The Cambridge Union Term Card

Luke Hallam 1 October 2018
Credit: ExecElect

The Cambridge Union has released its term card for Michaelmas 2018, and it’s hard to imagine a busier schedule. October kicks off with Open Period, during which time anyone can attend, an effort to tempt prospective members in the hope that they will like what they see and invest in full membership. And it might just work. Politicos will have a great deal to get excited about in the ‘No Confidence in the Government’ debate, featuring prominent MPs from all major parties. This seems to be a theme for the term. With the likes of Trump’s Ghost-writer Tony Schwarz, Jordan Peterson, and an entire debate dedicated to the Special Relationship, it is hardly surprising to learn that Union President Charles Connor is completing an MPhil in American History.

The Peterson event may be the one to watch closely. The Canadian psychologist is the darling of the American alt-lite, the palatable professor giving academic respectability to those who decry today’s lefty ‘social justice warriors’, although he refers to himself as a ‘classical liberal’. Expect his views to clash with those of a typical Cambridge audience, but the event will likely attract vocal pockets of support. Meanwhile, last year’s appearance by Anthony Scaramucci seems to have fired the gun on a stream of Whitehouse denizens, and this term features former Trump-aid and serial-leaker Omarosa Manigault Newman. Her exposé Unhinged, released in August of this year, provided a fascinating overview of the daily farce of the White House, and the event promises to be full of shocking insight.

Liberals will be happy to see Sir Vince Cable participate in a debate on the transatlantic relationship; meanwhile the so-called ‘Cambridge Mafia’, comprising of former Conservative cabinet ministers such as Ken Clarke and Michael Howard who were Cantabs in the early 1960s, will feature in a special debate on 8th November. The motion is “This House Believes That Debate Never Convinced Anyone of Anything”, an unexpected degree of self-awareness from the world’s oldest debating society.

There is plenty to satisfy those who (with good reason) are sick of politics. Adam Driver, the star of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy as Kylo Ren, will make a highly-anticipated appearance on Saturday 6th October. Although this falls at the beginning of term, it will not be an Open Period event – a clear incentive for sci-fi fans to buy membership. The Weasley twins, James and Oliver Phelps, will appear on 12th November, and are likely to draw a rapturous crowd of 20-somethings who grew up at the height of Harry Potter fever. While they are twins in real life, many will be sad to learn that they are not actually ginger.

Sports fans will enjoy appearances by former Manchester United and Sunderland manager David Moyes, as well as legendary England player Sol Campbell. These, alongside model and activist Adwoa Aboa, and TV presenter and activist Katie Piper, are a continuation of a welcome shift by the Union away from movie stars and politicians, although there are of course plenty of these.

Finally, actor and living meme Shia LaBeouf is pencilled in for an appearance with his performance trio at a date yet to be announced, while Schindler’s List star Sir Ben Kingsley has been confirmed for the 1st November.

Michaelmas always features a bumper Union line-up. This term, with a mammoth 11 debates, a host of high-profile stars, and panels on Turkey, Gentrification, and Race, the society seems keen to outdo itself. It has probably succeeded.