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There’s Not Much Great About Britain

Our panel of top speakers battled it out over whether we should be proud or ashamed of the country we live in.

Podcast and video coming soon.

This country has become the laughing stock of the world. Crime is rising across our cities, while respect for the United Kingdom overseas is plummeting thanks to our incompetent leaders and embarrassingly dysfunctional political system. In the 1970s we were called the ‘sick man of Europe’ and now sadly the patient is terminal. The NHS is falling apart, we have one of the highest rates of family breakdown in the Western world and the cost of housing is obscene. And that’s not to mention the growing awareness of what many see as the bitter legacy of Britain’s imperial crimes overseas and Britain’s racist treatment of its ethnic minorities. Great Britain? That’s an oxymoron.

That’s the view of the miserablists. But have things in Britain really become so bad? After all, Britain is still one of the most free, open and tolerant societies in the world. We are home to the mother of all parliaments, picturesque countryside, dynamic cities, the Premier League, roast dinners, The Beatles, orderly queuing, the Queen and David Attenborough. Although our record is far from perfect, we have managed to build an inclusive and diverse multicultural society – one that is more welcoming and open-minded than those of our neighbours. According to a recent study, British attitudes towards immigration are more positive than anywhere else in Europe. Forget the cynics and pessimists – we still have much to be proud of as a country.


Speakers

Speakers For The Motion

Peter Hitchens

Columnist for the Mail on Sunday, author and broadcaster


Columnist for the Mail on Sunday, occasional broadcaster, and author of several books, most recently The Phoney Victory. Because his father was a naval officer, he caught the very end of the British imperial era and believes he was brought up for a world that already no longer existed. He was a member of the International Socialists (forerunners of the modern Socialist Workers' Party) from 1968 to 1975, and has since dallied with both major political parties, but now belongs to no political movement.

Will Self

Novelist, broadcaster and literary critic


Widely acclaimed novelist, broadcaster, political commentator and literary critic, known for his acerbic wit. He has been described in the Guardian as the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation. His most recent novels are Umbrella, Shark and Phone, a trilogy which the New Statesman predicted will become ‘one of the most significant literary works of our century, books that reflect and refract the hideousness of our times'. His memoir, Will, was released in November 2019.
Speakers Against The Motion

Kate Hoey

Former Labour MP for Vauxhall


Former Labour MP for Vauxhall. She was born in Northern Ireland, and later served as a minister in Tony Blair’s government. An independent-minded MP, she defied the Labour whip to vote against a ban on hunting and against the Iraq war, and was a leading campaigner for Leave in the 2016 EU referendum.

Sayeeda Warsi

Conservative member of the House of Lords


Conservative member of the House of Lords who in 2010 became the first Muslim cabinet minister, serving in David Cameron’s government. She was also Chair of the Conservative Party – the first British-Asian to chair a major British political party – and since leaving government has become a prominent campaigner against Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.
Chair

Anthony Seldon

Historian and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham


Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham. He is a renowned expert on education as well as a highly regarded historian, best known for his biographies of John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

 

Speakers are subject to change.