available at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-big-tent-ideas-festival-2019-tickets-62569328546?aff=Website

Tom Campbell

Author Tom Campbell

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