Press Enquries, Photos and Filming
For all general press enquiries please contact the Press Officer through the General Office on +44 (0)1865 241 353 ('phone & fax), or by email: email@example.com. They will be most happy to update journalists and reporters on all aspects of current events at the Oxford Union.
Notes for Editors
The Oxford Union Society, founded in 1823, is a debating, educational, and social society, membership of which is open to all matriculated members of Oxford University (and many other notable educational establishments). Founded to uphold freedom of speech, when the subjects of religion and politics were off-limits within the University, we exist separately from Oxford University and Oxford University Student Union (OUSU). Harold Macmillan called us "the last bastion of free speech in the Western world".
Twelve British Prime Ministers have cut their teeth and honed their skills in our Debating Chamber, five of whom were also officers of the Society: our first was William Ewert Gladstone. Our current Prime Minister, David Cameron, is also a member, most recently addressing the Society in Trinity Term (Summer) 2008. We frequently play host to Heads of State, not to mention countless actors, writers, film stars, musicians, celebrities and politicians.
The Oxford Union debates internationally with great success, and also runs the Oxford Schools' Debating Competition, the Women's Open Debating Competition, the prestigious Oxford Intervarsity Debating Competition which attracts universities from around the world, and a number of internal debating competitions.
Our Principal Debates take place each Thursday evening in Full Term, kicking off in Michaelmas with the debate "This House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government", in which key members of the Government and the Opposition go three rounds in a debate which has occurred every year since the Society was founded. In 1933 The Oxford Union passed its famous motion "This House Will in No Circumstances Fight for its King and Country" causing a maelstrom of politcal and public ire; Winston Churchill called it "that abject, squalid, shameless avowal."
Membership continues (in most cases) for life. Presidents and Officers are elected termly by ballot of the entire membership. The Society is headed by the President (who organises debates and manages the Society), supported by the Librarian (who invites individual speakers and runs the library), the Treasurer (who administers budgets and the maintenance of the buildings), and the Secretary (who minutes meetings and organises social events). The Society's governing body is the Standing Committee, which encompasses a wide variety of experience and representation.