The annual house debating competitions at Cranleigh are regarded as one of the most prestigious academic accolades to win, leading to fierce competition and a quite exceptional quality of debate from both seniors and juniors involved. This year the format was totally revised, with boys and girls affiliate houses competing together in the Oxford Union format of debating, with one boy and one girl from each house taking on speaking duties and summing up their arguments following a floor debate open to all members of the school.
In the senior competition, East/South and Cubitt/South both made it through to the finals, after convincing wins on the motion that ‘this house supports humanitarian intervention to protect human rights abuses’. The final, held in the Merriman Music School, had East/South proposing the motion that ‘this house believes that religion continues to harm society’. Ross and Amelie put forward some excellent arguments for the motion, highlighting the conflict that religion has been the main cause of a number of wars across the world, as well as being used to justify some awful atrocities. In opposing the motion, Amiee and Benj came back with a strong case for the positives of religion, rebutting the arguments from East/South that conflict and terrorism were only caused by extremists, before going on to highlight the huge amount of good causes that have been supported by religious groups. After an electric floor debate, it was left to Ross and Benj to provide the final justifications for their arguments. The judging panel of Mr Rothwell, Mr Hopcroft and Mrs Constable left the audience in suspense for a long time, given how close the result was, but ultimately decided that the winners of the Senior House Debating were Cubitt/South.
The junior competition followed the same format as the seniors, but this time with contestants from Fourth Form and Lower Fifth. In the semi-finals, Loveday/Rhodes and East/South were victorious on the motion ‘this house believes that the internet has caused more harm than good’. In the final, East/South proposed the motion ‘this house believes that the UK should scrap its independent nuclear deterrent’. This was a highly complex and controversial topic, but was handled exceptionally well by the competitors. Boau-Lilly gave a rousing opening for East/South, with a staunch attack on the cost of maintaining the Trident nuclear system, along with how it has become redundant against some of the more modern threats, such as international terrorism. This was backed up by Bradley, who continued to press the case for nuclear disarmament to fund other priorities such as the NHS, along with the need for Britain to lead from the front so that others could follow. A robust defence of the need for a deterrent was then put forward by Ben from Loveday, which was then followed with gusto by Naalini, taking the time to refute the cost claims by East/South and highlighting the need to maintain Trident in the face of increasing threats from countries such as China and Russia in global politics. The floor debate was as passionate as ever, with some fantastic interjections from both houses, including two excellent points made by Josh and Claudia in support of East/South’s proposition to ban Trident.
Bradley and Naalini were on summing up duties, which again were delivered exceptionally well, taking into account the arguments that had been made in the floor debate. After yet another tantalising wait, the judging panel of Mr Neil and Mr Rothwell announced that the winners of the Junior House Debating were Loveday/Rhodes.
Congratulations to everyone that took part and it is great to see the quality of debating improving once again at Cranleigh.