Image courtesy of Simon Baker.
Two Minute Manifesto at the Traverse Theatre.
What if you had two minutes to explain how you would make Scotland a better place? Two minutes, to convey one idea and win over the support of the public? This is the task put to guests of Two Minute Manifesto, the interactive show where politics is picked apart and innovative ideas are everything.
Whilst the wind outside was howling, inside the warmth of the theatre, David Grieg and Sarah Beattie Smith hosted a truly exciting evening. Held monthly in Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, the show purports to bring together “the country’s finest thinkers, pundits, artists, activists and raconteurs” to discuss solutions to some of the most pressing current social and political issues.
Dressed in casual clothes, the panel relaxes on sofas, sips coffee and tweets updates on their phones. This set up contributes to the conversational tone of the show which stands in stark contrast to the stiff formality of the House of Commons.
Two Minute Manifesto provides a refreshing, no-bullshit approach to politics – the hosts use little jargon and welcome the ‘real-world’ viewpoints of the audience, which included teachers, social workers and students.
The guests – this month including journalist Alex Massie and the historian and feminist activist Leslie Orr – speak for two minutes on the issue they feel is most pressing and propose the actions they would take to solve it. The idea is then discussed in depth by both the panel and members of the audience in a lively, thought-provoking debate, and finally voted on. Successful ideas in past shows have included everything from a police ban to the nationalisation of important works of art. This month’s show focused on the proposed introduction of a Gender Equality Bill to create ‘gender mainstreaming’ – to ensure equal representation and consideration of genders in political decisions, including those on education, care, pay and issues of domestic violence.
The show began and ended with music from the talented and entertaining band A New International, and also featured a performance from Scottish poet Christine De Luca. The combination of politics and the arts makes for a relaxed and truly enjoyable evening. The overall concept is clever and revolutionary – the current UK political system sorely lacks opportunities for real members of the public to share their ideas of how the country could be improved. Two Minute Manifesto is a highly recommended platform for listening to and participating in fascinating debates in a relaxed, open-minded environment. Moreover, the availability of all shows as podcasts ensures that the issues discussed are available to all, regardless of their ability to make it to the Traverse every month.