Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Oxford Union, the BNP and David Irving

Below is the text of a message from Luke Tryl the current Oxford Union President regarding the invite that the Union has sent to BNP Leader Nick Griffin and Holocaust denier David Irving.

The basic premise of the President's argument is that the likes of Griffin and Irving should be exposed for the fraudsters, bigots and racists that they are. Fair enough but... the reality is that Irving and Griffin will milk the invite for as much as they can. An invite to the Oxford Union bestows credibility, in the minds of some it confers respectability.

Think again Luke, think again.

If you want to make Luke aware of your views you can email him at:

15 October 2007:
A Message to all Members of the Oxford Union regarding the Free Speech Forum entitled 'A Night of Discussion on the Limits of Free Speech', to be held November 2007
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dear Members

I hope that you are well and had a good First Week. I'm just writing to respond to some of the coverage of the Union's Free Speech Forum in the Press this week. Many of you will have heard by now that David Irving and Nick Griffin are possible speakers for the forum. However the Press failed to point out a number of key facts.

These people are not being given a platform to extol their views, but are coming to talk about the limits of free speech. What is more, they will be speaking in the context of a forum in which there will be other speakers to challenge and attack their views in a head to head manner and with the opportunity for students to challenge them from the floor. It is my belief that pushing the views of these people underground achieves nothing. The best way to deal with these views was summed up by Home Office Minister Tony McNulty on Thursday and that is 'to crush these people in debate'. Stopping them from speaking only allows them to become free speech martyrs, and from my own experience back in Halifax, which has suffered from race relation problems in the past, groups like the BNP do well if they look like they're being censored. Unlike OUSU, I think it's patronising to suggest that Oxford students aren't intelligent enough to debate with these people and I do have great faith in the ability of Oxford students to challenge them.

I should also point out that because this is a forum rather than a standard debate or speaker meeting no Union funds will be going toward entertaining the speakers and hence none of your membership fee will be spent 'wining and dining the speakers' as the Press suggests.
If any of you have any further concerns about this forum please do come and contact me at any time. Or come along to my open office session on Tuesdays at 2pm. I realise that this is a difficult and controversial area but the Union was particularly founded to discuss and promote free speech. I hope that as many of you as possible will come to the forum on the 26th of November and prove that Oxford students can take these people on in reasoned debate and win.

LUKE TRYL , Magdalen College


Wolfie said...

Now why am I getting an Ahmadinejad at Columbia deja vous feeling about this? So let me get this straight… Irving is going to speak for free speech and someone is going to agrue… against it? This is going to end well.

Anonymous said...

what are your views on common purpose,i think they are more of a threat to the country than the BNP.

Mike Ion said...

anonymous - I am not sure what you are referring to

Randy Higham said...

This is a really difficult one, Mike. Perhaps people will see them for what they are but then again ...

Also, there's a difference between free speech and actually inviting the bstds along.

Anonymous said...

No- EU-Common Purpose Government Infiltraitors 9-15-07 Brian Gerrish

PeteyPablo said...

your an idiot mike. honestly, people like you reall p1ss me off.nobody is promoting these 2 men. anybody who supported them and their views will support them regardless of where they speak. anyone whose opinions will be changed just because these men are speaking in a "respectable" place, is extremely weak indeed but does not need to be protected. let them express their views, let them be challenged, let people come to their own conclusions. who the hell are you to be deciding who can and cannot express themselves?where would the censorship then end? images of ignorant fools like yourself standing outside the union and aggressively trying to stop people coming in (so much so that some had to climb over a fence) just makes the sensible majority seem like mindless thugs and THAT more than anything lends credibility to the two men who came out of the whole affair looking a lot more civilized than your motley crew. seriously, think about what your saying for a second.its pathetic.