Oxford Union votes to protect free speech

The Oxford Union has voted to oppose the ‘no platforming’ of controversial speakers at in-house debates.

The society, which is made up mostly of students from the University of Oxford, voted by 224 to 49 to protect free speech earlier this month.

Ann Widdecombe, an opponent of no platforming who spoke at the debate, said: “It is always better to destroy a bad cause by argument rather than by silencing its exponents and universities of all places should know that.”

‘Free speech’

The debate tackled questions such as: “Should educational institutions prioritise the concerns of minority groups over free speech?”

Speaking for the no platforming motion was former Chief Justice of Australia Robert French and model Mariah Idissi.

Writing in The Daily Express, Ann Widdecombe highlighted that the media had failed to report the outcome.

Stand for liberty

Widdecombe said, “a large turnout of our brightest and best students defied the current trend and voted overwhelmingly for the freedom to express controversial views”.

She added, “if the no-platformers had won, it would have been widely reported”.

“Perhaps the next time weak-kneed dons are ready to remove a statue or even a lecturer on the say-so of protesting students, they might take a leaf out of the union’s book and instead stand up for liberty.”


In recent months, speakers including Peter Hitchens and Jordan Peterson have been no-platformed by some of the UKs leading universities.

Last year the University of Bristol began officially banning speakers who challenged transgender ideology.

Students at Cardiff University tried to get Germaine Greer banned for her supposedly “transphobic” views, and the University of Cambridge banned women’s rights speaker Linda Bellos.

Similarly, the University of Sussex made it compulsory for guest speakers to submit their speeches in advance for vetting, in case it violated their ‘safe spaces’ policy.

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