Debating London is a bi-monthly series of free public debates on topical issues that divide public opinion. Run by the Great Debaters Club, the UK's only debate club and training programme for adults, each debate presents the audience with a proposal (which we call a 'motion') facing real-life decision-makers that they must vote to accept or reject with the help of our panel, who must make the case for and against the motion.
Instead of inviting guest speakers to sit on this panel, we spend a week training a group of our members to defend the competing perspectives shaping the debate in their own words. We then invite our audience to interact with those perspectives by asking questions and advancing their own opinions with our speakers staying ‘in character’ throughout when responding to them.
By the end of the evening, we measure success not based on which side wins the debate, but by how confident the audience are to make their final decision. So far in 2018, the topics we have debated include: making Bitcoin a legal currency, nationalising utility companies, staying in the EU customs union, and holding consumers responsible for ending the plastic waste crisis.
The series was launched in 2009 by Great Debaters Club founder, Tony Koutsoumbos, and Jason Maude, former President of the Nottingham Debating Union where the two met while students at Nottingham University. It began as a hobby with only a handful of people attending each debate and pre-dates the club and the training programme (launched in 2015) by six years, hence the two different identities.
Today, Debating London exists to give members of the Great Debaters Club a platform to put their skills into practice in a live environment and to carry out the club's social mission of providing a safe space for disagreement that anyone of any means can attend at any time.
Venue for all public debates
FREE to attend and open to all
Day and time
All public debates on Wednesdays
from 7.00 pm to 9.30 pm.
Speakers make opening arguments after audience cast pre-lim vote.
Audience responds to the speakers and debate judge offers analysis.
Speakers make closing arguments and audience cast final vote before post-debate focus group
How we decide what to debate
Turning a topic into a 'motion'
We typically debate issues that divide public opinion, which last year ranged from driverless cars and a maximum wage to sexual harassment and fake news. Topics are expressed not as a question, but as a proposal that the audience must vote to accept or reject after hearing all the arguments. We call these motions.
Selecting our speaker teams
Putting our members in the hot seat
Only members of the Great Debaters Club training programme are invited to sit on the panel of public debates. Six speakers are divided into two teams: one in favour of the motion and the other against. However, we pick the teams and the speakers must defend the position they are given even if they personally disagree.
How we get the audience involved
Asking questions and making decisions
The audience play a crucial role at Debating London. After hearing from the speaker teams, they cross-examine both sides by either asking a question or explaining where they stand. They must then decide who they agree with most, voting both before the debate and after, so we can see how many people have changed their minds.
Why we ask you for feedback
Advancing the development of our members
Debating London is a vital training ground for members to develop their communication and analytical skills. As a result, we like to know who you found most persuasive and why. So, we run small focus groups with five or six people at the end of each debate and write up the feedback in debate summaries for our members.
How to watch Debating London
Free of charge and open to all
We don't charge for admission and we don't keep a guest-list, so it's very much a case of first come first served. All you need to do is register on-line (so we don't exceed the capacity of our venue). If you're on the mailing list, you'll be sent a link automatically, but you can also sign up here on the website, on facebook and on meetup.
When you share your personal data on this website, you are consenting to being contacted by the Great Debaters Club for either: the specific purpose of finding out more about a specific event, product, or service on offer; or the general purpose of being added to a mailing list to receive updates on events, products, or services on offer.
