Iain Dale (shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Blogs 2009)
Peter Hitchens (winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2010, Mail on Sunday)
Ed Vaizey MP (Conservative MP for Wantage and Didcot, Shadow Minister for Culture)
Chaired by Ben Wright (BBC Political Correspondent)
The eighth of the Orwell Prize’s events at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival 2009.
Summer 2008: A double-digit lead in the polls. Victory in the London Mayoral election and the Crewe and Nantwich by-election. Big wins in the local elections. A Government on the back foot, if not on the ropes. Things may have changed a little since, but the Conservative Party will go into the next General Election with a real chance of forming the Government. So what is it that sets them apart from Labour (and the Lib Dems)? What would they do in power? What, in short, is the big Conservative idea?
Dr Patricia Clavin (Jesus College, University of Oxford)
Will Hutton (The Observer, Executive Vice Chair of the Work Foundation)
Mark Thompson (shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2009 with The White War, editor of Television Across Europe: More Channels, Less Independence)
Chaired by Professor Jean Seaton (Director of the Orwell Prize)
The seventh of the Orwell Prize’s events at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival 2009.
‘I see it all. I see the posters and the food-queues, and the castor oil and the rubber truncheons and the machine-guns squirting out of bedroom windows. Is it going to happen? No knowing. Some days it’s impossible to believe it. Some days I say to myself that it’s just a scare got up by the newspapers. Some days I know in my bones there’s no escaping it.’ Orwell’s 1939 novel, Coming Up For Air, was written with war looming, a war created in part by political tensions that were the shrapnel of a global economic crash. With a credit crunch and global downturn now upon us, will political crisis follow? Is it going to happen, or is there some way of escaping it?
The sixth of the Orwell Prize’s events at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival 2009.
Speaking in public for the first time, Richard Blair – George Orwell’s son – will be reminiscing about life with his father. Adopted by George and his wife Eileen in 1945 (Eileen dying later that year), Richard was brought up by his father, first in London and then on the Scottish isle of Jura. Richard will be talking to writer D. J. Taylor, Chair of the Orwell Trust and author of Orwell: The Life, which won the Whitbread Biography Award in 2003.
In conversation with Jean Seaton (Director of the Orwell Prize)
The fifth of the Orwell Prize’s events at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival 2009.
‘The year of the movie, the movie of the year.’ 60 years after the publication of Orwell’s seminal dystopian novel, and 25 years after the release of this award-winning film (and the year itself), director Mike Radford answers questions following a screening of his work. The film’s stars include John Hurt as Winston Smith and Richard Burton as O’Brien.
James Fergusson (journalist, author of Kandahar Cockney and A Million Bullets)
Clare Lockhart (Director of the Insitute for State Effectiveness, former adviser to the UN and Afghan Government, co-author of Fixing Failed States)
David Loyn (BBC Developing World Correspondent, author of Butcher and Bolt)
Chaired by Professor Jean Seaton (Director of the Orwell Prize, author of Carnage and the Media)
The fourth of the Orwell Prize’s events at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival 2009.
What has foreign intervention achieved in Afghanistan? Operation Enduring Freedom was the first front in the ‘War on Terror’ to be opened following the attacks of September 11th 2001, and sought to remove the Taliban, the repressive regime which had allowed Osama bin Laden to operate in Afghanistan. Seven years later, the fighting continues – has intensified even – and foreign troops still lack an exit strategy. What does Afghanistan’s future look like?
Richard Dowden (Director of the Royal African Society, author of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles)
Lindsey Hilsum (International Editor of Channel 4 News, longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2009)
Winston Mano (Senior Lecturer in Communication, University of Westminster)
Stephen Marks (China in Africa project coordinator, Fahamu)
Chaired by Dr Suzanne Franks (Centre for Journalism, University of Kent)
The third of the Orwell Prize’s events at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival 2009.
Are we witnessing a new scramble for Africa? The ‘scramble for Africa’ in the late 19th Century saw a race between European powers for territory on the continent, and power and prestige everywhere. China, the rising global power, funds infrastructure projects across Africa. Film director Steven Spielberg withdrew as an artistic advisor to the Beijing Olympics over China’s role in Darfur. Chinese businessmen populate karaoke bars from Luanda to Lagos. How are China’s actions different from old-fashioned imperialism?
Nick Cohen (author, journalist, shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Books 2008)
Chaired by Professor Jean Seaton (Director of the Orwell Prize, co-author of Power Without Responsibility)
The second of the Orwell Prize’s events at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival 2009.
This debate, marking the 60th anniversary of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, asks how the novel can inform the present debate about civil liberties. In an age of terrorist threats, government databases and social networking, it is increasingly difficult to avoid references to Orwell’s classic satire on the totalitarian state and the surveillance society.
There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
Dickens: Philip Hensher (novelist, critic, Booker Prize-shortlisted for The Northern Clemency)
Orwell: Jean Seaton (Director of the Orwell Prize, academic)
Dickens: Jenny Hartley (academic, author of Dickens and the House of Fallen Women)
Orwell: Hardeep Singh Kohli (writer and broadcaster)
Chaired by Francine Stock (BBC Radio 4)
The first of the Orwell Prize’s events at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival 2009.
In 1939, George Orwell composed a famous essay about Charles Dickens. ‘When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page,’ wrote Orwell. But in this contest between two of Britain’s greatest writers, which face will fit? Both Orwell and Dickens will have two advocates speaking up for them in this debate – and you, the audience, will get to vote on which is the greatest author.
George Orwell: Charles Dickens
Orwell Prize events at the Oxford Literary Festival 2010
Orwell Prize events at the Oxford Literary Festival 2009
Orwell Prize event at the Oxford Literary Festival 2008
Chaired by Jean Seaton (director of the Orwell Prize)
To paraphrase the old maxim, all political careers end in failure – and memoirs. So what makes a good political diary? Two people well placed to comment – having just written best-selling political diaries themselves – are Alastair Campbell and Tony Benn.
The Orwell Prize, Britain’s pre-eminent prize for political writing, opened for submissions for its 2008 prize with a number of exciting announcements at London’s Frontline Club.
Prize money for each of the two awards (one for journalism, one for books) was trebled, from £1000 to £3000, thanks to the generosity of The PoliticalQuarterly and Orwell’s son, Richard Blair. It was also announced that for the first time, the Prize would be administered in partnership with the Media Standards Trust.
The judges for 2008 were revealed: Annalena McAfee, journalist, author and founder of Guardian Review; John Tusa, former journalist and head of the BBC World Service and now chairman of the V&A Museum; and Albert Scardino, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and former executive editor of The Guardian. Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History at the University of Westminster, is the Director of the Prize.
And a new website – the Prize’s first – went live at 7pm, as it was officially unveiled by Jean Seaton. Professor Seaton said: “We may not live in 1984 but we live in a society where doublespeak corrupts public understanding, nationally and internationally and Big Brother still haunts us. Orwell’s austerity and radicalism are as relevant as ever.”