Luminaries join debate on democracy


Academics, teachers, students and school pupils from England and the United States will engage with dignitaries including former Chairman of the Labour Party Tony Benn, former Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party Liam Fox, and the first Secretary of State for Justice Lord Falconer, to debate democracy during a four-day forum to be held at the University of Lincoln from 25 - 28 June.

Magna Carta 2008: Exploring Democracy – a Forum, will become an annual event in the run up to the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 by King John. The Magna Carta has influenced the development of common law and many constitutional documents, such as the United States Constitution. Lincoln’s cathedral holds what is believed to be one of only four pre-1218 copies of the original document still in existence.

The University’s Professor Brian Winston, who has organised the event with the Chancellor of the Lincoln Cathedral and Lincolnshire County Council, said: “There is a concern that modern society takes democracy for granted so there is a real educational purpose behind the Forum.


“In the light of the recent resignation of the Shadow Home Secretary David Davis, in response to the proposed increase in the time detainees can be held without charge, the Magna Carta has been catapulted to the headlines and the Forum is very timely in that respect. It is also a rare opportunity for such a diverse mix of people, from school children to eminent politicians, to come together and engage with each other, sharing views and ideas.”


Guest speaker Reg Weaver, Vice President of Education International for the North America – Caribbean Region, will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Education from the University at a ceremony being held at Lincoln Cathedral during the event. Reg represents more than 29 million education workers in 169 countries. He is a recognised expert on public education issues and has testified before the United States Congress on federal education policy. He will discuss Two Democratic Cultures – the US and the UK with the audience on 25 June.

Guest speakers include: Dame Pauline Green – Business and Democracy; Dr Liam Fox MP – Rights and Responsibilities: Can rights be conditional?; Mike West – Religion Versus Democracy; Tony Benn - Democracy and Human Rights; Lord Falconer – Pro and Con Apathy – is Representative Democracy Pretty Meaningless?


The anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta has been chosen as the best date to celebrate Britishness. Its anniversary was picked by 27% of the 5,002 people polled by BBC History magazine, following Gordon Brown’s call for a new day for national identity, suggesting the UK needed a day to celebrate "who we are and what we stand for."


A full programme of activities for the event, biographies and photos of the speakers, or arrangements for interviews and photography can be obtained by contacting:

Joni Appleton - Snr PR & Media Officer, University of Lincoln on 01522 886244 or email



magnacartalogo            magnacarta           cathedrallogo




       lordfalconer           tonybenn

       Lord Falconer                                                        Tony Benn



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       Liam Fox                                                           Mike West                                                               Dame Pauline Green