Having children fries your brain in a way that no amount of partying in your previous life can account for. Sleepless nights, 4:45am wake up calls, weaning issues, getting to work on time, the constant worry about the kids…all this leaves little room in the cerebellum for anything else except a quick browse of dailymail.co.uk and a boxset. Even my usual Thursday evening favourite, Question Time, is now met with horror as it beings at 10:30pm, a time when I am usually found drooling in my sleep.
So, when a friend suggested revitalising our brain cells by going to a debate, I jumped at the chance. Intelligence Squared is a forum for debate and intelligent discussion and has hosted some of the biggest names in politics, media and the arts. President Jimmy Carter, Stephen Fry, Richard Branson and Sean Penn to name but a few.
The first debate I attended was one about Migration, a relevant topic that was met with an informed and emotional debate. Turns out that Paddy Ashdown, former Liberal Democrat leader, believes that the biggest migration issue isn’t happening at the moment, but will happen in the future when the effects of global warming force millions of people to move.
The next debate I attended was called “The Great Brexit Debate.” The emotive and relevant debate was before the referendum, and no amount of newspaper reading could have taught me what I learnt from this debate. An independent fact checker verified all the information, with former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg arguing in favour of staying in the EU and Labour’s Gisela Stewart arguing for Brexit. Most surprising to me was discovering what a wonderful and intelligent public speaker Nick Clegg is and I found myself agreeing with his argument.
Basically, we can have all the facts and figures available to us, but the decision for “in” or “out” boils down to judgement. Namely, that we have to judge whether we believe that the benefit of being in the EU outweighs the cost. Gisela Stewart’s argument was that the UK needs to regain control of its sovereignty and that the EU is a slow contraption that as an example, took 15 years to agree on the definition of chocolate! Nick Clegg’s counter argument was to agree with this but then to highlight the positives of staying in the EU and allow us to judge whether the trade off is worth it.
Given that the result of the referendum has changed UK politics in a way that nobody could have imagined ( Hello Boris, Hello Nigel, Hello David), Intelligence Squared has even more fascinating debates coming up including Obama is a Failed President and The Return of History and the Death of Democracy.
So, thanks to Intelligence Squared, going out at night has changed for me. Stimulating debate with good friends on topics I love and are relevant in beautiful London venues, and still allows me to be in bed by 10pm!