Tim Squirrell is a PhD candidate in Science and Technology Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His research focusses on construction and negotiation of authority and expertise on the internet, with a focus on fitness and nutrition communities.

Old Cambridge Union Debate Motions, 1995-2014

Old Cambridge Union Debate Motions, 1995-2014

Back in 2014 I was in the Cambridge Union for an extended period of time during the holidays. In order to avoid my actual job of organising debates, I spent some time going through old motions. One of the great things about old societies like the Union is that they rarely throw anything away, and so there were still a large number of extremely heavy leather-bound books containing the details of past debates.

I compiled a spreadsheet containing every debate from 2014 back to 1995 before it got to the point where I could no longer ignore my work. The spreadsheet includes the motion for the debate, who spoke on the Proposition and Opposition, how many people were in attendance (in a few instances far more than the 500 allowed in the building by fire safety regulations), and how they voted.

This morning I noticed that someone in a debating group I moderate asked how motions had changed over time. Some people managed to dig up motions from as far back as the 19th century (which I now wish I'd done back when I had the chance). Whilst I'm unable to go that far, I thought it might be nice to share the 428 motions that I archived.

Some (dis)favourites of mine:

15th June 1995: THBT Girls Seldom Make Passes at Guys Who Wear Glasses, including Peter Stringfellow and Sir Tim Rice

13th February 1996: TH has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government's Treatment of Women, including current Prime Minister Theresa May

5th March 1998: THBT Feminism is Corrupting the Family, including Germaine Greer

7th May 1998: THBT Staying in is the new Coming Out, including Peter Tatchell

14th November 2002: THBT Gay Rights are Family Wrongs, including Peter Hitchens

If you go through them all, you'll likely notice a theme: anything to do with sex, relationships, LGBT issues or feminism has a tendency to get exponentially more cringeworthy as you go backwards in time.

You can find them all here. Enjoy.

 

 

When and why lecturers and tutors are striking, and why you should support it

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Strategy for debating from Opening Government

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