Thursday, 26 October 2017

Why are the Tories attacking students and universities?


In October 2017 the Tories and their baying attack dogs in the right-wing media laid siege to our universities.

On October 19th the Tory Universities minister Jo Johnson kicked off the campaign with the announcement of a classic divide and conquer strategy designed to create divisions between students and university administrators by levying fines on universities if any of their student groups attempt to prevent the likes of right-wing extremists, anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, white supremacists and Salafi Islamist extremists from attending events at their campuses.

It seems absurd that the Tory universities minister would seek to interfere in student politics to ensure student groups are prevented from "no platforming" extreme-right groups and Salafi Islamist organisations like 
the EDL, the banned extreme-right terrorist organisation National Action, and the far-right Salafist groups Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al Muhajiroun, because it seems like an insane move in light of the fact that several of extreme-right and Islamist organisations that have been "no-platformed" by the National Union of Students have also been proscribed as illegal terrorist organisations by the Home Office.

Why would the Tories want British students to be exposed to the ravings of extreme-right neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Holocaust deniers and the kind of Islamist fanatics that their (much criticised) Prevent strategy is actually aimed at keeping out of our education system?

The answer that springs to mind is that the Tories have no real interest in protecting the free speech of extreme-right hatemongers or Islamist extremists, they're just looking for an excuse to drive a massive wedge between students and their universities by threatening to impose fines on the universities if they don't intervene to force student groups to host such extremists.

There's pretty much nothing more guaranteed to create chaos and conflict on university campuses than compelling university administrators to try and force their students to listen to fascists and Islamist extremists.

The next salvo in the right-wing attack on our universities was triggered by the Tory whip and hard-right Brexit fanatic Chris Heaton-Harris sending out a McCarthyite letter requesting lists of all university staff teaching about Brexit, and copies of all coursework.

When the letters became public it caused a massive furore causing Jo Johnson to step in and claim that it was all perfectly fine because Heaton-Harris wasn't actually conducting a witch hunt on behalf of the government, but just misusing parliamentary resources and abusing his position as an MP in order to obtain information for a book!

However the Heaton-Harris letters had the desired effect nonetheless, triggering a furious anti-intellectual witch hunt of Britain's universities for anyone who had ever attempted to criticise or critique Brexit, led by the Daily Mail (which is nothing more than the Pravda of the Tory party these days).

So now not only are the Tory government trying to force student groups to listen to extreme-right fanatics, holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis and Islamist fanatics, their attack dogs are also intent on trying to intimidate university staff into never criticising or critiquing the Tory government's approach to Brexit.

In one breath they're demanding more free speech for neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and Islamist hate-preachers, and in the very next breath they're desperately seeking to clamp down on the free speech of university lecturers who dare to critique the ongoing Brexit farce!

When it comes to thinking about who this cognitive dissonance inducing campaign of right-wing attacks on our universities is aimed at pleasing, it's hardly likely to appeal to the youth vote is it?


There's no way that making young people listen to fascists against their will and trying to interfere with the contents of university courses could be anything but the most cack-handed attempt to appeal to the youth vote imaginable. So if this assault on our universities is meant to do anything other than destabilise our universities just for the sake of it, it's got to be an effort to shore up the reactionary Tory blue-kip vote.

You can just imagine the demographic these Tory attacks on students and the independence of academics are designed to appeal to:

  • The kind of bitter right-wing tabloid rote-learner who thinks that the really big problem with our universities is that the youngsters there don't spend enough time listening to fascists, white-supremacists, Holocaust deniers and other extreme-right hate groups.
  • The kind of instinctive authoritarian who mistrusts experts and intellectuals, and thinks that the government should scrap the concept of academic independence and dictate what can and can't be taught in universities.
  • The kind of knee-jerk reactionary who can't even see how contradictory their own views are, one minute demanding that the free speech of right-wing hatemongers should be sacrosanct, and the next minute demanding curbs on the free speech of politics, economics, and law lecturers in our universities.
The Tories know perfectly well that they were only saved from an outright Jeremy Corbyn victory in 2017 by a huge surge of Ukippers deserting the laughing stock Paul Nuttall in order to back the opportunistic Brexit convert Theresa May and the Tory party.

Perhaps these assaults on students and the academic independence of university staff are a last ditch attempt to shore up the Tory Blue-kip vote with a massive display of hard-right anti-intellectualism?

Or perhaps they're an even more desperate and cack-handed attempt to resolve the demographic problem the Tories are facing by deliberately pushing right-wing hate preachers onto university campuses, and attempting to intimidate academics into subservience to the government?

Whatever the case, the Tories and their right-wing attack dogs in the Daily Mail are likely to suffer a lot of blowback from a student body that is already furious about the Tories' rip-off tuition fees, and an university staff who recognise the fundamental importance of academic independence from the whims of government ministers and right-wing propaganda barons.


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.




OR

Post a Comment