I was honoured to be invited to speak at the Oxford Union in one of their historic debates this term. I was asked to speak on the Proposition motion:
”This House Believes Stormzy Is More Relevant than Boris”
The Oxford Union was founded by a group of students in 1823 to protest against the University’s restrictive rules surrounding the discussion of religion and politics. To this day, the Union remains a place where students can make their voices heard by debating the most important and topical issues against the leading figures of the day. Throughout their history, they have played host to world leaders from US Presidents Reagan, Nixon, Carter and Clinton, Sir Winston Churchill, iconic figures like Albert Einstein, Malcolm X, the Dalai Lama & Mother Teresa, musical stars from Sir Elton John to Shakira and now….me 😂 .
From Tupac to Dave, rap music has amplified the voices of disadvantaged groups on an unprecedented scale. Similarly, politicians have a significant role in advocating the interests of their constituents in Parliament through debates and Select Committees. Rap has embedded itself into the popular culture of society and made people feel not just heard, but seen, in a way they weren’t before. In turn, this has heightened the significance of cultural relevance in identity – working to challenge the status quo through creativity.
It’s proliferation has catapulted artists such as Stormzy into the core of popular culture. But despite 8.4 million people listening to Stormzy’s Spotify each month, it is Whitehall and the political establishment that legislate on real-world issues – from roads and schools, to taxes and civil liberties. Nonetheless, whilst they may not have a seat in the House of Commons or a mandate from the ballot box, is the implicit influence of a cultural icon more relevant than that of our politicians? Is Stormzy, ultimately, more relevant than Boris Johnson? We were about to see what the students in the hallowed halls where Boris Johnson once studied himself thought.
We arrived at Oxford University where a lovely young woman called Kyoka was introduced as my talent chaperone for the evening.
We were offered drinks in the main bar where the BORIS BLUE and DARK AND STORMZY cocktails were on offer.
After this it was a quick change into our black tie outfits for formal drinks in the Gladstone Room, followed by a formal dinner where I was lucky to have been seated to the right of the Oxford Union President Michael Akolade Ayodeji – a lovely young man who hosted the dinner and the toasts.
After this, it suddenly became serious as we were hurried into the library for a few formal photos and briefed on the rules around the debate and signed off those always scary release forms to allow them to film us ( from every angle to capture our facial expressions as the opposition team attempted to roast us.
The debate was kicked off by the two students speakers Rosie and Lucas.
My team- for the Proposition were myself, Mr Montgomery and Nelson Abbey.
The Opposition were Jonathan Ilan , Inaya Iman and Sheldon Thomas.
Before the debate students had been asked to vote in a pre speaker poll in which they has decided Stormzy was NOT more relevant than Boris.
After my team and I spoke, they changed their minds and we won by four votes!
Post debate, we were invited for drinks and fun again in the VIP members bar which was great fun as we celebrated our win!
What an honour it was to join in the debate and continue this fine tradition.
The video of the full debate will be on the Oxford Union YouTube page soon and I’ll be sure to share it!
Thanks for having me!