This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Wednesday 3 June 2020, 6pm to 7.15pm
  • Location: Online event
  • Audience: Open to alumni, staff, students, the public
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Missed this event? Watch the talk on Youtube. 

Journalists Polly Toynbee and David Walker survey one of the most tumultuous periods in British history, the ten years from 2010.

Based on their book The Lost Decade, they look at how austerity and paralysis nurtured contempt for leaders, institutions and fellow citizens and fertilised the ground for a rebellious Brexit. The disorganisation and confusion around Covid-19 are in large measure the result. They point to a decade characterised by national tragedies from Grenfell to Windrush, food banks and the property crisis and, now, pandemic.

But, as Adam Smith said, ‘there’s a great deal of ruin in a nation’. No truthful portrait of an era can be monochrome. They point to bright spots including the rise of renewable energy, lower crime rates, legalisation of same-sex marriage and the creative industries punching well above their weight, at least until spring 2020.

Join Polly, Guardian columnist, and David, former contributing editor to the Guardian Public, as they explore how the last decade brings hope for better to come.

Missed this event? Watch the talk on Youtube.



About the speakers

Polly Toynbee and David Walker have co-authored Dogma and Disarray: Cameron at Half-TimeUnjust Rewards: Exposing Greed and Inequality in Britain Today; The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? and Better or Worse: Did Labour Deliver? Polly Toynbee is a columnist for the Guardian. David Walker is a former director of public reporting at the Audit Commission.

Book sales

You can buy copies of many of our speakers’ books from Fox Lane Books, a local independent bookseller and Festival partner.  In some cases, author signed bookplates are available too.