Decoding Global Politics

Decoding Global Politics

On Monday 18 March, the Politics Society was honoured to welcome Sir Laurie Bristow, the current President of Hughes Hall, Cambridge, and the former British ambassador to Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and Afghanistan.

Sir Laurie gave a riveting talk to pupils on issues ranging from politics to diplomacy to how one conducts oneself when face-to-face with Sergey Lavrov.

The evening began with Sir Laurie arriving at the School’s Lecture Theatre. Upon his arrival, a group of pupils and staff were already present, having secured the best seats ahead of his much-awaited talk. As the Lecture Theatre began to fill, with both pupils and a sense of anticipation, several people approached Sir Laurie, hoping for a chance to speak to him.

Once such person was Mr Brinkley, whose father served as the British ambassador to Ukraine for several years and, therefore, was a close acquaintance of Sir Laurie. This represented both a wonderful coincidence, and also how ‘small’ the world has truly become. 

Everyone fell silent as Sir Laurie began to deliver his speech to a room which had then become filled with over 100 pupils and staff. In his speech, Sir Laurie utilised his 32 years of experience in the Foreign Office to give an overview of global politics today and to tackle questions about the future of the West in the face of the challenges created by the modern autocracies of China and Russia.

Sir Laurie spoke for around a quarter of an hour and then, in the ensuing 45 minutes, he answered questions from the audience on topics ranging from Britain’s readiness for war, the state of Russian democracy and his harrowing experiences as ambassador in Kabul during the evacuation of Afghanistan. In addition, Sir Laurie also touched on numerous issues that are directly relevant to the Global Politics A Level course and many pupils who will shortly begin sitting important examinations after Easter will have found this immensely useful.

As one of our Global Politics teachers Mr Ian Richards remarked,

Sir Laurie had a wide coverage, talking about issues across all seven continents, focusing on not just large-scale matters, but smaller flashpoints. He mentioned numerous concepts from the Global Politics syllabus which would have been of great benefit to our A Level pupils.

Mr Ian Richard, Teacher of Politics

Throughout the evening, the magnitude of questions posed to Sir Laurie was a testament to the fact that he was an excellent speaker and how well the pupils engaged with what he said. Following his talk, Sir Laurie was kind enough to stay for supper with eight Sixth Form pupils where for another hour he gave them further intimate insights into the nature of international relations and diplomacy. 

Viggo (Year 12) and Sir Laurie Bristow

The Politics Society would like to thank Sir Laurie for giving up so much of his time to come and speak to our pupils. By all accounts, it was a fantastic experience for many and we were extremely grateful to be able to host him at the School. 

Viggo (Year 12)