Caroline Lucas and Camilla Tominey clash on Politics Live
Ex-Green Party leader Caroline Lucas debated political expert Camilla Tominey on BBC Politics Live over the role educators play in influencing their students to take part in protests or political causes.
Pointing to students at UCL “complaining about gross anti-Semitism on campus, GB News presenter Ms Tominey asked: “Can we trust our educators to educate our children in a fair-minded manner rather than with bias?”
But Ms Lucas described this as a “very dangerous view”. She said: “What happened at UCL sounds terrible but I do not want to suggest that we should not trust teachers.”
Ms Tominey interjected: “Some of them have been spouting anti-Semitism in lectures!”
A frustrated Ms Lucas fired back: “Let me finish! We have to trust teachers. We need to be updating the curriculum with what they are teaching.”
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But Ms Tominey challenged the former Green Party leader once more: “Just to ask Caroline do you think it is a comfortable position these days for a young person today with social media being how it is to express pro-Israel views, right-wing views or, goodness me, even a degree of climate scepticism.
“Do you think those views would be welcomed and discussed in an open and robust fashion?
“Or are they being called bigots and told to shut up?”
Ms Lucas said: “That is an interesting set of things you juxtaposed there. I do not know why denying climate science is in the same category as anti-Semitism. Would you want people to be saying the earth is flat?”
Ms Tominey replied: “I was just suggesting the teaching establishment does have biases.”
Angela Eagle, also appearing on the BBC show, was quick to respond with her views and call for spaces where discussion and debate can be held freely.
The Labour MP said: “I think this dividing and ruling and the use of ‘woke’ as some sort of nasty term that the Government has indulged in is causing part of this trouble as well. As one of the few pro-Labour people at my school, I understand what Camilla is saying. So I do agree we need spaces where we can talk about things.”
It comes after a Labour MP was targeted by a pro-Palestine protest of schoolchildren who had bunked off school last week.
Rushanara Ali’s constituency office was surrounded by a march, including pupils from a local school, after she refused to back a vote calling on Israel to call an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
Responding to the concerns raised by Ms Tominey, a UCL spokesperson said: “We utterly condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms and have made this clear to our community.
“Over recent weeks, we have investigated a number of anti-Semitic incidents and have acted swiftly to take appropriate action through our disciplinary processes, including our Student Union suspending the Marxist Society. We also, however, have a responsibility to balance any actions we take with our legal duty to uphold freedom of speech.
“We have condemned University and College Union’s incoherent and disturbing motions and have demanded that the UCU, which is an organisation independent from UCL, remove these. We will take action if they do not do so.
“The wellbeing and welfare of our staff and students is our number one priority and we encourage all members of our community to report any such incidents, so we can investigate and take action.”
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