Students urge Burnham to shun Cambridge Union after Le Pen visit

19th February, 2013 4:46 pm

The Cambridge Universities Labour Club will be writing to shadow health secretary Andy Burnham urging him to withdraw from speaking in a Cambridge Union Society debate, in response to the society’s hosting of the French neo-fascist leader Marine Le Pen at an event today. The club urged its members to join a demonstration outside the prestigious debating society from this afternoon, to assert that “racism and fascism has no place in Cambridge”.

The Front National has already boasted on its website of the prestige of the Cambridge Union.

Andy Burnham – an alumnus of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam College – is honorary President of the Labour Club, and they have urged him to pull out of an upcoming debate (entitled “This house believes that New Labour ruined Britain”).

We spoke to Burnham’s office this afternoon, who told us that no decision has yet been made on the shadow health secretary’s appearance at the Cambridge Union.

 

  • John Reid

    I recall Bernie grant, Ken Livingstone, Tony benn and Denis healey all getting heckled or threatening letters during the 87 election, In Hornchurch one of the heckles was An Unknown tory called eric Pickles, I’m sure the tories felt what Labour stood for was offensive to them, but to encourage censorship Is wrong, unless it can proved what that person is saying incites hatred or violence,

  • Dave Postles

    Ah yes, Oxbridge Unions – their members have always suffered from an excess of motions.

  • JoeDM

    Whatever happened to freedom of speech?

    • Alexwilliamz

      I don’t think you should be asking questions like that!

    • Brumanuensis

      Cambridge Union are free to invite Marine Le Pen. Cambridge Universities Labour Club are free to call for a boycott of the Union and the demonstrators are free to demonstrate outside. All of these things are an exercise of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech does not mean ‘you can do and say what you like without other people taking exception to what you say and do’.

    • Brumanuensis

      Cambridge Union are free to invite Marine Le Pen. Cambridge Universities Labour Club are free to call for a boycott of the Union and the demonstrators are free to demonstrate outside. All of these things are an exercise of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech does not mean ‘you can do and say what you like without other people taking exception to what you say and do’.

    • Brumanuensis

      Cambridge Union are free to invite Marine Le Pen. Cambridge Universities Labour Club are free to call for a boycott of the Union and the demonstrators are free to demonstrate outside. All of these things are an exercise of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech does not mean ‘you can do and say what you like without other people taking exception to what you say and do’.

  • Chilbaldi

    1. Wait… Cambridge has a union too? How come I’ve never heard of it before?

    2. Who cares what a student debating society does?

    3. Presumably Burnham shouldn’t speak in Parliament either, given that fascists have previously spoken there?

  • http://twitter.com/220_d_92_20 David Boothroyd

    Cambridge University Labour Club’s predecessor, Cambridge Organisation of Labour Students, used to have a policy of boycotting the Cambridge Union entirely. I remember voting to overturn it in about 1993. If I remember right the reason for the boycott was because the Cambridge Union membership fee was unaffordably high, and the Cambridge Union didn’t do enough to distinguish itself from the Cambridge University Students Union.

  • Brumanuensis

    I’m generally ambivalent about no platform policies. On the one hand I don’t think they do much to stop the spread of fascism, given that the audience targeted by fascist parties rarely frequent Student Unions. On the other hand, the glib ‘if we debate them, we’ll expose their shortcomings’ doesn’t hold much water either. Richard Dawkins generally refuses to debate with creationists, for the very sound reason that he won’t persuade them and by debating them, he can only make them look more credible. So on balance, Burnham should boycott.

    • Hugh

      He’s not being asked to share a platform or debate them. He’s being urged to boycott speaking in the same venue because it will have hosted Le Pen. On this principle he’ll also have to boycott the Oxford union, and any union or organization that’s ever given a platform to anyone from the far right – presumably hardline islamists and such too.

      Of course, the threat that Andy Burnham won’t agree to attend their venue at a later date might make organisers nation-wide pause before they invite such controversial figures in future and thus serve some purpose. However, I wouldn’t want to bet on it.

      • Brumanuensis

        I wasn’t specifically commenting about Burnham, more making a general point about no platform policies and their merits (limited, in my view).

