Category Archives: Democracy Conference 2015

Event News: Democracy Conference 2015

Getting under the skin of democracy

Rabbi Sacks and Bettany Hughes among speakers

Rabbi Sacks

Some of society’s top thinkers, researchers and academics came together at Middlesex University to discuss and get under the skin of democracy in today’s society.

Historian, author and broadcaster Bettany Hughes and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks were among the cast of speakers the University brought together to shine a light on what democracy is in 2015.

They were joined by leading experts including Councillor Dr Devra Kay, Harris Bokhari and members of The Patchwork Foundation, which promotes and encourages the positive integration of under-represented, deprived and minority communities into British political society.

Click here to watch the video from the event.

Are religion and democracy compatible?: Rabbi Sacks

Speaking about whether religion is compatible with democracy and quoting Alexis de Tocqueville, Rabbi Sacks said: “Religion has no power at all but it has an enormous amount of influence, de Tocqueville wanted to work this out and he asked religious leaders, who said the reason we have influence is because we never get involved in politics, because politics is divisive so if we got involved in it we too would become divisive.”

Click here to listen to the full audio clip of Rabbi Sacks.

The birth of democracy: Bettany Hughes

Bettany Hughes said: “Suddenly in Athens you have a space where farmers, and cheesemakers, and perfumers, and road sweepers, and generals all have the ability to stand with one another in the democratic assembly to not only vote together but decide on what they are voting.”

Click here to listen to the full audio clip of Bettany Hughes.

Engaging young people in democracy: Patchwork Foundation

Chidi Amadi, from Patchwork Foundation, said: “Government should have a role and responsibility to come towards young people in the sense of having the right policies to appeal to them and ensuring that they have a large body of voters that they need to encourage to vote for them.”

Temi Shogeloa, also from Patchwork Foundation, added: “Decisions that are made for them, affect them, and if you’re removed from that decision making process you have ultimately lost out on your chance to make a decision and bring about a longevity change.”

May I say thank you to the delegates that attended the Democracy Conference. If you could please spare 2 minutes to fill in the survey below regarding your experiences it would greatly help us improve our events for the future:


Democracy Conference 2015

Centre for Ideas, Middlesex University London
C219-C220 Executive Boardroom, The College Building, The Burroughs, Hendon NW4 4BT

Time: 10.00am – 5.00pm
Date: 28th May 2015

Talented thinkers, researchers and academics from across disciplines at Middlesex University will join keynote speakers including Dr Bettany Hughes and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks to debate and discuss the topic of Democracy on the 28th May 2015.

Draft Programme

09.30am – 10.00am  Registration and Refreshments

10.00am – 10.15am

Welcome Professor Waqar Ahmad, DVC Academic, Middlesex University

10.15am – 11.30am

Dr Bettany Hughes discusses the relationship between Democracy and Culture and the different aspects of democracy presented in her television programmes.

11.30am – 12.00pm  Tea & Coffee

12.00pm – 13.00pm

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks in conversation with Aaqil Ahmed, Religion and Ethics Editor at the BBC.

13.00pm – 14.00pm  Lunch

14.00pm – 15.30pm

Democracy for Young and Old – A discussion between Harris Bokhari, members of The Patchwork Foundation and Councillor Dr. Devra Kay

15.30pm  Tea and Close


Dr. Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster, who has devoted the last 25 years to the vibrant communication of the past, especially ancient and medieval history and culture. Her many TV programmes include Athens: The Truth about Democracy (Channel 4, 2007). She is currently working on a series Socrates, Confucius and Buddha for the BBC.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the press both in Britain and around the world. He is the author of many books and his latest work Not In Gods Name: Confronting Religious Violence will be published in June 2015. Rabbi Sacks’ most recent views on Democracy were broadcast on BBC Radio 4 ‘Thought for Today’ on 23rd April.

Harris Bokhari and members of The Patchwork Foundation –        The Patchwork Foundation aims to promote and encourage the positive integration of under-represented, deprived and minority communities into British political society. The foundation seeks to facilitate a positive interaction for under-represented, deprived and minority communities in British society, empowering citizens to play a role in the social and political arenas. It is not affiliated to any political party and does not promote a particular political view.

Councillor Dr Devra Kay is Labour Councillor for West Hendon and a Member of St Cross College, Oxford. She has held a number of academic posts and is the author of numerous articles on Tkhines and Yiddish women’s literature with particular interest in older people’s issues and she blogs on the subject. She will speak about the relationship between democracy and old age.

Please watch The Democracy Conference Video here