2022 – Hillary Rodham Clinton

3 June 2022

We were honoured and privileged to host David Miliband’s South Shields Annual Lecture for the 12th consecutive occasion. Our special guest this year was none other than Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician, diplomat, lawyer, writer, and public speaker who served as the 67th  United States secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, as a United States senator representing New York from 2001 to 2009, and as first lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001 as the wife of President Bill Clinton. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the party’s nominee for president in the 2016 presidential election, becoming the first woman to win a presidential nomination by a major U.S. political party; Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College vote, thereby losing the election to Donald Trump.

The day began with Secretary Clinton discussing her family tree with a local genealogist. Secretary Clinton was fascinated to hear about some of her ancestors who hailed from the north-east, and is keen to pursue further.

Secretary Clinton then met with local female MPs and Councillors, and they chatted for about 45 minutes about politics and other matters.

Secretary Clinton then kindly agreed to a question and answer session with 25 of our ‘A’ level Politics, History and Geography students, plus staff, for over half an hour. Here, she answered questions on a range of topics relevant to their exams. Items such as the Electoral College, the US tilt to the Pacific, the invasion of Ukraine, gun laws and Secretary Clinton’s biggest achievements as Secretary of State were discussed. I had the honour of chairing the session and it was clear that the students and staff, including myself, were in complete awe of Secretary Clinton. She was so decent, honest and lovely with the students and the entire session was surreal and immensely rewarding, stimulating and informative.

Following a number of photo opportunities, we then escorted David Miliband and Secretary Clinton to our wonderful main hall where over 630 guests were awaiting their arrival. They listened to a couple of songs from our fabulous musicians before I introduced them to the stage. What followed can only be described as an absolute master class. David was on great form, as ever, and the responses from Secretary Clinton were simply inspirational. They covered a huge range of topics from US gun laws, Donald Trump, Brexit and on to how she stays so optimistic in ‘trying times’. The lecture fell during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, and Secretary Clinton paid tribute to the Queen as a constant presence over so many decades.

There were then questions from the audience, including one about whether Hillary had been a greater influence over her daughter, Chelsea, or if Chelsea had been a greater influence over her. Secretary Clinton’s answer was the latter!

The feedback from guests as David and Hillary left was phenomenal and most felt that this was our finest ever lecture held at the school. I have to say that I agree. Secretary Clinton was our first ever guest to receive a standing ovation from the audience!

Secretary Clinton was such a lovely, genuine and decent lady and took time to engage with everyone she met. I have to admit to being a little star struck and in genuine awe of Secretary Clinton.

My thanks to our sponsors, without whom the event would not have been possible:

Colman’s Ocean Road, Colman’s Temple, Durham University, and Education Mutual (a leading staff absence provider)

Sir Ken Gibson