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The Cambridge Union Society

Promoting free speech and the art of debating since 1815

Set up in 1815 under mysterious circumstances, the Union began in 1815 as a student debating society independent of the University. The Union started out in opposition to censorship and in favour of open dialogue and challenging debate.

Today the Union promote free speech and the art of debating by hosting speeches and weekly debates featuring prominent public figures. During the 20th century Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, David Lloyd George and Clement Attlee all addressed our members here in Cambridge. Over the course of the last year alone, Stephen Fry, Buzz Aldrin and Robert Downey Jr. have all spoken at the Union. With a history like ours, it is impossible to name all of the incredible people that we have welcomed here.

We are also known for the famous figures that began their careers here on the Union Standing Committee. Vince Cable, John Maynard Keynes and Arianna Huffington were all President of the Union during their time at Cambridge. This blog is aimed at showcasing great writers and young thinkers from Cambridge University. If you are a Cambridge Union member and would like to get involved, email for more details.

This House Regrets Organised Religion

enying people the right of association based on an ideological factor, among other things, sets a dangerous precedent. To conclude, I do regret various factors connected with organised religion, but that does not mean that the very principle of it is regrettable.
13/05/2015 10:52 BST

The House Believes in the Unconditional Right to Offend

So the free speech debate is really a balancing act. We need to consider our different values as they come into conflict, and then make a decision about which ones we think we should privilege. It many cases freedom will trump. In others, it should not.
29/04/2015 12:18 BST

This House Blames the West for Islamic Extremism

When we see terrible acts of violence on the news attached to 'Islamist' groups, we have to consider how it is that normal people can get sucked into groups whose raison d'être is violence. Therefore it is relevant to look at the growth of Islamic extremist groups when we talk about Islamic extremism, rather than looking at the origins of particular ideologies.
27/04/2015 10:19 BST

This House Supports the Right to Be Forgotten

On Thursday October 23rd the Cambridge Union Society hosted a debate sponsored by Mendeley about the right to be forgotten online, and voted to oppose the motion. Gabriel Hughes, VP of Analytics at Elsevier and a former executive at Google, outlines his own stance in opposition and reflects on the overall debate.
11/11/2014 15:26 GMT

Should We Boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics?

Western governments have condemned Russia for the last seven months, drawing attention to her horrific human rights record and homophobic actions. However, there is nothing to make Russia pay any attention to these objections - why should she?
06/02/2014 13:37 GMT

Would You Send Your Kids to Private School?

The Cambridge Union Society's Press Officer, Oliver Jackson, as the product of a succession of British private schools, discourses on the arguments around the system that educated him.
27/01/2014 00:34 GMT

Does Business Hijack International Development?

There are a new cast of heroes and villains on the international development scene. They are not governments, charities, NGOs, but businesses. Firstly, two caricatures - the big, evil business vs. the small, ethical enterprises. On the one hand, the Nestlés pushing breastmilk substitutes, the BPs oozing oil. On the other hand the newly applauded, smaller heroes
16/01/2014 13:19 GMT

Why We Still Need Feminism

The perception that sexism has been solved - that modern Britain banished the historical evil of misogyny through equality legislation and the removal of formal barriers to employment - is pervasive. The rationale is: 'if I don't see it, it can't be that bad.'
12/03/2013 11:06 GMT

The Sexism I Faced at the Glasgow University Union

During the debate, a select number of male students, including former committee members and even an ex-president, made sexual comments about our appearance, shouted "shame woman", booed loudly and questioned "what does a woman know anyway?".
06/03/2013 21:59 GMT

This House Regrets the Consequences of US Dominance

There is a profound and shameful disconnection between me - as a civilian in whose name the wars of the past decade have been fought - and the costs and consequences of U.S.-led military dominance. Where is our regret? Our introspection?
03/03/2013 21:52 GMT

This House Would Invite Marine Le Pen

For nearly 200 years the Cambridge Union has existed to promote free speech. At times this inevitably leads to controversy. In the 1960s, it stemmed from the Union's invitation to Enoch Powell and Oswald Mosley. Last term it was Julian Assange, and before that Dominique Strauss-Kahn. This time it was Mme. Le Pen.
24/02/2013 21:18 GMT

This House Would Fight for Queen And Country

It is not sufficient to say 'I would die for a country', for it is never a country that sends people into battle. It is politicians - people - who are often immoral and frequently incorrect.
11/02/2013 23:25 GMT

The EU Youth Unemployment Crisis and the Cambridge Bubble

The job-related hurdles facing today's young people are well-documented. With youth unemployment at an all-time high, combined with deep cuts to higher education, the situation doesn't look too promising for what some economists are speculatively referring to as the 'lost generation.'
03/02/2013 22:07 GMT

This House Believes That Multiculturalism Isn't Working

Chris Romalds, a postgraduate student in Development Studies, explores the reasons why multiculturalism could be said to be failing. Sarah Garland, a second year English student at Newnham College, argues that despite its problems, multiculturalism has not failed.
28/01/2013 23:39 GMT

This House Would Go to War for Human Rights

On Thursday evening, the topic for discussion at the Cambridge Union Society was the justification for humanitarian military intervention. Edward Delman and Mark Nelson, both postgraduate students and Cambridge University, argue in proposition and in opposition of the motion respectively.
19/11/2012 11:36 GMT

Why Barack Must Win

Though November 6th may not feel as exciting as 2008, in many ways it is more important. All of the president's achievements are at stake against a Republican Party intent on rolling back the achievements of Obama, LBJ and all the way back to FDR.
01/11/2012 07:54 GMT