UDS Debate – This House Has No Faith in Her Majesty’s Government

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Last Thursday saw what had promised to be the Union Debating Society’s biggest and best debate of the year. As one of the most relevant, thought-provoking and controversial titles this year, the foundations had certainly been laid for some heated and fiery political discussion. Indeed, featuring an impressive line-up of politicians, political hacks and journalists, over 150 people attending on the Facebook event (which promised ‘high jinks and banter to be had by all’), and the high profile publicity drive undertaken by the UDS, the expectations where huge!

Held in the historic Lower Parliament Hall, the debate was kick started by the society’s Clerk reading the minutes of the last debate in the style of Nick Clegg. He stood up and sang, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…’ The audience was left to conclude whether this was the result of too many ports during the pre-debate reception or astute political observation…

One thing which was not ambiguous, however, was that the society more than delivered regarding the quality of the speakers. Many had travelled up from London to attend the debate, and their knowledge and sheer commitment to their side’s political beliefs could instill a renewed sense of faith into even the most cynical students in the audience. The proposition bench included Margret Curran (the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland), Lord Stewart Wood (an advisor to Ed Miliband) and Kevin Pringle (Alex Salmond’s former spin doctor). Whereas, the opposition consisted of Murdo Fraser (Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife), Stephen Tall (editor of the Liberal Democrat Voice Magazine) and Ewan MacDonald-Russell (St Andrews alumnus).  As political sound bites, POIs and the occasional insult flew across the room, there was no shortage of stimulating debate, as well as many laughs. The particular highlight of the evening was Murdo Fraser comparing Labour’s calls to stop the government’s cuts to ‘a dog returning to its own vomit’. Not for the faint-hearted, there were grimaces and shudders around the room as people mentally replaced the head of Gordon Brown onto a vomiting dog…

Perhaps this image was just a little too much for the audience or maybe St Andrews students, who were once famed for their conservative values, have become disillusioned with the coalition government, but the motion was passed. This, in itself, was not without controversy however, with some members of the audience shouting for a recount. They were soon silenced by the dulcet tones of the society’s Sergeant At Arms who concluded the debate in true St Andrews tradition with a rousing rendition of The Gaudeamus, much to the delight of the hall, and the baffled amusement of the speakers.

In spite of the looming essay deadlines which appeared to keep some people away from the night’s proceedings, it is clear that debating in the bubble punches well above its weight and promises to provide students and locals alike with some much needed hilarity and a great deal of banter.

 

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