Fifteen people attended the Christmas Balloon Debate where five members argued for whom they thought would make the best neighbour. Each person pleaded their case before Oscar Wilde, Otzi, Florence Nightingale and Boadicea were ejected, leaving Chris Lane's choice of Charles Darwin alone to fly the balloon! The attendees also shared seasonal refreshments and a raffle.
Under the chairmanship of Lorry Greenall , the November question time panel of Derek Cheek, Helen Rees and Jon Salisbury addressed a variety of topical questions about: Brexit, UKIP, Referenda, the American Presidential campaign, State pensions and the Richmond and Batley by-elections. With many lively contributions from the floor it proved to be an enjoyable evening.
At this month's debate: "Leadership in Politics is more important than Honesty" both speakers agreed on the key qualities required in leaders and neither wanted a corrupt government. However Proposer Tony Oswick considered that the pragmatism and realism necessary for strong political leadership could take precedence over idealism and principles. He felt that complete honesty was limited by cabinet responsibility and not possible at times of national crisis or in the face of forensic media analysis.
Opposing the motion, prominent Brighton debater Jean Yates argued that politicians must have integrity because they lose all credibility when found to be lying. She thought that political duplicity was a direct attack on democracy, ridiculed government and exacerbated public indifference giving historic examples where this had been the case.
Both speakers were commended for a high standard of debate and providing clear and logical arguments; however the motion was lost by 8 votes to 3 with 2 abstentions.
For the debate "It is better to give than to receive", both speakers agreed that this was a moral argument which hinged on which aspect people found to be of personal benefit. Proposer Lorry Greenall stated that research had established that those who gave to others reported greater happiness than those who did not. Furthermore she argued that while receiving gifts can be nice, it can also be fraught with difficulty and could even make us become greedy and selfish. Opposer Chris Lane disagreed, asserting that just seeing children unwrap their presents at Christmas was at variance with the motion. He considered giving and receiving to be integral and equal parts of the same process and felt that until people learn to receive with an open heart they could not feel the true benefits of giving.
Following contributions from the floor, the motion was won by 5 votes to 0 with 6 abstentions.
After the debate there was further discussion about appropriate regulation of school uniforms
"Criminal Justice should focus more on rehabilitation " was proposed by Murray Lane who considered the high re-offending rates following custodial sentences to be of little benefit to either individuals or society. He stated that most lawbreakers had literacy or other life disadvantages which imprisonment did not address and made re-offending more likely. Both speakers agreed that criminals needed to be managed through an ongoing process which required a collective responsibility to accept them back into their communities. However, Jake Clapham opposed the motion, arguing that to be effective, input should be increased into all aspects of the penal system with priority being given to appropriate deterrents. He believed that rehabilitation should only be highlighted once order and justice had been restored.
Under the chairmanship of Lorry Greenall , the question time panel of Jake Clapham, Mary Lane and Bill Violen addressed a variety of questions about: post EU referendum politics, the Chilcot Report, Clacton alcohol exclusion zone and embarrassing moments. With many stimulating contributions from the floor it proved to be a lively evening. Nineteen people attended.
The AGM preceded the debate and all appropriate officers were appointed.
Proposing the motion, Helen Rees considered that "Screening for Genetic Selection is Wrong " because the consequences of deselecting out of nature are, as yet, unknown. She felt that since individuals have a right to self determination it is wrong to make a value judgement about someone else's worth. Furthermore, having the technology does not make it acceptable to choose a child's gender for any reason as it is the welfare of the child and not what parents want that is important.
Opposing the motion, Jake Clapham argued genetic modification had advanced our health considerably and that many problematic human conditions could now be erased. He asserted that our constant endeavour for immortality and improved quality of life meant it was better to have controlled genetic selection than none at all. In addition, he felt that it was arrogant to place ourselves above other life forms if we are to achieve the productive human race that we deserve.
After contributions from the floor, the motion was lost by 8 votes to 3 with 4 abstentions.
The next meeting will take place at Imperial House, Rosemary Road, Clacton on Sea on Wednesday 6th July at 7.30pm when the panel will explore questions on subjects of topical interest. All welcome, annual membership £16, visitors £2.
Ray White proposed that "Schools should be Religion Free Zones" because he believed it to be man-made, existing only to help answer the unanswerable. He argued that schools should not be places for indoctrination but a preparation for life where knowledge is gained and children taught to reason for themselves. He further considered faith to be an act of intellectual dishonesty because it is not based on scientific evidence.
Opposer Reverend Guy Thorburn disagreed, asserting that religion did not brainwash children but rather, gave them a positive framework for life for belief, behaviour and belonging. He felt that schools should be an oasis of peace and love where children are taught the essential truths of being a human being, to appreciate their own self worth and be supported by the church family.
Following many lively contributions from the floor, the motion was won by 10 votes to 6 with 4 abstentions.
Philip Donegan proposed the motion that "Proportional representation is a more democratic form of Government" because divisions in an electorate are then reflected accurately within the elected body. He believed that the current UK system of first past the post was unfair because it allowed the established parties to win formal control of parliament with as little as 35 per cent of the votes. When non voters are added to this equation, MPs could be seen to be acting for a very small section of the British population.
Jon Salisbury disagreed arguing that the introduction of proportional representation would create more problems than it would solve and would certainly result in damaging the constituency link. He considered that the task of a democratic government was to represent the views of the people in the best way possible and felt that it was the fairness delivered to the electorate that mattered, not the electoral system mechanics. What we have works and therefore we should stick with it.
Following contributions from the floor, the motion was declared a draw.
Under the chairmanship of Lorry Greenall, the question time panel of Philip Donegan, Mary Lane and Bill Violen addressed a variety of topical questions about: the European Union, playing contact rugby in secondary schools, limiting criminal appeals , dilution of the English language and Donald Trump's presidential aspirations. With many stimulating contributions from the floor it proved to be a thought provoking evening.
There is no report as the Secretary was on holiday
Lorry Greenall proposed the motion that "Younger People make Better Parents ". She argued that nature equips women to have their babies more easily before they are 30 with the risk to both mother and child increasing with age. She stated that while young parents are as human and complex as any other parent, their youth put them at an advantage with conception, pregnancy, delivery, health and energy. Opposing the motion Mary Lane asserted that older parents were more mature and had a greater understanding of the needs of the their child and how to respond to them appropriately. She also felt they were more financially secure and therefore in a better position to provide a stable home environment.
Following many diverse contributions from the floor, the motion was declared a draw with both speakers receiving an equal number of votes