Speaker’s Corner

Professor Richard Aldous
Richard Aldous holds the Eugene Meyer Chair at Bard College, New York. He is the bestselling author of numerous books, including GREAT IRISH SPEECHES, REAGAN AND THATCHER, and a biography of Tony Ryan. Richard writes and reviews for the New York Times, the Irish Times and the Sunday Telegraph, and is a regular contributor to television and radio on both sides of the Atlantic. He is currently writing an authorised biography of the historian Arthur Schlesinger, who was Special Assistant to the President of the United States between 1961 and 1964.

Richard Aldous

Michael Axworthy
In the 1980s Michael Axworthy studied history at Peterhouse, Cambridge before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1986. After a variety of work in London and overseas, he served as the Head of Iran Section in the FCO from 1998-2000, coinciding with the improvement in UK/Iran relations at the beginning of the Presidency of Mohammad Khatami. Since 2000 he has been working in Cornwall as a writer and editor. He has written numerous books on Iran, exploring the country from the 18th century until today. In March 2016 Michael was appointed as a non-executive director of the OLMA Damavand fund.  

Michael-Axworthy

Oliver Balch
Oliver Balch is a UK freelance journalist specialising in sustainable business and world affairs. His work appears regularly in a wide range of international publications, including the Guardian, the Financial Times, Conde Nast Traveller and The Traveller. He is currently studying for a PhD at Cambridge Univerisity, with his research focussing on the role of corporations in society, with particular attention to corporate-community relations. His first book, VIVA SOUTH AMERICA! was shortlisted as ‘Book of the Year’ at the UK Travel Press Awards.

Oliver Balch

Simon Barnes
Simon Barnes is an multi-award winning journalist. He was Chief Sports Writer of The Times until 2014, and also wrote a wildlife opinion column in the Saturday edition of the same newspaper. He is also a nature writer, horseman, and the author of over 20 books, including the bestselling How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher and The Meaning of Sport. Simon is a council member of the World Land Trust, which buys land for wildlife conservation on behalf of cash-strapped organisations in the developing world, a patron of Save the Rhino, and honorary vice-president of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Simon Barnes

Dr John Bew

John Bew is Reader in History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London. He is also Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence and runs the Foreign Policy Research Group at King’s. He was recently appointed the Henry Alfred Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. John writes for the Irish Times, London Review of Books, Spectator, Standpoint and Times Higher Education Supplement. He appears regularly on television and radio including CNN, Sky News and BBC Newsnight, The Review Show, The Today Programme and Radio 4’s Analysis, for which he presented a programme on British national identity. He recently presented a documentary for BBC Northern Ireland about the life of Lord Castlereagh. He has lectured on historical and contemporary political issues – including foreign policy, national identity and terrorism – at a range of prestigious international institutions including the Locarno Room at the Foreign Office, the National Defense University in Washington DC and the European Parliament in Brussels.

John Bew

Heidi Blake
Heidi is UK Investigations Editor of BuzzFeed News and was previously Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times, attached to the Insight investigations team. Her scoops have made waves in politics, sport, business, defence, health and security. She has won twelve national journalism awards including Scoop of the Year, Investigation of the Year and the Paul Foot Award for Campaigning and Investigative Journalism. She is the co-author with Jonathan Calvert of THE UGLY GAME, a devastating account of the Qatari plot to buy the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Heidi Blake

Liam Byrne

Liam Byrne is the Member of Parliament for Birmingham, Hodge Hill and Shadow Minister for Universities, Science and Skills. In Westminster, Liam has been asked to do some of the hardest jobs in government – in the Home Office, Downing Street and HM Treasury, creating the UK Border Agency, reorganising No 10 for Gordon Brown, and drawing up Labour’s deficit reduction plan for Alistair Darling. Liam is the author of over twenty books and pamphlets about Britain’s future and is a passionate advocate of closer ties between Britain and Asia. His book Turning to Face the East was published by Guardian Books in 2013. His latest book, Dragons, is a celebration of British business genius and a fascinatingly informative narrative of a neglected but essential strand of our island’s story. It will be published early next year. He sits on the board of the GB-China Centre, is vice chair of the APPG on East Asian Business and a patron of Chinese for Labour.

Liam Byrne

Jonathan Calvert
Jonathan Calvert is one of the preeminent investigative journalists of our time. As current Editor of the Insight investigations team at The Sunday Times, a position he has held for more than nine years, Calvert has had a hand in exposing many of the scandals and cover-ups to happen over the last few years, including the recent investigation into corruption involved in Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. His first major scoop was exposing the Cash for Questions scandal as an undercover Insight reporter in 1994 and he has steered the team through a long line of exclusives which have made waves around the world since taking the helm in 2005. He has won a multitude of awards, including scoop of the year twice, and three prizes in the 2014 British Journalism Awards with Heidi Blake.

