The Battle of Ideas annual festival is on this weekend at the Royal College of Art in Kensington, London. I was privileged to have been asked onto a panel, and to have sat in on a few other sessions. I was stunned at the incisive level of debate, the packed venues, the calibre of the panelists and audience — and it revealed to me two things. One is that far from being being glued to Facebook and social networking sites, people are getting out for face to face intelligent exchanges of views. I found this at Edinburgh and Cheltenham. But the Battle of Ideas is more gritty with more gloves off. Second is that any one of the sessions I attended could have competed head on with Question Time and other political shows that tend to recycle the same basket of people with the same well-worn views. The topics ranged from Drawing the Line; Political Cartooning in an Inoffensive Age to Post-Recession Ideologies: What Ideas will Shape the World after the Credit Crunch. My own panel was on development chaired by the inexhaustable Kirk Leech and with Alan Shipman, author of The Globalisation Myth and Ruth Tanner from War on Want. Earlier, I heard abour reforming the British political system, with my former colleague and MP Martin Bell, Oxford academic James Panton (one to watch), from the Manifesto Club, Jessica Asato of Progress magazine, anti-monarchist, Graham Smith from Republic, and chaired with an iron clock by Suzy Dean from the Institute of Ideas. The whole weekend is highly recommended. I also sold a couple of books.