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Rhetoric, Lies and Politicians

LSE Literary Festival event

Date: Saturday 3 March 2012 
Time: 1-2.30pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building
Speakers: Lord Hurd, Sam Leith, Ian Leslie, Jonathan Powell
Chair: Jenni Russell

This distinguished panel will discuss the importance of rhetoric, that famous art of persuasion, as well as the centrality of lying and self-deception to human society and politics.

Lord Hurd retired as Foreign Secretary in July 1995, after a distinguished career in Government spanning sixteen years.  He served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1984 - 85, Home Secretary from 1985 - 89 and Foreign Secretary 1989 – 1995 in the Governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major.  After joining the Diplomatic Service, he went on to serve at the Foreign office in Peking, New York (UN) and Rome. He ran Edward Heath’s private office from 1968 - 70 and acted as his Political Secretary at 10 Downing Street from 1970 - 74. He was MP for Mid-Oxfordshire (later Witney) from 1974 to 1997. He was created a Life Peer in 1997, and has since held numerous appointments in the City and in public life. He was Deputy Chairman of Coutts Bank until the end of 2009.  Lord Hurd has written ten political novels. His memoirs were published in October 2003. His biography of the life of Sir Robert Peel was published in 2007. His latest book on eleven British Foreign Secretaries was published in 2010 and he is now at work with Edward Young on a biography of Disraeli.

Sam Leith is a former Literary Editor of the Daily Telegraph, and contributes regularly to the Evening Standard, Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Spectator and Prospect. He’s the author of two non-fiction books, Dead Pets and Sod's Law and a novel, The Coincidence Engine. His latest book You Talkin’ To Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama is published by Profile Books.

Ian Leslie combines careers in advertising and writing. His latest book, entitled Born Liars: Why We Can't Live Without Deceit is about the surprising centrality of lying and self-deception to human society.

After studying history at Oxford and the University of Pennsylvania, Jonathan Powell worked for the BBC and Granada TV before joining the Foreign Office in 1979. In 1994 Mr Blair, then Leader of the Opposition, poached him to join his `kitchen cabinet' as his Chief of Staff. When Labour achieved its landslide victory in 1997 Powell was at the heart of the Downing Street machine. He was the only senior member of staff to remain at Blair's side throughout his time at the top of British politics. He is author of The New Machiavelli: How to wield power in the Modern World.

Jenni Russell is a political columnist for the Evening Standard and the Sunday Times. She won the Orwell Prize for political journalism in 201.

Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #lselitfest


A podcast of this event is available to download from Rhetoric, Lies and Politicians.

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