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Wednesday 17 February 2021

Free Speech Champion WON’T BE

The news last weekend that the Government was about to appoint a “Free Speech Champion” to stop those in academia and elsewhere being allegedly “cancelled” by unspecified but assuredly “woke” people, may have had some observers wondering what this was all about. But the reasoning behind it is all too obvious.

Look Uncle Arthur, I'm in the news again!

Alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his gang of variously clueless sycophants have signed up to a Brexit deal which is having a seriously deleterious effect on parts of the economy. While mainland supermarkets are managing to offer a range of products broadly similar to before the end of last year, and thus ensuring the proletariat does not see significant disruption, elsewhere things are deteriorating fast.

The collapse in exports of many kinds of seafood is already known. Loss of share trading primacy, with Amsterdam supplanting the City of London, is also beginning to register with pundits. And now has come the creative sector, for which read musicians, actors, fashion models and those involved in putting on shows and concerts.

Now, they need to spend hundreds of pounds for visa waivers - per performance - and wait weeks for paperwork, when previously none of that was required - because of free movement. This industry is worth around £112 billion annually. You read that right. Government ineptitude and intransigence means that sector is well and truly screwed.

Even with its inbuilt pro-Tory bias, our free and fearless press might just give Bozo and his fellow clowns a seriously hard time over their failures - and so a suitable distraction is required. And that is where the FREEZE PEACH debate comes in. This performs two functions: One, it distracts from Tory failure, and Two, it demonises the Rotten Lefties™.

But the Government’s proposed initiative is built on sand. This from Nafeez Ahmed at Byline Times should set alarm bells ringing: “The Education Secretary’s proposal to regulate free speech at universities by appointing a national ‘free speech champion’ at the Office for Students (OfS) came from an academic defender of white identity politics who has argued that ethnic diversity in itself increases ‘white threat perceptions’”.

Ahmed goes on to detail the involvement of the Koch Foundation, the Spiked network, and a worrying trend to excuse the far right while shutting down debate over sexism and racism. And as to that “academic defender of white identity politics”, Eric Kaufmann, Jonathan Portes of Kings College London has harsh words for Kaufmann’s research.

The new Free Speech Champion is revealed

The headline of Portes’ Guardian Comment Is Free article should also cause alarm: “The rightwing defence of 'academic freedom' masks a McCarthyite agenda”. Why that should be requires no more than a perusal of Kaufmann’s latest Tweet on the subject.

In my latest piece, I argue that most academics back free speech, but activists can neutralise them by invoking social taboos & progressive identity. This is why academic governance on free speech cannot work, and only government action can break the spell”. He goes on to talk of “Woke sorcerers”. His PX pal Zareer Masani talks of “Wokeism”.

Meanwhile, Richard Wyn Jones has pointed out that one incident on which the FREEZE PEACH advocates lean heavily - the de-platforming of Germaine Greer at Cardiff University - never happened. Publications making the claim have had to print corrections. But, like Kaufmann’s shonky research, it has been allowed to enter the collective consciousness. And all the while, no-one mentions the Koch and Spiked connections.

The Orwellian use of law continues apace. Ignorance is strength! Racism does not really exist! Societal injustice is sub judice! Free speech has to be firmly policed! Regulation for Universities but not for the press! Woke has been redefined by Government diktat!

But there is little to laugh at in this cynical distraction. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Anonymous said...

The osmosis beginning of totalitarianism.

Capitalism at its "finest".

The world has been here before. Last time in uniforms and jackboots, this time in suits and pr Newspeak.

Darren G said...


A meticulous retired High Court judge produced a 300-page report into the "free speech crisis" in Australian Universities.

It revealed there was no “crisis” at all. The so-called "crisis" was actually a right-wing culture war campaign.

Same in the UK.


Anonymous said...

It's not as though there have been no warnings on both sides of the Atlantic.

Crispin Fisher said...

With all the urgent issues that Gavin Williamson has got to deal with why is he wasting time on this nonsense. Johnson has said that schools will re-open in a couple of weeks but the education secretary has done nothing to make this happen. Covid testing in schools is still in chaos. This years GCSE and A level arrangements are still up in the air and hundreds of thousands of students are paying a fortune for accommodation that they can't use while being taught on line for the foreseeable future.