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The Contrarian Prize debate 2016


Panel Discussions

Public, Staff, Students, Alumni, Prospective Postgraduates, Prospective Undergraduates, Academics

Contrarianism in an age of conformity

We are living through a period of extraordinary turbulence and change. We have witnessed two political earthquakes in the UK and the US whose aftershocks will reverberate for years. The political discourse has become increasingly visceral and polarised.

There is an increasing tendency to close down debate through censorship of those with views that contradict one’s own by branding them offensive. Recent examples include the threatened “no-platforming” by university students of the feminist writer, Germaine Greer, for comments she made about transgender individuals which were deemed unacceptable. Where has this increasing sensitivity come from? Who decides what is allowable in discussion and what is off-limits? Is it right for contrarian views to be curtailed just because they differ from the established consensus?

People appear to be hiding behind the shield of identity-politics to close down legitimate questions being asked of belief systems, religious or otherwise. There is much talk of “hate speech” and “safe spaces”, but what exactly do these terms mean? What are the boundaries of freedom of speech and is the concept itself relevant anymore? Are we simply solidifying groupthink? Would we have ever made the progress we have in so many areas, including women’s rights, if the prevailing consensus had not been challenged?

The British public recently voted to leave the EU and the US elected Donald Trump as its President, arguably the most controversial candidate ever to seek the office. Both of these outcomes were against the settled position of the majority of the establishment. But how have people who took this contrarian view been treated? How did a view that was against the grain become mainstream?

These questions and more will be explored by a formidable panel of speakers at the Contrarian Prize debate on Wednesday 30 November 2016 at Cass Business School at 6pm. Please register to attend. The discussion will be followed by a reception and book signing.

The Contrarian Prize aims to recognise individuals in British public life that stand up for their principles and demonstrate independence, courage and sacrifice. Nominations for the 2017 prize are open and you can read more and nominate someone for the prize at


Ed Husain – Director of Strategy at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation
Izabella Kaminska -  Journalist, FT Alphaville, Financial Times
Gisela Stuart - MP and Chair of Change Britain
Peter Tatchell – Human rights campaigner, Director - Peter Tatchell Foundation
Sir Simon Wessely - President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Chair: Claire Fox - Director of the Institute of Ideas

Further information about the speakers via this link

The Contrarian Prize

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When & where

6.00pm - 9.00pmWednesday 30th November 2016

Cass Business School 106 Bunhill Row London EC1Y 8TZ United Kingdom

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Cass Events

+44 (0)20 7040 0909

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