Political activist Owen Jones joins top BBC journalist Nick Robinson ‘In Conversation’ at the Barnaby Festival on Saturday 18 June in one of a number of star studded headline events at Macclesfield’s Barnaby Festival.
Brought up in neighbouring boroughs but in opposing political traditions, Jones and Robinson take to the stage together for the first time in what promises to be a witty and insightful discussion about influences, impartiality and political life – followed by a question and answer session.
Macclesfield-born Robinson was political editor of both ITV and the BBC and is now a presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship news programme Today. He was a founder member of Macclesfield Young Conservatives and went on to Chair the national organisation before becoming a journalist. Owen Jones, who grew up in the neighbouring borough of Stockport and describes himself as a ‘fourth generation socialist’ whose parents were members of the Militant Tendency. He is a columnist for the Guardian, author of Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class and appears regularly on BBC’s Newsnight and Question Time.
Nick Robinson has a deep personal connection to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme which he joined earlier this year. He follows in the footsteps of his mentor, the late Brian Redhead, renowned for his regular on-air championing of Macclesfield. They became close after Robinson survived a car accident in which two of his friends, including Redhead’s son, Will died. The veteran broadcaster encouraged the young man to pursue a career in the media and inspired his love of radio. Robinson now becomes the second journalist with a Macclesfield connection to present what is arguably the country’s most influential news programme.
The audience at this event at St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield can expect feisty journalistic debate. There is mutual respect, but in 2014 Jones dismissed the Government claim of ‘leftwing bias’ at the BBC and accused it of being ‘stacked full of right wingers’. Last year, Robinson – no stranger to controversy over his reporting – expressed concern about the tone of some BBC coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s election to Labour Party leader.
Festival Director, Karl Wallace says: ” This is not only a unique opportunity to hear perspectives on politics and journalism, but also to explore the differing influences on two local lads who went onto be national figures and are at the top of their game. We know there’s a real appetite in Macclesfield for political debate and we are hugely grateful to Nick and Owen for their support of the festival. It’s going to be one of the highlights of this year’s Barnaby”.
Nick Robinson is also talking at King Edward Street Chapel on Friday 17 June in ‘Space for Debate’, addressing the current controversy around free speech. He argues that the concept of a ‘safe space’ – creating a protective cocoon to avoid causing offence – is itself a threat to open and intellectual debate. Tickets for all events are available at www.barnabyfestival.org.uk
Tickets for In Conversation: Nick Robinson and Owen Jones are £12.50 from Macclesfield Visitor Information Centre or www.barnabyfestival.org.uk org. Barnaby Festival runs from Friday 17 to Sunday 26 June with more than 100 events and exhibitions in Macclesfield town centre. A registered charity promoting arts and culture in the market town, it is created with its community and powered by volunteers.