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Friend of Tortoise Exclusive

The Tortoise Democracy in Britain Summit

The Tortoise Democracy in Britain Summit

This event is exclusive to Friends of Tortoise

The Tortoise Democracy in Britain Summit


Thursday 7 July • 09:30 – 14:00 BST

This is a hybrid summit. You can join us in our London newsroom, or online.

It’s been a turbulent few years for British politics. There’s arguably never been a more crucial time to take the temperature of British democracy.

With the help of veteran pollster Peter Kellner and the polling outfit Deltapoll, we asked 10,000 people across the country a series of questions to find out whether they think British democracy is working for them. The results made for grim reading.

Twelve years since the Conservatives took power and six since the EU referendum, voters are dissatisfied with their representatives, divided by demography and distrustful of a system that seems stacked against them.

Join us for our first Democracy in Britain Summit and share your thoughts on the state of British democracy today.

how it works

We’ll be running four sessions over the course of the summit. Your ticket gives you access to the whole day, either in person or online.

  • Sessions

09.00-09.25 BST

In conversation with Anand Menon

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Co-Founder, Tortoise

Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, King’s College London; Director, UK in a Changing Europe Initiative

09.30-10.20 BST

British democracy: what do the public think?

Barely half of voters think of Britain as a functioning democracy. Nearly a third want a strong leader unconstrained by parliament when it comes to making big decisions, and three quarters think MPs don’t care much or at all about their everyday concerns. It looks like British democracy isn’t working – but what else do the numbers tell us? And is London – a city pulled out of the EU against its will and with the highest child poverty rate in England – really favoured by the current system as much as many suggest?

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Co-Founder, Tortoise

Former President, YouGov

Founder, Stack Data Strategy

10.30-11.20 BST

Digital democracy: can tech bring power to the people?

Governments around the world are using everyday online platforms and other digital tools to achieve broader participation and contribute to richer public spaces for argument and debate. Technology can bring transparency and understanding to the legislative process, and give citizens more of a voice in local and national decision making. With countries like France, Brazil and Taiwan successfully opening up the democratic process with use of tech, is the UK at risk of falling behind? How conscious should we be of the risk of another Cambridge Analytica-style scandal? Does 21st-century technology integrate well with an 800-year-old institution, and is our political class ready, willing and able for a digital democracy and all that comes with it?

Author, The Digital Republic

11.40-12.05 BST

In conversation with Darren McGarvey 

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Editor and Partner, Tortoise

Author, How Remote Politics Wrecked Britain

12.10-13.00 BST

Can we bridge the generation gap? 

In our Democracy in Britain Poll, we asked people whether they thought that the government should help younger people a bit more, and older people a bit less – only 29 per cent agreed. Unsurprisingly, the results varied hugely depending on how old the respondents were. Older people overwhelmingly think that Britain is more democratic than their younger counterparts. With an ageing population and the cost of care spiralling, it’s the young who are being asked to pay for the old. How sustainable is a society in which two cohorts have almost completely different political and cultural values, face a different set of challenges, and lead, for the most part, almost entirely separate lives?

Councillor, London Borough of Hackney; CEO, My Life My Say

Author, Journalist and Acting CEO, Demos

13.10-14.00 BST

Does British democracy work for you? 

London’s been the target of plenty of populist messaging in recent years, but it’s also the English region with the highest child poverty rate, and is home to two of the country’s most deprived local authorities. Like Scotland and Northern Ireland, the city voted overwhelmingly to remain, and has been pulled out of the EU against its will. With London-bashing perhaps more popular than ever before, is it time to ask the capital how it feels for once?

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Editor and Partner, Tortoise

Deputy Leader, Women’s Equality Party; CEO, More United

The Democracy in Britain poll