New Labour’s Britain and The Silencing of Dissent 142

We all need to take a step back and see what kind of society we have become; in particular the Stalinist silencing of voices of dissent – even within our universities.

I have seen my past server host pull this website and my publisher pull my book, in attempts to silence my dissenting opinions. We overcame those, but they should never have happened. Now I have been telephoned by the University of Cambridge to be told that security staff will physically prevent me from entering the University of Cambridge to give a talk there.

What have we become? I have responded thus and am now off to Cambridge.

Dear Dr Elliott,

As I told you on the telephone, I was invited some weeks ago to speak this evening in a debate on the merits of the Afghan War. I learnt this morning that plans had changed due to a student occupation of a university building over University policy towards Gaza, and as the organisers of my debate were involved in the occupation, I was requested to switch my talk to the Law Faculty. I agreed to do so.

I then heard from you that the authorities had decided to exclude non-University members from the law faculty, and should I arrive to give my talk I will not be admitted; and indeed be physically prevented from entering.

I have given this some thought, and I have decided that the threat not to admit me to the University building is unwarranted.

As you may realise, I am Rector of the University of Dundee (and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law). I am not personally intending to occupy your building for longer than it takes to give a talk, and certainly intend to cause no damage. I am not a health and safety risk.

I am invited to lecture at Universities and other prestigious institutions worldwide; normally universities are urging me to come, not seeking to turn me away! I understand that a number of people are looking forward to hearing me this evening. To threaten to exclude me is a denial of freedom of speech which I find very peculiar behaviour for the University of Cambridge.

Student occupations are hardly a new phenomenon, and normally can easily be resolved through amicable negotiation. I was quite astonished to learn that Cambridge University had responded by attempting to starve the students out. To try also to ban a guest speaker seems to me likely to inflame and prolong, rather than resolve, the dispute.

It seems to me that the easiest way out of the current difficulty of my visit is for you to extend to me an invitation to speak this evening on behalf of the Faculty.

With all best wishes,

Craig Murray

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142 thoughts on “New Labour’s Britain and The Silencing of Dissent

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  • Stevie

    Hope the local press/media have been informed, this would make good publicity for your books. Good luck!

  • Steven

    I would very much like to attend your talk, and will try to do so. Unfortunately my guest, who as an invited visiting scholar does not have a university card, will probably be blocked by university security stating orders by David Feldman (chairman of the faculty).

    Even members of the student representative body, well known to be university members, are being turned away due to lack of their ID card.

    These actions are an embarrassment to the Law Faculty and the university as a whole.

  • George Dutton

    “We all need to take a step back and see what kind of society we have become”


    Interesting that you use the word “become” and not the word becoming.

    I think it’s going to “become” a LOT worse then it is now.As the old saying say’s…”You ain’t seen nothing yet”.

  • Mac


    Go for it – glad to see that you are not being intimidated.

    Best Wishes.

    PS loved the new book – read it in 2 days!

  • ingo

    good luck with it Craig, may the powers to be whince when they see you at the gate and may they shudder when they hear what you have to say. Peculiar this, the university known to recruit

    most of our MI services are subverted by a political intrigue, tut tut, who would have thought, next thing they’ll be lobbied to run the BBC, LoL.

  • mick

    Dude, you are a star!

    Thanks for The Catholic Orangemen, by the way, an excellent read.

    Good luck.

  • writerman


    Good luck!

    Dissent has always had a price, one way or another. Yet we were lucky that we grew up at a time when ‘dissent’ was not only fashionable, it was also possible, and tolerated to a degree that, seen in a historical perspective, seems almost like a ‘golden age’!

    I’m talking about the post-war period up to the late seventies. Only about a quarter of a century. This was arguably the most ‘free’ period in British history, at its core the incredibly explosion of cultural creativity known as the Sixites. I believe one would have to go back to the period around the English Civil War to find a comparable era. I suppose that shows how precious and how seldom such times really are in our history.

