Sunday, January 22, 2006

Speakers Corner

Today saw an attempt to create a "Speakers' Corner" in Oxford - I happened to be passing at the time and had a look in. At first, I guess it looked a bit comical; the guy who was on the soapbox wasn't particularly tall, and the crowd gathered around was somewhat sparse. And most of the crowd seemed to be finding their way in heckling, too; most of the ideas originally articulated seemed to be quite poorly thought-out. But it certainly picked up as it went along.

Admittedly, I got to play my favoured role as wind-up merchant, which always pleases me. But it was nice to see a crowd of people who, I assume, didn't really know that many others there, trying to have some sort of debate. My guess is that if the same people turn up every week, then the standard of debate will get better, and possibly a bit more spirited (there seemed to be a fair amount of nervousness). Although hopefully it will keep its civilised nature.

You'll probably be able to see me on the soapbox at some point in the near future; the chance for a captive audience can't be turned down! The speaker I heard today was talking about how politicians wanted to make policy discussions as close to each other as possible. Now, I disagree (there's clear water in stated policies between all three parties, the question lies more over political will), but if people are willing to get together and have sensible discussions, no matter what the topic, then there's some chance things might actually change.