Series 11 – 2018

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.

Series 11: Saturdays in 2018, 11.00am – 12.30pm, at The St Mary’s Centre, St Mary’s R C Church, Hencotes, Hexham unless otherwise indicated.

Saturday 27 January: Michael Clarke, Former Director of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Services
Terrorism in Britain: How bad is the problem and how good is the response? 2017 witnessed more terrorist attacks here than at any time in the last 20 years and more are expected. Can we keep this phenomenon in perspective? Has Britain departed from a strictly ‘intelligence-led policing’ approach and embraced some of the tactics of the ‘war on terror’? If so, has it made the problem worse?

Saturday 24 February: Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive, Community Justice Scotland.
What Is Justice For?  Crime is at a 42 year low yet prison population is at its highest. We lead in this in Europe – but not in a good way! Police tell us 80% of calls are about vulnerability, not about crime. The court system deals with both the damaged and the damaging and for many people that appear in it they would be better provided for by a care package. This would enable them to re-enter society and become a fully active member and this would have the consequence of preventing more victims.
Click here to watch the video

Saturday 24 March: Tom Mills, Lecturer, Aston University
Whom does the BBC serve? The BBC is one of the most important political and cultural institutions in Britain, and influential and trusted in the world. But how far has it lived up to its reputation for independence and impartiality? Tom Mills describes the BBC’s long history of serving powerful interests in society from the 1920s to today, and considers its potential for reform.

Saturday 21 April: Dan Gunn, Former Prison Governor for Barlinnie Special Unit
Prison, Prisoners, Politics and Power.  Debating — and perhaps putting in some sort of hierarchical order — the pros and cons of punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation arouses strong emotions and often entrenches already polarised and polarising views. Do prisons simply reflect social inequality, or do they reinforce it? Where does power rest in a prison?

Saturday 5 May as part of Hexham Book Festival
10:30am – 11:30am in the Theatre, Queen’s Hall
Tim Marshall, Journalist and author
Divided: Why we’re living in an age of walls. Walls are going up across the world. A rise in nationalism and identity politics has resulted in barriers going up, redefining our political and humanitarian landscape. Tim Marshall has more than thirty years experience on reporting from divided societies and says these fault-lines, fuelled by fear, threaten us all.
Chaired by Richard Moss, BBC Political Editor for North East & Cumbria.
Tickets £9/£7 available from the Queen’s Hall Box Office or

Saturday 19 May: Sarah Bryson, Community Organiser, Tyne and Wear Citizens’ Assembly
How and why the economic model is broken in Britain. In NE England we have Dickensian levels of inequality in wages, life expectancy, and social mobility. To change this, radical thinking and reform unseen since the creation of the welfare state are needed.  What can we do, individually and collectively, to create change in the North East?

Saturday 23 June: Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies, University of Bradford
What chance for a nuclear-free world? The arms race has come back to haunt us in the era of Trump, Putin and Kim Jong-Un.  With many in the UN advocating a Nuclear Weapons Convention to declare them illegal, what chance is there to move towards a nuclear-free world and what role could Britain play?

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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