Glasgow University Union

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GUU Chamber, with silverware and candles set out for Ancients Final

Glasgow University Union, known as "The G.U.U.", or "The Goo" to the initiated, is one of the oldest debating societies in the world and one of the most successful competitive institutions at Worlds, winning it a record five times and hosting it a record three times, including the inaugural tournament in 1981.


The Union was established in 1885 and its history is as colourful as its members continue to be. It was the scene of Scotland’s last ever duel in 1899 where swords were drawn and blood was spilled over the election of the University Rector. In 1952 some particularly nationalistic students from the Union precipitated a consitutional crisis by making away with the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey and taking it back with them ahead of coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In an attempt to deceive the police the students threw out several stone-shaped objects, but eventually the Stone of Destiny wa returned safely.

The Union's motto is Gradatim Vincemus, "We overcome by degrees".

Notable past members of the Union include Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell, both former leaders of the Liberal Democrats; Donald Dewar, former First Minister of Scotland; John Smith former leader of the Labour Party, after whom the John Smith Memorial Mace is named, and John Buchan author of The Thirty-Nine Steps.

Links with the Philosoph[edit]

David Tait with the GUU's "Missing Painting"

One of the links on the Auditor's chain of the UCC Philosophical Society bears the inscription "Lost and Found GUU". The use of the word "lost" in this case, however, has put great strain on its normal, general usage. Although, it must be said that during this period in the history of debating, this use of the word would have been quite familiar, it being not uncommon for the property of debating societies to become "lost" with astonishing frequency, and even more astonishing daring and resourcefulness.

Sometime after the Philosoph's Auditorial Chain was returned in by post to the society during the eighties, a landscape painting hanging in the Glasgow Union building mysteriously vanished. Fortunately, at Cork Worlds 2009 Diarmuid Conway produced from the boot of his car the very same painting envelopped in bubble wrap and delivered it into a bemused David Tait's waiting hands. Rumour has it, however, that the painting has yet to find its way home to the Union.

In recognition of his contributions to the Union over the years, former Philosoph auditor Derek Lande was given Honorary Life Membership of the Glasgow University Union at the 2009 Glasgow Ancients.

Glasgow University Union Debaters[edit]

Katrina Shand
Andy Gray
Jonny Hardman
David Tait

See Also[edit]

Glasgow Ancients

External links[edit]