Series 13 – 2020

COVID19 Coronavirus

Because of COVID19 it has been decided to cancel the usual format for the immensely popular and successful Hexham Debates, now in their thirteenth year. Rather than taking place at St Mary’s church hall they will now happen live online via Zoom. The same exciting speakers, the same lively discussion.

Please sign up to our email list to receive the link to Zoom, which will be sent out a few days before each Debate.

The Debates are on Saturdays from 11.00am to 12.30pm.

Dates for 2020
January 25th
February 8th
March 7th – At St Aidan’s URC , Hencotes
March 28th
April 25th
May 2nd
June 6th

Saturday 25 January 2020 – CHANGE OF SPEAKER
The NHS – past, present and future
A whistle-stop tour of the history of the NHS, where are we now and what might happen next.

Helen Salisbury is a GP in Oxford and an NHS campaigner. She combines clinical work, teaching medical students and junior doctors, and medical writing.

Hexham Debate 13-01 Helen Salisbury, The NHS, past, present and future from Fenwick Kirton-Darling on Vimeo.

Saturday 8 February 2020
Rethinking Security: How the UK can think globally and act responsibly
Security matters to everyone, but much that governments do in its name is making us all less safe, at home and around the world. It’s time for a rethink – here’s why.

Richard Reeve, Director of Rethinking Security ( and, until October 2019, Chief Executive of the Oxford Research Group. Richard has worked on peace and conflict research and analysis for 20 years, particularly focused on Africa and the Middle East, including with International Alert, King’s College London and Chatham House. Since 2013 he has been mainly focused on the UK and its foreign and security policy.

HD 13-02 Richard Reeve – Rethinking Security from Fenwick Kirton-Darling on Vimeo.

Saturday 7 March 2020 CANCELLED
People move!
People have always moved and they always will. We can make migration work for everyone, but we won’t be able to until we recognise that building higher walls doesn’t change the reality of movement. It only leads to injustice. We urgently need to rethink the way we view migration .

Satbir Singh, CEO of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. Previously he’d developed campaigns and political strategies for people’s movements across the world and worked as an adviser on peacebuilding, good governance and human rights to the UN and the World Bank. He studied at Oxford and PSOASand was a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia.

Saturday 28 March 2020
The eco-spiritual challenge of our time: Extinction Rebellion as our last best hope
We have gambled too much to date on being able to stop the juggernaut of climate and ecological collapse from destroying us. We need to think very seriously about what will happen if we fail to stop it. In this talk I discuss the ascendant idea of ‘deep adaptation’, which aims to prepare society for likely impending collapses, and the need for it to be a key demand in climate campaigning. In particular, I probe the spiritual dimensions of deep adaptation and more generally of waking up to the full gravity of the long emergency we are in.

Rupert Read, Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia; Co-convenor of XR Political Liaison Group. Rupert is author of seven books on a range of subjects and specialises particularly in Wittgenstein, philosophy of film, and environmental philosophy. Recently Rupert has become a key spokesperson for the Extinction Rebellion movement.

The video link is here,

The eco-spiritual challenge of our time: Extinction Rebellion as our last best hope

Saturday 25 April 2020
Refugees in modern world history: reflections on past and present
The plight of refugees has again become a dominant focus of public debate as it was in the aftermath of the two world wars. It speaks to the desperation of displaced people and the intransigent stance adopted by many governments. This talk examines the circumstances, actions and trajectories of refugees in different times and places, and what this means for refugees to encounter government officials, aid agencies and host communities. In thinking about refugees as flesh and blood rather than as flotsam and jetsam, the talk will also reflect on the ways in which refugees have expressed themselves.

Peter Gatrell, Professor of Economic History, University of Manchester. Peter is the author of several books on refugee history, including A Whole Empire Walking: Refugees in Russia during World War 1 (1999) and The Making of the Modern Refugee (2013), as well as books on Russian economic and social history. His latest book, The Unsettling of Europe: the Great Migration, 1945 to the Present, appeared with Penguin Books in 2019. In 2019 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.

Saturday 2 May 2020
Thinking Like an Ecosystem: The Need for New Stories.
In a world that has been reduced to a market, and nature a cache of exploitable resources, people are downgraded to consumers. Our compliance in this travesty is bought by marketing, to which digital technology has gifted ubiquity, camouflage and even more power. The resulting harm to our bodies and planet is becoming all too apparent; but the most damaging effect is to blot out alternative narratives. This session will, with your help, redress the balance.

Gerard HastingsEmeritus Professor, University of Stirling. Gerard researches the impact of business on society – both for good and ill. This has involved him in advising Government and civil society nationally and internationally. His latest books are Social Marketing: Rebels with a Cause and The Marketing Matrix: how the corporation gets its power and how we can reclaim it. In 2009 he was awarded the OBE for services to healthcare; in 2014 he accepted the Queen’s Anniversary Prize on behalf of the University of Stirling.

Saturday 6 June 2020
The Politics of Global Heating
How has it taken so long to get serious about global heating and climate disruption? Why have climate change deniers been so resolute, and have we at last started to respond properly – and in time?

Paul RogersEmeritus Professor of Peace Studies, University of Bradford and the Oxford Research Group’s Global Security Consultant. Paul 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 the ORG on international security and the ‘War on Terror’. He also writes regularly for openDemocracy.

Sign up to our mailing list here

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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