George Galloway attempts to sue NUS for 'No Platform' policy
Despite the NUS ban the controversial MP has been scheduled to speak at two Cambridge events this term.
by Patrick O'Grady
Thursday 4th October 2012, 15:38 BST
George Galloway has announced plans to sue the NUS for the passing of a 'No Platform' motion, which prevents any NUS officers speaking alongside him, in addition to preventing him speaking at Union organised events.
Galloway took to twitter to declare that 'any damages that I recover from the NUS for defamation will be donated to the Defence Fund for Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.' The Respect MP sparked controversy in a podcast in August in which he stated that the allegations against Assange were 'bad sexual etiquette' and 'don't constitute rape'.
Despite the NUS motion, Galloway has been invited to speak in Cambridge this term by both the Wilberforce Society and by Clare Politics. The MP for Bradford West is due to speak on the 13th October at a Wilberforce Society seminar, and again on the 26th November for Clare Politics. He will be attending a seminar entitled 'Engaging young people in UK politics' and discussing Scottish independence respectively.
A spokesperson for the Wilberforce Society told Varsity: 'As an independent-minded MP, with a successful record of political engagement in East London and Bradford, Mr. Galloway is an ideal choice of guest speaker on this issue. TWS neither endorses nor condemns Mr. Galloway's personal beliefs – these are his and his only – but we respect his right to free speech on a matter about which he is an acknowledged expert, for which we invited him to our event.Further, NUS has banned Mr. Galloway from sharing a platform with any NUS speakers or attending any of their events. The upcoming TWS seminar is not an NUS event and TWS is not affiliated with NUS.'
The secretary of Clare Politics expressed a similar view, explaining that: "We've decided to host George Galloway this term because we don't feel that banning people who express controversial views is necessarily the best way forward; if you keep that person from speaking, you take away their accountability. How are they ever going to be made to defend or discuss what they have said if they are banned? We don't think that the NUS decision against Mr Galloway can achieve much for these very reasons; if you repress something, it cannot be analysed or criticised."
Galloway is also due to speak at the Oxford Union two days after taking part in the Wilberforce Society seminar. Although the two events in Cambridge are unrelated to the Assange allegations, the Oxford Union acknowledges the controversy in the description on their termcard: 'Mr Galloway re-entered Parliament this March as MP for Bradford West and has recently provoked controversy and criticism with his comments on the rape charges against Wikileaks' Julian Assange'.
The NUS explained to the Huffington Post UK that the decision to ban Galloway was part of a 'campaign to tackle attitudes on campus that trivialise sexual assault or seek to blame survivors, and instead promote a better understanding of consent.' A spokesperson stated that: 'The motion passed yesterday confirms that NUS shall not offer a platform to speakers who are rape deniers or apologists, or support events where such individuals speak.'
A member of Galloway's office responded by stating that the Respect MP's views are 'widely held on the left of the political spectrum'.