Students have banned Boris Johnson from taking part in an EU debate because of his “part-Kenyan” comments about Barack Obama in the latest example of “no platforming”.
King’s Think Tank, a student-led organisation revoked a speaking invitation to the Mayor of London after his “inappropriate” remarks about the US president.
“The level of discourse over the past few days does not meet the bar we set for these events nor do we feel does it help the British people in making the most momentous decision of our lifetime.”
King’s Think Tank – Nearly two thirds of UK university students said they endorsed the National Union of Students (NUS) controversial “no platform” policy, whereby those with opinions deemed to be offensive can be banned from speaking on student union premises.
Campaigners accused students of having gone “too far” in their implementation of the policy.
Last Friday Mr Johnson said the “part-Kenyan” president Obama had intentionally removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office due to his “ancestral dislike of the British Empire”.
Subsequently, the student’s society whose committee is made up by King’s College London students, emailed Mr Johnson saying his “inappropriate” comments about Obama’s heritage “does not reflect the true greatness of the United Kingdom”.
Signed by King’s College Director of EU Referendum Events, Mike Molloy, it said: “Given your inappropriate comments and inferences towards President Obama’s Kenyan heritage, of which he is rightly proud, and your general tone of disrespect over the past few days in relation to the President of the United States of America, we are now formally withdrawing your invitation at Kings College London.
“We are looking forward to providing a forum for both sides in the EU Referendum Debate to argue their point of view without fear or favour.
“The level of discourse over the past few days does not meet the bar we set for these events nor do we feel does it help the British people in making the most momentous decision of our lifetime.
“Furthermore we believe it does not reflect the true greatness of the United Kingdom, a land of tolerance, respect and fair play towards all.”
Barack Obama visited London last week and spoke in favour of the UK remaining in the EU
The cancellation will reignite the debate about whether universities should provide so-called “safe spaces” to students or whether they should be confronted with controversial views.
Campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has himself been no-platformed, said: “Just because a majority of students support a policy does not make it right. Democracy does not include the right to vote away the free speech and human rights of others.”
He added: “All bigots should be protested.
“I don’t think people with offensive views should be given a free pass. They should be challenged. The best way to do this is by open debate to refute their intolerance. If you censor of ban them, the ideas just get suppressed. They don’t cease to exist and they cannot be effectively countered.”
The Mayor of London’s office has today been approached for comment by the Telegraph.