WHO WE ARE The Great Debaters Club is a Limited Company that hosts the twice monthly public debate series, Debating London, and runs a training programme for paying club members and guests. We are registered with Companies House and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The club's company number is 08145920 and our ICO registration number is ZA383930. As the sole employee of the company, Tony Koutsoumbos serves as both company Director and Data Controller. PERSONAL DATA WE COLLECT All personal data collected by the Great Debaters Club is deliberately and voluntarily shared by the individuals to whom that data relates (data subjects) by asking to join the club's mailing list or becoming a member of the club. The only data held on individuals on the club's mailing list are their given names, email addresses, and a record of which emails sent by the club they have opened and read. The same data is held on individuals who have signed up for membership of the club, in addition to their home addresses, their membership tariffs, and a record of private communications exchanged between them and the club's Director, Tony Koutsoumbos. The club does not collect or store off-line the IP addresses of any individual that interacts with us, or details of the social media profiles and posts of individuals who join any of our groups or follow us on any platform. The club does not have access to members' bank details with the exception of those who choose to pay for their membership via a direct transfer to the club's bank account instead of using either of our approved payment processing websites: GoCardeless or PayPal. These details are accessible only through the club's secure on-line banking portal and are not stored anywhere else or shared with any third parties. The club also collects data on whether paid members are in full-time education or in receipt of state benefits, but only when given freely and required for the purpose of accessing discounts available exclusively to those members. These data are recorded on the club's membership database and are not shared with any third parties. During our public debates, we also take photos of speakers and audience members, which we use to publicise the activities of the club, and we make audio recordings of the debate, which we use to write feedback summaries for the speakers. HOW WE COLLECT PERSONAL DATA All personal data we collect is given freely and with full knowledge of the purpose for which it will be used, which is clearly stated. Specifically, we collect personal data in the following ways: - through individuals adding themselves to our mailing list via our two websites: www.greatdebaters.co.uk and www.debatinglondon.com - through individuals signing up to become paid members of the club, through one of our payment processing websites, or directly by confirming their intention to join by email and - when necessary - making payment via a on-line transfer direct to the club's bank account. - through individuals adding their names and email addresses to sign-up forms distributed at events, which are promptly destroyed as soon as their details are added to the club's mailing list. - names and email addresses are also collected when individuals post queries through our websites, email us directly, or sign up for specific events through Google Forms or Eventbrite. However, these details are not stored and are not added to our mailing list unless that individual specifically instructs us to do so. - photo and audio data are only collected during public debates (and very occasionally training workshops), which we announce in advance. Audio data from audience members is anonymised with only speakers named during recordings, consent for which is obtained when they join the club. Any participants who do not wish to be included in photographs are directed to the club's photographer to register their objection. HOW WE KEEP PERSONAL DATA SECURE Personal data held by the Great Debaters Club is stored on an encrypted password-protected database, which can only be accessed by the club's Director and Data Controller, Tony Koutsoumbos. We have reviewed the privacy policies of third party partners that hold personal data and sensitive personal data, such as bank details, of club members and individuals on our mailing list to ensure they are compliant with the GDPR, updating our agreements with them where necessary. In the event of a data breach, the club's Data Controller, Tony Koutsoumbos, will immediately notify the Information Commissioner's Officer (ICO) and any individuals affected by the breach, and keep both updated of the measures taken to remedy the breach. SHARING PERSONAL DATA We only ever share your personal data if required to do so for a legitimate purpose or to comply with a public duty. We do not share, under any circumstances, the personal data we hold on any individual for marketing purposes without their explicit consent. The circumstances under which we do share personal data include: - names of individuals or organisations, and the services or products purchased by them, issued with a receipt or invoice by the club, which we share with our accountancy firm for the purpose of processing the club's tax returns. - connecting fellow club members by email, so they can communicate with each other when planning to speak together in a debate. - sharing access to attendee names and email addresses when co-hosting an event with another organisation granted admin privileges on an event page hosted by an on-line platform, such as eventbrite or meetup. This is for the sole purpose of monitoring ticket sales and partner organisations are not permitted to email attendees directly, other than to provide them with information about the event they have signed up to attend. HOW YOU CAN ACCESS YOUR PERSONAL DATA All individuals whose personal data is held by the club are entitled to request the details of the data held and receive a timely response free of charge. You can do this by emailing the data controller at firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out a query form on one of the club's website. Queries should be addressed to Tony Koutsoumbos, but will be still processed and responded to in the same manner even if they are not. HOW YOU CAN UNSUBSCRIBE Individuals on the club mailing list can unsubscribe by hitting the unsubscribe button at the bottom of any emails they receive from the club, which are almost always sent via messaging platform, Mailchimp. Club members who are signed up to our training programme can unsubscribe by sending an email to club Director, Tony Koutsoumbos with the subject heading 'unsubscribe', which will be acknowledged by a confirmation email and result in your email address being removed from the members mailing list and the club's Google Group for members. Please note, if you do unsubscribe, you will be responsible for checking the details of upcoming training workshops and events, which you will be able to view on the club's website.