11/25/2007

Julian Lewis MP quits Oxford Union over invite to racists

Well done to Tory MP Julian Lewis for having the courage of his convictions by resigning from the Oxford union over their invite to BNP leader Nick Griffin and Holocaust denier David Irving to speak to the Oxford Union.

It shows that for all their money and so called knowledge, the some Oxford students have badly misjudged the public mood on this issue and with the BNP now haling the Oxford Union's decision as "a big breakthrough for our party to spread its message", it shows how stupid they have been.

There is a difference between freedom of speech and given people a platform to peddle their hatred.

18 comments:

Quiet_Man said...

The man's a fool, the only way to meet these bigots is to give their views an airing and trounce them in debate showing just how foolish their beliefs are. All Julian Lewis has done is give them even more publicity. Funny how in a fee society we fall back on the tactics of dictatorship and attempt to stifle free speech.

ThunderDragon said...

I disagree completely. Free speech means allowing them to say it, but then just beating them in debate by exposing their views as racist.

Banning them from speaking helps only them.

The Secret Person said...

There is a difference between free speech and giving someone a platform. But there is also a difference between giving someone a platform and taking it away in the face of protests. A withdrawal would have also played into the hands of the BNP publicity machine, remember the 'Gagged for telling the truth' t-shirts? It would further reinforce the message that there is something to hide, or that those who oppose the BNP have no good arguments against them.

Alix said...

"for all their money and so called knowledge"

What on earth does this actually mean? Please, please, please don't talk lazy-arse rubbish and perpetuate all the elitist myths that put people off applying for Oxbridge.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Thtree points. Firstly, The Oxbridge Unis are elitist. The statistics on their intake bare this out (compared to other unis).

Secondly, to Thunderdragon. They should never have been given the platform in the first place. I dont propose banning them, they should never have been invited in the first place.

Finally, the Secret Person, I agree that it is difficult to revoke an invite, but any idiot, no matter how privilged (and I'd be interested to see the scoail make up of the executive of the Oxford union and see how many of them went to state school as opposed to private school) should have realiaed it would have provoked this reaction. if Julian lewis thinks it is wrong then he is right to resign.

Alix said...

State school admissions at Oxford have risen from less than 40% in 1997/8, the year I went up from a state school, to well over 50% in 2006.

A friend of mine was until recently the Admissions Director at a Cambridge college, is himself a pretty ordinary upper working class northerner by origin, and he used to have tremendous problems when going round state schools even getting them to listen open-mindedly to his spiel, a lot of the time because they had been put off by parents and teachers making dismissive comments about Oxbridge of just this type.

I trust, as a teacher, you have a better and more responsible defence available than just "Yeah, they are elitist cos I reckon so."

ThunderDragon said...

But why shouldn't they have been invited? They have a position, and in a debate they should be represented - so that they can be beaten. This is a debate on free speech, so to not invite anyone whose views are controversial would be rather ironic.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

quiet_man: If anyone's giving the BNP the oxygen of publicity it's the media. Julian Lewis, like any organisation who fundamentally disagrees with what it's doing has the right to resign. The problem is the media, who think this is worth reporting. It may have some former members who went on to achieve fame, but this is just a university debating society - any other making such an invitation would hardly get any attention in the mainstream media and bulk of the blogosphere.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I notice you completely ignored the point I made Alix.

I argued that Oxford/Cambridge has a higher % of priavately sducated pupils than other universities. You failed to address that statistic.

You have a right to disagree with me, but I have a right to make my point too.

As for me "being a teacher", yes, i am , in the public sector, where privilidge, name, money or title confer no advantage. i like it like that, I oppose selection of any kind and think that every child matters, not just the rich, which is why I deliberately teach in an inner city area with high social deprivation.

Don't lecture me on equality.

Alix said...

I too oppose selection of any kind. So does every Oxbridge academic I have ever spoken to, with a passion.

You didn't argue that Oxbridge has a higher % of privately educated students, you just said the statistics on intake bore out your point. I was therefore perfectly legitimate to respond by quoting the statistics that I felt were the important ones - that the percentage of state school admissions is improving all the time.

But to answer the point, now that you have made it: Oxbridge has a far higher proportion of private school pupils applying relative to other unis, hence the admissions are higher as well. Anecdotally, I think I know the reason for this. My friend the admissions director has often come across teachers on his tours of state schools who actively seek to put their pupils off with exactly the kind of short-sighted "everyone at Oxbridge is rich and awful so don't bother" argument that prevents the admissions statistics from evening out. My intention was not to lecture you on anything, but to implore you to prove to me that you are not one of those teachers.

Norfolk Blogger said...

My class are aged seven for goodness sake !

CaptainIronic said...

I could not agree more. The last thing this country needs is free speech given the current threat of terrorism both inside and outside our porous national borders.

The faster the authorities get around to closing this blog, the better too.

Have you been security cleared yet?

Alix said...

Ah! Then the question is, er, academic...

jailhouselawyer said...

If I may paraphrase what you say: "There is a difference between freedom of speech and giving people a platform to express their views", it makes nonsense of what you say, and removes the bias.

Anonymous said...

The debate isn't about immigration or the holocaust, it's about freedom of speech and so I think inviting people who are the most likely to have theirs restricted is a sensible move.

That being said, if I'd done it I'd have only invited one far right person and instead would have had a radical islamist from one of the marginally legal groups and a centrist liberal type on the free speech side.

So in principle I agree completely with inviting one of the two figures to speak on free speech, but I think the way this was done was designed to court controversy.

On the elitism, Luke Tryl the Union President and driving force behind this is a Northerner and went to a state school, he is a member of the Conservatives though. I haven't a clue as to the rest of the exec.

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

What's wrong with elitism? I disagree with Lewis, by the way. I think it's the only time EVER that I've agreed with Evan Harris.

Anonymous said...

Captain twat, you clearly misunderstand the difference between free speech and giving people the publicity to say things that others find offensive.

Should the Oxford Union be giving these people publicity ? If you think so, why not give al kaeeda or the real IRA the chance to speak too ?

The Secret Person said...

Anonymous, you mention the Real IRA. Well the (equally real) IRA leader Gerry Adams was invited in the 80s

Pages