Two writers from well-known radical families debate the politics of privilege and dissent
While for generations Polly Toynbee’s ancestors have been committed left-wingers, they could never claim to be working-class, settling instead for the prosperous worlds of academia and journalism. The Benn family have a long history of public radicalism, and Tony Benn famously renounced his peerage. In this event Polly and Melissa talk about the enduring power of social class in modern Britain, and how it works for – and against – those who call for social change. Polly’s new memoir An Uneasy Inheritance: My Family and Other Radicals, will be on sale in the festival bookshop.
Polly Toynbee is a journalist, author and broadcaster. A Guardian columnist and broadcaster, she was formerly the BBC’s social affairs editor. She has written for the Observer, the Independent and Radio Times and been an editor at the Washington Monthly. She has won numerous awards including a National Press Award and the Orwell Prize for Journalism.
Melissa Benn is a journalist, novelist and campaigner. She has written for the Guardian, the New Statesman, Public Finance, Cosmopolitan and the London Review of Books, among many others. Her writing on education includes School Wars: the Battle for Britain’s Education and A Comprehensive Future: Quality and Equality for All Our Children, written with Fiona Millar. In spring 2012 she won the Fred and Anne Jarvis award in recognition of her outstanding individual contribution for a fairer education system. She is also the author of What Shall we Tell Our Daughters? and the novel One of Us.