‘You’re state funded!’ Gavin Williamson in angry warning at ‘crazy’ universities

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Gavin Williamson insisted the refusal to host events with people from different political groups at UK universities violates freedom of expressionn and was a real danger to society. The Conservative Party frontbencher insisted the Government should ensure state-funded organisations remain impartial and provide everyone the same opportunities to speak. The Education Secretary made his heartfelt appeal on Monday as part of the first day of the Blue Collar Conservatism Conference 2020 in association with the Daily Express. 

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Speaking to fellow MP and founder of the Blue Collar Conservativism movement, Esther McVey, Mr Williamson said: “We’ve got to ensure political impartiality right across the spectrum.

“Educational organisations that are state-funded, you’ve got to ensure that you do have that impartiality.

“And you’ve got to make sure there’s a broad spectrum of views. I’ve often spoken about the importance of freedom of speech and making sure people aren’t no platformed.”

The Conservative frontbencher also expressed his dismay at the treatment former Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd received from Oxford University earlier this year.

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Ms Rudd had been invited to speak to the UNWomen Oxford UK in March but the invitation was pulled 20 minutes before the start of the event over her involvement in the Windrush scandal.

The former Tory frontbencher resigned as Home Secretary over the issue in April 2018.

Mr Williamson continued: “A very good friend of ours, Amber Rudd, whom we both agree is a very fair, reasonable, good person…the idea that somebody like Amber was being no platformed and attacked at Oxford University is completely crazy.

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“It’s certainly something we should not be tolerating so we’ve got to make sure we have that freedom of speech in universities and, actually, voices are heard whatever background they come from.”

It comes as the Department of Education instructed schools across England to stop using material “under any circumstances” if they are created by groups supporting the end of capitalism.

The new guidance, headed “Plan your relationships, sex and health curriculum”, noted: “This is the case even if the material itself is not extreme, as the use of it could imply endorsement or support for the organisation.”

In addition to support for the abolition or overthrow of “democracy, capitalism or to end free and fair elections,” the document also included opposition to the right of freedom of speech and support for illegal activities as other examples of unsuitable teaching material.


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Schools Minister Nick Gibb defended the guidance to universities as he insisted the curriculum must reflect “a diversity of views and background”.

But leading political figures, including former shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, criticised the move.

Mr McDonnell said: “On this basis it will be illegal to refer to large tracts of British history and politics including the history of British socialism, the Labour Party and trade unionism, all of which have at different times advocated the abolition of capitalism.

“This is another step in the culture war and this drift towards extreme Conservative authoritarianism is gaining pace and should worry anyone who believes that democracy requires freedom of speech and an educated populace.”

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