Last night, April 30th, I was privileged to speak in a debate at Uppingham School, in the County of Rutland, against a motion in favour of “Ever Closer Union”. Uppingham, by the way, has magnificent buildings. You could film Harry Potter there. I could not help contrasting it with my own old school, King Edward VI Southampton, which while equally venerable (1554), has buildings from the mid 20th Century and looks like a biscuit factory.
My opponent was Oxford academic and former journalist Dr. Graham Jones, who seems to be the European Movement’s point man for the East Midlands. The event, organised by politics teacher Toby Makhzangi (at left of photo), took place in the lecture theatre and was attended by 20+ pupils (we were up against a General Election hustings meeting elsewhere in the school, with local MP Alan Duncan, with whom I shall be campaigning this afternoon). I was introduced by a pupil, Amy (centre of picture)
This was familiar territory: certainly I felt much more at home on European issues than trying to deal with UK domestic questions (see my piece below on the BBC Northampton debate). It was a lively and (I thought) interesting debate – quite combative at times, especially when my opponent, a self-confessed Lib-Dem, started reciting the standard Guardian agit-prop about our Polish allies in the European parliament.
My own take on the debate was that Cambridge beat Oxford by a clear margin. But then I would think that, wouldn’t I?