President of the Oxford Union

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[David Powell & Terry Pratchett]
David Powell with Terry Pratchett at the Oxford Union

Trinity Term 2006 saw Balliol undergraduate, David Powell (2003), elected President of the Oxford Union. The latest in a long line of Balliol members to have held the post, including Boris Johnson (1983), Sir Edward Heath (1935) and Hilaire Belloc (1893), David was elected with a record number of votes.

During his time at the Union, he has hosted such speakers as Salmon Rushdie, Terry Pratchett and Jeffrey Sachs, in addition to chairing a contentious debate on animal rights.

Commenting about the Union’s role today, David says: “Far from encouraging complacency in arcane traditions, the Union’s purpose must be to produce confidence in free speech and accountability – especially relevant given the changing balance of economic power in the world.”

Although the Union used to be regarded as a breeding ground for politicians who would go on to star in the House of Commons, this charge can perhaps no longer be levelled against it. While David does profess to be interested in a career in politics, his fascination with Russia is sending him to Moscow next year.