Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1122/32097
From The Socialist newspaper, 24 February 2021
Tories target universities in free speech shakedown
Adam Calvert, Sheffield Socialist Students
The government recently announced plans to introduce a 'Free Speech Champion' to the board of the Office for Students to regulate the approach to free speech on England's university campuses. This role would regulate the actions taken by universities regarding free speech, and how they promote it.
Universities found guilty of not promoting freedom of speech could be fined. This also includes allowing all guest speakers to have a platform, with risks of punishment if they are refused. New legal measures mean individuals could sue if they feel they've had a breach of free speech thrust upon them.
The Russell Group of universities believes these measures will in fact restrict freedom in universities, and instead threaten their internal autonomy.
The National Union of Students also said there is no evidence of a freedom of speech crisis within universities.
As with most things the Conservative Party does, these measures contradict their other actions. Before Christmas the Socialist Party outlined how Priti Patel was pushing a crackdown on freedoms to protest (See 'No to Tories' new anti-protest law' at socialistparty.org.uk). This includes powers to crack down on picket lines and any protests that they deem to be "preventing newspapers or critical infrastructure from functioning". This goes hand in hand with the recently announced 'intentional trespassing' laws, which could make protests illegal on a huge percentage of private land within the UK.
Now why would the Tories be so interested in appearing like they're pursuing freedom of speech within universities when they are intending to introduce so many draconian anti-protest laws?
The Conservative Party is facing huge unpopularity due to their abysmal handling of the Covid-19 crisis. They are aiming to distract from their faults by appearing as champions of free speech, a hot topic within the UK in recent years, in order to shore up sections of their limited support, and to scrape up votes for the May council elections.
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In The Socialist 24 February 2021:
Where's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?
Johnson's 'road map' for schools: Act together to protect safety
Vaccine algorithm can't solve capitalist inequality
Garment workers and Covid: Dying for less than minimum wage
What we think
Starmer's speech a return to New Labour
Justice for Moyied Bashir
Uber drivers win case - they are workers
Social care: End privatisation and let workers decide how it's run
Lessons from history
How militant trade unionism defeated the 1971 Industrial Relations Act
Usdaw elections - right makes gains but Broad Left builds
HMRC: Divisive pay deal leads to expulsions
Hinkley Point electricians fight 'deskilling'
"I'm here to fight for the future education of children in Hackney"
London bus dispute against low pay, pay cuts and longer hours
GMB members continue fight against 'fire and rehire' in British Gas
Scunthorpe steelworks scaffolders: Fifth week of action
Liverpool Unite branch supports 'no cuts' budget strategy
Scottish TUSC election campaign launch
Keep the fighting fund rushing in for a TUSC stand in May
W. Sussex children's centres on the chopping block
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Socialist Students conference - postering
Save John Carroll Leisure Centre
Getting the Socialist out in lockdown
LGBT+ history month
Pride flag is about unity in struggle
Tories tout toilet tensions
Nigeria: Abbey Trotsky on trial for assisting workers' struggle
Facebook v Australian government: nationalise the bosses' media!
Film Review: The White Tiger
Tories admit guilt for asylum seeker neglect
Tories target universities in free speech shakedown
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The Socialist 24 February 2021 |
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