Date range
22 October 2018, 6:00pm to 22 October 2018, 9:00pm
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Our inaugural Cumberland Lodge Debate takes the form of a panel discussion on the question of ‘what should it mean to be British?’, setting the tone for our 2018-19 programme.

This Central London event will use the ‘Cumberland Lodge method’ of bringing together people from different perspectives, generations, and walks of life to discuss difficult issues candidly but respectfully.

The aim is to identify what binds us together as a nation, particularly at a time when populist attitudes towards multiculturalism, and diversity, as well as political polarisation, are creating new lines of division.

The panel

The event will be moderated by the BBC's Evan Davis, and our panellists, drawn from different parts of the UK, will draw on their experiences from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds to explore what, if anything, ‘British identity’ really means.

The panellists are:

Magid Magid, Lord Mayor of Sheffield

Anthony Heath, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Oxford

Patricia O’Lynn, PhD candidate and Cumberland Lodge fellow

Anne Wafula Strike MBE, British paralympian wheelchair racer

Why 'identities' and 'belonging'?

Identity is at the core of our social lives. How we choose to identify ourselves or how others identify us, whether in social situations or institutionally, shifts and alters depending on employment, ethnic background, age and religiosity.

Some of these components of our identity are changeable and we often believe that we have the power to change our identity, particularly in relation to employment and class structure.

‘Identities' and 'belonging’ are familiar terms. Immigration, religion and multiculturalism continue to saturate public discourse and politics. This overarching discussion within Britain’s current population on identities and belonging highlights the near obsessive attempt to establish who we are as individuals and what this means in 21st Century Britain.

  • Is it possible for society to cater for such a diverse group of people?
  • Can the state protect a society that has many faiths, significant cultural differences and often their own social agenda?
  • How can society learn to embrace rather than tolerate cultural and ethnic differences?

Current series

Our Identities & Belonging series is addressing these questions and more through a diverse programme of interdisciplinary conferences, consultations, study retreats and other public events.

Look out for learning resource outputs from this event, due to be published shortly, here.


Attendance at some of our events is by 'invitation only' because places are limited, and we aim to ensure a balanced and diverse representation of backgrounds and perspectives to enhance the quality of our dialogue and debate.

To register an interest in any of the events taking place, please contact our Programme Department at or call 01784 497796.

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