Tory MP’s letter revives old lie that educators indoctrinated students against Brexit

In an open tweet to Chris Heaton-Harris, fellow Tory MP Paul Scully claimed: “This is what a lecturer was handing out to my daughter who spends £9k pa for him to be teaching engineering, not politics.” Believable? Or a set-up?

Does anybody remember a story in July this year, claiming that teachers were indoctrinating students to support ‘Remain’ in the EU referendum?

That story has been revived by the Daily Heil, after Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris wrote to universities, demanding details of their courses on the EU, with particular reference to Brexit.

This Writer understands that Mr Heaton-Harris might be in some difficulty after Jo Johnson suggested he wanted the information for a book he was writing. There was no mention of this in the letter, which was written on House of Commons paper. The suggestion is that, by pretending to be writing in his capacity as an MP, rather than as a private citizen researching a book, Mr Heaton-Harris was trying to gain a pecuniary advantage by deception (his book would earn money for him personally, you see. Writing in his capacity as an MP means the information would be used, at least nominally, in the interests of the national political debate). In layperson’s terms, that’s fraud.

But the Daily Mail has seized on the letter – and the reaction against it (one university lecturer told Mr Heaton-Harris that he can have access to the materials he requested by joining the course and paying £9,000, just like everybody else) – to claim that universities are a hotbed of Leftie ‘Remain’ support.

The Mail article stated:

The extent of anti-Brexit bias at some of Britain’s best known universities was laid bare last night amid a furious row.
A Tory MP was castigated this week and accused of ‘McCarthyism’ for asking universities what they are teaching about the UK’s departure from the EU.
But yesterday the Daily Mail uncovered a string of examples of senior figures at universities explicitly speaking out in favour of Remain.
Before the vote, a raft of senior academics spoke publicly to urge their students to back staying in the EU.

Source: How open-minded are our universities? As an MP provokes a storm just for ASKING what students are being taught about Brexit, disturbing questions about propaganda in the lecture halls emerge

Of course, it’s nonsense. As the Tory-run DWP would say, it is anecdotal evidence. If considered as a survey, there is no balance in the respondents. It is simply the opinions of Daily Mail readers – and of the right-wing rag’s reporters and editors.

And already a backlash is taking place:

And what is Mr Heaton-Harris doing?

Not a lot, it seems, as this tweet from Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick suggests:

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  1. David Horton October 26, 2017 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Surely everything both before and after the referendum is an attempt to indoctrinate from both sides?

    • Mike Sivier October 27, 2017 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      It’s a good subject for debate.
      Hey – you know there are places where people can do that?

  2. Christine Cullen October 26, 2017 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Another tiresome “what’s in it for me?” type Tory. maybe it’s in their job description.

  3. NMac October 26, 2017 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    Right-wing reactionaries know that education enables people to think for themselves and, generally speaking, well educated thinking people from the working class reject right-wing politics. The Tories don’t like that, hence their attempts, which resurface at intervals, to influence higher education. The last election was evidence of how young people were empowered and how they rejected the Tories.

  4. Barry Davies October 26, 2017 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    I don’t see any mc Carthyism in this whatsoever, why should the universities be so remiss about releasing the content of their courses, you can’t of course stop the lecturers putting forwards their own viewpoints during lectures, but if there is in built bias in what the course is teaching or in what the markers accept in exams that is another thing.

    • Mike Sivier October 27, 2017 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      The response calling for the Tory to pay his £9,000 like everyone else is absolutely to-the-point. If the content of lectures were to be released for free, it would undermine the Tories’ own policy.

  5. Neilth October 26, 2017 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    This is typical of the Brexidiot wing of the debate. They continue to blame others for the incompetence and sheer obstructionism of their own negotiators, particularly David Davies and the allegedly dubious probity of Liam Fox and his travelling companions. They are trying to stifle debate and at the same time preparing their excuses for their own failure.

    Remember they told the electorate to ignore the advice of the economists, business leaders and academics because they were ‘just experts’ so their views were irrelevant!

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