Political inspiration

Inspiring young people to change their world


Political inspiration


These are broadening and inspiring talks designed to spark the realisation that politics is not something remote which happens to other people. By the end of the talk, students will see the possibilities open to them through individual and collective action, and evaluate and appreciate the importance of liberal democratic principles, whatever their view on the current political situation in the UK. The talks will give practical examples that will broaden and support the curriculum of History, Economics, Politics, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy and English Language students in particular; and be intellectually stimulating and interesting to all.


The talks draw on my work as an election observer and are brought alive by stories of how I frustrated the efforts of a host government to spy on me, the ways in which the media and the political system can be manipulated by politicians determined to cheat, and my observations from the frontline of what some have called the "new Cold War", which will be of particular interest to History students, though of importance to all.



How to organise a successful revolution


This talk is designed to give an overview of why popular uprisings happen and assess their likelihood of success. It draws out the lessons of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution(s) - based on my three recent trips to Ukraine before, during and after the revolution. It also discusses the failure of the ‘Arab Spring’ and other recent revolutions and uprisings, based on my observations of the ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia in 2003 and the conflict in Kosovo. This talk combines Economics, Sociology, Philosophy, History and Politics in an accessible and engaging way, encouraging students to consider their role in society and how they can bring about change, even in the context of the UK’s relatively liberal democracy.


‘Cold War Two’: tales from the front line


Based on my experiences of working in Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Georgia and Central Asia, combined with my analysis of History and International Relations. An investigation into whether history really is repeating itself – and if so, then which historical events? Was it the Balkan crises of the early twentieth century; the annexation of the Sudetenland and invasions of Abyssinia and Manchuria of the 1930s; or the Iron Curtain of the (first) Cold War? Whether it is any of these, or none, what should the West’s response be to Putin’s actions?


This talk can be transformed into a two-hour workshop if desired.


How dictators cheat: tips of the trade from an election observer


Highlights the importance of safe and fair elections with case studies from Egypt, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and others. This talk is designed to make students understand how the entire political process is interlinked: democracy is a permanent process, not an occasional event. Anecdotes include how tax codes and fire regulations are used to silence opposition as well as more brutal examples of political repression. The talk also provides a practical demonstration of carousel voting, widely used to cheat in many countries, and how participation can be manipulated even in Western countries including the UK.