This House Believes Austerity Has Failed

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The Union Debating Society’s most recent public debate on the motion “This House Believes Austerity Has Failed” was an exciting night of expert speakers and insightful speeches. Held in conjunction with the Economics Society, the debate featured some of the greatest minds in the field. Despite the rain, UDS managed to fill Lower Parliament Hall with eager students with the promise of highly qualified and enthusiastic debaters; they did not disappoint.

Arguing the case that the economic policy of austerity has failed Britain, Ann Pettifor opened the proposition’s case and Tim Roache expanded it. Speaking for the opposition were Mark Littlewood and Dr Madsen Pirie.

The proposition were ideally placed to speak on the topic: Ann Pettifor is the director of policy research in macroeconomics (PRIME) and a fellow of the New Economics Foundation. She is also the co-founder of the Jubilee 200 debate campaign. Tim Roache is the president of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, as well as the Yorkshire and North Derbyshire regional secretary for the GMB. Additionally, he serves as the elected chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Trade Union Congress.

On the other side of the table, the opposition argued that very little actual austerity has occurred in terms of recent economic policies and decisions. Mark Littlewood, the director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs and former head of media for the Liberal Democrats, opened for the opposition. He is also a former campaigns director for Liberty and founder of the NO2ID campaign in 2004. His debate partner for the evening was Dr Madsen Pirie, president and co-founder of the Adam Smith Institute, St Andrews alumnus and joint winner of the National Free Enterprise Award for 2010.

The debate was lively, with speakers actively engaging with one another as well as the audience. After the four prepared speeches, the floor was then opened for audience members to give their views. The student speakers provided a wide array of opinions and rounded out the debate. UDS treasurer Raghav Mehra in particular gave an impassioned speech that received great support from the audience and in fact won him the weekly prize of a bottle of port for best floor speech. The final tally of votes totalled 83 voting in favour of the motion, 34 against and 11 abstentions. With an overwhelming majority, the motion “This House Believes Austerity is Dead” passed.

Can’t get enough of debates? This coming Wednesday, 9 October, UDS will be hosting its annual Cubs tournament. This day of debating is geared exclusively for all those new to debating at St Andrews. The tournament will consist of two rounds and a final, the first two of which will be held during the weekly training session on Wednesday, 2-5pm, in the Salad Bowl. The final round will be held Wednesday evening in Lower Parliament Hall. The debate starts at 8pm and as always is free for all students to attend.

The next public debate for UDS – debating the motion “This House Believes Millenials Will Be Less Successful Than Their Parents” – will be on Thursday 17 October. Featured speakers include Shiv Malik, journalist for the Guardian and the co-author of Jilted Generation: How Britain Has Bankrupted Its Youth, and Daniel Knowles, Britain correspondent for The Economist.

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