Headmistress holds her own in lively debate

December 1, 2014

Black Friday, immigration and celebrity culture were among the hot topics debated by an influential panel featuring the headmistress of Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls. Caroline Pascoe, David Davies, MP for Monmouthshire, and award-winning BBC contributor Simon Fanshawe discussed the latest news headlines in front of a full house at Llanarth Village Hall on Saturday night.

Occasionally heated during political debates, What the Papers Say and Question Time hybrid chaired by local fundraiser Richard Wilson, saw panellists highlight the stories which had caught their eye last week.

Mrs Pascoe picked up on the shocking photographs taken in the shops on ‘Black and Blue’ Friday.

She joked: “As I was the last panellist to arrive, I was given the Daily Mail so struggled to find any news.”

On a serious note, Mrs Pascoe said it was extraordinary to see how far people would lower themselves to grab a bargain, and talked about how commercial Christmas has become.

“Kicking, punching and biting has been quoted in the newspapers,” She added.

“Some of the quotes are quite astonishing.

“Pictures of women lying on bargains just to stop people getting them is not what I want to see.

“There was a 307% increase in traffic to the John Lewis website that day – maybe Black Friday should just be online?”

Conservative MP David Davies chose to talk about Simon Heffer’s column for the Daily Mail in which he revealed why he believes it is “inevitable we will have an all-English parliament”.

This story sparked a lively debate with longstanding and active Labour Party member Simon Fanshawe, who chose to move on to a story highlighting the pressures on our farming industry.

Making the point that a minimal increase to the price of milk may save a farmer’s life, he said: “People in Waitrose would not notice a few pennies added on to the price of milk.

“These are people who come out with lines like ‘Orlando, put down that cumquat’, and ‘Darling, do we have enough pesto for both houses?’

“It’s a matter of pence per litre but it could sustain the farming industry and we have a responsibility to do that.”

The evening ended with a Q&A session, allowing the audience to get involved.

Mrs Pascoe discussed the pros and cons of celebrity culture, saying: “I think celebrities are important because they show people what opportunities are available in life – they motivate people to become the best possible version of themselves and develop their talents.

“The negative side of these reality programmes is the over-emphasis on the importance of simply being famous.”

Golden goodbyes were the final subject of the evening, focusing on Harriet Green’s shock departure from Thomas Cook.

The straight-talking high flyer whose tenacity saved the oldest company in the world, walked away with £8 million.

Clearly a popular woman with the panel and the audience, Mr Davies said of her: “I would love it if Harriet Green was involved in a few more companies.”

Proceeds of the event will be donated to the Mitchel Troy Conservative Association.