A couple of days ago news broke of a letter that a pro-Brexit MP had sent out to all Universities "asking them to declare what they are teaching
their students about Brexit and to provide a list of teachers’ names."
This is the letter that began it:
Do not be fooled by the polite wording. This is how Britishers hack and slash at each other verbally and through written text.
This has caused a storm, with accusations of a McCarthyite witch hunt:
Prof David Green, vice-chancellor of Worcester University, felt a chill down his spine when he read the “sinister” request: “This letter just
asking for information appears so innocent but is really so, so dangerous,” he says. “Here is the first step to the thought police, the political
censor and newspeak, naturally justified as ‘the will of the British people’, a phrase to be found on Mr Heaton-Harris’s website.” Green will
be replying to the MP but not be providing the information requested.
Prof Kevin Featherstone, head of the European Institute at the LSE, is also outraged: “The letter reflects a past of a McCarthyite nature. It smacks
of asking: are you or have you ever been in favour of remain? There is clearly an implied threat that universities will somehow be challenged for
their bias.” Featherstone says LSE academics had already feared Brexit censorship after the Electoral Commission made inquiries during last year’s
referendum campaign about academics’ debates and research, following a complaint by Bernard Jenkin, another Tory MP.
From Scientists for EU
The letter from Tory Eurosceptic whip Chis Heaton-Harris to University V-Cs demanding "names of professors" that lecture on Brexit is sinister. What
could the purpose of his efforts be, if not to make some kind of report to attack universities or individuals? For example, though the tabloid press?
This is a classic totalitarian tactic, from Lenin to McCarthy, to politically go after and remove wider societal resistance to a government line.
Universities are a common target to both left & right-wing totalitarianism because of their public voice. To drive public opinion against universities
for political/power expedience is damaging both to trust across wider society and to the independence of universities. We already saw this during the
referendum when Daniel Hannan peddled the notion that British Universities are paid off "sock puppets" of the EU and part of an elite, not part of
Number 10 and Boris Johnsons sister issued mealy mouthed 'Oh well this is nothing to do with us' type statements. But then today this appeared in
Right-Wing fascist rag Daily Mail, thus demonstrating that somebody in the Conservative party leaked some of the findings:
Where they name and shame lecturers who have dared to have pro-EU stances:
Heavens, that woman put up a Remain poster! TRAITOR, screams the Daily Mail.
Governments compiling lists about Universities and disloyal academics?
Or as the Daily THump put it:
Government surprised to find places where nation’s brightest minds study information are against Brexit.
Institutions attended and run by the most intelligent people in the country have inexplicably come out in favour of remaining in the European Union,
it has emerged.
‘Universities’, where brilliant young minds are sent to study facts about a broad range of subjects and disciplines, are reportedly expressing
views that suggest Brexit might be a terrible idea.
A Daily Mail exposé has sensationally revealed that university professors, who clearly know nothing, are brazenly explaining that Brexit could harm
the country – using despicable facts and sickening, extensive research to poison the minds of the British people.
“Anyone who even hints that Brexit is not the best idea of all time must be strung up in Trafalgar Square,” said passionate leave voter, Simon
“That these so-called experts are coming out with opinions of their own, using logical reasoning and deduction based on facts and statistics, truly
sickens me to my core.
“I’m stunned that they are not following the lead of our noble, impartial press and espousing the clear benefits of leaving the EU, like getting
more blue passports and less brown people.
“The sooner these places are shut down the better.”
But not to worry, Lord Buckethead is on the case:
Now, tell me, how would Brexiteers feel if the Daily Mail was running pictures of Farage and the people who voted for him, labelling them
'traitors'? You'd be a bit worried, right?