Chairman’s Welcome

Welcome to the Wilberforce Society!

When I came to Cambridge, I had no clear idea of what I wanted to spend my time here doing. The bewildering array of societies hardly helps in narrowing down one’s options. One thing I did have was an interest in politics and a desire to learn a little more about it. When I came along to meetings of The Wilberforce Society though, I quickly realised that not only could I learn a little more about politics, but I could start doing it. Almost no other University society anywhere offers this to its students, and certainly no other can offer it to you at the level The Wilberforce Society can here at Cambridge.

The society was founded in 2009 by two Sidney Sussex students who had grown tired of entrenched ideological battles between two or more rival camps. There existed no constructive conversation for people interested in the real meat of political debate. Conjure up images of ‘student politics’ and the first two things that probably come to mind are protesters swinging from the Cenotaph and out of touch posh-boys preoccupied with cheese, biscuits and port. I believe, however, that this view is slowly changing, and is doing so thanks, in large part, to this society.

We’re fiercely proud of our non-partisan stance because it frees us to think originally, creatively and pragmatically. This way of thinking has gathered us recognition from many influential policy makers and journalists, pleasantly surprised by the quality of the work we produce. The society was given a special commendation at the last Prospect Think Tank of the Year awards, for example, and our work has been given favourable press in the Financial Times and other major news outlets. Whilst we can’t compete with the full-time think-tank in terms of the detailed level of empirical investigation they carry out into each of their reports, we are free from any world-weary pessimism whilst always focusing on making our proposals practical.

Each of our weekly seminars provides a rare opportunity to quiz an expert and each other on a detailed policy and to have others devote an hour and half to your own ideas. We encourage as broad a range of topics as possible – no subject is too niche for us! In addition to all this, our Annual Conference is a Cambridge calendar highlight, and this year’s is set to be better than ever, with stellar speakers and fascinating topic – ‘Small Island, Big World: Visions of Britain in a Global Era.’

I sincerely hope that you’ll consider joining our society and coming along to some of our events. I’d be more than happy to answer any of your questions and meet you in person to discuss what we do.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Kind regards,

Jenny Steinitz

Chair, 2014-2015

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