Scots pupils scoop world debating cup

SCOTLAND'S great debaters have graced the corridors of power and held some of the country's top positions.

Now the next generation is proving once again that Scots are the best in the world in an argument.

Five Scottish teenagers were crowned champions in the World Schools Debating Championships in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday. They defeated teams from 35 countries by successfully arguing against topics such as the banning of underweight models, in which they defeated the Kuwaiti team; and by arguing for the execution of war criminals, defeating the Bangladeshi debaters.

Romania were also beaten by the Scots, who argued that governments should not limit the areas which scientists may research, and Lithuania were defeated by the team, who argued that the US should withdraw from its military bases in Asia.

In the semi-final, the team beat England by arguing for the partition of Iraq.

Singapore was the final nation to succumb to the formidable verbal dexterity of the Scots, who argued against abolishing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The team were Stuart Cullen and Calum Jones, both 18, from George Heriot's School in Edinburgh; Neil Dewar, 18, from the High School of Dundee; Netan Dogra, 18, from Grove Academy, also in Dundee; and Joanna Farmer, 17, from Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen.

Calum Jones said: "It has been tough, but we are absolutely delighted to be world champions and to be bringing the trophy back to Scotland."

His team-mate Stuart Cullen added: "The competition was fierce, but when we reached the final we knew that whichever three of us took part in the debate, we would have a great chance of winning.

"It has been a fantastic team effort."

On their way to the final, three members of the five-strong squad took part in each debate.

After eight preliminary debates, the 35 teams were ranked on their performance, with Scotland placed sixth. The top 16 then took part in knock-out rounds.

This is the third victory for Scotland in the competition's 16-year history. Scottish teams also won in 1999 and in 1990.

Fiona Dewar, a member of the 1999 winning team, is the sister of one of this year's team, Neil Dewar.

A Scottish team have been runners-up five times, said the English-Speaking Union Scotland (ESU), who supported this year's team.

The director, John Duncan, said: "The standard of debate and the level of the competition at the World Schools Championships is the best you can get, so to become world champions is a colossal achievement.

"Their success shows just how strong Scottish debating is at the moment, and we are very proud to be associated with the team."

The ESU charity aims to promote international understanding and friendship through the use of the English language.

NO DEBATE ON A BRIGHT FUTURE

SCOTLAND has an illustrious history of debating.

Glasgow University produced an lite force of debaters who went on to make a major mark on UK politics. Inaugural First Minister Donald Dewar honed his debating skills at Glasgow University Union (GUU) in the 1950s alongside the late Labour leader John Smith and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, with the erstwhile leader, Charles Kennedy, following in the early 1980s.

Mr Dewar once said of the debating society: "Anyone who could look after themselves there emerged well qualified for the pale imitation of Westminster."