The Break Up of Britain Conference

The Break-up of Britain?

Confronting the UK’s democratic crisis - A conference salute to Tom Nairn

At the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh on 18 November, we are convening a major conference on the democratic future of the United Kingdom, its constituent nations and the European Union, inspired by the work of Tom Nairn. One of the speakers, Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, calls the event “incredibly timely and important.”

Other speakers include The National columnist Lesley Riddoch, writer Neal Ascherson, journalist Isabel Hilton, Clive Lewis MP, The Scotsman journalist Joyce McMillan, broadcaster and chair of the Edinburgh International Book Festival Allan Little, Novara Media’s Moya Lothian-Maclean, openDemocracy’s Adam Ramsay, writer and author Richard Seymour, And The Land Lay Still author James Robertson, Professor Richard Wyn Jones, North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll, Jacobin editor Daniel Finn, former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Radical Independence Campaign co-founder Jonathon Shafi, Red Pepper editor Hillary Wainwright, LRB contributor Jen Stout, singer and columnist Pat Kane, Green MSP Maggie Chapman, Professor Will Storrar, former SNP MP George Kerevan, economists Miriam Brett, James Meadway and Scott Lavery, Hungarian journalist Reka Kinga Papp, Planet: Critical host Rachel Donald, The Herald’s award-winning foreign correspondent David Pratt, ‘Rule, Nostalgia’ author Hannah Rose Woods, commentator Assa Samake-Roman, Irish Times Columnist Una Mullally, and Mike Russell of the SNP, with more speakers still to be confirmed. The event is on course to sell out.

Major media outlets will be in attendance, and the conference will be streamed by IndyLive.

At the conference, we will discuss:

  • How to prevent chauvinist Brexiteers from monopolising national themes over the coming decade
  • How to build new, more participatory forms of democracy in Britain and Ireland
  • How Russia's war in Ukraine is reshaping Europe's future
  • How we reframe ‘who we are’ to encompass issues of race and the legacies of empire and colonialism
  • The monarchy under Charles III
  • Democracy in the age of climate breakdown

Plenary Sessions include:

  • How did we get here? The making of Britain’s democratic crisis
  • Nairn and the future of the British state
  • The SNP after Sturgeon and Labour under Starmer
  • Can England recover from ‘Great Britain’?
  • Is Europe complete with Scotland?



  • AWT Melville
    • £10 
    • 3 mos
  • John Kinnaird
    • £10 
    • 4 mos
  • Mr Duncan W MacInnes
    • £60 
    • 4 mos
  • Iain Bruce
    • £43 
    • 4 mos
  • Allan Jones
    • £10 
    • 4 mos


Peter McColl

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