FEATURE20 May 2019

Discussing democracy

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Brexit Features Impact People Public Sector Trends UK

Demos CEO Polly Mackenzie thinks Britain is in a mess, but she also believes we can fix it with insight, discussion and debate. She tells Jane Simms how


“I’m leaving Brexit for others to deal with, ” says Polly Mackenzie, chief executive of the cross-party think-tank Demos. Politicians are “unbelievably preoccupied by Brexit... and it’s worrying how many important issues are being sidelined”. She doesn’t want to fall into the same trap: “I want to work on the rest of the stuff.”

Mackenzie has been described as having ‘a brain like two planets’. A regular face on current affairs programmes such as Newsnight and Question Time, she skewers what she sees as the simplistic arguments of politicians from both sides – Jacob Rees-Mogg and Ian Lavery being just two. She enjoys these platforms, but finds the politicians depressing: “Their simple, 10-word answers can be very effective in hiding the truth and complexity of real life. But it’s the job of those of us who disagree to explain our ideas in a compelling way.”

A Cambridge graduate who used to write about housing policy for Property Week, Mackenzie ...