Playing It Safe: Union Reveals New Line-Up
A host of safe stars set to descend on Cambridge for exam term at the Union.
TV personalities, international sports stars, and a head of state will head the Union line-up this term in a stellar but safe selection.
Sir Michael Parkinson, Sir Trevor McDonald and Albanian President Bamir Topi will all be giving talks at the Union Society.
After a controversial Lent Term that saw protests against Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s speech cause an international media frenzy, the upcoming figures represent a safer choice.
But no stranger to scandal, Neville Thurlbeck, former News of the World news editor and chief reporter, will be coming to speak. Thurlbeck was arrested last year in connection to the ongoing phone-hacking investigations.
Evasive: Thurlbeck is squeezed at the Leveson Inquiry
Also set to divide opinion is the upcoming debate featuring Hughie Rose, the chairman of the UK New Black Panther Party, who is set to argue that Britain is still a racist country. Opposing the motion is ex-Premier League star Stan Collymore.
Much like last term, political debate will be a key part of the Union line-up. Heavyweight MP David Davis will battle it out with former MP Lembit Öpik to decide if the Liberal Democrats have a future in British politics.
Also booked is outspoken feminist and founder of Justice for Women, Julie Bindel, who will discuss the decriminalisation of prostitution.
Bindel is a highly controversial figure who has previously claimed that sexuality can be chosen and once said that “if you’re a radical feminist and you don’t even think about lesbianism as an alternative possibility then I think you’re not particularly using your imagination.”
Gareth Thomas, once Wales’ most-capped player and the first openly-gay international rugby player will be another high-profile sports star speaking, an event that Union President Michael Black called “very relevant in the run-up to the Olympics.”
Black said he was “very excited” about the line-up, and told The Tab “We’ve worked very hard to ensure the Union hosts debates on difficult issues that haven’t been debated here recently.
“We’re proud to have some fantastic individual speakers.”
Reaction to the line-up has been mixed among students. One third year student, who wished to remain anonymous, said “After DSK, having Gareth Thomas and Julie Bindel just looks like pandering to the LGBT/militant feminist crowd at the heart of CDE.”
But Ali Ghareeb, a second year Union Member, was more complimentary, in particular about the visit of Topi: “It will be a great opportunity to hear the president of an Islamic democracy. They must have crazy connections to get a head of state in.”