This was a debate of the highest quality between two contestants unable to disagree once ‘patriotism’ was replaced by ‘nationalism.’  The proposer (the excellent Celia Pillay) managed the poisoned chalice with consummate skill, tendering that patriotism was too often manipulated by governments to gain buy-in for their decisions, through jingo-ism and ‘my country right or wrong’ rhetoric.

“Patriotism gives bad government the cloak of respectability.”

Making his debut Philip Brenner (the Opposer) sought to  re-claim the meaning and spirit of patriotism, as being the identity with ones country and so the desire to see it uphold and promote our shared values in the international arena.

He further maintained that global alliances were impossible without the coming together of rival patriotic entities, to better contest their differences and find common ground.

But what about loyalty to brand-UK or Italy for instance, is that not a patriotic choice? Equally it is a reflection of localism, the good sense to reduce our carbon  footprint of purchases from abroad, said Philip in reply.

Philip’s debut was applauded and he certainly won the argument. If anything, it was his scholarly tone that fell short of conviction on the night, even though instincts told us he held the winning hand. But Celia’s win by a vote, that could have gone either way (turning 6-4 into level pegging) was due to her clarity of speech and persuasive delivery that resonated best with the audience. (no doubt we shall hear more from Philip Brenner in future debates)