Broadcaster urges pause for thought at Buxton

Editor-at-large, John Phillips talks to LBC presenter and author Iain Dale about the messages contained in his book Why Can’t We All Just Get Along: Shout Less, Listen More.

The key to defusing all those blazing internet rows is right there on your computer — and it’s labelled “pause”, says radio presenter and political blogger Iain Dale, who will be urging us all to calm down when he comes to Buxton International Festival in July.

No stranger to taking sides, Iain is not only a former Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, but also a football fan whose West Ham Till I Die blog says it all about tribalism just in its title.

But after watching people become so disrespectful and intolerant in our increasingly divided society, Iain has used the title of his latest book to ask the question: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along: Shout Less, Listen More.

The LBC Radio presenter is practising what he preaches, with a current affairs podcast called For the Many alongside former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and a mission to hear all sides to every argument.

“As a radio presenter I am paid to hear different opinions. I challenge my listeners to challenge me,” said Iain. “I don’t want people to agree with me, I want a genuine debate.”

But he added: “When you have a national debate about something which is inevitably controversial like the Scottish referendum or Brexit, people become more extreme versions of themselves and start to believe they are right and the other side have no right to a point of view and must be stupid or worse.

“The thing that makes me slightly optimistic is that it’s all in our own hands. It’s up to us how we behave, and most people know right from wrong.”

Post Brexit, Iain thinks we might be heading for quieter times, especially if we use social media responsibly and stop taking notice of editors in the mainstream media who always go for the lowest common denominator in any argument.

“People in the media need to stop chasing the Daily Mail headlines and look at the issues,” said Iain.

To help out, his book contains 50 basic ideas to improve that debate, and number one on the list is: before you hit “send” on the computer, hit “pause” in your head.

And think about it for five minutes.

Book tickets to l Why Can’t We All Just Get Along: Shout Less, Listen More. Iain Dale, Pavilion Arts Centre, £12 Friday July 9, 4-5pm.