2016 Debates & Speakers

Left Field Debates: Is Feminism for everybody?


Speakers: Cat Smith MP, Jade Thomas, Munroe Bergdorf, Sue Marsh & Aisha Gani (chair)

Cat Smith was elected as the Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood at the 2015 General Election, defeating a sitting Conservative MP. Having beaten the national swing to gain her seat she nominated Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Leadership election and now serves on the front bench for Labour as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities. Having graduated with a degree in Sociology and Gender, she has been a trustee of a women’s charity and has had a deep interest in feminist politics since her student days. @CatSmithMP

Jade Thomas is a member of Sisters Uncut, a national string of feminist- anti-austerity direct action groups that seek to reverse the cuts to domestic violence services. Sisters Uncut is a feminist direct-action collective. This means Sisters do not share one “type” of feminism, but are united by a desire to campaign for better domestic violence services. Collectives have no leaders and no hierarchy. All women (trans, intersex and cis), all those who experience oppression as women (including non-binary and gender non-conforming people) and all those who identify as women for the purpose of political organising are welcome. @SistersUncut

Munroe Bergdorf is a DJ, Activist and Advocate for the trans community. She currently features in the latest campaign from high-street giant Uniqlo, as well as publicly speaking on topics of race and gender within today’s society. @MunroeBergdorf

Sue Marsh campaigns to raise awareness of hidden disabilities and long term illness. A sufferer of severe Crohn’s Disease for nearly three decades, Sue set up the blog Diary of a Benefit Scrounger to raise awareness of life with a chronic illness and to write about the realities – good and bad – of NHS treatment in the UK. Sue is married with two small children and set up The Spartacus Network which in 2012 launched the “Spartacus Report” where disabled activists used #spartacusreport “Twitter Storm” to help inflict 11 welfare reform defeats on the government in the Lords. As well as maintaining her own blog, Sue is a regular contributor to the Guardian. @suey2y

Aisha Gani (chair) @aishagani

Left Field Debates: Immigration – a world without borders?


Speakers: Antonia Bright, Clive Lewis MP, Nimco Ali, Reni Eddo-Lodge & John Harris (chair)

Antonia Bright is an organiser in the Movement for Justice, and has been at the centre of organising the biggest demonstrations against immigration detention in Britain. At Yarl’s Wood 2,000 people with hundreds of detainees, protested on 12th March breaking down the isolation that the system relies on, and exposing the racism and abuse. As a result a growing movement is challenging the whole anti-immigrant policy that has at its centre arbitrary detention. In the face of hostile attacks on immigration, this movement has been winning important victories. @followMFJ

Clive Lewis is the Labour MP for Norwich South and the Shadow Minister for Climate & Energy Change. He entered Parliament in May 2015 where after his election night victory he declared New Labour ‘to be dead and buried’. He was one of the first MPs to openly nominate and support Jeremy Corbyn for leader of the Labour Party and was subsequently promoted to the shadow front bench on his leadership victory. Before entering Parliament Clive was Vice President of the National Union of Students, a BBC TV political reporter as well as Army reservist infantry officer, serving a combat tour of Afghanistan in 2009. He has previously described himself as a ‘proud socialist’. @labourlewis

Nimco Ali is a British Somali feminist, social activist and prolific social media commentator. She is co-founder and director of Daughters of Eve, a survivor-led organisation which has helped to transform the approach to ending female genital mutilation (FGM). Nimco formally worked on The Girl Generation: Together to End FGM campaign, which celebrates the Africa-led movement to end FGM in one generation. In 2014, was awarded Red magazine’s Woman of the Year award and also placed at No 6 on Woman’s Hour’s power list. Most recently she was named by The Sunday Times as one of Debrett’s 500 most influential people in Britain. She is a trustee for Women for Refugee Women, Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize and a Committee member of the Women’s Equality Party. @NimkoAli

Reni Eddo-Lodge is a writer and award winning journalist focusing on race and social justice. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Voice Newspaper, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, , Dazed and Confused Magazine, Grazia Magazine, Stylist, Vice, the New Humanist and others. Her first book, ‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’, is out next year. @renireni

John Harris (chair)

Left Field Debates: Junior Doctors, Unite and Strike!


Speakers: Dr Aislinn Macklin-Doherty, Dr Roshana Mehdian, Mark Serwotka, Mhairi Black MP & John Harris (chair)

Dr Aislinn Macklin-Doherty is a Junior Doctor training in cancer treatment. She is a PhD student undertaking research into the side effects of cancer treatments and is dedicated to championing equitable healthcare delivery for all and standing up for a publicly funded, provided and accountable healthcare service. She is the Secretary in her local Momentum group in support of a new kind of politics where healthcare, education, housing, justice and equality are valued as the most important components of a fair society and are valued above elitism and corporate greed.

