‘Snowflake central!’ Fury as Oxford University women’s group no-platforms Amber Rudd
The event, called “In Conversation: Amber Rudd”, was organised by the university’s UN Women society and was due to take place last night as part of its UN Women’s 2020 Trailblazer Series. She was expected to discuss her earlier role as minister for women and equalities and was due to speak about encouraging women to get into politics. But organisers came under fire for inviting Ms Rudd because of her links with the Windrush scandal and cancelled the talk 30 minute before it was due to start after a majority vote by the group’s committee.
Free speech is the bedrock of a democracy and Oxford University ought to lead the way rather than being snowflake central
Reacting on Twitter, Ms Rudd said: “Badly judged and rude of some students last night at Oxford to decide to ‘no platform’ me 30 mins before an event I had been invited to for #IWD2020 to encourage young women into politics. They should stop hiding and start engaging.”
The 11th hour cancellation was swiftly condemned by politicians from all sides.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said on Twitter: “Free speech is the bedrock of a democracy and Oxford University ought to lead the way rather than being snowflake central.”
Former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson posted: “If you’re trying to silence Amber Rudd you really are being anti-democratic.”
Former Conservative and Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Wollaston tweeted: “No platforming of AmberRuddUK by Oxford is absurd & worrying.
“Why are universities allowing ideological fringes to crush freedom of speech in our centres of excellence?”
Ms Rudd’s journalist daughter Flora E Gill and former Tory chancellor George Osborne also expressed their outrage at the student group’s decision.
Ms Gill tweeted: “Cannot believe mum was ‘no-platformed’ at my old Uni yesterday.
“Mum doesn’t need the platform and travelled to talk for FREE for International Womens Day – proceeds to FGM charity.
“I dont care if you disagree with her. It’s f****** rude. This is NOT how women should treat each other.”
Ms Gill was backed by Mr Osborne, now editor of the London Evening Standard, who tweeted: “Don’t worry about your mum.
“No platforming one of the most senior female politicians of our generation at an International Women’s Day event just makes the Oxford students involved look stupid and small-minded, the very opposite of what that great university stands for. Their loss.”
Ms Rudd resigned as home secretary when it emerged she had misled parliament over Home Office targets to deport undocumented migrants at the height of the Windrush scandal.
The society had tried to reasure critics ahead of the event in a series of Facebook posts but eventually bowed to pressure and voted in favour of pulling the plug.
Oxford University’s independent Cherwell newspaper published an article on its website from a student angry at the decision to invite Ms Rudd to the event.
They wrote: “In the context of the painful lack of diversity in Oxford, and the wider atmosphere of the continued hostile environment, the last thing we need is Amber Rudd being hailed as a feminist advocate in our institution.
“The socialist and inclusive roots of International Women’s Day deserve to be respected this week rather than arbitrarily tarnished.”
Another student had accused Ms Rudd of “exacerbating racial and class tensions” and having taken “consistently deleterious actions towards vulnerable communities” during her time in office.
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