Ferdinand Mount, Sunday Times columnist, Editor of the TLS and author of Mind the Gap: Class in Britain Now; Simon Fanshawe, broadcaster for Radio 4 and 5 (since 1988) and writer for The Guardian and other newspapers on arts and politics; Kate Fox, author of, amongst other books, Watching the English and co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, spoke against the motion.
The debate, held on December 7, 2005, was chaired by Sir Clement Freud, British writer, broadcaster, politician, and rector of St. Andrew's University.
Intelligence Squared is London's leading forum for live debate, holding regular debates on the crucial issues of the day and inviting the leading intellectual and political lights on the given subject to participate in them. The format of the debates is modeled on the one employed at the Oxford and Cambridge university Unions: a challenging, sharply defined motion; a team of speakers to propose the motion and a like number to oppose it; and a moderator to keep the speakers and the audience in order and force everyone to stick to the issues. After the main speeches and before summation, contributions are asked from the floor: audience participation is a key feature of the occasion, providing a rare opportunity for the public to voice their opinions and to challenge those of the speakers. A vote is taken before the debate begins and then again at the end so as to give a measure, often a very dramatic one, of the extent to which the audience has been swayed by the oratory and arguments of the speakers in the course of the evening.
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Even though I am English I felt I was taking a chance on this item. But i needn't have worried. I loved it, to the extent that I felt embarrassed about laughing so much on the commuter train while listening to it. Probably not so meaningful to non-Brits, but at the price, well worth a gamble to help you understand us a little bit better. Educational and very amusing in an English way - don't take it too seriously!
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