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The Oxford Union on YouTube

It’s a longshot to restore civility in public debate but it was a delight to find that the Oxford Union is still going strong for precision of argument and civility to opponents.

I remember hearing Norman Tebbit among others debate the Maastricht Treaty in 1990-91. I don’t think there is a video recording of it, which is a shame. How the debate has turned.

There’s no shortage of ruminations of how YouTube and the internet more generally has levelled access to information, to cultures. So much of that can be negative to meaningful, sustained discourse. Here’s a silver lining in that cloud.

The debates are stronger than the speakers – who are often still obviously awed or intimidated by the setting. Perhaps that will change as people now can grow up watching, immersing themselves, in any setting they may future be in.

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