Friday, 25 June 2010

Is the end of true debate in sight?

I remember all the arguments against televised debates during the election. I also remember thinking that people who opposed them probably didn't have an understanding of what 'democracy' actually means.

The idea of giving everyone as much information as possible and allowing them to make up their own mind is what I believe makes a society truly democratic. Even if you don't agree with their decisions or their criteria they've used to take them.

Yesterday evening the Free Society hosted the penultimate in a series of four of debates on the theme of libertarianism and hyper-regulation.

Always a fan of a political event, I attended enthusiastically - as much for the hope of some engaging conversation as for the promise of free wine. I was not disappointed on either count. The speakers, who included Isabella Sankey, from Liberty, Philip Johnston, assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph and Mark Wallace of the Taxpayers Alliance, were articulate and impassioned. They even managed to momentarily sway me towards a more libertarian stance.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the evening as a political campaign meeting, I hesitate to call it a debate. There was no premise upon which the panel was set to build a case, no contrasting views and no opposing comments from the audience.

It seems somewhat ironic that a group which claims to promote civil rights would not attempt to make all possible arguments available, allowing the audience to arrive at its own conclusion. Instead, the organisers were guilty of the exact attitude they were recriminating the government for: a paternalistic "we know best" outlook on the rest of the population.

Hopefully it does not become the norm to put on debates for the sake of propaganda as opposed to democracy and people continue to be outraged at the thought that they are being told what to think.

No comments:

Post a Comment