    The famous and radical playwrite, Trevor Griffiths, also believes that the ‘clampdown’ to quote Joe Strummer, began with the Thatcherite counter-revolution. Griffiths doesn’t think he’ll ever see one of his plays produced for television again. He’s got a brilliant script about the life of the radical and dissenter, Tom Paine, which would make a brilliant TV series, but alas it’s been kicking around for almost twenty years.

    Slowly, but it’s speeding up, society is becoming more authoritarian. Our ghastly role as a vassal state in relation to the Great Imperial American War Machine, is costing us dear; not only in money, men and reputation, but in our cherished civil liberties too.

    It’s probably a good idea to enjoy the luxury of using our freedom of speech while we still got it.

  • mary

    Go Craig!

    George and the others see They Thought They Were Free 1933-1945 by Milton Mayer

    Second and third paragraphs:-

    ‘What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

    “This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.’

  • Mac

    Anybody notice that a certain Mr Galloway has not been invited on our screens to speak about Gaza in the last few weeks, and that he clearly has been told to avoid/water-down as much as possible discussing it on his radio show.

    Tony Benn has only managed to get heard when talking about the BBC issue, but not during the three week Israeli mass murder spree in Gaza.

    Free Speech of a dissenting kind is indeed getting rarer & rarer.

  • nobody

    Hats off to you. I do hope you have a friend with a digital handicam. It’s always worthwhile just in case something interesting happens. Not that I would wish that upon a fellow. Rather I hope it all goes smoothly for you.

  • merkin

    Enjoy the fun Craig.

    We live in interesting times and they will become more interesting.

    I was wandering about the Graun yesterday and found a Toynbee article.

    I re-quoted her quoting of a mail quote.

    “Passports are not issued to us on condition we do exactly what we are told by the state … If such arbitrary powers are used against absentee fathers, how long before they are used against other people who have annoyed the authorities in some way?”


    All you can do is clean your own corner.

    Hopefully everyone else does the same.

    The notion of ‘a global crunch’ has occurred just too early – just before the ‘fait accompli’ that could have happened.

    We still have a chance to voice opinion.

    Use it while you can.

  • eddie

    Come off it Craig for heaven’s sake! To use the word “Stalinist” in this context simply demeans you. Stalin killed millions of people and created a slave and police state. It’s this abuse of the English language (Gaza = Holocaust/Warsaw Ghetto etc) that devalues your arguments and turns people against you. Cambridge University is acting responsibly by making it clear that these students are in breach of university rules, that non-students should not be allowed access to the university buildings and that food in the building is a health ansd safety problem. (I take it you do support our health and safty laws? I must admit, it is the fist time I have supported the H and S police). As a Cambridge taxpayer I am grateful that the University is upholding the rule of law and preventing the waste of thousands of pounds of public money. The disgraceful capitulation of Howard Davies at LSE will not happen in Cambridge. I should also point out that Diouglas NMurray has been prevented from chairing a meeting at LSE. Are you protesting about that? Double standards if not.

    By the way,I was a student once and made such silly protests – I just wish someone at the time had told me to grow up. These fools are being given a lesson in power.

  • john


    So can we infer you are supporting Craig if you are supporting Diouglas NMurray (sic) ?

    What is this argument if you don’t object to A you shouldn’t object to B ? It’s like trying to get off a speeding ticket on the M5 by saying they aren’t stopping people on the M6 right now.

  • eddie


    The two situations are completley different so your attempt at equivalence is misguided. Douglas Murray (excuse my typos – I was in a hurry) has been prevented from chairing a legitimate event at LSE, which is not under occupation, for “security reasons”. Yet the LSE has consistently hosted pro-terrorist speakers in its buildings and has spent thousands of pounds on “security” during the recent occupation. Craig had been invited to speak at a building that is under illegal occupation where non-students are not allowed to enter, under University regulations. The first is a denial of free speech. The second is someone grand-standing for his own reasons. In any event he did speak to the students, but not in the illegally occupied building, so the “Stalinist” denial of free speech that he refers to in his post did not occur. I hope this is clear.

  • Craig


    Actually the students were in the “illegally” occupied building – though I don’t think it is illegal for students at a university to be in their own building – and I spoke to them from the doorway through a barrier of security personnel. Many of the security personnel seemed to enjoy the talk, incidentally.