        “On this principle he’ll also have to boycott the Oxford union, and any union or organization that’s ever given a platform to anyone from the far right – presumably hardline islamists and such too”.

        Fair enough.

      • Brumanuensis

        I wasn’t specifically commenting about Burnham, more making a general point about no platform policies and their merits (limited, in my view).

        “On this principle he’ll also have to boycott the Oxford union, and any union or organization that’s ever given a platform to anyone from the far right – presumably hardline islamists and such too”.

        Fair enough.

    • Hugh

      He’s not being asked to share a platform or debate them. He’s being urged to boycott speaking in the same venue because it will have hosted Le Pen. On this principle he’ll also have to boycott the Oxford union, and any union or organization that’s ever given a platform to anyone from the far right – presumably hardline islamists and such too.

      Of course, the threat that Andy Burnham won’t agree to attend their venue at a later date might make organisers nation-wide pause before they invite such controversial figures in future and thus serve some purpose. However, I wouldn’t want to bet on it.

  • KonradBaxter

    No platform is a foolish policy that achieves nothing.

    Let them speak, let them make fools of themselves, let them be exposed.

    The BNP hardly did well out of their Question Time appearance did they?

  • LordElpus

    If it’s okay to ban someone from the far right from speaking then surely it’s okay to ban someone from the far left.

  • markfergusonuk

    The Cambridge Union / CUSU thing was still a problem when I was a student 10 years ago too

Latest

  • News Corbyn campaign unhappy over Diane Abbott text row

    Corbyn campaign unhappy over Diane Abbott text row

    Yesterday, Labour members and registered supporters in London received a text from “Jeremy”, endorsing Diane Abbott in the race to become the candidate for London Mayor. For smartphone users, the name at the top appeared as “J Corbyn”: Always assumed @jeremycorbyn supported @HackneyAbbott for Mayor but this text to party members has made if formal pic.twitter.com/6i2yRshzEi — Andy Goss (@andygoss) July 29, 2015 However, LabourList now understands that not only was the text not agreed with the Jeremy Corbyn campaign, […]

    Read more →
  • News Yvette Cooper calls for Government to put “maximum diplomatic pressure” on France over Calais crisis

    Yvette Cooper calls for Government to put “maximum diplomatic pressure” on France over Calais crisis

    Yvette Cooper has called for the Government to put “maximum diplomatic pressure” on France over the refugee crisis in Calais. The shadow Home Secretary has argued that as the crisis worsens “the diplomacy with the French government isn’t working to get a sustainable solution.” She has called for “sufficient border staff” in Calais to ” to maintain order with the French Government and prevent people losing their lives.” Over 3,000 people – many of whom are thought to be refugees – are living […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Post-referendum slump drove Labour’s defeat in Scotland

    Post-referendum slump drove Labour’s defeat in Scotland

    Labour’s appalling election showing in Scotland was driven by those who had supported independence leaving the party to vote for the SNP – and the Nationalists’ economic message helped strengthen their landslide in the final months. However, the new research carried out by the British Election Study (BES), found that Yes to Independence voters were likely to move from Labour to SNP regardless of their views on austerity. Labour were reduced from 41 seats in Scotland to just one on […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News CWU and TSSA announce they’re backing Jeremy Corbyn to be Labour’s next leader

    CWU and TSSA announce they’re backing Jeremy Corbyn to be Labour’s next leader

    Update: TSSA, the transport union, have also announced that they’re endorsing Corbyn to be leader, with Burnham as second preference, and Eagle as deputy leader, with Watson as second preference. Their full statement is below. CWU has announced that they are backing Jeremy Corbyn to be Labour’s next leader. The union represents workers in the postal and telecoms sector. Dave Ward, CWU’s general secretary, released a video (which you can see below) explaining their decision. CWU will be also recommend members […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour’s ground campaign is better than the Tories’, and here’s why

    Labour’s ground campaign is better than the Tories’, and here’s why

    Much has been said about why Labour lost the General Election – again – but in the current post-mortem, we are at risk of undermining the one thing we do better than any other political movement; our ground game. Labour should be immensely proud of what we can achieve together on the ground, entirely outclassing other political operations both in terms of our tactics and our reach. In Ealing Central and Acton, our two and a half year campaign resulted […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit