Time - 14:00
Week - Third
Day - Wednesday
Group Organiser(s) - John Milbourn
Venue - Members' Homes
Vacancies - 7


We are currently meeting weekly using Zoom at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays. Sometimes we discuss topics and sometimes we have a formal debate. You are most welcome to join us for either.

On 2nd April we talked about the risk to liberal democracy in the aftermath of the epidemic.

On 8th April we held a full debate.

On 15th April we discussed Covid-19 exit strategy and post-exit behavioural changes.

On 22nd April we discussed whether we are prepared to help recovery by accepting less personal liberty, higher taxes and/or decreased public spending, and reducing commitments to issues such as climate control.

On 29th April we discussed climate change and future responses to the crisis.

On 6th May we discussed international cooperation in the light of nationalistic tendencies.

On 13th May we discussed defence in the new financial situation.

On 20th May we held a full debate.

On 27th May we discussed the reopening of schools.

On 3rd June we discussed the future of travel and tourism.

On 10th June we discussed Western relationships with China.

On 17th June we held a full debate (see below).

On 24th June we will discuss balancing the risks on the path to economic recovery after the pandemic.

The purpose of this Group is to stimulate members to think about interesting issues and to have fun debating the arguments with others in a safe environment.

The group is run along the lines of a traditional debating society. Every few months we choose motions for future meetings. One person is nominated to propose each motion and one to oppose it. (If numbers permit, seconders might also be nominated). This allows time for them to research the subject of the motion. A third person is also nominated to preside as 'Speaker' to control the debate. After opening arguments that are subject to strict time limits, the debate is opened to speakers from the 'floor' and at the conclusion of the debate a vote is taken.

The Group intends to offer a stimulating and challenging experience where members may even find themselves marshalling arguments for motions with which they disagree!

On 17th June we debated the motion Statues of people who were involved in the slave trade or in oppressive colonialism should be removed from public places. The Proposer argued that it is for the local inhabitants to decide if they want statues removed because persons depicted have supported slavery or oppression as well as doing good deeds for local inhabitants. This applies to Colston in Bristol and Rhodes in Oxford. We should respect those who took action in Bristol in the same way as we respect the people who took down the Berlin Wall. The Opposer said that if all statues were removed we would not be having this debate. We need to confront history and face the truth, be informed about the past and if necessary add a plaque to a statue giving a balanced view of the depicted person's attributes and faults. Statues provide a record and what is important now is to look at the substance of treatment for people who feel oppressed. We should not view past moral standards through the prism of today and we should educate about, and acknowledge, mistakes of the past and not deny them through acts such as the removal of statues. A lively and thoughtful debate followed examining in more depth the role of statues throughout history, the need for balanced explanations, the extent of involvement of depicted people in actions perceived as evil, and many nuances of differences between memorials and statues. The motion was defeated.  

We meet at 2pm on the third Wednesday each month except April, August and December. Our debating programme is as follows: 

Wednesday 15th July

 Not yet decided.

Please make contact via the link above.