Making Hay

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Last weekend I spoke at the Hay Festival. It was my first time attending and an interesting experience. The weather was foul, the car parks resembled WW1 battlefields (in terms of mud, anyway) and everywhere people were trying to shelter from the rain. And yet the atmosphere was utterly delightful. Think of it as a rock festival for ideas. Here and there were the usual suspects from the metropolitan media elite, preening themselves in designer wellies. But mostly the town was thronged with normal people queuing to get into lectures and discussions on all sorts of subjects. Most would, I’d guess, be loath to describe themselves as ‘intellectuals’. (Especially since the word has such unfortunate connotations in Britain.) They were just for the most part unpretentious people interested in ideas. And as I walked around I found myself thinking that these are the folks whom Rupert Murdoch most despises. But in fact they are the people who make Britain such an interesting and civilised society. And I’m pretty sure that they are also the kind of people who will make sure that UKIP fizzles out when the general election comes next year.

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