Free Speech Champion

Agema

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So some new bills for legislation has appeared in the UK.
The government has also demanded universities take a strict line on antisemitism. So as a Jewish academic pointed out, if he criticises Israel as an apartheid state, the UK government wants to force his university to discipline him, and then also for him to sue his university for disciplining him.
 

Silvanus

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Wealthy, out-of-touch conservatives pretending to be "friend to the common man" to get/stay in power. Why do people keep falling for it?
A hugely sympathetic press is helpful; most of the papers are practically party mouthpieces.

Even the centre-left newspapers don't actually like Labour, on the other hand.
 

Agema

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Even the centre-left newspapers don't actually like Labour, on the other hand.
The centre-left newspapers are trapped in the same general schism between the moderate left and progressive Corbynite left.

And what with the general trend of the left these days, they're more invested in their own civil war than they are in removing the right from power.
 

Terminal Blue

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Where to even begin..

Firstly, let's talk about the irony in the use of free speech here. The primary function of free speech, especially in the UK, is to protect individuals from persecution by the government based on their political or religious convictions. Historically, the purpose of free speech is to restrain the government. The purpose of free speech legislation is specifically not to protect people from their fellow citizens, or to guarantee them access to a platform. That would be absurd. Trying to promote "free speech" by literally empowering a government body to regulate the conduct of private organisations is a blatant and bizarre perversion of the idea of free speech.

Furthermore, the Tories clearly do not understand the role and purpose of student unions. Student unions are unions. They are distinct from the institutions to which they are attached because this is necessary for the role they perform, the most important of which is to represent the interests of students to the institution. They are an independent and necessarily political body, because that's literally what a union is.

Finally, Tories don't understand the actual organisation of student unions. A student union is an autonomous democratic body. Any member of a student union has a right to participate in the democratic process, which includes the ability to propose action and to speak freely during meetings. This is an actual example of free speech in action. In any democratic system, free speech has consequences and should have consequences, it's not about the vacuous pretence of being able to say whatever horrible thing you like, it's about being able to take part in political life on equal terms with everyone else. A student union is literally a vehicle to do that, for many young people it will be an important first experience of democratic organisation.

I could make some cheap shot about the Tories hating democracy, but at this point it's not even really a cheap shot. The Johnson government has done very little in its term save dismantle democratic institutions and oversight in the name of promoting abstract ideas of "freedom" (which can somehow be expressed through authoritarian government control).

And that's leaving aside the spectacular elephant in the room, which is that the UK university sector is dying. It was dying before COVID (mostly due to Tory policies) and after COVID it's not even going to exist, at least not in the same form. The UK used to have one of the most prestigious and well regarded university systems in the world, a system so good that students would travel from all around the world to participate in it. What we're going to be left with is a shitty, embarrassing copy of the worst dysfunctions of the US university system, without any of the good bits. But let's be real, the Tories want to kill off the higher education sector. That is ultimately their long term goal. It's what they do, they kill public services and carve up the corpses to sell to their inbred friends.
 

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
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And that's leaving aside the spectacular elephant in the room, which is that the UK university sector is dying. It was dying before COVID (mostly due to Tory policies) and after COVID it's not even going to exist, at least not in the same form. The UK used to have one of the most prestigious and well regarded university systems in the world, a system so good that students would travel from all around the world to participate in it. What we're going to be left with is a shitty, embarrassing copy of the worst dysfunctions of the US university system, without any of the good bits. But let's be real, the Tories want to kill off the higher education sector. That is ultimately their long term goal. It's what they do, they kill public services and carve up the corpses to sell to their inbred friends.
The Tories' deep ideological commitment to hating the public sector is impossible to underestimate. Clearly the vision of the Tories has been to make the universities much more competitive and cut-throat. Universities were protected from the full force of the neoliberal gale last time by David Willetts. I don't think think they'll let that happen again.