Dr Roshana Mehdian is a Trauma an Orthopaedic Surgeon. She has been heavily involved in campaigning for Junior doctors and NHS patients in the recent junior doctor contract dispute with the government. Roshana’s involvement has included organising large protests in London, numerous media appearances, lobbying and press (writing for the Guardian, Huffington Post and British Medical Journal). She is co-founder of NHS Survival, a lobby group aiming for cross-party cooperation on NHS matters to protect it being used as a political bargaining chip and you should read her viral blog,: ‘Hunts Cunning Stunt’ @RoshanaMN

Mark Serwotka is the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union – the UK’s largest civil service union, with around 300,000 members in over 200 government departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. Born in south Wales in 1963, Mark started work at 16 in what was then the DHSS as a clerical officer. Standing as a socialist candidate and a rank and file branch secretary from the DSS Sheffield branch of PCS, he was elected to the post of general secretary in December 2000 and is almost unique among his peers, having come straight from the shop floor. @ReelectSerwotka

Mhairi Black became a Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire South in the 2015 general election while still a final year undergraduate student at the University of Glasgow. On 1 July 2015, it was announced that Black had been appointed to the Work and Pensions Select Committee and she made her maiden speech on 14 July 2015 and has been viewed over 10 million times on various media.  @MhairiBlack

John Harris (chair)

Left Field Debates: #EUref – what now for Europe & Britain?


Speakers: Dr. Faiza Shaheen, John McDonnell MP, Neal Lawson, Molly Scott Cato & John Harris

Dr. Faiza Shaheen is an economist, blogger and activist. She has published a range of materials related to the most salient social and economic debates of our times, including inequality, austerity, immigration, youth unemployment and social mobility. She is currently the Director of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class). Class is a think tank and space for Left debate, its aim is to develop new analysis and policy solutions which are grounded in the realities of everyday people’s lives. Faiza’s previous roles include Head of Inequality and Sustainable Development at Save the Children UK and Senior Researcher on economic inequality at the New Economics Foundation (NEF). @faizashaheen

John McDonnell is a British Labour Party politician who was appointed the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in September 2015. He became the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hayes and Harlingtonat the 1997 general election, and has retained his seat subsequently. Before joining the frontbench following Jeremy Corbyn‘s election as Labour leader, he served as Chair of the Socialist Campaign Group in Parliament and the Labour Representation Committee, and was the chair of the Public Services Not Private Profit Group. He is also Parliamentary Convenor of the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group of eight left-wing trade unions representing over half a million workers. @johnmcdonnellMP

Neal Lawson is Chair of the good society pressure group Compass and was author of All Consuming (Penguin, 2009). He has served on the Boards of UK Feminista and We own it!, is a Contributing Editor of the social democracy journal Renewal and is an Associate Member at the Bauman Institute at Leeds University. He writes regularly for the Guardian and the New Statesman@Neal_Compass

Molly Scott Cato is a British green politician, academic, environmental and community activist, and green economist who is the current Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the South West England region for the Green Party. She was elected in May 2014, and is the first Green Party MEP to represent the region. From 2012 until her election as MEP, she was Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at the University of Roehampton.  She has published widely on green economics, localism and anti-capitalism, and has contributed to works on the risks of nuclear power, the use of which she strongly opposes. @MollyMEP

John Harris (chair)

Left Field Debates: Post Capitalism for an equal society


Speakers: Amina Gichinga, Nick Srnicek, Paul Mason, & John Harris (chair)

Amina Gichinga was born and lives in Newham, East London. She is a singer, teacher and stood as Take Back the City’s GLA candidate for the City and East London Constituency in this year’s Mayoral & London Assembly elections. For the last three years she has been a music leader and community organiser in Silvertown, working with deprived communities who face the impacts of London City Airport. Having seen the devastating impacts of London’s housing crisis, and the rapid gentrification of Newham – with the growing inequality that sits alongside these ‘developments’, Amina was motivated to focus her energies on challenging the Labour-dominated electoral hold on East London. Amina represented Take Back the City’s ‘People’s Manifesto’ in the May 2016 elections, which were informed by more than 70 community-based workshops and nearly 1000 online demand submissions. @Aminaminky

Nick Srnicek is co-author of Inventing the Future (Verso, 2016 with Alex Williams). He writes on the changing nature of work and technology in the contemporary world. He is currently writing a book on new “smart” technologies like the Internet of Things and the sharing economy, as well as a book on reproductive labour, care work, and post-work politics (with Helen Hester). @n_srnck

Paul Mason is a writer and broadcaster on economics and social justice. He was Culture and Digital Editor of Channel 4 News, becoming the programme’s Economics Editor on 1 June 2014, a post he formerly held on BBC2‘s Newsnight programme. He is the author of several books, and a visiting professor at the University of Wolverhampton. His books include Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: the New Global Revolutions; Live Working Die Fighting; and Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed and recently PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future. @paulmasonnews

John Harris (chair)

Left Field Debates: In conversation with Jeremy Corbyn


Speakers: Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party & John Harris (chair)

Jeremy Corbyn is the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Islington North since 1983 and was elected Labour Leader in 2015. Born in ChippenhamWiltshire, his political career began when he was elected to Haringey Council in 1974 and later was secretary of the Islington Constituency Labour Party (CLP). He continued in both roles until he entered the House of Commons as an MP. Jeremy has attended and spoken at human rights peace conferences across the globe, and travelled to many countries to speak out against militarisation, calling for solutions through peaceful negotiation. Jeremy is a keen cyclist and is the first Leader of the Labour Party to attend Glastonbury.  @jeremycorbyn

John Harris is a writer, author, critic and commentator. He is the author of The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Demise of English Rock (2003), So Now Who Do We Vote For? He has a regular column for the Guardian. @johnharris1969

‘Speak For Yourself’  with the Green Kids


Over the festival weekend Michael James Parker, Warrior Storyteller, Battle Poet and Host of Small Revolutions, will be holding workshops in the Green Kids Field, encouraging children to stand up, speak out, and let the world know their views.

Come and hear the young speakers when they bring their voices to Left Field

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