Instigate Debate

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Instigate Debate (ID) is a now-defunct (founded 2008, ended 2009) cultural and political UK project set up by blogger Mark Donne and musicians Jon McClure, Carl Barat, Kieran Leonard in August 2008. They simply filmed people answering questions and posted it on YouTube.[1]


The project was established in protest at a perceived dominance of tabloid culture in the UK media and to encourage particularly young people to use guerrilla means to interview elected politicians, celebrities, and public figures in general to answer questions on the main issues of the day. Answers would then be filmed on mobile camera phones and sent to the main [1] site and the Instigate Debate YouTube channel [2].

Participants in ID obtained street interviews with public figures including political leaders and celebrities, who were asked questions relating to the key issues of the day, which were filmed on mobile camera phones. The images were then posted on the ID website and the ID YouTube user channel. The best interviews with topical questions and popular subjects could win guerrilla house concerts from bands including The Libertines, Babyshambles, Reverend and the Makers, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and others.

Mark Donne explained the concept in an article for The Guardian in summer 2008.[2]

On May 27, 2009, Senegalese musician Baaba Maal played a house concert for an ID winner in a house in Hammersmith, West London.[3]

In addition to impromptu house concerts and interviews, ID held open public debates with cultural figures and members of parliament in pubs, venues and free festivals which included unannounced music performances then posted on YouTube.

List of "debates"[edit]

The open debates have included:

  • “Your country needs you to go shopping, Is that we are good for in 2009 ?” @ The Boogaloo, March'09.
Panel: Ken Livingstone, Laura Manuel (Reverend and The Makers) & Poly Styrene (X-ray Spex). Host: Andy Zaltzman. Live: Fionn Regan.[4]
  • “The Nature of Greed. The expenses, the bonuses, the holidays, the 2nd houses…” @ The Boogaloo May '09.
Panel: Jon McClure (Reverend & the Makers), Melissa Suffield (Eastenders) & Karen Buck M.P. (Regents Park & North Kensington). Host: John O’Sullivan. Live Act: The Lost Brothers.
  • “Taking Liberties: Is the price right for our Freedom?” @ The Paradise Gardens Festival, June '09.
Panel: Bianca Jagger (World Future Council), Joe Corre (Agent Provocateur) & Adam Price M.P. Host: John O’Sullivan.
  • “Tabloid Culture: Is Our News Media Walking a New Street of Shame?” @ Latitude Festival, July '09.
Panel: Jon McClure, Ben Bradshaw (Secretary of State of Culture, Media & Sport), Peta Todd (Page 3 Girl & political activist) & Terence Blacker (Journalist for The Independent & author). Host: John O’Sullivan.
  • "Dead or Alive? Can Independent Music Survive the 21st Century?" @ Reading & Leeds August '09.
Reading Panel: Jon McClure, Steve Lamacq (BBC6 presenter), Stephen Street (Blur / Smiths producer), Paul Stokes (News Editor NME) & Nadia Khomami ( competition winner, Host: John O’Sullivan. Live: Drew McConnell (Babyshambles/Helsinki).
Leeds Panel: Jon McClure, Clint Boon (Xfm Manchester), Carl Barat (The Libertines), Jamie Fullerton (Assistant News Editor NME) & Lara Fudge ( competition winner). Host: John O’Sullivan. Live: Kieran Leonard
  • "Is The Party Over?" @ Union Chapel April '10.
Panel: Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP, Peter Tatchell, Simon Hughes MP, Justine Greening MP. Chair: John O’Sullivan. Satire: Tommy and the Weeks. Live Music: Shlomo (Human Beatbox Artist), Rose Elinor Dougall & Romeo Stodart (The Magic Numbers).
  • "I Predict a Riot? How Will Music & Culture React to Cuts and Dole Queues?" @ Leeds & Reading August '10.
Leeds Panel: Jon McClure, Ollie Steadman (Stornoway), Laura Snapes (Reviews Editor NME) & Emily Cotterill ( competition winner). Host: John O’Sullivan. Live: The Violet May.
Reading Panel: Steve Lamacq (BBC6 presenter), Drew McConnell (Babyshambles/Helsinki), Jon and Tracy Morter (RATM X-Mas No.1 Campaign), Paul Stokes (News Editor NME) & Rosie Balfour-Lynn ( competition winner, Host: John O’Sullivan. Live: Kieran Leonard.


  1. ^ "Politics starts at home for new wave of protest singers". The Independent. January 30, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ Mark Donne (August 16, 2008). "Time to instigate debate". The Guardian. Retrieved January 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ "La's Lee Mavers, Carl Barat, Jon McClure play house gig". NME. May 27, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Ken Livingstone debates with pop stars in London pub". NME. March 26, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2015. Musicians including Fionn Regan and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly's Sam Duckworth joined the likes of ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone at Highgate pub The Boogaloo in the UK capital last night (March 25), to debate the virtues of modern British life. 

External links[edit]