iDebate in Britain's Oldest Town

iDebate's Ahmed Al-aagam delivering the Debate Workshop at Firstsite.

Colchester, just an hour by train away from iDebates offices in the City of London it seems odd then that June 3rd was to be the first time we had run a Introduction to Debate workshop there. We were invited by the Young Art Kommunity and grassroots youth led group TeenSpeech to raise awareness of political debate at the amazing Firstsite contemporary art gallery in the centre of the oldest recorded town in Britain, 'Camulodunum' or as we know it today Colchester.

A Busy Day

iDebate's workshop was part of a range of activies on this sunny Saturday. In addition to our debate training there was a young peoples’ vote to identify who 11-17yr olds would vote for if they were able to vote in the election this Thursday.  After much suspense the results were announced with a Labour victory, followed by the Conservatives and then the Greens. We wonder if this will be the result nationally later this week.

The Firstsite contemprary art gallery in Colchester, Essex.

The Firstsite gallery was also at the end of a march through the town – apparently of more than 800 people – demanding to ‘save our NHS’. With an election campaign on this has a particular political edge with Labour targeting an incumbent Conservative in the seat. As such the march had a particularly left-wing slant with banners for Trades Unions, for the Labour party, and for the Greens, as well as banners demanding to keep the NHS public, or more amusingly a carboard skeleton with a placard bemoaning the NHS being “cut to the bone”.

Between 800 and 1000 members of the public marched through central Colchester to Firstsite to campaign against NHS cuts.

With this background iDebate’s training was not just an introduction to how to debate but about how politicians use arguments, and how they mangle them often seeming to provide nothing but content less platitudes. Many ot the participants in the workshop had  taken part in the NHS march so they brought with them an energy to change the world and some strong views of their own. In where do you stand everyone was in favour of renationalising the railways while the anti Brexit stance was so unanimous that the group decided against doing a debate on the issue. Instead we had a short debate on lowering the voting age.

Passion for Debate

The participants were a mixed group of different ages and we were impressed with their passion for debate and advoacy  – so much so that it overran by almost half an hour. Although most had done little formal debating before everyone voiced their ideas and opinions on the issues we discussed quickly getting the hang of the basics of argumentation.  

As this was a basic introduction we hope to continue to be able to do more – if you would like us to set up a World Debate Club locally then do get it in touch.

After witnessing the enthusiaism for political debate and adovacy in Britain's oldest recorded town, we look forward to being invitied back in the near future!