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The Socratic Club - 17th July

Our last session of term focussed on the Conservative leadership election, the resignation of Boris Johnson and the selection of a new Prime Minister. We asked whether it is right that only the Conservative party selects the PM or whether the wider public should have a say too? Many felt it unfair that only Conservative MPs and then a membership of 180,000 would vote on such a key issue for the country in contrast to the millions of registered voters. The disparity seemed unfair to our members.

The Motion: 'This House thinks the election of the new PM is unfair?'


(1) Y: 100%; N: 0%

(2) Y: 50%; N: 50%

There was a significant swing in the second telling with those recognising that: (i) the UK does not have a presidential system; and (ii) that MPs and party members should be able to select their own leader, or it would risk others undermining the system from outside - the football analogy was given that Arsenal does not select the captain or the team for Manchester United or Chelsea.

Our second debate turned to the question of whether: 'charity begins at home' - the line/quote sometimes attributed to Charles Dickens.

Members were very engaged with this topic and keen to provide evidence for their arguments, in terms of those struggling in poverty in the UK, and those abroad. There was a feeling that helping those nearest to one would: (a) have more immediate impact; (b) avoid the need for others to help you and your family; and (c) be practical in terms of providing aid, finance, and other needs (food, heating or healthcare).

The Motion: 'This House thinks that charity begins at home (in the UK) before we help people abroad?'


(1) Y: 25%; N: 75%

(2) Y: 75%; N: 25%

Here the practicalities of help weighed heavily at the final vote, but this time in favour of the motion.

Voting moved throughout and it was tremendous to see active listening in action, with many members persuaded by another point raised or a compelling argument reinforced by evidence and analysis. We were also delighted with the summary speaking on show - this is a skill that we will be working further on next term.

Well done all!

Wishing our members a very happy summer break and looking forward to our workshop in August and a Michaelmas term of exciting events and debates from September!

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