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.
Fascinating how this ‘innocent’ letter from Heaton-Harris has overnight turned into a not so innocent Daily Mail headline.
Dirty politics. pic.twitter.com/tMmEFdkSgi
— Dr Lauren Gavaghan (@DancingTheMind) October 26, 2017
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.
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:
Chris Heaton-Harris’s office now referring media queries about his letter to vice-chancellors to Cons HQ. He’s surely not been muzzled?
— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) October 24, 2017
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