Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

John Prescott joins Edinburgh politics festival line up

John Prescott
Image caption John Prescott is among the politicians, musicians and comedians invited

Former UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is to speak at this year's Festival of Politics.

As Britain's longest serving deputy prime minister, he will be discussing his life in politics at the Edinburgh event, which is in its sixth year.

The festival will run from 17 to 21 August and includes 47 events.

BBC journalist Martin Bell, Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, singer Annie Lennox and comedian Mark Thomas are to all speak at the festival.

Ms Lennox, the former Eurythmics star, will be making a return visit to the event, which is held annually at Holyrood, to talk about how her SING Campaign uses music to educate people about the threat of HIV and Aids in South Africa.

Ms Lennox said she was "really looking forward to coming back to Edinburgh during the week of the Festival of Politics".

And she said she would be taking part in "some very stimulating and interesting events".

Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who has served as both defence secretary and foreign secretary, will lead a debate on the idea of a just war and peace and security in modern society.

Meanwhile Des Browne, who was defence secretary in the recent Labour government, will join with former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell and David Coltart, Zimbabwe's minister for education, sport arts and culture, to discuss the role Scotland could play in conflict mediation.

As the festival takes place in a World Cup year, there will also be a debate on the future of Scottish football.

Holyrood presiding officer Alex Fergusson said: "The dynamic nature of politics and the constantly developing relationship between politicians, political institutions and the public will lie at the heart of the 2010 Festival of Politics, under the over-arching theme of changing politics.

In the past five years the festival, together with the World Press Photo exhibition, welcomed more than 175,000 visitors to the Scottish Parliament, Mr Fergusson said.

"This proves that whilst politics may be changing, people remain keen to engage with it," he added.

"We have another interesting, imaginative and thought-provoking programme which I hope the public will enjoy."

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