The rise of toxic politics: can we be civil?

Looking at a world seemingly filled with slurs, angry social-media comments, inflammatory remarks and nasty jibes about ‘stupid Brexiteers’, many commentators have announced that we live in an age of ‘toxic politics’. Concerns about the incivility of political life are hardly new, but are we witnessing a new, more toxic kind of politics? Should we lament a supposedly lost civility, or is the emergence of more forthright and angry disagreements in fact a good thing? Who gets to decide what are acceptable and unacceptable forms of discourse?

This engaging debate was filmed at the Battle of Ideas Festival at the Barbican in November 2019 by WORLDbytes volunteers. The speakers are: Dolan Cummings associate fellow, Academy of Ideas; co-founder, Manifesto Club; author, That Existential Leap: a crime story Timandra Harkness journalist, writer and broadcaster; presenter, Radio 4’s FutureProofing and How to Disagree; comedian, Take A Risk; author, Big Data: does size matter? Dr Deborah E Lipstadt professor of Holocaust Studies, Emory University, Atlanta; author, Antisemitism: Here and Now; defendant, Irving v Penguin UK and Lipstadt (2000) Jacob Mchangama executive director, Justitia, a Copenhagen based human-rights think tank; host and narrator, Clear and Present Danger: a history of free speech podcast James Tooley professor of educational entrepreneurship and policy, University of Buckingham; author, The Beautiful Tree. The chair is Alastair Donald co-convenor, Battle of Ideas festival; convenor, Living Freedom; co-director, Future Cities Project