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Charles Clarke loses democracy debate at University of East Anglia

UEA Debating | 21.11.2005 14:20

Clarkes Clarke debated the motion 'Democracy is on its back in the UK'.

Clarke Debating
Clarke Debating

The Home Secretary Charles Clarke took part in a guest debate at UEA on Friday 18th and after a rigorous exchange was beaten when the motion ‘Democracy is on its back in the UK’ was carried by an audience vote.

The debate, hosted by the UEA Debating Society, took place in a University common-room packed to its 100 person capacity and saw Mr Clarke argue against a panel of two students with both sides taking questions from the audience.

Jack Guest, President of UEA Debating Society and member of the Green Party opened the debate arguing that democracy was on its back in the UK because of globalisation and global economics, the role of the party whip in parliament and the media’s coverage of political news; the combined effect of which has driven ideology from politics and created voter disillusionment and apathy.

Mr Clarke responded by arguing that although democracy faces problems in the UK it is not as bad as ‘on its back’, that there are strong ideological differences between the main political parties and that the recent Government defeat in the House of Commons shows that the party whip is not all powerful.

Consensus between the panels was reached on a number of issues, including a personal preference expressed by Mr Clarke for an alternative to the ‘first past the post’ voting system and the need to get more people active and inspired in politics; but when the audience voted to decide the outcome of the debate, a previous majority of abstentions was turned into a majority agreeing with the motion.

Jess Durant, second year Culture Literature and Politics student and vice-president of UEA Debating Society joined Jack Guest to comprise the panel arguing for the motion against Charles Clarke’s who sat on a panel with Owen Bryant, a second year Philosophy, Politics and Economics student.

Jack Guest said: “The outcome of this debate demonstrates a real emerging consensus that democracy in the UK needs a lifeline. Our politicians must do more to inspire us and to get people involved in the democratic process, and as citizens we must become more idealistic and driven to tackle the local and global problems we face.”

Charles Clarke MP said: "It was a pleasure to take part in this event with
UEA Debating Society and I was thrilled to be invited. I think the passion
and quality of the discussion proved that democracy in the UK is indeed
alive and well."

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