Episode #17: Claire Fox – Robust debate and Generation Snowflake

15 January 2019

Claire Fox, Academy of Ideas

In this episode, I talk to Claire Fox, Director of the Academy of Ideas and author of the book ‘I find that offensive’.

Claire is a panellist on Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, and is regularly on a variety of news programmes commenting on culture, education, media and free speech issues.

In this interview we talk about how Claire came to be championing the view that ideas should be able to be freely contested without constraint, and why that basic free speech principle has come under threat in recent years.

Claire is an inspiring example of someone who believes that truth should be spoken, even in the face of difficult consequences. There are some valuable insights in our discussion and I think you'll get a lot from it.

Show notes

How did the world look to the young Claire as she left school and looked forward to adult life (1.30)

The earliest influences that made Claire interested in ideas and politics (2.30)

The contentious act of going to university to study English (5.21)

How Claire ended up falling into an early career in social work (6.40)

The power of active experience of people in poverty to inform a political perspective (7.51)

How the interest in politics came to become Claire’s main focus (9.20)

The journey that resulted in writing and ultimately becoming a publisher of LM magazine (12.02)

How LM magazine became the focus of fresh thinking, dealing with issues of free speech and the emergence of environmental politics etc. (16.15)

The emergence of a focus on organising live events for free debate (19.17)

What’s the driving force now of the Battle of Ideas? (23.17)

The two visits to schools that prompted Claire to write her book ‘I find that offensive’ (26:55)

When did we cross the line into the world where political correctness presents career-destroying risks to people? (31.39)

Institutional cowardice is feeding the power of unreasonable demands (34.57)

The reaction against political correctness that has become labelled as ‘the intellectual dark web’ (36.24)

The fact that people are ready for long-form content, challenging the notion that people’s attention spans had shrunk (38.27)

One practical change Claire would seek to bring about before hanging up her gloves (40.08)

Advice she would give to her younger self (40.30)

An impressive changemaker (41.15)

A mistake that led to a better outcome or personal growth (42.20)

A habit Claire would like to change (43.02)

Books that have had a powerful impact on Claire’s life (43.48)

Advice to young people taking the first few steps into the world (45.10)


Claire on twitter

Academy of Ideas on twitter

Academy of Ideas website

Forthcoming Academy event

Claire's book "I find that offensive"

People / Books Mentioned

Hannah Arendt

On Liberty, John Stewart Mill Brighton Rock, Graham Greene