    Douglas Murray should not have been prevented from speaking at the LSE, or indeed anywhere else, and I am very sorry if he was. Why you think that justifies my being forbidden to speak at Cambridge I do not know.

  • eddie

    For the reasons listed above. The University has rules – it is a condition of study that students should obey them. It is therefore illegal for students to occupy premises overnight in contravention of those rules and in contravention of health and safety legislation (which I hope, as a good liberal leftist you would support?).

    I hope that you agree with the need for rules at places of study? In addition, the university had made it quite clear that non-students should not be allowed to enter the illegally occupied buildng. You are a non-student. The case against you is clear, and you are just trying to distort the issues by talking about denial of free speech. I am sure that you would have been quite welcome to speak at any other venue than the one that is illegally occupied. I am a Cambridge resident – there are hundreds of suitable venues here. As I say, you were just grandstanding for your own reasons – perhaps to publicise your book? I don’t criticise you for that – we all have to live.

    You have not answered my substantive point about your inappropriate use of language. Anyone who has studied the Stalinist period will find your comments about the “Stalinist silencing” of dissent contemptible in the context of this country. We have seen demonstrations throughout the land in recent weeks and all of those protestors are still alive and kicking and free to carry on protesting. Under Stalinism they would be either dead or in prison. Really, it does you no favours to use that kind of language.

  • John K



    This is not a “substantive point” as you try to make out.

    90+% of people realise that “Stalinist” is in common usage as a term to describe inappropriate stifling of dissenting opinions; it doesn’t in everyday usage mean acting literally as Stalin did. It’s called exaggeration for emphasis. Words change their meaning over time. Craig was not saying that these people literally want to kill or put him and like-minded people in prison (though some of them may do so…).

    Obsessing about “inappropriate language” here seems to me to be displacement activity to take attention away from the main point, the misuse of power by global capitalism and by states, including the USA, Uzbekistan and recently, especially, Israel.

    Castigating people you disagree with for being politically incorrect or not being careful enough over their choice of words or whatever doesn’t advance the argument, it suggests that you are unwilling to address the issues.

    And as Craig himself has pointed out on several occasions, he’s in favour of free speech generally, not just for those he agrees with.

  • Craig


    “Stlainist” is a commonly used epither for certain characteristics of political behaviour. I am not claiming the university authorities killed millions of people.

    “In breach of university regulations” does not equate to illegal. As a liberal and not actually a lefty, I don’t think the abuse of health and safety regulation is a good thing.

  • eddie


    I am quite willing to address the issues. But unless people use language correctly debate is impossible. I completely disagree with your opening statement about Stalin. Perhaps you can prove that 90% of people use “Stalinist” in the way that you suggest? I don’t think you can. The language of the far left over Gaza, for example, comparing it to the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust has debased and devalued your (often valid) arguments and turns most ordinary people against you. Violent protests and occupations do the same. If you can’t see that then I suggest you read Orwell on politics and the english language. I suggest you also look at opinion polls. Unless you accept these arguments you will forever be a meaningless rump on the far left of politics.

    As for the “misuse of power by global Capitalism”, apart from the fact that it makes you sound like Dave Spart, I would take you more seriously if you also drew attention to the far greater misuse of power in countries such as China, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Sudan where far greater evils are being played out as we speak.

    I know Craig is in favour of free speech, but he was not comparing like with like. Incidentally, if you are in favour of free speech I would be interested in how you would take this. Would you be prepared, for example, to see this character on a platform in this country?

  • George Dutton

    “turns most ordinary people against you”


    Now you KNOW the minds of…”most ordinary people”…I don’t think so…thats another lie isn’t it eddie.

  • Reason


    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    The evils of China, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Sudan don’t make the evils of Israel right.

    Preventing Douglas Murray from the LSE doesn’t mean preventing Craig from Cambridge University is right.

    You justify wrongs (Israel , Cambridge University) by pointing out other wrongs and that somehow that makes them right!.

  • john

    exactly eddie, the situations are different, that’s why you shouldn’t base arguments on parallels that don’t exist

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