The Mancunion

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The double standards of the student left

The actions and ideologies of some of the student left are shutting down important debates

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It is often those who are on the regressive left of the political spectrum that talk about the need to not engage in “hate” or violence-encouraging speech. Indeed, many of them defend safe spaces religiously to ensure that people will not be triggered when certain concepts get mentioned in either academic debate or casual conversation.

Anyone who is at the University of Manchester should be aware that once you are within the walls of the Students’ Union building, the Safe Space policy applies. One might imagine that those on the left would be tolerant towards all, irrespective of who they are, right? After all, they often campaign for diversity and the respect of people’s differences…

Wrong. It seems that those who are on the right of the political spectrum are fair game. I, personally, would say that our current Tory government is on the centre-right and is in the process of liberalising. But this did not stop Freya Blake, protesting outside the venue where this year’s Conservative Party Conference was held with a placard explicitly stating that Conservatives should have their heads sliced off.

Perhaps it is a bad pun on her part, but I would wonder how people of her political views would react if those on the right called for those on the left to be executed. I presume that they would not be all too happy about it.

In case you missed the recent news, Blake (alongside her friend and accomplice Lauren McCourt) ripped off the head out of a cardboard cut-out of the deceased ex-Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Both clearly have an anti-Tory vendetta, which is absolutely fine—I believe that people are entitled to have their own political views. But I do not appreciate the destruction of people’s property, even if it is just a cardboard cut-out. More importantly, this action does not actually help to stop the policies, which Ms Blake is so against, from being enacted.

I do, however, defend Ms Blake’s right for her freedom of speech. I do not believe that she sincerely wishes to go around killing all those of a Conservative persuasion. One can simply write her billboard off as being a cheap pun. What I am more concerned about is  the leftist intolerance and hypocrisy that permeates many university campuses in the United Kingdom. It seems fair game for those on the left to come out with these kind of statements, yet those on the right feel unable to so much as voice what they stand for—depending on what circles they find themselves in.

Perhaps it may be suggested that people should keep within circles of those similar to themselves to avoid confrontation. However, a university should be a place where people can explore different ideas and viewpoints without the threat—sincere or otherwise—of murder. There is a lot of chat about diversity, but often those who preach about diversity do not advocate diversity of opinions.

We all come from a range of backgrounds and each have a unique range of experiences. I wish that Ms Blake and others to stop, think for a second, and understand that many people vote Conservative with good and honest intentions. People should not define others solely by which party they vote for. If we recognise people as individuals, we would see that often we have a lot more in common than first impressions might suggest.

Thankfully, Ms Blake does not represent all those on the left. In addition, I admit that it would be unfair for me to judge her based solely on a couple of acts. I am sure that she has her reasons for being anti-Conservative, which I respect, of course.

The question is whether those who have views contrary to her will be able to engage in thoughtful and intellectual discussion. I will give her the benefit of the doubt, but it is my opinion that—whilst I do not believe any law should prevent her from making such a horrid placard—I think Ms Blake should reconsider how she acts. The way she has behaved has, through unfortunate comedy, made her views less accessible for debate.

  • daily sweeper

    While I applaud this article and your views, I would just like to make a small correction on what you have written here.
    Freya Blake is not a UoM student. This is untrue and puts a slightly different perspective on your argument here about UoM students.

    • Anon

      Shes an MMU student who studies accoutancy (one of them did anyway).

      So much for being ‘anti captalist’.

      They are both little fascists and one day they will get themselves arrested.

      • Shai Hulud

        an unbalanced and ill-considered reply. 3/10.

  • Bot

    A very measure, reasonable and logical piece. Clearly you didn’t get the memo that none of that matters anymore – cutting heads off cutouts and stating people should be guillotined is now par for the course provided your attitudes are trendy. All men are responsible for rapists? Hurrah! The Tories are bloodthirsty monsters? Hilarious! Fat shaming isn’t oppression, its an evolutionary selection against unhealthy women? Boooooooo! Bigot! Sexist!

    • Shai Hulud

      aful shit. 2/10.

  • Charlie

    Freya is a revolutionary socialist. She’s inspired by James Connolly, by Che Guevara, by Constance Markievicz – by people from history who actively fought against oppression rather than those who pontificated in sanctimonious, pompous blogs. Perish the thought women were fighting for the vote now because they’d spend most of their time debating their feelings than trying to change history. Freya is angry at how the Tories are creating child poverty, that homelessness is increasing, that the NHS is being decimated, that people seeking asylum are treated like criminals, that those in need of benefits are sanctioned for phony reasons and left to go hungry. Freya is angry. We need more students with that anger, more students who recognise that action is more important than theory, more students who understand history enough to recognise it’s how the oppressed have changed things. Freya is angry. Why on Earth aren’t you?

  • Shai Hulud

    while this article raises is a couple of salient points, it is to my knowledge the most joyless thing to ever have been expressed by another human being. it’s also founded upon a basic misconception about power, i.e. that violence in the abstract from an individual incapable of acting out that threat,
    and violence in the abstract from an individual aligned with and supported by an oppressive mechanism, are equivalent. they’re not.

    margaret thatcher’s actual head, the one off of her corpse, belongs in a concrete box marked with powerful sigils, that it might never again be allowed to wreak the kind of wanton havoc that it did in life.

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