Series 12 – 2019

The Hexham Debates seek to carry on the tradition of active, radical debate essential for ensuring freedom and justice for all. We hope that this programme will demonstrate ways in which a government’s power depends for its legitimacy on the consent of its citizens – and perhaps reveal how far we have moved away from that ideal.

The debates are on Saturdays from 11.00am to 12.30pm with tea and coffee to follow
at The St Mary’s Centre, St Mary’s R C Church
Hencotes, Hexham, NE46 2EB

Admission Free, with a retiring collection

Organised by Northumbrians for Peace and Hexham Quakers

Dates for 2019
January 19
February 23
March 9
April 6
June 8
June 22

Saturday 19 January 2019
Making peace by remembering violence: How to recall wars well
Before wars can be fought, they have to be thought. Therefore, how we think about past wars, for example by commemoration or historic apologies, influences the way we understand and practice international politics today. How can we remember past violence in such a way as to help us make future peace?

Dr Nick Megoran
Lecturer in Political Geography, Newcastle University  and Co-Convenor, Martin Luther King Peace Committee. Find out more

Hexham Debate 12-01 Dr Nick Megoran from Fenwick Kirton-Darling on Vimeo.

Saturday 23 February 2019
Prevention of Gender-based Violence and Abuse
Gender-based violence and abuse presents one of the most significant challenges of our times.  Reports of domestic abuse increase every year, particularly in the North East where incidence is higher than the national average.  We have also seen some of the most serious cases of organised sexual exploitation of young women.  This talk will explore the impact of this type of trauma on women, children and our communities; identifying current pressures and the potential for prevention.

Laura Seebohm
Director for North East based charity Changing Lives.  A qualified Probation Officer, Laura set up women’s services for Changing Lives to address the distinct needs of women in criminal justice, domestic abuse and sexual exploitation, operating across the North and Midlands.  Laura engages with the political landscape as on Ministerial Advisory Board for Female Offenders and Chair of the national Women’s Network Forum.  Laura has governance roles with Millfield House Foundation, Helix Arts and 1772 Charity.  She is a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. Find out more Hexham Debate Laura Seebohm – Prevention of Gender-based Violence and Abuse from Fenwick Kirton-Darling on Vimeo.

Saturday 9 March 2019
Prosperity and Justice: A Plan for the New Economy.
Sharing the findings from the Institute for Public Policy Research’s Commission on Economic Justice, challenging widening inequalities and systemic failings. Brexit; rapid technological change; globalisation; ageing population; and climate change. What can we do in the North East to implement some of the Commission’s recommendations?

Sara Bryson
Community Organiser for Tyne and Wear Citizens. A 2016 (North East Specialist) Clore Social Leadership Fellow, she served as one of 22 commissioners on the IPPR’s Commission on Economic Justice, which reported in 2018. She has worked for almost 20 years with children, young people and communities to ensure their views and experiences inform public policy. She coordinated Poverty Ends Now (PEN), a youth-led initiative to tackle child poverty. PEN developed a children’s manifesto on poverty for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty. Find out more 

Saturday 6 April 2019
Religious Economics: Can Islam offer anything to Britain?
Ground-breaking political developments are significantly shifting the contours of the British socio-cultural landscape. Local communities at the grassroots level face the everyday challenge of dealing with the uncertainty of a unified sense of citizenship in the face of such shifting grounds. In such a context, what can faith, let alone a minority religious community, bring to the table? Using religious economics theory, I begin to address this issue to present what can be possible.

Yahya Barry
Founder and director of the Olive Tree Madrasah, Edinburgh, having previously served for two years as Imam of the city’s Central Mosque. After a year’s voluntary work in Gambia, he did a BA at the Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia, followed by a PGDip in Religious leadership at the Muslim World League Institute in Mecca. He has two MAs: one in the Religious Roots of Europe (University of Copenhagen); the second in Peace and Conflict Studies (Uppsala University, Sweden).

HD 12-04 Barry from Fenwick Kirton-Darling on Vimeo.

Saturday 8 June 2019
Selling the War Machine: Britain and the Arms Trade.
Britain has long been one of the main arms exporting countries, with the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia, among our most important customers.   The arms export policies of successive governments raise many issues, not just about the ethics of the trade itself but also about how it fits in to the whole military industrial complex and its political influence.

Paul Rogers is Emeritus Professor at the University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies and the Oxford Research Group’s Global Security Consultant. He has worked in international security, arms control and political violence for over 30 years. He writes monthly Briefings for the ORG website analysing the international security situation, and reports for ORG on international security and the ‘War on Terror’. He also writes regularly for openDemocracy.

Selling the War Machine: Britain and the Arms Trade.HD 12-05 Paul Rogers from Fenwick Kirton-Darling on Vimeo.

Saturday 15 June 2019
War School – special screening with live Director’s Q & A
In the run-up to Armed Forces Day 2019, we are screening WAR SCHOOLa controversial film which shows how a sanitised version of militarism permeates our society. The film is about the battle for the hearts and minds of the people of Britain, particularly its children. Set against the backdrop of Remembrance Day, it reveals the strategies used by the British Government to promote support for the military. It  features accounts of the experiences of ex-servicemen who are the veterans of Britain’s unbroken century of wars. Their testimonies challenge the myth of our nation’s benign role in world affairs.
War School asks: ‘Is perpetual war what we really want for future generations?’ The film’s Director, Mic Dixon, will take questions after the showing.

Saturday 22 June 2019
Human rights in China: Discourse, diplomacy and defensive nationalism.
China is renowned for its violations of human rights, but how does China react to foreign criticism of its human rights record?  Is it fair to judge China by Western standards or is the West guilty of hypocrisy and cultural imperialism?

Robert Weatherley
Affiliated Lecturer in Chinese Politics and Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He is also a Lawyer with the UK firm Mills & Reeve LLP and heads the firm’s China Desk. Robert is currently writing his sixth (and final!) book on China and has published on a range of subjects including Chinese human rights and democracy, the legitimation of Chinese communist rule and the role of history in contemporary Chinese politics. Robert was an undergraduate and post-graduate at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Hexham Debates Human rights in China: Discourse, diplomacy and defensive nationalism. from Fenwick Kirton-Darling on Vimeo.

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Video recordings of previous series of The Hexham Debates can be found at

Joint events are planned with the Hexham Book Festival and the Wide Skies Film programme. Details can be confirmed at  and