It's already been in the news that several universities are in severe financial trouble. I also cannot help but note the Conservative government's reluctance to provide financial assistance (although universities are not unique there) from covid, and secondly that they have aggressively been encouraging students to demand refunds. Indeed, our department received a letter from its students demanding a refund - badly written and argued, but there nonetheless. If universities go belly up, it would probably be too painful to let them fall and all those students go with incomplete degrees... but they could sell the institutions to private sector cronies. And that's probably the idea.

Never mind that tiny, weird-arse private university in London that seems to exist only to provide degrees in suitable fashionable subjects to the bored ultra-rich. Regent's University?
 

Trunkage

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The centre-left newspapers are trapped in the same general schism between the moderate left and progressive Corbynite left.

And what with the general trend of the left these days, they're more invested in their own civil war than they are in removing the right from power.
I find it weird that people call Corbyn a progressive


The government has also demanded universities take a strict line on antisemitism. So as a Jewish academic pointed out, if he criticises Israel as an apartheid state, the UK government wants to force his university to discipline him, and then also for him to sue his university for disciplining him.
Well, they put in something about ‘not firing people for their ideology‘... not that I believe they would uphold that for a second

So, this is just a bundle of contradictions just waiting for someone to litigate.
 

Dwarvenhobble

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Ok multiple parts.

Free Speech stuff:

This is a weird one in that on campuses it's pretty free. In the Union organisation not so much so. E.G. did you know most student unions supported tuition fees in the UK?

They did, it took years to change it because of attempts and procedural objections to the proposed change of official position.

Also getting answer out of Universities for the Union can be like getting blood out of a stone, like the time the heads of finance decided to speak at the union and answer questions because of claims of financial mismanagement. They refused to pick any known SU government member asking questions and we found out that they had plants in the audience with pre-prepared questions they were ready to answer, we found this out because some of the plants admitted to it and donated a chunk of their bribe money to the SU. The SU only got questions answered because they had also had friends of their work as their own plants in the audience so when the finance chiefs picked random people they got hit with pre-prepared SU questions lol.

On finance stuff

Part of the idea of the fees was to allow universities to broker their own deals for their research with other companies. Problem being incompetent accountants seeing a short term bit of cash as worth more and also not even getting a decent chunk of cash upfront like the research often was worth. E.G. the uni I went to, our department had a former member of staff come back to visit and collect some of his old notes. He was a good friend of my supervisor and he had a presentation to do and so my supervisor got me and the reset of his research group people to be a test audience. After it the guy was telling us about his work when he was a professor at the uni and how the uni sold all his research off to the company he now works for (they hired him as an advisor and to help implement the research). The Uni sold his research off for £30,000. The company in 5 years since buying it had made £1 Billion from that research and the Uni saw nothing else from it was there was no recurring fee they just sold the entire IP rights off for £30K.

Part of the reason for moving from government funding fully was meant to try and get universities to adapt and stop running basically vanity courses with little practical value paid for by the tax payer and pushing said courses because the uni made easy money off them while students saw little to no benefit from studying them.
 

Dwarvenhobble

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I find it weird that people call Corbyn a progressive
Well his propositions were getting quite close to communist ideas. Basically nationalise everything and charge companies 99% tax rates (exaggeration but it was a damn high tax rate)


Well, they put in something about ‘not firing people for their ideology‘... not that I believe they would uphold that for a second
I mean there are legal protections in the UK for religious and political beliefs (as long as they're not illegal). A guy the other year won an unfair dismissal case claiming he was fired unfairly for being a staunch environmentalist, and they proved he was that to such a degree that it was deemed protected belief.
 

Silvanus

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The centre-left newspapers are trapped in the same general schism between the moderate left and progressive Corbynite left.
To a degree, though they were always pretty lukewarm on his predecessors as well.

I find it weird that people call Corbyn a progressive
Redistributive socialist, nationalisation proponent, longtime anti-racism protester, strong support base among the left-leaning youth of the party... no? By European standards he's certainly on the left. Not extreme, but undoubtedly "progressive" as we use the term.
 

