The Ideas

On the one hand, Speakers’ Corner is a microcosm of Britain’s social and political movements: national independence platforms emerged in the 1940s and 1950s as future African leaders Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah graced the crowds; nuclear disarmament was hotly debated from the 1960s until the 1980s; identity politics took centre stage in the 1980s and 1990s. On the other hand, Speakers’ Corner is its own bubble, full of conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial and light hearted messages entirely unrelated to the headlines like: “advance to yesterday, look backwards to the future.” Post-war Speakers’ Corner is remembered as “an intensely political forum.” The wrath of God featured then, but it has increased in popularity over the last 20 years. Today, Christian and Muslim preachers preside over at least half of the meetings, often in confrontation with one another. Politics, race and nation are still obsessively discussed but through a religious prism.

Audio clips about ideas

“Political education”