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Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Oxford Union Invites Tommy Robinson to Speak

Oxford University’s debating society, the Oxford Union, has graciously invited the leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, to debate on nationalism.

Predictably, the Oxford Union’s decision has ‘been met with criticism’ and ‘concerns about endangering students’. (The Oxford Union has previously hosted Malcolm X, Yasser Arafat, Gerry Adams and the  Islamic ‘hate preacher’ Zakir Naik.)
Simon Blackaby (center).
Simon Blackaby, a member of the Oxford Union, tweeted Robinson and said he would ‘love’ to host him as a speaker. However, the president of the union has criticised this invitation.

Robinson, apparently, replied to Blackaby and they have swapped numbers.

Blackaby has said: 

"I like to hear different views in a debate. If everyone thought the same the debate would be quite boring. We believe in free speech and an open and interesting debates and therefore welcome a variety of different views."

The president of the Oxford Union, Paul Wacharasindhu, has also defended the invitation. He said:

"The society is founded on the principle of free speech. It provides neutral arena where political views as long as they are contested.”

The Oxford Union, although made up primarily of students, is not part of the National Union of Students. One NUS spokesperson criticised the invitation by saying:

"The Oxford Union is in not a students’ union and is in no way affiliated with NUS. NUS has a long-standing policy of providing no platform to speak at our events to representatives of the EDL and non-one from NUS would share a platform with them.

"Tommy Robinson’s views are well-known and abhorrent so providing a platform for them adds nothing to the debate and risks endangering students."

It’s worthwhile asking how students know that Robinson’s views are ‘abhorrent’ when student unions apply the ‘no platform policy’ to him. And if his views are truly abhorrent, then why doesn’t this person allow students to work that out for themselves? Or does he do the students’ thinking for them, lest they display false consciousness? And what does ‘endangering students’ actually mean? Is it a mindless ejaculation or will students be genuinely under threat? If so, how?

Tom Rutland, president of Oxford's student union - a separate entity from the debating union – has also said:

"The welfare of students is our utmost priority. Fascist speakers who spread hate and threats that extend to members of our student body, and often bring with them a rally of violent and dangerous thugs, are clearly a threat to student safety."

Blimey, how many Leftist cliches and pieces of jargon can you fit into one sentence? We’ve got ‘fascist’, ‘spread hate’ for starters. Then later he includes ‘hate speakers’, ‘oppressing people’ and ‘fascist’ again. This is almost the lexicon of the SWP, Hope Not Hate and other ultra-Left groups. I wonder if he’s either related to Private Eye's Dave Spart or the Official PC Soundbiter for Birmingham City Council.

In what way, exactly, is Robinson a ‘fascist’? And simply because one student-master classes Robinson as a ‘fascist’, does that mean that all other students should simply leave it there? I wonder how Tom Rutland defines ‘fascism’. Possibly as anyone who has views I find disagreeable; which, to me, sounds, well, fascist.

Tom Rutland also said that “there is a place for ‘challenging views’ but no-one is going to go into the debate agreeing with Robinson, and no-one will come out supporting him”. Well, if that’s the case, then where’s the danger in inviting Robinson? And how does this seemingly omniscient student-union leader know, exactly, that ‘no-one is going into the debate agreeing with Robinson’? What’s more, he appears to be a futurologist in that he also knows that ‘no-one will come out supporting him’.
Weyman Bennett
Unite Against Fascism's joint secretary, Weyman Bennett, told student paper Cherwell: "I oppose the invitation to Tommy Robinson and will call a peaceful demonstration." Bennett’s all-encompassing ‘no platform policy’, or the Lesser Gulag, would literally include millions of patriotic and right-wing Brits. Thank God this red fascist doesn’t have central state power. It is people like him that should be denied a voice at the Oxford Union, and his mad and totalist Lesser Gulag Policy perfectly displays why that is the case.

My personal position is that Robinson shouldn’t accept the invite unless he or the EDL leadership knows precisely what the score is at the Oxford Union Debate. After all, for every 100 students, 80 or more are Leftists of some kind. Of course there are those of a right-wing persuasion at Oxford University (perhaps more so there than any other university in the UK). Despite that, I bet that not a single  one is a supporter of the EDL. They will be Tories on the whole, with perhaps a smattering of UKIP supporters.

In any case, the whole thing could be a set up. Or it could end up as being a set-up. No matter how eloquent Robinson is, or true and justified his views are, he will be severely outnumbered; both by speakers and by the audience. You don't need to be a genius to work this one out.

People who believe that 'truth will win out in the end' are naive. It doesn't work like that. Think how Nick Griffin was crucified on Question Time. The BBC went out of its way to fill the audience with black and Asian people; as well as haters of the BNP. And I'm not a fan of Griffin or the BNP.

