February 19, 2008

Cambridge Union Elgin Marbles debate results

Posted at 2:55 pm in Elgin Marbles

The Cambridge Union yesterday held a much publicised debate on the subject: This House would return the Parthenon Marbles to the New Acropolis Museum in Athens. The results were as follows:

In favour: 117
Against: 46

This is a fairly conclusive result, improving on that of the Oxford Union debate in 2004 where the outcome was 133 for & 75 against.

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that both these debates had great difficulty in finding people to speak against the motion.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Possibly related articles


  1. john maroulis said,

    02.19.08 at 11:29 pm

    l love the results!!!!!!!!!! l have just read Kathryn Coromilas’s piece on why she feels the marbles should not be returned.Here is a person who actually likes the division.
    Why correct a historical wrong !!!All the other wrongs can’t be corrected she maintains, why correct this one!! l wrote and simply replied that the last wrong was the Balanos restoration,we are correcting his unintended mistakes to preserve the temple, because we have learned more about conservation. Some historical events can be corrected,Elgin’s damage can partially be rectified.

  2. Curator & Collector » The Elgin Marbles said,

    02.20.08 at 11:44 pm

    […] to Elginism.com, a blog I found while researching (er, “googling”) this story, the results were 117 to 46 in favour of returning the Marbles. This is a stronger result than that which followed the Oxford […]

  3. Michael Daley said,

    02.21.08 at 4:35 pm

    You find ‘interesting’ the claimed difficulty of getting people to speak against a motion urging the so-called ‘return’ of the Parthenon Marbles to the New Museum of the Acropolis in Athens.
    As one who had agreed to take part, first in the Oxford and then the Cambridge Union debates to which you refer, and who later withdrew from both, I hope you might find my reasons for doing so of interest.

    In both cases, I discovered late in the day, that the debates had been funded by by Greek or ‘Hellenic’ interests. In both cases I discovered that the debates were not, as I had assumed, or been led to assume, part of regular Union Debates series.
    At Oxford, the debating chamber had been hired out for the occasion. The ‘occasion’ was a bolt-on event to follow the world premiere of an anti-Elgin play – with left-leaning luvvies like Vanessa Redgrave in attendance. At Cambridge, the debate was an ‘extra’ debate commissioned (or ‘sponsored’, to use the Union’s euphemism) by the Greek owner of Easy Jet – on the advice of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles. On both occasions I discovered late in the day that while the pro-restitution faction would be represented by activist ‘professionals’, I would not be partnered by promised luminaries (such as Boris Johnson and Brian Sewell) but by students.
    In the case of the recent Cambridge debate, my acceptance had been conditional on obtaining access to the interior of the New Museum in Athens. Although the Union kindly offered to meet expenses in making a trip to Athens at short notice, I was unable to obtain from the Museum itself any response to the requested visit. To this day, I am still waiting. To invite a speaker to oppose the (both loaded and oxymoronic) motion in favour of the ‘return’ of sculptures to a not-yet open museum to which access was not given, smacked, if not of a dirty trick, of an un-level debating chamber.
    I was subsequently asked by the (by the then retired) President of the Union debating society, if I would take place if the debate were to be de-coupled from the c. £6,000 sponsorship. I replied:

    “Of course, on general principles, I’d always be prepared to debate the subject. (I had been quite looking forward to crossing swords with Mr Hill, who would appear to be the new engine of the restitutionist lobby.)
    “But given the recent politicisation of the restitutionists’ campaign and the nature of their past maneouvres (as at the Oxford Union for example), the terms of any engagement would require some consideration. I would not take part in any event that was being funded or driven by the
    restitutionists or their proxies. A second requirement would be that teams of comparable speakers be assembled. Given that the British Museum is unlikely ever to put up speakers to ‘debate’ the merits of an inconceivable action, this would mean getting the participation of speakers like Mary Beard, Ellis Tinios, Dorothy King, Sir Peter Stothard, Sir Simon Jenkins, Brian Sewell, Boris Johnson and so forth. And, if the motion should again be couched in terms of ‘returning’ the sculptures to the New museum, then, as I said at the outset, I should want to have seen the museum’s interior and contents before the debate took place.”

    Of the three previous occasions when I did take part in debates, two were funded by Greek money – albeit under the (joint) aegis first of the Department of Journalism at Columbia University at New York, and, second, of the Economist Magazine in Athens. On the third (unfunded, so far as I know) occasion, I debated – and defeated – the restitutionist and tv producer, William Stewart, at a sixth-form college in Cambridge.
    It is my belief that the original campaign – which was launched, and for years was pursued in an entirely high-minded and academic spirit – has metamorphosed into an ugly, nationally and internationally-sponsored, politicised assault on a single museum. I recall with some shame the fact that this campaign succeeded in enlisting the support of two British Foreign (or former) Secretaries – one of whom (Lord Owen) volunteered a weaselly diplomatic template for extracting the sculptures from the British Museum by stealth and in increments, and another (the late Robin Cook), who suggested that were the British to give up their legally-held sculptures, the Greek Government would, in horse-trading return, support Britain’s bid to host the Olympics. It is my conviction that this persisting and aggressive campaign is now seriously befouling international relations and rendering inter-national archaeological cooperation among scholars all but impossible.
    Under these circumstances, it perhaps ought not to be considered surprising that so many disinterested scholars, academics and journalists should seem unwilling to confer respectability by participation on the campaign’s successive maneouvres.
    Michael Daley
    ArtWatch UK
    Feb 21 08

  4. Dorothy King said,

    02.21.08 at 5:52 pm

    Oh well, might as well add my two cents’ worth.
    I was asked at 7 pm on the Saturday to debate the following day (Sunday) in Oxford, and already had plans. I thought that six against one, plus a play and an exhibition, was in any case a bit dodgy.
    I was vaguely willing to do Cambridge – other than the 18th being my aunt’s 50th birthday party – but when I asked who else was speaking nobody replied, so I assumed I was no longer taking part. It may well have been a break-down in communications.

    Have to admit that the having “great difficulty in finding people to speak” is entirely my fault when it comes to press interviews as I’m on strike when it comes to this issue. I have not changed my mind, I am simply very unhappy with the BM and unwilling to do anything whatsoever to help them.

    Best wishes,

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

We want to hear your views. Be as critical or controversial as you like, but please don't get personal or offensive. Remember this is for feedback and constructive discussion!
Comments may be edited or removed if they do not meet these guidelines. Repeat offenders will be blocked from posting further comments. Any comment deemed libellous by Elginism's editors will be removed.
The commenting system uses some automatic spam detection and occasionally comments do not appear instantly - please do not repost comments if they do not show up straight away