‘Liberal extremism’ fears sink campus leaders’ debate

Home Secretary blocks Oxford election hustings over choice of moderator

April 1, 2015

Source: KSL/Shutterstock.com

The unnamed moderator was expected to arrive in this Love Bus.

The continuing wrangle over freedom of speech on campus took a twist this week, as it emerged that secret plans for an election leaders’ debate to be broadcast live from an Oxford college were ditched on the grounds that the unnamed moderator was a “liberal extremist”.

Academics have previously won concessions over government plans to control the terms of debate within universities, however hopes of a general softening of policy appear to have been dashed.

Times Higher Education understands that Home Secretary Theresa May stepped in personally to veto the debate at All Fool’s College, Oxford, arguing that the moderator hand-picked by David Cameron from within his constituency was “too progressive” for his views to be “compatible with mainstream British values”.

“The Home Secretary got wind of the plans late in the day, but May was adamant that this individual was not someone she could countenance,” a source said. “Surprisingly, though, her objections were that he was far too liberal; it’s not an argument we’ve heard before.”

Speaking to reporters while on the campaign trail in Brands Hatch earlier today, May stuck by her decision. “Extremism swings both ways,” she said, “and we need to guard against universities becoming out of sync with mainstream British society; a moderator with excessively liberal views was inappropriate.”

She added: “I’m a Home Secretary who acts without fear or favour, so I did not hesitate despite this individual being a member of the powerful liberal cell known as the Chipping Norton set. Believe me, I’ve made more tough decisions than he’s had hot dinners.”

Jeremy Clarkson was unavailable for comment.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

I understand the Swiss had a similar problem with spaghetti trees as far back as 1957. http://hoaxes.org/aprilfool/P90

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Head of Visual Arts UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE
Research Officer - Big Data for Better Outcomes LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Lecturer in Oral Microbiology UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest