The Leeds Salon – A space for free speech and enquiry

The Leeds Salon is a discussion group founded in early 2009 by Michele Ledda and Paul Thomas, inspired by similar initiatives they had attended and, in particular, their participation in the Academy of Ideas sixth-form Debating Matters competition.

The Salon organises public discussion around political, cultural and scientific issues, with the aim of challenging any orthodoxies along the way, defending and developing the legacy of the Enlightenment and, above all, providing a space where free speech can take place.

Writers, academics and experts in their field are invited to present their ideas and to have them debated and held up to scrutiny by the audience. The Salons are lively, informal and open to all — but please let us know you intend to come along by e-mailing us at

For more about The Leeds Salon and the history of Leeds’ public discussion scene read ‘Leeds … City of Debate‘.

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Leeds Salon also runs and helps organise debating competitions and debate training in schools and colleges in Leeds and beyond.


“To be a speaker at the Salon is a special joy as you feel that you are entering into serious dialogue. I left knowing more, and thinking harder about, the subject I had spoken on, than when I had arrived. A stimulating intellectual forum for the open-minded.” — Professor Raymond Tallis

“The Leeds Salon is an intellectually lively set of discussions, in which by means of cunning and vocality, poets, scholars, thinkers and educationalists — and I have had the pleasure of being among them — pursue the tyrants of relevance until they track them down in their social and educational lairs.” — George Szirtes, Poet

“The Leeds Salon is a fabulous idea, brilliantly executed. Well organised discussions in informal surroundings means that a stimulating public debate is followed by a combination of constructive argument and handy networking. A thoroughly enjoyable event.” — Austin Williams, director, Future Cities Project