SOME welcome consequences arise from reports that several of the UK’s top universities have banned books they deem to be harmful to the wellbeing of under-graduates. Others have applied trigger warnings to classic works for students feeling menaced by raw descriptions of inhumanity.

A fortunate few who can access university will likely spend four years cocooned not just from threat and jeopardy but even from the very idea of it.

On the outside world those shut out from the halls of academia are gaining lived experience of dealing with injustice and inequality. Having experienced it in the raw, they know what it looks and sounds like. These are the first steps leading towards activism. Know thine enemy.

If you are denied the opportunity to know what slavery, racism and the brutality of empire looks like then how on earth can you develop the tools and skills needed to vanquish them?

As the great American thinker, Ferris Bueller once reflected during his legendary Day Off: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The young Chicago philosopher could have added that lived experience doesn’t come with a trigger warning.

And that sometimes it uses very bad language and makes you jump.

Perhaps Kezia Dugdale will deploy some of Ferris Bueller’s aphorisms in her new role as Professor of Practice in Public Service. Ms Dugdale has had a jet-propelled rise in the hallowed quadrangles of Glasgow University. Three years after joining the John Smith Centre for Public Policy she is now operating in the highest realm academia can bestow.

The John Smith Centre, a sort of finishing school for middle class children who want to get into politics without getting their hands dirty were thrilled at their protégé’s appointment.

“Working with colleagues in the College of Social Science, she’ll undertake a senior leadership role enhancing connections with political and public policy figures, government departments and organisations to develop and support the growth of applied research, engagement and impact rooted in the School of Social and Political Science’s world-class research.” And breathe.

“Speaking plainly” and “saying what you mean” are, as yet, undeveloped concepts in the John Smith Centre.

Kezia Dugdale is now a professor of practice in public service

Ms Dugdale’s lived experience in senior leadership roles has delivered patchy outcomes. Her short-lived tenure at the helm of the Labour Party in Scotland saw them reduced to political end-of-pier act.

Happily though, she was able to prepare for her career in academia by using the last few weeks of her employment as an MSP scrabbling around the Australian outback eating insects and exchanging titbits of leadership advice with Stanley Johnson and the Made in Chelsea legend Giorgia Toffolo.

Yet, perhaps the greatest influence on Ms Dugdale’s remarkable rate of academic progression was participating in a US Government-sponsored “leadership” course in the summer of 2016. The US sponsors these sorts of courses routinely as a means of exercising soft power and ensuring its mission as the world’s military policeman proceeds unhindered.

Ms Dugdale was joined on her five-week jaunt to the US by a gaggle of other fawning politicians and journalists, including Liz Lloyd, then Nicola Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff.

In return, the participants get to garland their CVs with an attendance certificate, stating that they attended lessons about how to make capitalism look good and how to identify early signs of Socialism TO the Edinburgh Festival once more where the trick is to spend a day in Scotland’s second city without actually attending an event.

Thus, I managed to body-swerve the ridiculous new festival attraction of politicians being interviewed on stage, by journalists and pretend journalists.

These politicians spend the rest of the year being interviewed in the same manner, yet gullible Festival types still pay money to observe them doing what they always do: saying very little about the issues the rest of us want them to speak about. It’s the grifters’ grift.

In the world of real, lived experience politics there are few with more experience at the chalk-face than the formidable John Robins, agitator-in-chief for the splendid Animal Concern.

He contacts me about the dangers sky lanterns pose to those creatures unable to defend themselves from human mayhem.

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These lanterns have recently been appropriated by indolent western middle class roasters as a chi-chi way of celebrating family events.

Says John: “Much of the UK is tinder dry due to heatwaves it’s ludicrous to allow people to launch incendiary bombs into the sky. Wildfires are devastating to wildlife and woodlands.”

For the same reason, Animal Concern also wants to ban the sale and use of fireworks, the favoured pastime of those for whom noise pollution is an agreeable substitute for thinking.

Perhaps Glasgow University’s College of Social Sciences could have sky lanterns and fireworks at their Freshers events.