*This was originally posted on my old blog BeanHeartBatman*
Where: The Studio, Cannon St, Birmingham
When: monthly (I visited Tuesday 9 March)
What: A group of people felt Birmingham suffered from a lack of debate and so the Birmingham Salon was set up to allow people to watch a debate and follow it up with discussion.
February’s topic was appropriately titled ‘Whose election is it anyway?’ with guest speakers Dolan Cummings from the Institute of Ideas and Peter Kerr, senior lecture in politics at the University of Birmingham. Both speakers talked about a broken political system.
Dolan Cummings discussed the general malaise of the general public, who felt divorced from the political system and the conflict over whether MPs should be viewed as “one of us” or whether this downgraded them and they should be viewed as leaders. His solution was to reignite politics in a way that inspires the public and becomes what they want. He suggested a 21 topics which needed discussing, but were currently being ignored.
Peter Kerr believed that to most people there was no difference between the political parties, with the major parties more interested in the cult of celebrity and battling over who could do less and shirk responsibility. He pointed to membership numbers of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds having more members than the Conservative party.
The audience, it seemed, myself included, believed that the general public were still involved in politics, but couldn’t find a place in the current system. People spoke about the wider world, with reference to the recent Iraqi elections and the popularity of pressure groups on social networking sites and community groups.
Go back? Absolutely. It was nice to finally see a place that allowed for people to discuss current affairs and challenge the ideas of themselves and others. The organisers were friendly and accommodating of new people.
The next discussion is ‘Mr Science and Mr Democracy: the pursuit of modernity in China’ on Wednesday 21 April at The Studio. For more information, visit theBirmingham Salon website.