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Speaker Session - Lord Murphy - Politics & The House of Lords

We were delighted to welcome Lord Murphy of Torfaen to the Socratic Club in July 2019.

In advance of Lord Murphy’s arrival, the role of House of Lords was covered, and we debated the

purpose and use of this ancient institution. Some felt that an elected 2nd chamber was needed, while

the majority felt that the status quo served the country sufficiently well. If anything, it was felt that the

House of Commons was more in need of reform than the House of Lords.

In addition, the group debated whether exams should be replaced by coursework for a true assessment

of intelligence. The majority felt that while exams had drawbacks in how people were tested and the

pressure of a single moment in an academic year, coursework by contrast had even more

problems/issues as a method of assessment. Plagiarism was mentioned and the feeling that continuous

coursework assessment would be even more pressurised than the exam system. Again the status quo

won the majority.

Lord Murphy spoke at length on his life, how he came into politics, his time as Secretary of State for

Northern Ireland and also Wales, working with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, his views on Brexit

and Donald Trump, and international intelligence and security.

Excellent questions were asked, prompting Lord Murphy’s discussion points above. Perhaps the most

interesting was a question on what was his most difficult decision or vote in the House of Lords? -

Lord Murphy felt that the War in Iraq was the most challenging.

Lord Murphy said of the Socratic Club:

“It was a great pleasure and privilege to speak to the Socratic Club. All the young people were eager

to ask questions and participate in debate, and I was deeply impressed by their knowledge of current

affairs. What a great project!”

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