At least, as First Proposition speaker Jo Boon observed at the end of a frenetic 90 minutes, the speakers were able to agree that St Andrews needs a rail link.
The rest of the debate touched on Justin Trudeau, the Burkini Ban and Rupert Murdoch, and contained two penis analogies (best if you don’t ask), and more dramatic gestures than are worth detailing.
Now, obviously, this is unlikely to shock anyone. Debates, surprisingly enough, involve disagreement. But this one must hold the semester’s record so far for pure fractiousness, which broke out before any of the speakers had opened their mouths. Almost as soon as the minutes had been read, controversy broke out over procedure – somewhat problematically for this debate, Standing Order Number Six of the UDS forbids “any remarks which reflect negatively upon… the Royal Family”. For a moment, a confused impasse ensued, only broken by Chief Whip Gillis Holgersson shouting “To hell with standing order six! Long live the Republic!” This seemed to satisfy most people’s concerns, and, after a moment’s hilarity, the debate began.
This mix of high drama, humour and heated discussion set the tone for a night that merged the sublime with the ridiculous. This was the first student led public debate of the semester, so pressure was high on the speakers to meet the standards shown by external speakers from previous debates.
Luckily, a panel of speakers that, as observed by an anonymous debater, could have featured as “the cast of an unlikely couple sitcom” turned the highly charged nature of the debate to their advantage. Socialist Society LGBT Rep Jo Boon attacked the monarchy as an institution that went against the principles of justice and equality that Britain stands for. She stated that removing it would allow us to build a country based around egalitarian democracy, rather than privilege.
Conservative Society treasurer Konstantin Velichkov fired back, claiming that it was republicanism that went against British principles, and that Britain’s historical stability and national morale was heavily dependent on the monarchy.
Mr Velichkov’s partner, third year Philosophy and Computer Science student George Alexander, managed to make a more nuanced, progressive case for the Monarchy, linking it to Britain’s flexible, dextrous constitution that allowed it to pass legislation from the Human Rights Act to the Representation of the People Act.
Third year Study Abroad Economics student Jason Gallant, meanwhile, gave a less intellectually rigorous speech that was nonetheless commendable for artfully trolling his opposition, the audience, and possibly the whole of Britain: “I can’t blame people who still support the monarchy, just like I can’t blame people in The Matrix for not realising they’re in the matrix.”
The debate was also marked by raucous audience participation all the way through, most notably loud cries of “Hear Hear!” Such cries were heard when Mr Gallant described how Queen Elizabeth II had suspended the Australian government back in 1975. The floor speech portion of the debate, while lively, suffered a little from the fact that speakers often covered the same points as one another. This, however, is not to detract from the quality of the speakers, especially second year Sam Maybee. Maybee won the traditional bottle of port for best floor speech by managing, in the space of two minutes, to pay tribute to the Royal Family as a symbol the whole nation could rally around, and to mention that the first time he’d ever been drunk was at a party on a cricket field marking the royal wedding.
Oh, and no-one directly mentioned Kate and Wills. That was a plus.