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19th October, 2022

Contrarian Prize 10th Anniversary Debate: Is it becoming impossible to be contrarian?

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Event Details

19th October, 2022
18:30 - 20:00
Bayes Business School, 106 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8TZ

Is freedom of expression under threat?

Shutting down discussion with those who do not share a particular view – especially online – appears to be a rising trend around the world.

Some fear that suppressing these views, rather than engaging with or challenging them, has now become the norm within great institutions of liberal democracy – including the media – to the extent that anything considered objectionable is not just ignored but “cancelled”, leading to public vilification of those holding such views.

But who makes these rules and who decides what is – and what is not – fair play in the realm of public discourse? If diversity of thought is subjugated by tribalism and identity politics, is rational thinking and the ability to explore and critically analyse contentious subjects in good faith now redundant?

Is it possible to be contrarian in such an environment or are we condemned to conformity, and what does it even mean to be contrarian today?

The Contrarian Prize was established in 2012 to recognise the independence, courage and sacrifice of British public figures whose ideas challenge the status quo.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, a panel will look back at the rationale for establishing the prize, how contrarianism has evolved over the past decade and whether it can survive. The special debate on Wednesday 19th October will include the following lineup:

  • Michael Crick – Journalist and Author of One Party After Another, a biography of Nigel Farage
  • Professor Sunetra Gupta – Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology, University of Oxford
  • Professor Andre Spicer – Dean, Bayes Business School
  • Peter Tatchell – Humans rights campaigner and Founder, Peter Tatchell Foundation
  • Michael Woodford – Former CEO of Olympus Corporation


  • Baroness Claire Fox – Founder and Chair, Academy of Ideas

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