ILKLEY Literature Festival welcomes some of the country’s leading political journalists and commentators this October.

Part of the 50th anniversary line-up, Gavin Esler, Samuel Kasumu, Tim Marshall, Steve Richards, Luke Harding, Gary Younge, and Polly Toynbee offer insights into the political challenges we face today.

Erica Morris, director of Ilkley Literature Festival, said: “These days, politics seems to penetrate the public consciousness like no other time in history. With all the challenges facing Britain today, these events offer to take some time to hear from political experts and gain some perspective, understanding and hope for the future. It promises to be a fascinating series of discussions.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Gavin EslerGavin Esler (Image: Jeff Overs)

Renowned BBC Newsnight presenter for 12 years, Gavin Esler will talk on his new book, Britain is Better Than This. Esler will share his perspective on the failures and fundamental flaws of the British political system that have led us to where we are now.

Exploring recent political crises - from ‘Partygate’ to ‘Truss-onomics’ - Esler provides practical ideas for how we can improve the state of our nation, and will leave us with some hope for the future of Great Britain.

Samuel Kasumu was the senior Black advisor in Boris Johnson’s government until his departure in 2021. During his time in Whitehall, he became increasingly aware that his own experiences, assumptions, and language were different to his peers in Downing Street.

Hear Kasumu discuss his new book, The Power of the Outsider, and share stories of his time in government as well as tales from other outsiders, and learn why he believes an outsider’s perspective can be a force for good: breaking barriers and trailblazing in politics.

If you been keeping an eye on the new space race, and wondering how the actions of Elon Musk and Richard Branson will affect our world, then the Otley-born, New York Times best-selling author Tim Marshall will be on hand to discuss the not-so-far-off-world of astropolitics, with his latest book, Power and Politics in Space.

Steve Richards also appears at the festival with his book, Turning Points, which asks, has British politics always been this chaotic?

Whether you are you overwhelmed by the chaos of our political system over the last few years, or are now accustomed to political turmoil, the respected broadcaster, journalist and one of the UK’s foremost political commentators aims to ease our anxieties.

Audiences can learn about ten critical moments that have shaped modern Britain and how, in hindsight, these events which felt cataclysmic at the time are now just simply a chapter in a much larger story.

Luke Harding offers his first-hand experience of the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian War.

When Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine just before dawn in February 2022, Luke Harding was on the ground reporting for The Guardian. In this event, the award-winning foreign correspondent will take the King’s Hall stage to discuss Invasion, the first book of reportage from the front line of the Russo-Ukrainian War.

From the unique perspective of someone who was there during the build-up to the conflict and afterward, learn about the initial days of shock and panic, the grim reality of the ongoing war, the unheard human stories behind the headlines, and who – according to Harding – will prevail.

Award-winning author and journalist Gary Younge has interviewed scores of famous faces from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Maya Angelou to British rap artist Stormzy. In Dispatches from the Diaspora, Gary Younge offers an honest discussion about worldwide events from the elections of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Guardian columnist, broadcaster and former BBC editor Polly Toynbee belongs to a family of left-wing rabble-rousers. Yet despite their ideals of class equality, they were never working class and instead settled for the prosperous life of academia or journalism.

Through a colourful examination of her own family and friends – from her historian grandfather Arnold to Jessica Mitford to ancestral home Castle Howard – join Toynbee for an insightful and frank conversation about class in Britain, the myth of mobility, and the guilt of privilege.

The festival features around 100 events across 17 days, between 6-22 October.

To book: Box Office: 01943 816714.