Jonathan Calvert

Jane Corbin
Jane Corbin started her television career as a reporter with Thames, Granada and ITN, before becoming a correspondent for Channel 4 News. She joined the BBC in 1988 as a reporter on Panorama. In recent years Jane has focussed on the Middle East, Iraq and the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terror network. She has reported from the front lines of the US-led war on terror, travelling extensively in Afghanistan, with exclusive access to both UK and US troops, and covering the Iraq war in the southern city of Basra. Jane has won four Royal Television Society journalism awards and been nominated several times for an Emmy for best investigative international journalism.

Jane Corbin

Tom Gash
Tom Gash is a Director at the Institute for Government and a writer. He was previously a crime adviser in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and a strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. Tom has worked with governments across the world as an independent consultant and contributes regularly to debates on current affairs, including in The Independent, The Guardian and on national television and radio. He remains passionate about crime policy and continues to contribute widely to debates on crime and justice issues.

Tom Gash

Daniel Hannan
Daniel Hannan has been Conservative MEP FOR THE South East of England since 1999, and Is Secretary General of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists. He speaks French and Spanish fluently. He loves Europe, but believes the EU is making its member coutnries poorer, less democratic and less free. His speech against Gordon Brown in 2010 is the most watched political video in Britain. He blogs regularly at www.hannan.co.uk and for the Daily Telegraph.

Daniel Hannan MEP

Simon Heffer
Simon Heffer is a journalist, author and political commentator, and the editor of the Daily Mail’s RightMinds. He was previously Associate Editor at the Daily Telegraph, having served as a columnist on the Daily Mail from 1995 to 2005. He regularly appears on television and radio programmes such as ‘Question Time’, ‘What the Papers Say’ and ‘Any Questions’. He has written biographies of Thomas Carlyle, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Enoch Powell, and reviews and writes on politics for the New Statesman.

Simon Heffer

Steve Hilton
Steve Hilton is co-founder and CEO of Crowdpac, a political technology company based in California, and a visiting professor at Stanford University. He was previously Senior Advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron, and founder of Good Business, a corporate responsibility consulting firm. In May 2015, Steve joined the UK think tank Policy Exchange as a visiting scholar. His latest book, the acclaimed MORE HUMAN, advocates smaller human scale organisations and is critical of large governmental and business including factory farms and banks.

Steve Hilton

Tristram Hunt
Tristram Hunt is Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Labour Candidate for Stoke-on-Trent Central. Between 2001-2010, Tristram combined his post as Senior Lecturer in British History at Queen Mary, University of London with work as a history broadcaster, presenting over fifteen radio and television programmes for the BBC and Channel 4. In addition to making regular contributions to The Guardian and The Observer, he is also an award-winning author. Since entering Parliament, Tristram Hunt has focused on educational excellence; the regeneration needs of Stoke-on-Trent; the ceramics industry and energy intensive sector. He is a Trustee of the History of Parliament Trust and fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Tristram Hunt MP

The Rt Hon. Lord Hutton of Furness
Lord Hutton is a leading European expert on the public policy issues arising from major demographic and economic trends, particularly the pressures on pension schemes and public health systems as the average age of European countries’ populations edges upwards. He has had a distinguished career in British public life. After working as a law lecturer in Newcastle he was elected in 1992 as Labour MP for Barrow and Furness. He served as Minister of State for Health from 1999-2005, then as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office. He had three Cabinet-level positions: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform from, and Secretary of State Defence. He stepped back from active politics in 2009. In 2010 he was created a Life Peer as Baron Hutton of Furness.

John Hutton

Dan Jones
Dan Jones is an award-winning historian of the Middle Ages and the New York Times bestselling author of THE PLANTAGENETS and THE WARS OF THE ROSES. A charismatic television presenter, he has narrated Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty, a four-part series based on THE PLANTAGENETS, as well as another series about castles in England and France. He is a columnist at the Evening Standard and has contributed to Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Smithsonian, and many other outlets.

Dan Jones

Ben Judah
Ben Judah is the author of FRAGILE EMPIRE: HOW RUSSIA FELL IN AND OUT OF LOVE WITH VLADIMIR PUTIN and a visiting fellow at the European Stability Initiative, in Istanbul. He reported for Reuters in Moscow and was a research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations working on Russian politics. His reporting from across the former Soviet Union—including on the Georgian War in 2008 and the Kyrgyz uprising of 2010, has featured in the Financial Times, the Economist, Foreign Policy, Prospect and Standpoint. A dual British and French national, he spent his childhood in Romania and the former Yugoslavia before reading Modern History and Politics at the University of Oxford.

Ben Judah

Tim Judah
Tim Judah is a reporter and political analyst for The Economist, and has written several books, mainly focussing on Serbia and Kosovo. A graduate of the London School of Economics and of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University he worked for the BBC before becoming the Balkans correspondent for The Times and the Economist. During the Kosovo war he broadcast widely and wrote for the New York Review of Books, the Observer, the Sunday Telegraph and the Guardian ‘Weekend’ magazine. He is also the author of the prizewinning THE SERBS: HISTORY, MYTH AND THE DESTRUCTION OF YUGOSLAVIA. Apart from the Balkans, Tim has reported from countries including El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan and Uganda.

