The Executive Committee of the Young Communist League has issued a statement on the Tories latest plans to appoint “free speech champions”

The YCL condemns the latest hypocrisy from the Tory Government as part of their ongoing fight for “so-called” free speech.

Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary, has said universities will appoint “free speech champions”, while offering greater powers to universities to sanction student groups who seek to “ban” others based on their views.

The Conservative Government are attempting to start a culture war. They understand that this is the key to their success, in an attempt to mirror populist nationalist movements around the world, notably in the US. Over the last decade, far-right and xenophobic attacks have been on the rise. This cannot be forgotten, and is the crucial reason why student groups have been at the forefront of campaigning against the organisation of offensive & intolerant groups.

Far away from the world portrayed by right wing pundits, whereby students are delicate snowflakes, students in Britain are campaigning for equality and fairness in the face of continued xenophobia. Most crucially, they’re using their own free speech to defend the rights of classmates and themselves, to be able to study without fear of prejudice. The irony in this case is clearly lost on the Conservatives who are only capable of viewing free speech through the lens of the right wing, and their continued use of purposefully offensive and inflammatory language.

The irony is also clearly lost on the Conservatives who, at the same time as implementing these measures on free speech, are encouraging universities to adopt the right-wing, pro-Zionist, International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism, in a move described, rightly, by Palestinian groups as “astonishingly hypocritical”. This is yet another move, by the Conservatives to try and stifle the freedoms of left wing groups under the guise of so-called “free-speech.

Students and allies of the labour movement have to up the ante if they are to combat the Conservative’s continued attempts to wage a culture war in Britain. We cannot allow ourselves to be sucked into a neverending battle of cancel culture and identity politics which only plays to the right’s strengths. We have to rise up through the midst of these measures in an attempt to unite class forces against the far right, who are building a presence on our campuses, and across our society.

Executive Committee
Young Communist League

20 February 2021
London, Britain