Since a launch which verged on the farcical, Turning Point UK, the home-grown offshoot of a US group which has a grim reputation for its aggressive tactics and far-right links, has not fared well in terms of visibility, or indeed credibility. The ridicule generated by hiring the Grant sisters to read propaganda off cue cards did not help them. But it did provide social media with a new comedy genre. So now TPUK has to get serious once more.
One of the less savoury aspects of TPUSA that TPUK claimed it was not going to import was something called the Professor Watchlist. As the BBC reported at the time, “The group's critics have also taken issue with Turning Point USA's ‘Professor Watchlist’ - an online registry of professors that the group accuses of advancing ‘a radical agenda’”.
The supposedly acceptable face of TPUK: Darren Grimes (second right) and Dominique Samuels (third right) - as opposed to ...
As one critic called Skeptical Seventh put it, “They must know that what they are doing will lead to people being harassed, being shut down … It is undermining academic freedom, which is ironic for an organisation that claims to be in favour of free speech”. But the Beeb also told “The British organisation won't be setting up a similar list, one of the group's ‘influencers’, Dominique Samuels, told BBC Radio 5 Live”.
... the deeply unpleasant Charlie Kirk, the real face of Turning Point
Or would it? After author and academic Priyamvada Gopal mused “We should acknowledge, as we look at Priti Patel, that there was one very successful cultural eugenics project: ‘We must at present do our best to form...a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect’”. up piped one of those names that had been in the TPUK launch frame.
Darren Grimes (for it was he) retorted “This person is a lecturer at Cambridge. Is it any wonder our students are churned out of these university factories like hard-left, braindead sheep when this is what is teaching them?! What a truly bloody horrendous thing to think, never mind tweet”. His target hardly broke sweat in seeing off this drivel.
“Before I withdraw again for a bit, I thought I should share my enjoyment of Mr Grimes' condemnation of Lord Macaulay's 'truly bloody horrendous thing to think’ … The great thing about British far-right is their complete ignorance of their own history & literature”.
But, it seems, Dazza was not just gobbing off to no purpose, as the TPUK Twitter feed announced “Our uni campuses are overrun by leftist lecturers who teach their overt political bias as objective truth. This is not ok. The fight back begins now. Introducing ‘Education Watch’: Documenting University Lecturers' Political Bias”.
Take the false assumption that right-wingers are entitled not merely to have their own opinions, but their own facts - and use it to start a witch-hunt. Darren Grimes, who is blatantly looking to close down free speech that brings him inconvenient opinions, was at the launch of Toby Young’s Free Speech Union. That’s why the FSU is a sham.
As Paul Bernal, associate Professor of Law at UEA, put it, “Can I just ask, what do the thought-police *want* us lefty academics to teach our students? Obviously facts are out. Analysis is against the law. Nothing foreign. Nothing expert”. Quite.
Turning Point UK is so desperate for visibility, it’s prepared to whip up harassment and hatred in order to up its profile. So I’m sure all good Conservatives will condemn it.APPEAL The Legalballs Fund: I made a mistake. Now I need to raise £16,500 to cover a legal bill. You can chip in to help me HERE - all help is gratefully received. Thanks for reading this far!