The Neave Society

The Neave Society is Merton's own politics and current affairs society, named in honour of Mertonian, lawyer, soldier and MP Airey Neave. They meet fortnightly on Monday evenings for informal debates and discussion of contemporary political issues. They also often host speakers from a range of political backgrounds. All their meetings are accompanied by drinks and nibbles, and all members of Merton College are welcome to attend.
2020/21

The Neave Society has seen many evolutions and changes this year – from having everyone online at the start, to being back in person for our final debate of the year.  

Despite this tumultuous year, the Neave Society has continued to host its bi-weekly debates as it always has done. It has been fascinating to hear from students from a variety of years and subjects, who consistently provide fresh perspectives and lively discussions no matter the topic. 

We kicked off the year with the traditional ‘no confidence in the government’ debate, which this year revolved (as you might expect) mainly around coronavirus and the policy response. Michaelmas saw us consider topics as varied as drug legalisation and education, making for a wonderful term of discussions.  

Our highlight from Hilary term was the debate on space exploration which asked whether private individuals or governments should be able to own space (when the time comes). Along with questions of fairness and government power came concerns about the likelihood of territorial wars in space, which – though slightly fantastical – provided for some very interesting discussion. 

At the start of this term, fitted with a new President and Treasurer, we were unfortunately limited to online discussions – despite this, they were engaged in with gusto. Our first debate was on whether porn should be legal. After a fascinating discussion on bodily sanctity as well as the reality of sex work, the house voted in favour of pornography being legal. We followed this up with another online debate, this time on the benefits and drawbacks of national service. We spent much of this debate mulling over the different forms which national service could take – from military to educational. We concluded that this house would not introduce compulsory national service, primarily based on concerns about the power of government to control the lives of its citizens. 

Finally, towards the end of term we had our first in-person debate in quite some time (we have been online since the end of Hilary term 2020). In this debate we considered the proposition that wealth should not be divided equally after divorce. We ended up voting in favour of the motion, after considering how varied and diverse marriages are. This debate was held around the beautiful Tolkien Table, although we hope next term to be able to move back into the JCR for a full term of in-person debates. 

Poppy Jagger (2019)
Neave Society President 2020-21

Events
2021/22

Michaelmas term 2021

Date Debate
Wednesday 17 October - 6th week This House would go cashless
Thursday 28 October - 3rd week This House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government
Friday 8 October - 0th week This House believes that all art is political
2020/21

Trinity term 2021

Date Debate
Thursday 3 June - 6th week This House believes that wealth should not be equally divided after divorce
Tuesday 18 May - 4th week This House would introduce compulsory National Service
Wednesday 5 May - 2nd week This House would criminalise pornography

Hilary term 2021

Date Debate
Monday 22 February - 6th week This House believes that no one has the right to own outer space
Friday 12 February - 4th week This House believes that the UK two-party system must end
Wednesday 27 January - 2nd week This House believes that everyone has a right to a Twitter account

Michaelmas term 2020

Date Debate
Monday 30 November - 8th week This House would elect a scientist to be Prime Minister
Monday 16 November - 6th week This House would scrap the use of exams for university admissions
Monday 2 November - 4th week This House believes the US election does not matter
Monday 19 October - 2nd week This House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government
Friday 9 October - 0th week This House would legalise all drugs
2019/20

Hilary term 2020

Date Debate
Wednesday 4 March - 7th week This House would prefer to exist for a single day than never to have existed at all
Wednesday 19 February - 5th week This House would not fund future space exploration
Wednesday 5 February - 3rd week This House believes that capitalism has had its day
Wednesday 22 January - 1st week This House would abolish the monarchy

Michaelmas term 2019

Date Debate
Tuesday 3 December - 8th week This House would not vote in the General Election
Tuesday 5 November - 4th week This House believes that “feminism” is no longer relevant to modern society
Tuesday 22 October - 2nd week This House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government
Tuesday 10 October - 0th week This House believes that art should not be separated from the artist
2018/19

