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Two Years On, KCTL’s Legacy is Expanding

About The Author

Chris Bridges (Executive Editor)

Chris is an IT and Data Protection solicitor at a top 20 full service firm and the founder of Keep Calm Talk Law. He also contributes to Computers and Law and other sector specific publications.

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Today marks the start of Keep Calm Talk Law’s third year of publishing. For those of you that have been readers since inception, this may come as a surprise; at least it has for us. The time has flown by, yet in just two years we have made an incredible amount of progress.

We have published 392 articles (800,000 words) and acquired over 89,000 readers. We have made in-depth legal comment accessible to the masses, encouraged young and non-lawyers to engage with the debate (in writing, in reading and in commenting) and assisted 53 young lawyers in developing their writing, with each writer contributing on average seven articles. We have shown that young lawyers can be thought leaders, and can change the way the general public perceives the law.

Many of our writers who did not have pupillage or a training contract have now obtained them, with Keep Calm Talk Law typically being cited as a key factor. Those that already had them have found their experience with Keep Calm Talk Law career developing; the skillset developed in writing for us has proved a useful tool in both billable work and business development activities.

However, I still owe them all a huge thanks; Keep Calm Talk Law would not be what it is today without each individual’s contribution. Their contributions are testament to their exceptional ability. Those that have contributed to Keep Calm Talk Law represent around just 10% of those that have applied to write regularly or that have submitted pieces for contribution. I have very little doubt there are several future stars amongst our ranks, both past and present.

But what about our future? How is Keep Calm Talk Law’s legacy expanding?

The Political Review

Our second birthday also marks the birth of our sister journal, The Political Review, which is being headed up by a familiar face, Alex Hitchcock, who early this year contributed several outstanding articles to Keep Calm Talk Law.

The Political Review aims to do much the same with politics as Keep Calm Talk Law has done with law. The Political Review aims to help address fundamental issues with political discourse: the dichotomy between time-pressured & biased political journalism and academese, thereby broadening the debate, improving political transparency and encouraging budding policymakers into the world of publishing.

The Political Review is non-partisan to the extent that it carries no editorial line. This will afford writers the independence to construct truly original and penetrating analyses of political affairs, from a variety of angles. It will also avoid the conformity of newspapers, providing a range of legitimate and differing views. 

In this way it will reflect debate on the ground. Two thirds of the UK population say they do not support any political party. This is set to increase: only 23% of 18-24s claim to be a supporter of a party compared to 44% of those over 75.

Strong debate is crucial for keeping analysis sincere. John Harris, editor-in-chief of Politico, has exposed the “bullshit” at the heart of providing political narratives that explain “broad patterns shaping our political life”. A better way to analyse the fluidity of politics is through transparent discourse. This may not be clairvoyant, but it provides an honest attempt at understanding. Chris Cillizza explains in the Washington Post that this should be an aspiration of commentators: “Not having the answer or even having the wrong answer is no longer a mortal sin in the eyes of readers—as long as you as the journalist are transparent about those facts.”

The Political Review will publish articles from across the political spectrum, on the widest range of issues. It is divided into seven key sections: Home Affairs, Economic Policy, Welfare, Health and Education Policy, the European Union, US Politics, World Affairs and Foreign Policy, and Political Theory. Articles will be around 2,000 words and informed by extensive research, thereby avoiding the quick turnarounds and poor source bases identified by Martin. Articles will be published on a rolling basis. Pieces will aim to avoid the dullness and self-satisfaction of academic pieces bemoaned by Pinker. Instead, they will be compellingly written and highly imaginative. Young contributors and a meritocratic approach to commissioning will bring fresh, innovative perspectives to the debate and encourage a new generation of political minds.

Accessibility is at The Political Review’s core. For this reason, it will endeavour to avoid the pitfalls of academese and political speak. Unnecessary jargon will be avoided. Articles will be complimented by a “Terms of the Debate” section, which will provide short explanations of key terms and phenomena. This fluid dictionary of political terms will ensure that all can read with confidence. It aims to draw the widest possible audience and appeal to those who feel alienated by current political discourse. And perhaps it will prove that you don’t have to be Einstein to make the complex simple. 

Journals such as The Political Review must exist to provide a platform to foster debate. Only then may we have a vibrant political commentary, which can learn from the mistakes and successes of current analysis. Accessible, detailed and argumentative articles will stoke debate; they will frustrate and infuriate some, at the same time as inspiring and rousing others. But, by producing this, The Political Review might go some way to achieving Jefferson’s aim – ‘Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe’ – and perhaps go further. 

To conclude, two quotes from two eminent individuals who have been intrigued by The Political Review’s aims, that summarise its importance:

Democratic government can only ever be as good as the level of debate and knowledge of its citizenry. Therefore, we need this online journal more than ever before – to make sure that we, the citizens, pressure our elected bodies for the very best forms of governance, ones dedicated to the true happiness and prosperity of all.

Alain de Botton, Philosopher and Founder of The School of Life

The world faces many complex challenges as humankind grapples with the consequences of our growing interdependence. As you prepare to publish your first edition, I wish your journal well in promoting debate and discussion about what we need to do to leave the world in better shape than we found it.

Hilary Benn MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary

For full details about The Political Review, please see Alex Hitchcock's foreword: 'Introducing The Political Review'.

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