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The Socratic Club - 25th September

Following a mini-budget or budget or fiscal statement 'that was not a budget' we turned to the recent tax announcements of the Chancellor for the UK economy for our Junior and Senior sessions.

For the Junior Group we asked 'what is tax?'; and 'who pays?'; and 'who is the Chancellor'?

We began each session with a focus on the skills of using evidence, stories and questions (rhetorical) to enhance argumentation and public speaking. On the question of facts, figures and numbers, it was made clear that relevance and simplicity were the order of the day, rather than bombarding people with too much information. It was great to see both groups engage with these important elements in their subsequent speeches, rebuttals and points of information.

We also took time to reflect on the funeral and events surrounding the passing of Her Majesty the Queen. Each student made a point or recollection of something that had struck them as interesting or thought provoking: duty; organisation; unity; world significance - were all themes mentioned.

The Junior group debated the motion:

'Should this House tax more or tax less?'

Vote 1:

Tax More: 29%

Tax Less: 71%

Vote 2:

Tax More: 14%

Tax Less: 86%

Healthcare, Defence, Schools, Housing, the Police, Emergency Services were all raised as points to avoid cuts and keep tax levels at the present position. Maintenance of the State and the importance of a strong pound were all raised as arguments for not taxing less.

At the same time many in group felt that growth was key to the UK's overall success and the summary speeches were very impressive.

Fairness was used on both sides - that is was right to help those that had less; but that it was also wrong to tax too much those that contributed most.

In the end the pursuit of growth trumped the other points. It was a fascinating debate!

The Senior group debated the same motion:

'Should this House tax more or tax less?'

Vote 1:

Tax More: 71%

Tax Less: 29%

Vote 2:

Tax More: 71%

Tax Less: 29%

Whilst the group was in favour of the idea of tax cuts, they were reluctant to impose such a strategy if it involved more government borrowing, particularly at a time of high inflation and a cost of living crisis.

There were also concerns that these tax cuts would involve spending restrictions on departments dealing with healthcare and education.

Although the vote remained the same in both tellings, a number in the group changed votes with the excellent lines that they had heard a point or convincing argument that had swayed their thinking. It was super to hear of active listening in this session!

In the end the strongest summary points emphasised the risk of a gamble to stimulate growth, and instead placed the need/desire to avoid a increase to the national debt that would take generations to pay off at higher pricing/levels.

Both groups showed a tremendous grasp of detail and of the complex issues at hand - with differing opinions - clearly many economists of future!

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