Jesus Christ himself, or Ludwig Wittgenstein, would lose this kind of debate if he weren't in-tune with general student views or if he were simply outnumbered. I suppose, though, it all depends on how the Oxford Union debate is organised in terms of its structure and organisation and if it always takes the same design.
The Oxford University student who invited Tommy, Simon Blackaby, is a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party. So it could be that he's hoping to show the plebs that the Conservative Party is, as per usual, ‘the only real option’… to everything; and certainly on all the issues and problems Tommy Robinson will be addressing (which, as a matter of fact, they never actually discuss). As I said, I’m not enough of a right-wing conspiratorialist to believe that every student at Oxford University, or who will be there on the night, is a Leftist. (Oxford University has been the main feeder of the Conservative Party leadership for well over a hundred years.) However, any patriots or right-wingers who will be there will most certainly not be EDL. It's best to think here of the Daily Mail’s snobbery towards – and hatred of - the EDL. In fact the Daily Mail is almost as snobby towards - and critical of - the EDL as middle-class Leftists are.
In light of the Weyman Bennett’s attempt to enforce the ‘no platform policy’ on Robinson, here’s a list of some previous guests/speakers at the Oxford Union:  former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, Yasser Arafat, Afghan president Hamid Karzai, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams,  Malcolm X (1964), Richard Nixon, Islamic ‘hate preacher’ Zakir Naik (2010) and the evangelist Jerry Falwell.

So let’s just discuss two guests who didn’t fall victim to the Lesser Gulag Policy: Yasser Arafat and Zakir Naik.

Yasser Arafat (1996):

Arafat, before his Oxford Union appearance in 1996, had been responsible for the deaths, rapes and torture of thousands of Lebanese Christians and many Shia Muslims (prior to 1982). The PLO had murdered some one hundred thousand civilians between 1975 and 1981. He was also responsible for decades of terrorism against civilians, numerous hijacks and was also, as an individual, immensely corrupt and, of course, a despot. (In other words, he’s just the sort of guy that Weyman Bennett would have loved to speak at the Oxford Union.)

Zakir Naik (2010):

This man believes in death for apostasy and death for homosexuals; he supported Osama bin Laden and still supports Islamic terrorism generally (but not against the 'innocent'); he rejects the right of non-Islamic faiths to exist in Muslim countries; has said that non-Islamic dress causes rape; he was excluded from Canada and the UK in 2010; and he wants India to be ruled by sharia law despite its massive Hindu majority.


  1. My thought is that it's of low importance whether or not Mr. Robinson's views win, or even whether he is "set up". The cause of the EDL is clear cut so it's only a matter of having a forum of being heard. Debating is much like a sport with different skill sets and personalities being put on display. As long as a participant is prepared they've met the standard. Whether or not the bulk of the audience agrees is irrelevant. I would venture that Mr. Robinson received the invite because he is considered interesting and has demonstrated the ability to articulate a set of ideals pertinent to today's society.

    1. Unknown,

      I just can’t see how you think Tommy (possibly) being massively outnumbered is somehow irrelevant.

      In the end, it depends on exactly what happens in these debates. I confess; the Oxford Union Debate is not something I have contemplated in great – or any – detail. So, as you seem to suggest, perhaps numbers won’t matter – as they do for all other functions like this, from Question Time, Radio 4 debates, public meetings and so on.

      Will Tommy be able to bring a dozen or so EDL? I doubt it! As far as I know, the entire audience will be students – mainly Oxford University students. That means, quite simply, there won’t be a single supporter – let alone a member – of the EDL in the audience.

      In addition, how can Tommy ‘be heard’ if the audience is mainly antagonistic? He may have a speech at the beginning, but the discussion after will almost certainly be clogged-up with Leftist activists. Indeed the red fascists have already got to work big time on this! What will the situation be like in November?

      And all this Oxford University stuff about ‘verbal skills’ and ‘display’. All our politicians have such skills and display themselves at every opportunity. Indeed private schools, as did grammar schools in the old days, train student politicians to perform and display themselves well (e.g., to lower their voices and use excessive, insincere and gimmicky hand-movements). They do so even if their politics and philosophies are utterly vacuous. What about speakers who aren’t so vibrant or who don’t display the Oxbridge-style of a True Statesman? I know that Oxbridge and the public schools produce hundreds of petty True Statesmen each year; but what if people don’t have any of those clichéd, often-seen and often-heard skills?

    2. What I mean is that I've seen Tommy being outnumbered on many occasions on TV and radio. On the BBC's The Big Questions show, for example, there were five people, guests, arguing against Tommy - who was on his own... In these situations, it simply doesn't matter if people speak the truth or even if they are have 'verbal skills'.