Dissent and Debate in the Armed Forces

Saturday 28 October 2017

St Mary’s Church
High Street Putney
SW15 1SN

This October VFP UK will be hosting the first of a series of debates on the concept of democracy, debate and dissent in the Armed Forces and the impact on our society and history.

Keynote speakers include historians John Rees, author the new biography on John Lilburne, and Julian Putowski, author of ‘Shot at Dawn’. The headline of the event will be a debate with modern day dissenters former SAS soldier Ben Griffin, and former submariner Mike Lyons.

In each session audience feedback, questions, and debate will be encouraged. At the end of the first English Civil War soldiers, civilians, and men of power came together to debate the future of England and their place in it. The debates started on 28th October 1647 at St Mary’s Church in Putney. Some of their ideas on democracy, representation, and land rights have still not been achieved, such as the abolition of the House of Lords. This was the beginning of the discussion about democracy and the rights of people in a modern society.

This is the first time in 370 years that veterans have come together to commemorate this event and discuss the big issues of the day.

For further information please email 1647@vfpuk.org



  1. Gus Hales says:

    I don’t come onto this site very often and may well have attended this event. But a debate isn’t just a talk given by two modern day dissenters, so who will be representing the opposing view. If not it will be mutual appreciation attended by like minded supporters. Or have I missed something here. So, in that respect Putney debate 2017, is somewhat misleading.

    1. Phillip Clarke says:

      Unfortunately the ‘grandees’ we invited all declined so the moderator will be very robust in challenging the modern day dissenters.

      The audience will be invited to ask questions and challenge the speakers. Having reached out to many different organisations I am hopeful that the audience will be diverse with people of different views attending and asking questions.

      1. Gus Hales says:

        But the title is Putney debate. A debate is when two opposing views are debated. If there is only one view put forward from the platform, then that is not a debate. If there are dissenters in the audience of an opposing view, then get them on stage and let them debate. If not then you only have a presentation.

        1. You do have a point, Gus, but a debate does not have to be between two opposing sides or perspectives. It can be three, four, or more. And a debate can be against an idea or the existing conditions, arguing why there should be, for example, more democracy in the armed forces.

          As the 1647 debates are generally referred to as the ‘Putney Debates’ and we are putting on an event on the 370th anniversary I think Putney Debates 2017 is a fair title. It is explained further in the tagline and the description of the event. It is also the first in what I hope becomes a series of events annually to commemorate the 1647 event. So the title ‘Putney Debates’ will continue to be used for this and future events.

          Should a ‘grandee’ turn up (and I am still hopeful!) then I am more than happy to get them up on stage.

          1. Gus Hales says:

            Not quit sure what you would mean by Grandee in the sense of 2017 debates. Would it be the land owning military officer type as in Fairfax style, or would it be the AC Grayling liberal elite who cannot, just cannot accept the democratic will of the people, who has somehow shoe-horned himself into the pro ‘Democracy in Crisis Camp’. This is what I mean by debate, because if the A C Graylings are going to speak then I would be the first to debate such odious characters.

            1. We were aiming for senior military officers. A few expressed an interest in attending but unfortunately, none confirmed.

              However, if this first one is successful I would be more hopeful that we could get a senior officer next year.

              1. Gus Hales says:

                Fair enough, you cannot do better than that, if no senior officer will attend then you have done your bit. However, what about challenging the new fascist liberal elite such as A C Grayling et al and their total anti democratic support for the totalitarian EU. We can all see the death of democracy being played out by these people and this to me would be the ideal opportunity to hold these people to account, especially as they are taking part in the debates under the guise of pro democracy.

                1. Garry H says:

                  Gus, my old internet pall…..it sounds like you need to go to church and find the Jesus again……I`ll pray for you, fellow lost soul! God bless. Garry 🙂

                  1. Gus Hales says:

                    Hi Garry,
                    Great to here from you my son, say three hail Mary’s you bounder and you will be absolved. Its just that when I hear the words debate and church used in the same sentence, then my bulls**t detector swings into action. I guess you are like me Garry, never be an apologist for anything as credible as some of these Nuevo circuit speakers are. I would love to get my hands or should I say words around the neck of the A C Graylings of the world. Peace bro Peace.

  2. A conference report or summary notes would be welcome.,
    ( for a cost covering fee). I am aWw2 veteran wren and at 92 1 can go longer campain except by my stories about why I am a member of VFP

    1. There will be no fee for the follow-up reports! They will all be online in some form. But if you want me to post then just get in touch and I will sort that out.

      As for your stories, it would be good to hear them – perhaps we could arrange something? research@vfpuk.org

  3. Con Tonge says:

    Will there be a report of this? I’d love to read it!

    1. Phillip Clarke says:

      There will be a report on this event. Hopefully, we will also be filming the sessions that will then be available via this site and on our YouTube page: youtube.com/vfpuk.

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