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!”