Hay Festival provides food for thought for so many more people

The beautiful Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye is in the constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire. Jane Dodds, the Welsh Lib Dem leader lives there and every year they hold a book festival.

This year the pandemic has inspired them to take the festival online and make it available to people for free. Most things are now fully booked, but I managed to register for about 9 events.

So far I’ve seen one of the pioneers of the feminist movement, Gloria Steinem discuss gender inequality with Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates.

Yesterday evening, the BBC’s Jon Sopel described the surreality of Donald Trump’s White House. Remember when it came out that Donald Trump had had a very sweary response to the appointment fo Robert Mueller? Sopel described the tortuous discussions at the BBC about whether he could use the word. He did in the end, and his story was better for it.

He talked about how for all Trump’s shortcomings, he understands his base and what he needs to do to keep them on board. There are lessons for us all in that, as we see our government adopt the same brazen tactics.

A night out at the Trump hotel i Washington ended up with Sopel and his wife gawping at Trump and his wife Melania, after he became President, who were having dinner in the same restaurant.

This evening, I listened to author Elif Shafak talk about her vision for a new, more egalitarian world after the pandemic. As part of a series of lectures, she talked about the importance of knowledge, wisdom and empathy and the role of storytelling in bringing people together.

We can’t, she said, just go back to normal.

https://twitter.com/caronmlindsay/status/1264279966826606596?s=20

I am seeing Miriam Gonzalez Durantez tonight, more Elif Shafak, this time with Philippe Sands and Stephen Fry today.

You can see some previous years’ talks on the Hay Player which, at a tenner is exceptionally good value.

I would never normally get to the Hay Festival as it’s too far away, but I hope that they continue with this digital element.

Our Conference will be very different this year as it takes place online. It can’t properly replace the dynamic of a physical conference but we won’t be able to go back to the old way of doing things. We’ll have to move forward and become more inclusive in our internal democracy.

There’s talk in Edinburgh of the Festivals getting more of a link with local communities once this is all over. The idea of Edinburgh with no festival in August is unthinkable. The impact on the local economy will be massive and we’ll need to have a think about supporting those businesses all over the country who depend on a tourism industry that just won’t happen this year.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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