Trinity term 2019

Date Debate
Tuesday 7 May - 2nd week This House believes that colonial states should pay reparations to former colonies

Hilary term 2019

Date Debate
Tuesday 5 March - 8th week This House believes that art should not be separated from the artist
Tuesday 19 February - 6th week This House believes the UK is in dire need of a centrist political party
Tuesday 5 February - 4th week This House believes humanitarian intervention is now necessary in Venezuela
Tuesday 22 January - 2nd week This House believes that vegetarianism is the way forward

Michaelmas term 2018

Date Debate
Tuesday 13 November - 6th week This House regrets the number of UN condemnations of Israel
Tuesday 30 October - 4th week This House supports compulsory vaccines for children
Tuesday 16 October - 2nd week This House has no confidence in the Government
2017/18

Trinity term 2018

Date Debate
Tuesday 1 May - 2nd week This House believes that we should legalise genetic selection of human embryos
Tuesday 22 May - 5th week This House would repeal the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution
Tuesday 29 May - 6th week This House believes referendums are good

Hilary term 2018

Date Debate
Tuesday 6 March - 8th week This House believes cats are better than dogs
Tuesday 20 February - 6th week This House would abolish tuition fees
Tuesday 6 February - 4th week This House believes extremists should be 'No Platformed'
Tuesday 23 January - 2nd week This House believes capitalism is more dangerous than communism

Michaelmas term 2017

Date Debate
Tuesday 17 October - 1st week This House would take down statues of immoral historical figures
Tuesday 31 October - 4th week This House would decriminalise marijuana
Tuesday 14 November - 6th week This House would abolish the monarchy
Tuesday 28 November - 8th week This House believes that Russia is a threat to Western democracy
2016/17

Trinity term 2017

Date Debate
Tuesday 2 May - 2nd week This House would allow a second Scottish independence referendum
Tuesday 23 May - 5th week This House believes hunting animals for sport is wrong
Tuesday 30 May - 6th week Election special

Hilary term 2017

Date Debate
Tuesday 24 January - 2nd week This House would take empty buildings and use them to shelter homeless people
Tuesday 7 February - 4th week This House would not allow Trump to make a state visit to the UK
Tuesday 21 February - 6th week This House believes that faith schools should be abolished
Tuesday 7 March - 8th week This House would reintroduce the death penalty

Michaelmas term 2016

Date Debate
Tuesday 18 October - 1st week This House believes that grammar schools are the best way to promote social mobility
Tuesday 1 November - 4th week This House believes Britain is no longer a compassionate country
Tuesday 15 November - 6th week This House believes Hillary Clinton is the reason Donald Trump won the US Presidential election
Tuesday 29 November - 8th week This House believes that 2016 marks the beginning of the end
2015/16

Trinity term 2016

Date Debate
Tuesday 26 April - 1st week This House believes the monarchy is out of place in 21st-century Britain
Tuesday 3 May - 2nd week This House believes that the Oxbridge elite is damaging to society as a whole
Tuesday 24 May - 5th week This House believes that the UK should vote to leave the EU

Hilary term 2016

Date Debate
Tuesday 26 January - 2nd week This House believes the creation of 'safe spaces' in universities discourages debate
Tuesday 9 February - 4th week This House believes that the Government has a responsibility to prevent homelessness
Tuesday 23 February - 6th week This House believes that politicians should not send their children to private school
Tuesday 8th March - 8th week This House believes that Donald Trump is unstoppable

Michaelmas term 2015

Date Debate
Tuesday 20 October - 2nd week This House believes that Jeremy Corbyn is good for British politics
Tuesday 3 November - 4th week This House believes that we must accept our lack of privacy
Tuesday 17 November - 6th week This House believes it's time for a secular Britain
Wednesday 2 December - 8th week This House believes that military intervention is the most effective way to combat terrorism