Silvanus

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Well his propositions were getting quite close to communist ideas. Basically nationalise everything and charge companies 99% tax rates (exaggeration but it was a damn high tax rate)
This is fun revisionism. Corbyn's proposed corporation tax rate was 26%. For comparison, the corporation tax rate was 35 - 40% under Thatcher's government.

Corbyn wanted to nationalise the following: the electric utilities (which were already publicly-owned between 1947 and 1989), the Royal Mail (which was government-owned from 1516 to 2015), the railways (which were publicly-owned between 1948 and 1997), the water utilities (which were government-owned since the early 1900s until 1989), and the Private Finance Initiatives (which didn't exist before 1992).

...So, this is "communism"? I suppose Thatcher was a communist too, eh?

The truth is that a severe right-ward shift from the 1980s onward has become so normalised, that even mildly left-wing ideas are now considered "extreme" by those with a poor awareness of history.
 
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Trunkage

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I mean there are legal protections in the UK for religious and political beliefs (as long as they're not illegal). A guy the other year won an unfair dismissal case claiming he was fired unfairly for being a staunch environmentalist, and they proved he was that to such a degree that it was deemed protected belief.
Yeah, I get wary of the term ‘staunch environmentalist‘ after that guy in El Paso last year. If I remember who you’re talking about, they weren’t like that. But now we have to be worried about environmentalist and racist getting together

But it gets to my point in the OP about this new stuff. It sounds like most things haven’t change, but the anti-woke rhetoric has. That dismal case was under the old rules and it past. Also, I really don’t like calling Science a belief like this. I think it’s going to lead to bad things like turning science into a religion
 

Trunkage

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This is fun revisionism. Corbyn's proposed corporation tax rate was 26%. For comparison, the corporation tax rate was 35 - 40% under Thatcher's government.

Corbyn wanted to nationalise the following: the electric utilities (which were already publicly-owned between 1947 and 1989), the Royal Mail (which was government-owned from 1516 to 2015), the railways (which were publicly-owned between 1948 and 1997), the water utilities (which were government-owned since the early 1900s until 1989), and the Private Finance Initiatives (which didn't exist before 1992).

...So, this is "communism"? I suppose Thatcher was a communist too, eh?

The truth is that a severe right-ward shift from the 1980s onward has become so normalised, that even mildly left-wing ideas are now considered "extreme" by those with a poor awareness of history.
I wouldn’t agree with the Thatcher comment. Where she was, wasn’t where she want to be. She was aiming for an ideology. Just like Corbyn isn’t really a communist Becuase he aiming for the ‘good old days’.

Thatcher‘s has huge revisionist problems for a different reason. Her policies lead to 2 recession in a relatively short reign and she abandoned the poor. Despite being called a ‘good economic manager’
 

Trunkage

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Elon Musk is measuring himself for tech pope pontifical cap as we speak, I assure you.
Yeah, the guy whose a jack of all trade, master of none is perfect for this.

Also, I misread cape instead of cap but then thought he’d probably have both
 

Hawki

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Wealthy, out-of-touch conservatives pretending to be "friend to the common man" to get/stay in power. Why do people keep falling for it?
Partly because large segments of the left are even more out of touch.

I mean there are legal protections in the UK for religious and political beliefs (as long as they're not illegal). A guy the other year won an unfair dismissal case claiming he was fired unfairly for being a staunch environmentalist, and they proved he was that to such a degree that it was deemed protected belief.
I don't recall that. I do recall a case about veganism being a protected belief though.

Me personally though, I figure that if your beliefs are coming into conflict with your job, then don't do your job? Or at least reconcile it. I mean, I have to reconcile working at a library in the knowledge that a lot of material that's worn out can't be given away either due to copyright (e.g. DVDs) or health (we no longer give out or sell books because of Covid), so it ends up getting wasted. I hate this, but, well, life's a compromise I guess.

