Headstrong And Proud

Michael Crick examines the small political societies which survive as discussion forums for the like-minded, and which follow in the spirit of some of the foremost political theorists of the past.


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Michael Crick visits a meeting of the Gladstone Club to find out why the members are still inspired by the Victorian Prime Minister famous for his now unfashionable religious principles and social vision.

At Kettners, the regular dinner-time haunt of Gladstone and now the hub of the Gladstone Club, Crick asks the members which issues would have fired Gladstone up in contemporary Britain? How would a politician famous for his interminable speeches have fared in the age of the Soundbite? Which Party would Gladstone belong to? The debaters consider where Gladstone, a Prime Minister in charge of a vast Empire would have stood in relation to the EU or the War in Iraq? Crick then attends a dinner addressed by Liberal M.P Vincent Cable and the fierce debate about the oil industry which ensues.

Roger Pincham, President of the Gladstone Club, shows Michael Crick the axe that Gladstone notoriously used to cut down trees.

Pincham says that Gladstone's axe is a 'metaphor for getting to the heart of the issue, which is what we aim to do with our debates in the Gladstone Club in 2003'.

0102The Headstrong Club2003090420050705

which meets in the same room above the Royal Oak public house in Lewes, East Sussex that it has met in since its founding in early 19th Century.

A debating society inspired by the memory of Thomas Paine the Lewes customs officer, who wrote the seminal Humanist document 'The Rights of Man' and went on to play key roles in the French and American Revolutions.

Michael Crick shares a pint with David Powell, radical historian and biographer and President of the Headstrong Club, and hears about the Club's raison d'etre: namely "to debate contemporary issues that would have commanded Thomas Paine's attention had he been alive today".

Crick eavesdrops on the lively debate with a panel of speakers and asks what Thomas Paine, a man who was behind the American Revolution, would have made of Britain's relationship with America and its administration today?

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Michael Crick examines the small political societies that survive as discussion forums for the like-minded, and drops in on the Manchester based Pankhurst Society who meet to discuss the legacy of Britain's most famous suffragette.

0104Postponed Due To The Terrorist Attack - Simon De Montfort Society2003091820050707

This week he meets the members of the Evesham based Simon de Montfort Society who champion England's 13th century Parliamentarian.

0105 LASTThe Primrose League2003092520050708

This week he joins The Primrose League in the affluent surroundings of London's St John's Wood.