Join us in the luxury of one of the UK’s most splendid stately homes, Weston Park for a weekend of discussion and debate with some of tour speakers from around the globe. The debate will bring you up to date with some of the most pressing areas in current affairs, including North Korea, Syria and the wider Middle East.

DATES Friday, 23rd March – Sunday, 25th March 2018 
DESTINATIONWeston Park, Stately Home

Join some of our leading experts for two days of discussion in a Stately Home.

Led by Prof. Ruediger Frank, Nicholas Blandford, Dahlia Scheindlin, Thomas Erdbrink

DURATION2 nights

in Stately Home

All Meals: Breakfast, Elevenses, Lunch, Tea and Dinner
Butler service, Use of Grounds & Whole HouseExpert Lectures and Discussions
COSTCost: £985.00
Single supplement: £270.00

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Join us in the luxury of one of the UK’s most splendid stately homes, Weston Park for a weekend of discussion and debate with some of tour speakers from around the globe. The debate will bring you up to date with some of the most pressing areas in current affairs, including North Korea, Syria and the wider Middle East.

Our speakers include Prof. Ruediger Frank, leader of our North Korean tours, Nicholas Blandford, possibly the world’s best-known expert on Hezbollah, and Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israeli political strategist and keynote speaker on our Israel and Palestine tours. Thomas Erdbrink, the Tehran Bureau Chief for the New York Times who has been based in Iran since 2002 will also be joining us. Other contributors will also be confirmed shortly. See below for speaker biographies.

Weston Park is privately run and has been home to some key political events over the past three decades including the G8 summit and Northern Ireland peace-talks. It is a 28-bedroom 18th century house set in 300 acres of parkland designed by Capability Brown. The house and gardens are ours for the weekend.

The house is easy to get to if you are flying into the UK; the nearest airport is Birmingham. London is a two-hour train ride away (Telford Central).

We will have talks on the Korean peninsula from Ruediger Frank; we look at Hezbollah’s role in Syria and the implications for the wider region. We will also discuss Iran’s strategy in the Middle East and get an inside view of Israeli politics. Trump’s chaotic White House looms in the background.

The discussions take place in stunning reception rooms – including the house’s library, dining room and orangery. Weston Park is staffed with a butler and a team of chefs and is home to a renowned art collection with works by Constable, Holbein, Stubbs and Van Dyke. There is even a snooker table in the cellar for the less high-minded. It will be a fantastic opportunity to catch up with experts from tours you may have joined, meet your fellow Political Tourists, as well as get first-rate insight into global developments.

The weekend starts with an introductory dinner on Friday night March 23. Tea and cake will be available from 4.30 p.m. in the Library. There will be talks throughout Saturday and Sunday. The last talk will be at 2.30 pm on Sunday and should end by 4.00 p.m. There will also be time to explore the house and surrounding woodland and park.

The cost of the weekend starts at £985.00 per person sharing a double room. This includes accommodation in the house’s Georgian rooms, all with private bathrooms. There is a range of rooms to choose from. We have seen all of them and they are really stunning. There is a single supplement of £270.00.

Click here to see further details of the house and rooms.

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Day 1

Friday, 23rd March: Check In

Check In. Tea available from 4 pm. Introductory dinner at 7.30 pm with guest lecturers and Political Tours staff.

Day 2

Saturday, 24th March: Expert Talks

First full day of discussions. Email us for full program.

Day 3

Sunday, 25th March: Expert Talks & Check Out

Second full day of discussions. Email us for full program. Departures at approximately 4 pm.

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Accommodation & Room Choice

Weston Park is a grade one listed historic building with an amazing array of beautifully furnished rooms. It is a private house – and not a hotel. We have rented the house and Italian gardens for weekend, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. The house comes complete with a butler, house keeping, chefs and kitchen staff. There are twenty rooms to choose from and they fall in to three categories.

Principal Room – All these rooms are large grand rooms with their own en suite bathrooms and spectacular views of the park-land. These cost £1275.00 per person sharing a double room for the weekend. There is a £270.00 single supplement if you are not sharing a room. The remaining rooms are just as beautifully furnished and vary in size. They also have great views.

Large Room costs £1085.00 per person sharing a double room.

Standard Room costs £985.00 per person sharing a double room. Again there is a £270.00 single supplement if you are not sharing a room. As the building is listed and dates back to the 17th century in parts these last two categories are furnished with separate private bathrooms, and not en suite bathrooms. Each person is given a key to their own exclusive bathroom which in most cases is next to or opposite your room. Some of the finest bedrooms fall in this category. You can see more details of the rooms here. Please let us know which type of room (PrincipalLarge or Standard) you would like to reserve.

What is included?