Yeah, I get wary of the term ‘staunch environmentalist‘ after that guy in El Paso last year. If I remember who you’re talking about, they weren’t like that. But now we have to be worried about environmentalist and racist getting together
There's a strain of environmentalism that's always had a shared bed with racism, TBH. How do you think Yellowstone became a national park for instance? And if you think that's ancient history, the WWF has come under investigation for working with militias in Africa, driving people off their land.

That said, being something of a greenie myself, there's definitely elements of environmentalism that are problematic without racism. Take "deep green" for example.

But it gets to my point in the OP about this new stuff. It sounds like most things haven’t change, but the anti-woke rhetoric has. That dismal case was under the old rules and it past. Also, I really don’t like calling Science a belief like this. I think it’s going to lead to bad things like turning science into a religion
Except strains of wokeism put science as a belief, or at least, disregard the idea of objective truth, so...

I agree that people should be able to preach wokeism, and that their speech shouldn't be curtailed. Problem is, wokeism doesn't really think the same.

No but he's got the fucking ego to crown himself the Science Pope, qualifications be damned.
The actual pope gets to be pope because a bunch of cardinals decide based on a 2000 year old religion, whose foundation is, like practically every other religion, incompatible with science.

Even if Elon Musk is the "Science Pope," even if he's got an ego the size of Bolivia's lithium deposits, even if I don't agree with him on everything, I'd still take a "Science Pope" over a "Pope Pope."
 

Dwarvenhobble

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This is fun revisionism. Corbyn's proposed corporation tax rate was 26%. For comparison, the corporation tax rate was 35 - 40% under Thatcher's government.

Corbyn wanted to nationalise the following: the electric utilities (which were already publicly-owned between 1947 and 1989), the Royal Mail (which was government-owned from 1516 to 2015), the railways (which were publicly-owned between 1948 and 1997), the water utilities (which were government-owned since the early 1900s until 1989), and the Private Finance Initiatives (which didn't exist before 1992).

...So, this is "communism"? I suppose Thatcher was a communist too, eh?

The truth is that a severe right-ward shift from the 1980s onward has become so normalised, that even mildly left-wing ideas are now considered "extreme" by those with a poor awareness of history.
Except the 26% tax rate wasn't the only tax

and through a new “tax on multinationals”.
£14bn from higher tax on capital gains and dividends – by ending the “unfair” system of taxing wealth more lightly than income
As for the second one yes you can argue it's being abused with bonuses and shares etc instead of direct pay however it would also hit people who are / were deemed wealthy due to what they owned but in reality weren't that well off financially. E.G. the family of a friend of mine at Uni who growing up lived in a 2 bedroom house but due to the location and the architecture of the house it was valued at £1 Million. Another person I know owns a £1.5 Million 2 bedroom cottage. It's so expensive because of location and perceived desirability of living in what is almost a gated community.

As for the publicly owned utilities, they weren't doing well before in many cases and were being run inefficiently and not actually making money but costing more money to keep running.


Yeah, I get wary of the term ‘staunch environmentalist‘ after that guy in El Paso last year. If I remember who you’re talking about, they weren’t like that. But now we have to be worried about environmentalist and racist getting together

But it gets to my point in the OP about this new stuff. It sounds like most things haven’t change, but the anti-woke rhetoric has. That dismal case was under the old rules and it past. Also, I really don’t like calling Science a belief like this. I think it’s going to lead to bad things like turning science into a religion
I mean the guy literally refused to wear leather shoe or take any transport that emitted any emissions pretty much so I'd say it was pretty close to religious level belief for him.
 

Gergar12

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And I thought the US middle class was full of douches. The UK ones are even worst.

Edit: I read that the UK elects conservatives because of their conservative white middle class.
 

Trunkage

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And I thought the US middle class was full of douches. The UK ones are even worst.

Edit: I read that the UK elects conservatives because of their conservative white middle class.
No, a lot of places have middle classes douches. Australia definitely and, hearing childhood stories from some of my friends, so is China and Taiwan. Instead of calling them Karens, the Taiwanese call them (after translation) Princesses.