Brave new world or same old spin? Politics in the spotlight at the Sussex Salon debate

Palace of Westminster

Post expenses scandal and mid coalition, have we entered a 'new politics'? Or is it business as usual behind the spin at Westminster?

These are the questions that leading academics will discuss with Brighton's Green MP Caroline Lucas in the latest debate in the Sussex Salon series of public lectures, a collaboration between the University of Sussex and the Brighton Dome.

The Sussex Salon Series of round-table discussions offer an alternative evening out and will include views from academics and other experts as well as the audience, who will have a chance to ask questions or register their views using an electronic voting system.

The aim is to highlight research at the University that engages with contemporary issues in a way that will appeal to a wide audience.

The practice of debating intellectual matters in public places such as coffee shops was a part of everyday life in 18th-century Europe. Such events were were known as "salons", hence the title of this university series.

Following the success of the first salon event - 'The Expert Patient: is lay knowledge and self-diagnosis actually good for our health or medical science?' - the latest Salon debate promises to be a lively affair for the audience and the panelists, who are:

  • Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, who is the first Green Party MP to serve in the House of Commons and as such has enjoyed a unique view of life inside of Parliament;
  • Paul Webb, Professor of Politics and Contemporary European Studies at the University of Sussex. He is an expert in representative democracy, British and comparative Party politics and electoral processes. He currently convenes and runs courses on The Politics of Change: The Thatcher Years and UK Parties and Voters. He is currently researching gender and the Conservative Party and is author of The Modern British Party System;
  • Tim Bale, Professor of Comparative, European and British Politics at the University of Sussex. He is widely published and a regular commentator in the media on the coalition government and the evolution of the Conservative Party under David Cameron. He is author of The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron.
  • Luke Martell, Professor of Political Sociology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Sussex. His main interests are in globalisation, socialism and social democracy, New Labour and the third way and environmentalism.He is writing a book on The Global Left for Polity Press.
  • Dr Charlotte Skeet, Lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex, whose research interests include human rights, constitutionalism and gender. She is a member of Rights of Women; the Human Rights Lawyers Association and Unlock Democracy.

University of Sussex sociologist Dr Ruth Woodfield has organised the salon events, which showcase the combined expertise of academics in the University's School of Law, Politics and Sociology. Dr Woodfield says: "We are delighted to be working with the Dome on this venture. This will provide an exciting opportunity for us all to share expertise and experience in a relaxed environment."

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, says: "The Sussex Salon Series forms an exciting new strand of our autumn season, where some of the hottest topics will be debated by expert panelists. This is a great opportunity for our audience to engage and participate in current debates, and we're delighted to be working with the University of Sussex for these events."

The final Salon debate for 2010 will be on Wednesday 1st December - 'What difference have civil partnerships made?' - where the speakers will be the activist and campaigner Peter Tatchell, the writer, broadcaster and gay rights champion Simon Fanshawe and University of Sussex academics Dr Craig Lind and Dr Ben Fincham.

More Salon debates are planned for 2011.

Notes for Editors


University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune, Jacqui Bealing and Daniëlle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

The Sussex Salon Series of roundtable debates take place in the Founders Room in the Brighton Dome, Church Street, Brighton at 8pm on Wednesday 3 November 2010. Tickets are £5 (£3 concession). Price includes a free drink.  You can book tickets online or by calling the Dome box office on 01273 709 709.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 2 November 2010