Owen Jones Snubs Union
Question Time regular Owen Jones turns down the chance to speak at the Cambridge Union.
Independent columnist and author Owen Jones has rejected an invitation to speak at the Cambridge Union, citing the society’s decision to invite Marine Le Pen as his primary reason.
The former Oxford student tweeted early this morning to let his followers know how he felt about the Union’s decision to invite the leader of the Front National.
After the tweet caused a wave of replies, Jones went on to add: “Marine Le Pen is free to say what she wants. I just don’t agree with people going out of their way to give platform to her hate.”
In response to the news, a spokesperson from the Cambridge Union told The Tab:
“Mr Jones is of course very welcome to his views on this issue, which we completely respect.
However, the Union completely stands by its decision to invite a speaker who was clearly of interest to Union members. Mme. Le Pen was given the opportunity to express her views, which were then challenged by members in what was a rational and free exchange of views. This is exactly what the Union exists to promote.
It is worth noting Mme. Le Pen has recently appeared on BBC Newsnight and her views are widely reported in the British media, including national newspapers. This is almost always in a context that gives viewers, or readers, no opportunity to directly challenge her on her views. In contrast, free speech at the Union works both ways, and members are free to challenge speakers on what they say. In the case of Mme. Le Pen they certainly did this; she spoke for around 25 minutes and then faced tough questions from members for an hour.”
As most students will know, the Union’s decision to invite Marine Le Pen caused widespread protests from Cambridge Unite Against Fascism last month.