The weekend includes talks from our expert speakers, as well as board (breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea and dinner) and lodging throughout your stay in one of Britain’s foremost stately homes. The costs of additional drinks (alcohol, additional tea coffee) needs to be paid for separately during your stay.

Address & Details:

Weston Park, Weston-under-Lizard, Shifnal TF11 8LE.

Further details of the house can be found here: The nearest train stations are Shifnal or Telford Central. The nearest international airport is Birmingham International (BHX).

To confirm your place: In order to confirm your place we need a deposit of £350.00 and a signed booking form (you do no need to include your passport details, and holiday insurance is not required for this booking). Please specify which category of room you would prefer to book (PrincipalLarge or Standard). We have twenty rooms available, but expect them to be booked fairly quickly as we have had a very positive response to this event. Do get in touch with any more questions –[email protected]

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Prof. Ruediger Frank

Prof. Frank is Professor of East Asian Economy and Society and Head of the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Vienna. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Korea University and the University of North Korean Studies (Kyungnam University) in Seoul. He holds an M.A. in Korean Studies, Economics and International Relations and a Ph.D. in Economics. In 1991/1992, he spent one semester as a language student at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang and has been researching North Korea ever since.

Professor Frank is regularly consulted by governments, media and businesses on North Korea and East Asia. This included consultancy work and a background policy paper for the visit by President Martti Ahtisaari, Prime Minister Gro Brundtland, President Jimmy Carter and President Mary Robinson to the Korean Peninsula and China. In June 2011, he joined the World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Korea. In September 2013, the leading German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung included Prof. Frank in its list of the 50 most influential German economists. Visiting positions included Columbia University New York and Korea University Seoul.

In addition to memberships and associations with a number of Korea and East Asia related societies, he is Vice President of the Association for Korean Studies in Europe (AKSE) and acting President of the U.S. and Hong Kong-based Asian Politics and History Association (APHA). He is also an Executive Board Member of the European research network “EastAsiaNet”. Prof. Frank is, among others, Deputy Chief Editor of the A-ranked European Journal of East Asian Studies, Member of the Editorial Board for the book series “Brill’s Korean Studies Library”, an Associate at “The Asia Pacific Journal”, Member of the Editorial Board of “Korea Review of International Studies”, Co-Founder and Member of the Editorial Board, “Vienna Graduate Journal of East Asian Studies” and “Vienna Studies on East Asia”.

He is also founding editor of a new book series at Brill titled “Security and International Relations in East Asia”. His major research fields are socialist transformation in East Asia and Europe (with a focus on North Korea), state-business relations in East Asia, and regional integration in East Asia. His most recent books are: (with S. Burghart, eds., 2010): Driving Forces of Socialist Transformation: North Korea and the Experience of Europe and East Asia, Vienna: Praesens, (ed., 2011): Exploring North Korean Arts, Nuremberg: Verlag fuer Moderne Kunst, (with Heung Chong Kim and Sung-Hoon Park, eds., 2012): Korea and East Asia in a Changing Regional and Global Environment, Seoul: KIEP and (with John Swenson-Wright, eds., 2013): Korea and East Asia: The Stony Road to Collective Security, Leiden and Boston: Brill.

Nicholas Blandford

Nicholas Blanford has been a correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, writing on Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East, since 2002. He has covered Lebanon’s complex and turbulent politics, including the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel war, and the uprising in Syria. He has also reported for the Monitor from Iraq, Syria, Qatar, and Kuwait.  In addition, he writes regularly for The Times (London), The Daily Star (Beirut), and Al-Jazeera America. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, USA Today, and The National (Abu Dhabi).

Nicholas is a defense and security consultant for IHS/Jane’s. He is a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Middle East Peace and Security Initiative (MEPSI) at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

He has lived in Beirut since 1994. Blanford covers the politics and security affairs of Lebanon and Syria. He is an acknowledged expert on Lebanese Hezbollah, particularly the organization’s evolving military activities which have remained a focus of his work for two decades. He regularly participates in seminars and conferences and has briefed government agencies and militaries on issues related to the Levant. He has also participated in Track II discussions connected to the Middle East peace process.

Blanford is the author of “Warriors of God: Inside Hezbollah’s Thirty-Year Struggle Against Israel” (Random House, 2011); and “Killing Mr Lebanon: The Assassination of Rafik Hariri and its Impact on the Middle East” (IB Tauris, 2006). He wrote the Lebanon chapter in “The Islamists Are Coming: Who They Really Are,” ed. Robin Wright (Woodrow Wilson Center, 2012); and the introductory essay to “The Voice of Hizbullah: The Speeches of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah” (Verso, 2007).

Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin

Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin is a public opinion expert and an international political and strategic consultant; she is also an academic and a writer. Her doctoral research examined unrecognized states, which emerged from ethno-nationalist conflicts and declared independence unilaterally. In the past, she has worked as a Senior Analyst for the Washington-based global firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research; the director of international campaigns at GCS Issue Management, and a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute. She has advised and conducted research on five national campaigns in Israel. As an independent consultant, she conducts extensive public opinion research on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the peace process, along with issues of democracy, human rights, minority relations and foreign affairs for a wide range of NGOs. Ms. Scheindlin works internationally on electoral campaigns, social and civil society projects in Serbia, Ukraine, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and the US among other countries. Ms. Scheindlin holds a doctorate in political science at Tel Aviv University; she is an adjunct university lecturer, a regular media commentator, and she writes a regular column at +972 Magazine, where she is also Chairperson of the Board of Directors.

Thomas Erdbrink

Thomas is the Tehran Bureau Chief for the New York Times. He has been based in Iran since 2002. Thomas, a Dutch journalist, is one of a few Western reporters accredited for U.S. media in Iran. Thomas has a B.A. in journalism from HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht. From 2008 to 2012 he served as The Washington Post bureau chief in Tehran and was succeeded by Jason Rezaian. He is fluent in Dutch, English, Persian and German and regularly appears on European and American media outlets. Erdbrink’s documentary series Our Man in Tehran won the 2015 Zilveren Nipkowschijf. He is married to Iranian photographer and journalist Newsha Tavakolian.

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Quotes & Reviews

“PT can take me to tricky places I’d like to know more about – with a small group of like minded people. And they can do that impeccably.” CF, September 2017

“Tour experts were excellent! They all had their own perspective/point of view, but that´s good. We had many speakers in addition to them, so onesidedness was not a problem at all.” Israel & Palestine, September 2017 (CM)

“Political Tours is the only offer I am aware about for people who are seriously interested in politics.” September 2017 (CM)

“Political Tours introduced me to some interesting people (including fellow travelers); it took me to places and to people I would have never accessed as an ordinary tourist.” September 2017 (MS)

“It was the first time that I had been part of any tour group – it was very well run and the group members and leaders were great.” Israel & Palestine, September 2017

“As a rule, I don’t do group tours. But I make an exception for PT given the value I’ve experienced every time – and the Baltics was my 6th PT ” August 2017

“What convinced me that Political Tours would suit me was a recommendation from like minded people, as well as the locations PT explore.  Plus the size of the group:  Max 14 tour size also sounded manageable.” Israel & Palestine, Sept 2017

“Quite the most comprehensive way of finding out what makes a country and the individuals in it tick.    PT arrange access to all sorts of different people and experiences that would be impossible to access on one’s own and the organisation is excellent.     The tours aren’t cheap, but, when you consider all that is on offer, they are very good value for money.” Russia, May 2016

“We also thoroughly enjoy travelling with you both because you are deadly serious except when you are deadly fun.” Lebanon, 2016

“A must for anyone with an interest in politics and current affairs who want to meet like minded people. I would recommend Political Tours for the detailed organisation, visits to places not usually open to the general public and for the more adventurous, the exciting countries you visit.”  CB, US Elections, 2016

“I would recommend the tours to anyone interested in current political events because the experience offered the sort of access that experienced journalists have, minus the pressure to report back of course. Also the guarantee of the company of people with similar interests.” VH, US Elections, 2016

“As usual on PT trips the speakers were of high quality and interesting . They were just the right length of time as well . Not too long so I was able to absorb a lot of information and not get overloaded . As I have already mentioned to you.” Lebanon, March 2016

“I have been on a few tours before, but not one of them compared with this one. This was by far the best. Of course, the material content, and the time and place of its setting had a lot to do with it, but there were other factors. The size and mix of each group was about right, and having both yourself, and a local expert with us was a big advantage, able to sort out en route problems too, and help set the tone and atmosphere. The tour itinerary was very detailed, and could hardly have been more so.” CB, US Elections 2016

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Weston Park

The weekend is held at Weston Park. A most welcoming stately home, much of its appeal stems from the fact that Weston Park was the beloved seat of the Earls of Bradford since the 17th Century. Weston was gifted to the nation by Richard, the 7th and present Earl, and, with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the collection is now in the care of the Trustees of The Weston Park Foundation. From the Front Hall, with its tribute to the 3rd Earl’s love of horses, the Victorian Library furnished with over 3,000 books, the unique Gobelin tapestries, specially commissioned for the House, to the stunning Dining Room, which houses one of the country’s most impressive collections of paintings including works by renowned artists such as Sir Anthony Van Dyck.

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