I DON’T see eye to eye with my son over many things. Firstly, I’d have to stand on a crate to look him in the eye. He’s turned out a pretty handy unit. Suffice to say I won’t be putting him over my knee again.
Secondly, he’s in the last year of his history and philosophy degree at Leeds University, which makes him by default an intellectual giant compared to a dad who learned most of his formative lessons about life either carrying his own dad’s window cleaning ladder, stacking shelves at Moneysave supermarket or playing out after dark on ‘the Tops’ in Thornhill.
There is one uncommon thing we heartily agree on and which gives me great hope – he considers many of his university peers to be a big set of wusses.
He can – and regularly does – disagree with anyone over anything (they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!).
However, the lad is at least open to considering alternative viewpoints. He believes in freedom of speech – which in the mind of the National Union of Students, makes him dangerous.
That worries me, and not over him because as I said he’s big enough to look after himself. But what state of affairs are we in when students are stamping out the right to voice an opinion?
My son is certainly well to the left of me in his politics (he’ll grow grow out of it!) but he is furious that universities and colleges up are routinely banning people from speaking on campus.
A recent survey showed that 90 per cent of British colleges and universities have either banned speakers, perversely under the guide of ‘liberalism’.
These left-wing zealots believe it is their right to police what any and everyone can say in public.
They dress this up by creating what they call a ‘safe space’ – in this case a community of perhaps 50,000 students – where people they deem failing to meet their narrow moral code are silenced.
Pathetically, the universities, these once great seats of learning, not only tolerate but effectively encourage it. Good grief.
This ‘safe space’ madness means we have in essence raised and educated a generation not of caring and protective liberals (as they would fancifully imagine), but intolerant fascists.
SOME day I’ll tell you the unbelievable full story of how on a rainy night in November 2014, I sat at the back of the Oxford Union observing the performance of a speaker banned by universities up and down the land.
That was Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League who almost got Dewsbury town centre attacked by Islamist terrorists when he called a rally here in 2012, but luckily ‘saved’ it when he never showed up. The mob dispersed before the attackers arrived.
Students led by the far-left rabble tried to get Robinson banned from the Oxford Union, but its steadfast president, an Indian student named Mayank Banerjee, admirably stuck to his guns.
Robinson’s originally-scheduled appearance was cancelled when he was thrown in jail, accused of inciting violence on Twitter.
The state said his tweet was in breach of prison licence conditions – he’d been given 18 months for overstating his brother-in-law’s wage on a mortgage application eight years before.
What? You don’t get thrown in a high-security jail amongst Islamist killers for something as trivial as that in 21st century Britain? I mean, the mortgage got paid and Robinson never made a penny (he actually had his own house subsequently taken by the state).
As that Oxford Union audience heard in stunned silence, oh yes you do.
That Twitter incident? Someone had threatened to find and rape Robinson’s seriously ill mum. He’d responded that rather than hunt her, he’d be outside the probation offices in Bedford the next morning for his weekly meeting, if they really wanted to track him down.
Thrown back in jail for that? Really? The full story’s worse, much worse. His biggest mistake wasn’t the tweet, but telling his probation officer about the Oxford Union and what he intended saying when he got there.
Free speech? I should cocoa. When he’d served 28 days he found the invite still stood and this time he appeared, but students hoping to be shocked or titillated by the diminutive ‘far right’ figurehead were sadly disappointed.
He’d been warned. He couldn’t discuss Islam for starters, and a range of subjects that would see him thrown back in jail for another nine months.
If you thought our weak-kneed student sweethearts were terrified of free speech, let me say this – they’ve got nothing on the British state.
Robinson got quite an ovation that night. He surprised a lot of people. Such as he managed to shock or distress anyone, it was with his views on the police state he, for one, lives in.
That night at the Oxford Union proved a simple point. It’s amazing what you learn when you actually listen not just to the other bloke’s view, but his version of events.
The fact that that’s a lesson beyond most of our student elite highlights just how badly our generation has failed them. I just hope my son continues to be an awkward inquirer.
FOR the mother of Parliamentary democracies, it’s ironic that we persist with the archaic system of corrupt patronage known commonly – but not too common – as the House of Lords.
I think if Jeremy Corbyn made the central pledge of his election manifesto the immediate dissolution of these (mostly) venal and arrogant bearers of privilege, I might even vote Labour.
Off with their heads.
It isn’t that their amendment of the Government’s Article 50 bill is unreasonable.
Guaranteeing the rights of settled EU migrants already in employment here is common sense – but that’s not what the Lords were doing when they rejected a bill sent down to them with the common assent of the nation. They were defying the Government’s will, playing politics, because they have the unquestionable and undemocratic privilege of being total, pompous a***holes.
As such they were damaging the prospects of the entire country and defying the will of the people. There is no other interpretation.
A simple agreement that EU nationals and British ex-pats should henceforth enjoy the same post-Brexit privileges is common sense – heck, the Government has said that’s its intent.
But the bottom line is that Theresa May must have the power to negotiate – that is the only weapon we have against the self-serving Brussels dictators.
If the Government capitulated to this petty Lords rebellion then the EU could twist our arms right up our backs over the fate of the thousands of Brits living in France, Spain, Portugal and beyond.
So, whose interests are the Lords serving? In truth just their own, buying time while they hope desperately that returned ‘messiah’ Tony Blair can gain impetus for his Remoaners’ Revolution and they can continue doing their damnedest to spite democracy.
Once more, off with their heads.
A modern democracy needs and deserves a second chamber, a check and balance to the party-dominated dictators.
So let’s have a House of Lords by all means – but make them elected, make them serve a fixed term, and only elect them from people who have never held political elected office.
Now that’s what I call a revolution.