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The Socratic Club - 26th May

With the PM's announcement of a General Election, this week we turned to the world of UK politics for both Junior and Senior sessions.  

Our skill focus this week looked at Persuasive Language including flattery, opinion, hyperbole, triples, imperative commands and rhetorical questions amongst other examples. Well done all for engaging with this important part of public speaking and incorporating these techniques (and other skills covered thus far) into your debates and arguments this term. We picked out key words and phrases from speakers such as Barack Obama, Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer - and how they implement persuasive language in their speeches. 

For our warm up we then turned to our interview style philosophical/political question with an emphasis on 'why'?:

'Should the voting age be lowered?' 

The Junior Group voted in favour - with 60% for the motion - arguing that young people have their future decided by elections and to not have a choice is unfair. The Senior Group by contrast rejected the motion, with 67% against. There was a feeling that in some instances a vote at 16/17 would align with driving and other responsibilities. However, many felt that 18 struck the right balance. Well done all for the reasoning behind the arguments given - it was quite clear that Socratic members should all have the vote!

Our newsround saw reference to Iran, the General Election, the crisis in New Caledonia, The Chelsea Flower Show, World Bee Day, Military Service, and the Strength of the US economy.

In the Senior Group Rishi Sunak's proposal for military service in the Conservative Manifesto was roundly rejected as unnecessary and counter-productive. 

We then asked each group for their top priorities in a manifesto, these included:

  • Efforts to help with the cost of living crisis/inflation

  • New transport/infrastructure 

  • Lower House prices 

  • Building more housing 

  • Helping the homeless 

  • Nationalising Water, Railway and Electric companies 

  • Defence spending 

  • Reforming the NHS/and waiting times/lists

  • Fair taxes/taxation 

  • Environmental efforts

We asked if voters should have to bring ID to vote? 75% in favour.

In the wake of two defections from the Conservative party to the Labour party in recent weeks - and with a focus on Winston Churchill's line (his moves across from the conservative party to the liberal party and then back again): 'Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat,' we debated the motion:

'This House thinks that it is ok for Politicians to change side?'

Whilst neither group liked the idea, the motion was carried by 75% at the second telling in the junior group; and by 67% in the senior group. However, both groups looked to implement caveats/restrictions. Neither liked the idea of mid-term or long gaps between elections, and so too many felt that it required consultation with a constituency. Churchill's example weighed heavily on the debate.

Our final debate of these packed sessions asked:

'Does it matter how much money the PM has' (on the back of Rishi Sunak's jump on the rich list above the King).

The Junior group felt it did not matter. The key they argued to a PM, rested on actions and kindness. 

The Senior group by contrast felt that it did matter and argued that a PM might be out of touch.

Overall a fascinating debate, not least because of the different emphasis in each group.

To end the debate we carried out a snap poll:

The Junior Group saw the Conservatives at 25%, The Liberal Democrats at 25%, the SNP at 25% and 'none of the above' at 25%.

In the Senior Group voting intention was as follows: Labour at 50%, Conservatives 17%, Liberal Democrats 17%, and the Greens 17%.

We will learn all in just a few weeks time!

A super set of sessions and we much look forward to catching up after half term. 

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