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Tory Toby Young’s free speech lies

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Issue 2585


Failed free school fanatic Toby Young
Failed free school fanatic Toby Young

Free school fanatic Toby Young will be in charge of policing who is allowed to speak on university campuses.

The right winger, who set up a string of failed free schools, was appointed to the board of the new Office for Students (OfS).

As well as imposing marketisation, the OfS will oversee universities minister Jo Johnson’s plan to fine colleges for “no platforming” speakers.

Johnson’s plans have nothing to do with defending free speech.

The biggest threat to free speech on campus comes from the Tories’ Islamophobic “Prevent” strategy. It forces public sector bodies to spy for signs of “radicalisation” and “non-violent extremism”—code for opposing Britain’s imperialist foreign policy.

They can impose a speaker with opposing views or insist on a neutral chair. In November 2017 the University of Cambridge imposed its director of communications as a chair on a Palestine solidarity meeting. Other measures have been used to ban meetings.

Johnson said his plans still included stopping “racist and antisemitic speakers”.

But in reality the main targets will be Palestine solidarity campaigners, who the right smears as antisemitic for opposing Israel.

Only Nazis should be no platformed, by actions from below and students and lecturers’ decisions. We have to stand in solidarity with Muslims against the racist clampdown on campuses.

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