It truly has been a long time since I have written on this blog, and to put it briefly it was as though I needed a stroke of brand new inspiration, and the very eloquent Mehdi Hasan provided just that this past Friday night. On April 8th, 2016 I had the pleasure of attending my very first ‘Head-to-Head’ debate which took place inside the Oxford Union, at the prestigious University of Oxford here in the UK. This article will provide a brief summary of some of the most interesting arguments that took place at the event!
For those who are unfamiliar with the very famous debates, the ‘Head-to-Head’ segments are one branch of the Quatar-based Al Jazeera news corporation, a corporation that has grown since it’s birth in 1996 to global recognition, and is today a household name of sorts when it comes to the world of journalism and news broadcast. The ‘Head-to-Head’ segments in particular aim to explore the many issues facing our world today, and discuss their plausible solutions with a passion that is sometimes branded as aggressive, and who better to provide just that than the appropriately provocative Mehdi Hasan.
The evening of controversial debate began with Mehdi giving a brief introduction on the itinerary for the event, and with him subsequently introducing his special guest for the evening, Norman Lamont. Lamont is a well-respected and highly experienced British Politician who’s impressive (to say the least) resume includes working various Ministerial roles under the late Margaret Thatcher, including the very pivotal role of Minister of Defense Procurement. Lamont was present and articulate in his role as the representative for Pro-BREXIT arguments, although he lacked in the area of topical evidence for his arguments. Mehdi also introduced a panel of mediators, which suitably included one person to represent each side of the argument, a member of Parliament from UKIP, and an author who has written on the merits of Britain staying with the EU. The third mediator being a French-born journalist, who has been living and working in the UK for an extended period of time to level out the opinions of the panel.
While Mehdi’s arguments outlined how Britain would suffer socio-economically, Norman seemed to lose focus on what was truly at stake for Britain with an exit from the EU, by providing arguments that seemed more firmly rooted in British identity and separatism than anything else. Mehdi mentioned some fair points including a recent statement given by one of, if not the most influential country in the world, the United States of America. The U.S. recently gave their opinion on the issue of BREXIT, and made it clear that they have no interest in forming a bi-lateral trade agreement with Britian, and are much more in favour of the current agreement formed with the EU as a whole. Mehdi continued to keep the focus on important issues of economics such as this one by mentioning that large corporations based in Britian and other European nations currently enjoy all of the aspects that contribute to helping a business run smoothly, including freedom of goods, services, and the movement of persons/workers as the result of being a part of the European Union.
To this, Norman’s response had clout, but lacked when it came to truly driving his point home for his Pro-BREXIT argument. Norman responded to Mehdi that families and communities within Britain were his primary focus when looking at an issue such as this one. He claimed that families in Britain were concerned about the identity that their children would grow up to have, and about certain rights that they may not have full access to. Unfortunately, this point was heavily debated, and later shot down completely when a young woman who was a member of the audience informed Norman that many British young people feel that the EU more accurately represents and respects their social identity than Britain, a country which does not have a constitution currently does.
Another controversial thread of debate began where a young woman from Bulgaria wondered how, as a student currently studying in Britain, would a BREXIT alter the conditions of her stay. Norman’s ‘matter-of-fact’ response to this question was that he supposed a good solution would be that no visa would be required for EU residents, however this completely contradicts the idea of leaving the EU in order to avoid the continuous influx of migrants of all types from other European nations. Once again, Lamont’s generic answer had no clear direction, and thus his argument, which may have had some substance, was not portrayed adequately.
As one can discern, the debate was, ironically a sort of ’roundabout’ in terms of how scattered some of Norman’s ideas came across, instead of answering questions, or addressing issues head on, he had a tendency to avoid an unsavoury answer by answering with another question, or moving into another territory of topic(s) entirely. However if there was one major take-away from the debate itself, it was that some of the ideas behind BREXIT are all rather outdated, because it is not as though Norman Lamont, as one example, is uneducated, in fact he is an expert in his field and on his topic. The true problem is that outdated arguments have a tendency to deny the reality of the here and now, and so instead of boycotting Pro-BREXIT arguments altogether, the motion should be towards advising those in favour of the ideal to truly observe what is happening in the Britain, and arguably the Europe of today. Many young people, who happen to be the future of Britain appear to be in favour of Britain remaining with the EU, the reason being that it does not only reflect where they are socially, but also their other views on issues such as economics, freedom of movement, etc…
So, theorists? What are are your thoughts on the issues? If you have an opinion, join the conversation!
For more information on BREXIT and Britain’s EU Referendum, click on the ‘BREXIT’ links throughout this article, or visit this link