Department of Political Science


Videos of SPP Policy and Practice Seminar Series

24 February 2014

Jonathan Powell - 'Talking to Terrorists - How to end armed conflicts'

Jonathan Powell talked about his new book, 'Talking to Terrorists How to end armed conflicts', to be published next year. The thesis of the book is that governments say they will never negotiate with terrorists but nearly always end up doing so and when they eventually come to do so they have usually forgotten the lessons learned from their last encounter and have to start from scratch. The book looks at the moral and practical question of whether it is right to talk to terrorists and then looks at past successes in South Africa, El Salvador, Colombia, Mozambique, Northern Ireland and Spain as well as those cases where talks have failed, like Sri Lanka. The book also looks at historical experiences with Lloyd George and the IRA in 1919 to 1921 and the French in Algeria. It concludes that it is always right to talk to terrorists but it may not always be the right moment to enter into negotiations. Powell argues that no group should be beyond the pale, and that we should be ready to talks to Hamas, the Taliban and even Al Qaeda.

David Cowling - 'Election Coverage in the Broadcast Media'

David Cowling, BBC’s editor for political research and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College, talked about the changes and challenges in covering general elections and plans for covering the 2015 General Elections. Special attention was given to the impact of polling and social media on election reporting and coverage. His talk concluded with a frank discussion of how political research 'works' at the BBC and the challenges of reporting on specific events. David Cowling has worked with three opinion poll companies: NOP (from whom he received training in all aspects of market research) and MORI and Harris Research with both of whom he specialised in political opinion polling. He was Special Adviser to the Rt. Hon Peter Shore MP 1977-79, when he was Secretary of State for the Environment. He worked as Mr Shore’s assistant in the Commons 1979-86 when he was Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Chancellor.

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