Tim Judah

Paul Kenyon
Paul Kenyon is a BAFTA-winning journalist and author who has reported from around the world for the BBC. He is best known for his films on the BBC’s Panorama programme, which often involve reporting from conflict zones, “doorstepping” criminals, and undercover work. In 2009, Paul followed the world’s most dangerous migration route, out of Africa and into Europe, making four films on the subject and winning the ‘Specialist Journalist of the Year Award’ from the Royal Television Society. Through his documentaries Paul is known for giving a voice to the vulnerable, the poor, and the defenceless. He’s exposed the use of child labour in Africa and Asia by some of the biggest global brands. In India, he uncovered the institutional use of human guinea pigs in clinical trials, sponsored by Western Pharmaceutical giants.

Paul Kenyon

Kwasi Kwarteng
Kwasi Kwarteng was born in London to Ghanaian parents. He has a PhD in History from Cambridge University and worked as a financial analyst, journalist and author. He was elected a Conservative Member of Parliament for Spelthorne in May 2010.

Kwasi Kwarteng MP

Shiraz Maher
Shiraz Maher is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), King’s College London. He is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, is a contributing writer to the New Statesman, and was a visiting lecturer at Washington College in 2012. Maher’s research interests include salafi-jihadism, Islamic political thought, and Islamist militancy. His research currently focuses on the conflict in Syria and Iraq. He has been profiled by the Wall Street Journal and the BBC has described him as “one of the world’s leading experts on radicalisation.”

Shiraz Maher

Adam Nicolson
Adam Nicolson is the author of many books on history, travel and the environment. He is winner of the Somerset Maugham Award and the British Topography Prize and lives on at Sissinghust Castle in Kent.

Adam Nicolson

Dr Nicholas Penny
Nicholas Penny was Director of the National Gallery, London from February 2008 to August 2015. After obtaining his doctorate from the Courtauld Institute, Nicholas began his career as a lecturer in art history at the University of Manchester. His first museum position was as Keeper of the Department of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. He was Clore Curator of Renaissance Painting at the National Gallery between 1990 and 2002, but spent 2000-2002 as Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in the National Gallery of Art, Washington. From 2002-2008 he was Senior Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Nicholas Penny

Dr Simon Reid Henry
Simon Reid-Henry is a historical and political geographer with interests in political philosophy and the history of ideas, political economy, and the international politics of the Cold War and Post-Cold War era. He has explored these issues through substantive work on science, development, global health, and humanitarianism. He is Reader in Geography at Queen. He is presently on leave as a Philip Leverhulme Prize holder based in Oslo, where he is also a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute.

Simon Reid-Henry

Dr Simon Sebag Montefiore

Controversial and  colourful in print, eloquent and witty and much in demand in USA and Europe as a speaker,   Simon Sebag Montefiore is one of the world’s leading historians on leadership, revolution and empire,   Russia and the Middle East.  He was one of the first to predict the course of the Arab Spring.   Charting the qualities that drive the rise and fall of men, empires and faiths,  his themes are timeless ones that apply as much to today’s geopolitics and business life as they do to the past. They explain much that is happening today and why Russia and the Middle East work the way they do.    Dr Montefiore is the author of  world bestseller ‘Jerusalem: the Biography’ chosen by President Bill Clinton as his book of the year. ‘Catherine the Great & Potemkin’ has just been  optioned by Angelina Jolie.  ‘Stalin: the Court of the Red Tsar’  is now the classic study of the dictator and ‘Young Stalin’ won prizes in UK, USA and France.  How presenting his fourth BBC series, he regularly comments in the New York Times and Times of London as well as appearing on the Charlie Rose Show in the US and Newsnight in Britain.  His new book ‘The Romanovs 1613-1918’ chronicles the tsars from Peter the Great to Nicholas II and  examines the exceptional nature of Russia from Ivan the Terrible to Putin.

Simon Sebag Montefiore

Jo Shapcott
Jo Shapcott is an award-winning poet. She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). TENDER TAXES, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001. Her most recent collection, OF MUTABILITY, was published in 2010 and won the Costa Book Award. In 2011 Jo Shapcott was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

Jo Shapcott

David Willetts
David served as the Member of Parliament for Havant from 1992 to March 2015. He has worked at HM Treasury, the Number 10 Policy Unit, and served as Paymaster General in the last Conservative Government. He has also previously served as the Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities & Skills, Shadow Secretary of State for Work & Pensions and for Trade & Industry. He is a Governor of the Ditchley Foundation, a member of the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a member of the Global Ageing Commission and a Visiting Professor at the Cass Business School. From May 2010 to July 2014 David served as Minister for Universities and Science. He was appointed as a Privy Councillor in June 2010.

David Willetts MP