Melissa Benn

How to for-give……

Posted on: June 9, 2012

Below a recent review of a remarkable book by a remarkable woman, that appeared in the Guardian:

If You Sit Very Still by Marian Partington


Some years ago, while making a Radio 4 series on forgiveness in private and public life, I interviewed an apple-cheeked woman of impeccable middle-class stock. Everyone who trooped through the studio had a gripping story of betrayal or violence to recount, yet, all these years later, it is Marian Partington’s authenticity and intensity that I most vividly recall.

If You Sit Very Still has taken a further decade….read on

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1 Response to "How to for-give……"

Dear Ms Benn,

I am writing to you on behalf of the University of St Andrews Union Debating Society. I have been elected President and I am responsible for the exciting project of organising next academic year’s term card. On Thursday 20th September we are planning to hold a debate with the motion “This House Would Bring Back Grammar Schools” and I would like to invite you to guest speak at the event.

The St Andrews Union is a thriving and engaging place and this debate is likely to be a major event in our debating calendar and attended by hundreds of students. St Andrews is judged as world-class for teaching and research; it is currently ranked as the fourth best university in the UK according to The Guardian. As you can expect, competition for an under-graduate place is fierce and only last week, the Scottish Education Secretary attacked the university for failing to attract enough students from poorer backgrounds. Thus, issues of social mobility and education are of major importance to St Andrews students and with many UK students benefitting from selective streaming in schools and the remnants of the grammar school system, this is likely to be a very popular debating night. Despite the UDS being one of the oldest societies of its kind in the UK, we pride ourselves on our open and inclusive nature. Membership of the Debating Society is free and every matriculated student is automatically a member.

I would be honoured and grateful if you would like to guest speak at the event. Will Lord, our Internal Secretary, and I were motivated to hold this debate largely by thinking of eminent speakers, and your name came to mind instantly. I think that your contribution would be extremely valuable; both Will and I follow you in the New Statesman and the Guardian. I know that Will has read School Wars and many of your ideas and concerns come up frequently in his inter-varsity debates speeches! If you are able to attend we will hold a dinner before the debate with students and academic staff, and a popular drinks reception afterwards. We will of course cover your expenses. Other guest speakers that I have invited to the debate include David Davis MP, Kwasi Kwarteng, Alistair Moffat (our University Rector, former director of the Edinburgh Fringe) and heads of local schools. The debate will be attended by hundreds of students and will be held in the historic Lower Parliament Hall.

I have been warned that your diary will probably be full by now, but I hope that this date is convenient. If the date is your only constraint, we would certainly look for alternatives that would suit you.

I look forward to hearing from you soon,

Yours sincerely,

Alexandra Holroyd

President of the University of St Andrews Union Debating Society
Founded in 1794
~ Pro Amicitia Et Litteris ~
http://www.standrewsdebates.org
debates@st-andrews.ac.uk

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