The decision to scrap the blacklist comes after John Cleese pulled out of a Union talk over its ‘woke rules’Varsity

The Cambridge Union has dropped plans for a blacklist of speakers, The Telegraph reports this morning.

President Keir Bradwell told the newspaper that, contrary to an email sent to Union members on Monday (08/11), plans for a blacklist of speakers banned from Union events would be scrapped.

He said: “Obviously announcing a U-turn looks silly. I was just a 21-year-old who tried to make the situation better. There is no policy to ban anyone for what they are going to say – it’s a free speech institution.

“If there is a dichotomy between free speech and offence, I would defend free speech. I don’t want to create an impression that the union is against free speech.”

The reports come as actor and comedian John Cleese announced yesterday that he would withdraw from an event at the Union tomorrow (12/11) following the announcement of the blacklist.

Cleese tweeted: “I apologise to anyone at Cambridge who was hoping to talk with me, but perhaps some of you can find a venue where woke rules do not apply.”


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Union President fails to intervene as speaker does Hitler impression

The blacklist drew intense criticism in sections of the national press, with former Union President Andrew Lownie calling it “Stalinist.”

Bradwell had previously said that the blacklist would mean “that the speakers who have come here and caused students or the institution great difficulty [...] would be kept on record.” Andrew Graham-Dixon, the art historian who delivered a controversial Hitler impression in a debate on “good taste” last Thursday (04/11), would've appeared on the list, according to Bradwell. 

Graham-Dixon has since clarified that the impression was intended “to underline the utterly evil nature of Hitler and his regime,” and has apologised for any offence caused.

Union Equalities Officer Zara Salaria said that the impression was “absolutely unacceptable” and “utterly horrifying.”

Jewish student societies both in Cambridge and nationally have condemned the impression, and have expressed disappointment with Bradwell’s chairing of the debate, and that the only person in attendance to have confronted Graham-Dixon was a Jewish student.

Varsity has approached the Cambridge Union for comment.