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The Socratic Club - 17th October

Following the tragic news of the murder of Sir David Amess MP, we began both sessions of the club with a discussion of what steps should be taken, but also a reflection on why debating matters and why such attacks on our democratic process should never be allowed to succeed. It was very impressive to see how up-to-speed members of the group were and the robust nature in which they proposed to tackle and continue with our way of life. Our skill focus for this week was on 'summary speaking' and how to conclude a speech. The aim: to try and find a pithy, succinct way to amalgamate the proposition or opposition arguments in a compelling manner. Junior Socratic Club In topical form we began with technology, with the recent failure/shutdown of WhatsApp/Facebook & Instagram apps.

The Motion, ‘This House thinks that we are too dependent on technology'. Vote 1 – Y: 100%; N: 0% Vote 2 – Y: 100%; N: 0%

We sought to emphasis to the group the importance of arguing the question being asked and not what one might want to argue/answer. Nuance and focus to argumentation were key points here. The group even though we were convening using technology, felt the world was far too dependent on technology and that society risked losing key skills from speech, to letter writing and sociability. At the same time it was also recognised that humanity had made tremendous strides in terms of space exploration and almost everything in our daily lives and that it would be nonsensical not to recognise the value of technology. The question here being one of dependence. The motion was carried on both occasions unanimously. Our second debate, focussed on Government Reviews. Were they too expensive, often coming mid-way through an event, such as Covid, or did they contribute to progress and an adjusted way of tackling a problem and checking on our democratic process and elected representatives? The questions here were tremendous. The debate saw a narrow shift against the motion in the second vote. The Motion, 'Are Government Reviews helpful?' Vote 1 – Y: 0%; N: 100% Vote 2 – Y: 25%; N: 75% Senior Socratic Club With the Pandora Papers in the thick of the news, we turned our attention to offshore money.

The Motion, 'Should people be able/allowed to keep money abroad/offshore?' Vote 1 – Y: 67%; N: 33% Vote 2 – Y: 67%; N: 33% This was a very intriguing debate, with questions of morality being raised, to the practical realities of trying to secure wealth if living in a country or jurisdiction facing dramatic political change (i.e. during WWII or more recently with Afghanistan; and also to some extent Hong Kong). What should people do if they are domiciled in two locations? What about high profile figures that are not political? Questions of privacy, of criminal activity and tax loopholes were also mentioned. All these topics/questions were discussed and in a robust debate. That said, the motion was carried on both occasions, with the majority feeling that there were quite legitimate occasions in which money should be allowed to be held offshore and that those outweighed/counterbalanced some of the examples given in the Pandora papers. As with the Junior club, the topic of technology was also covered, although rather more briefly as the first debate went through several iterations. Again the motion was carried, but with more dissenting voices than in the Junior club. In this case age favoured technology.

The Motion, ‘This House thinks that we are too dependent on technology'. Vote 1 – Y: 67%; N: 33% Vote 2 – Y: 67%; N: 33%

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