‘Liberals are no-platforming each other!’ Boulton rages at left-wingers in free speech row

Sky News’ Adam Boulton clashes with guest on ‘no platforming’

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Spectator assistant editor Isabel Hardman and Guardian columnist Zoe Williams appeared on Sky News to discuss the Government’s plans to crack down on no-platforming and promote free speech on university campuses. Ms Williams did not support the move and argued that the right was creating “unbreakable chasms” with regards to freedom of speech whereas the left has not changed its views nor has shifted dramatically politically. Sky News host Adam Boulton however pointed out disagreements among the left are rife as students attempted to no-platform radical feminist Germaine Greer at Cardiff University for her views on transgender people which caught the columnist off guard. 

Speaking on Sky News, Ms Williams said: “Can I introduce you to the concept of asymmetric polarisation?

“This is how they described American politics about five years ago that the right have been extremely polarised, and then everybody greeted it with a sort of ‘why is everybody got polarised’.

“Not everybody did get polarised, the right went polarised…”

Ms Williams argued that those who lean politically on the right have become more extreme in their beliefs and methods. 

Mr Boulton interrupted and said: “The trans argument is polarising, that’s on the left.

“I mean, Germaine Greer was no-platformed, for example.”

The Australian intellectual came under fire in 2016 for claiming transgender women “are not women”, a comment which prompted students at Cardiff University to have a lecture Ms Greer was scheduled to deliver at the institution cancelled.

Ms Williams questioned how the issue was polarising and attempted to reline the focus of their discussion but Mr Boulton hit back again: “What I’m saying is you can’t say these arguments about no-platforming are all on the right. 

“That’s an example of people who regard themselves as liberals no-platforming each other.”

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Ms Williams replied: “That’s not what I’m saying, I’m saying that very often when we look at a situation and there are extremely vivid, kind of apparently implacable views, is only one side that’s polarised.

“And you know the Conservatives talk about this war on woke, they’re talking about a statue desecration, so it’s a really live issue and nothing has happened to a statue to anyone’s knowledge since last June

“You think about all the things in the country that have happened since last June, and we’re still talking about a statue.

“They talk about taking the knee that hasn’t been a live issue since Dominic Raab made it a live issue by making no sense on the matter. 

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“They kind of manufacturing these incredibly livid and completely unbreachable chasms, and then asking us all to pick the side.”

The decision by the Government to implement a “free-speech minister” has drawn criticisms from some who believe it could be exploited by the Government to secure political points.

Education Minister Gavin Williamson said: “Free speech underpins our democratic society and our universities have a long and proud history of being places where students and academics can express themselves freely, challenge views and cultivate an open mind.

“But I am deeply worried about the chilling effect on campuses of unacceptable silencing and censoring.”

It comes as some academics have felt they could no speak freely on campus without being threatened or cancelled. 

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