Festival Debate

Backwell Festival

Festival Debate

Sunday Morning Tent Stage – 11am

Get involved in the debate! So much to discuss these days!  Don’t stay at home and read the papers or listen to the radio, come to our Tent Stage on Sunday morning for our own version of Question Time where our panel of notables discuss the hot issues of the moment! Festival traders will be open early, selling breakfast and refreshments!

For your chance to join the debate, send questions to jane@backwellfestival.co.uk  by Friday July 6th. You will be called upon to ask your own question.

We are delighted to be joined by International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP (Con), Karin Smyth MP (Lab), Sophie Walker Leader of the Women’s Equality Party and Amelia Womack Deputy Leader of the Green Party.  In the chair will be David Lloyd, writer, actor and former Bristol City FC Matchday announcer, who also reviews the papers for BBC Radio Bristol. There will be more about each contributor soon..

Our food traders will be open so you can pick up a freshly ground coffee from Bob’s Landrover and a crepe from Rosie’s, or something delicious from any of our other stalls to fuel the debate and allay the hangover!

Dr Liam Fox MP (Con) –  North Somerset – Update: Dr Fox now has ministerial appointments elsewhere in the UK and cannot come

International Trade Secretary for Theresa May’s government, Liam Fox, has been the MP for North Somerset since April 1992. Liam very quickly gained seniority in the Conservative Party, serving as Shadow Secretary of Health and Shadow Secretary of Defence before being appointed Secretary of State for Defence by Prime Minister David Cameron in May 2010. He resigned from this position amidst controversy in October 2011 and returned to the back benches.

During his spell on the back benches, Liam worked on the Brexit campaign, joining forces with UKIP’s Nigel Farage to put the case in the South West. He retains a very close interest in our national security and the well-being of our armed forces.

Karin Smyth MP South Bristol (Lab) 

Karin Smyth was elected as Labour MP for Bristol South in May 2015.

Until then Karin worked as an NHS manager, most recently with the NHS Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group. Previously she has run an MP’s office and been non-Executive director of an NHS Trust.

Born in London to Irish parents who came to Britain in the 1950s, seeking work, Karin moved to Bristol in the 1990s.

She had graduated with a degree in Economics and Social Studies from the University of East Anglia in 1988, and subsequently studied a MBA at the University of Bath in 1995.

Karin is married with three young sons and counts family time not only as being precious but important too. “I’m sure it also keeps me grounded’” she says.

“Before becoming a Member of Parliament, my most important experience and contribution to society had been starting and raising my family.

“Developing deep community links, supportive networks, experiencing the ups and downs of family life has taught me more about public representation and politics than studying for a politics degree or 30 years of activism,” she adds.

Amelia Womack – Deputy Leader, Green Party.

Amelia’s three years as Green Party deputy leader have seen her work across the country, visiting hundreds of local campaigns, events and organisations. She works to raise awareness of local issues while campaigning for change on a national level.

She was elected in 2014 at the age of 29, while still a member of the Young Greens, and has used this platform to highlight problems affecting young people, from tuition fees to zero hour contracts.

She holds a BSc in Environmental Biology and MSc in Environmental Technology. She works across a wide range of social and environmental issues, with a particular focus on women’s rights, flooding, climate change and community resilience.

Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party

Sophie Walker is Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Britain’s first feminist political party which was formed in 2015 to speed up the glacial pace of change and put women’s rights at the top of the agenda.

In 2016 Sophie ran for London Mayor on a manifesto to close the city’s 23 percent pay gap and lack of affordable childcare and won 1 in every 20 votes cast. In 2017 she contested the ‘men’s rights activist’ MP Philip Davies after he filibustered a bill to end violence against women and girls, and helped to halve his constituency majority, and Sophie recently won 90% of the votes cast by members and supporters in the Party’s first leadership election.

A former Reuters correspondent of 20 years, Sophie came to politics via disability campaigning and activism when her daughter was diagnosed with autism. Sophie is also an ambassador for the National Autistic Society and for IncludeMEtoo, supporting disabled children and their families from diverse backgrounds.

Already this year, Sophie and the Women’s Equality Party have come out in support of Carrie Gracie and the BBC women in fighting the gender pay gap for every woman, have continued to put pressure on the other political parties to take sexual harassment as seriously as they take MPs expenses, and supported staff and former staff speaking out against harassment in the aid sector. Sophie is regularly out canvassing for our first candidates in local elections this May, in around 30 wards around the country.