On Sunday 22nd April the Windlesham Seniors convened for the last debate of the season and what a finely balanced performance it was! The motion was: This House believes public figures deserve private lives.
Alex Staddon Foster rose for his debut speech and delivered a convincing argument based around the outrages celebrities like the Queen suffer at the end of prying, telephoto lenses. He felt stalking puts people off seeking public office and referred to world leaders with great public and poor private lives.
George Barbieri returned fire by rejecting the idea that public figures expect privacy. Apart from the reliance of the media on intrusions into celebrity life-styles, George highlighted the hypocrisy of some infamous sportsmen and megalomaniacs who tried to hide private anomalies so as to maintain their pristine or Aryan image.
Robert Gaherty, also a debut speaker, raised the ugly spectre of phone-hacking, and claimed that media frenzies ruined celebrity lives, warped news priorities, contravened human rights and, sometimes, made bad people even worse.
There were many valid points raised from the floor – some reflecting personal or indirect experience of intrusions into private lives of well-known people.
Grace Day summed up for the Opposition by congratulating her team, reiterating their main points and providing some artful rebuttal of points from the Proposers. She added two final thoughts – firstly, that no-one had much privacy any longer in this CCTV age, and secondly, that even God used a prophet to expose the private and sinful life of King David, so, she argued, God would vote against the motion.
Toby Johnston gave a very entertaining summary for his team. He countered various aspirations made against his fine reputation as a so-called follower of gossip columns and commended his team mates on a grand show. He rebutted several comments from the floor and even thanked those who criticised his team. He ended with a moving reference to Princess Diana’s death fleeing the paparazzi and urged the House to vote for everyone and anyone having the right to a private life.
The vote was a 51:56 split with 29 abstentions and so, with no clear majority gained, the motion was not passed and the debate declared a draw. The Headmaster thanked everyone involved in what was a most successful year of debating inside Windlesham and at other events, like the Marlborough Debating Day.