The inaugural Churchill-Attlee Democracy Lecture, given by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP

14 May 2024

To mark the Hansard Society’s 80th anniversary, we have launched the Churchill-Attlee Democracy Lecture in honour of our first members, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee. The inaugural lecture was given by former Prime Minister the Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

All proceeds from ticket sales go to our 80th Anniversary Appeal.

Date & location: Tuesday 14 May 2024, 7:00-8:30pm Westminster

£10 tickets are now available for an online recording of the event.

Frustrated with the way Westminster works? Parliamentary reform is essential if we are to improve the way the country is governed in the future.

Theresa May has seen how Parliament works from every angle - from the backbenches to the Despatch Box - over the last quarter century. In her recent book, The Abuse of Power, she outlined some areas for reform.

So we asked her to flesh out her ideas about the House of Commons in more detail for our inaugural 'Democracy Lecture', named in honour of our first members, and her predecessors in Downing Street, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee.

The new Churchill-Attlee Democracy Lecture marks the Society's 80th anniversary and sees a prominent speaker invited each year to reflect on the state of parliamentary democracy in the UK and around the world.

With a wealth of experience in the corridors of Westminster, Theresa May explores what’s wrong with Parliament, particularly the House of Commons, and what changes are needed to make it more effective.

She talks about what she thought about Parliament before entering Number 10 and how her experience at the apex of government has since influenced her thinking about the institution and why and how it must change.

Join us online as we honour the legacies of our first members, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, with a thought-provoking exploration of the challenges facing Parliament in the years ahead, and help raise funds for our 80th Anniversary Appeal.

Tickets are available now for £10 to view a professionally edited recording – available exclusively online for one month.

Jackie Ashley (chair) and Theresa May (speaker) at the inaugural Churchill-Attlee Democracy Lecture on 14 May 2024
Jackie Ashley (chair) and Theresa May (speaker) at the inaugural Churchill-Attlee Democracy Lecture on 14 May 2024

The Hansard Society was founded by Stephen King-Hall MP in 1944. In his memoirs, he records seeing the Prime Minister, Mr Churchill, and his Deputy, Mr Attlee, sitting on a sofa in the Smoking Room of the House of Commons at the height of the War.

Summoning up the courage to approach them, he asked if he could interest them in his ‘Friends of Hansard’ idea. He believed that a vehicle was needed for proclaiming the principles and workings of parliamentary democracy at a time when it was under imminent threat.

From top: Stephen King-Hall (founder), Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee (founding members). (© National Portrait Gallery, London (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0))

Having listened to the idea, Churchill asked ‘How much do you want to start this up?’

One pound from each of you if you approve the idea, and you will be the first Friends’ replied King-Hall.

They duly handed over the money and so began a venture that for 80 years has sought, through education and research, to promote the principles of parliamentary democracy.

King-Hall’s vision grew rapidly and the informal ‘Friends’ of Hansard was rapidly converted into a ‘Society’ with the continuing support of the two party leaders and other prominent donors including Her late Majesty the Queen.

Their assistance and support was vital in underpinning the non-partisan approach the Society has always taken to its mission.

Today, our founder's vision is as relevant as ever: the challenges facing our democracy are different from those which concerned Stephen King-Hall, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee in 1944, but just as urgent.

With this new Democracy Lecture series we hope to ignite crucial conversations about the state of our parliamentary system and honour the legacy of our first members.

The Hansard Society remains the Westminster Parliament’s ‘critical friend’. This fundraising event for our 80th Anniversary Appeal will help support our work for a more effective Parliament.

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