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KCL Tories Event Features Racist and Sexist Language

Bush House front door
Image courtesy of Emma Carmichael

Staff writer Matthew Pellow reports on the latest King’s Tories Port & Policy debate which referenced Enoch Powell, drew heavily on Islamophobic tropes and included repeated sexist comments.

On 29 February 2024, the King’s College London Conservative Association (KCLCA) hosted another Port & Policy event. The motions tabled for the event, in collaboration with the University of York Conservative & Unionist Association, were announced on an Instagram post. The declared motions were as follows:

1. This house would make London an independent city state
2. This house would invite Farage to rejoin the Conservative Party

KCLCA and York Tories, via Instagram

During the debate on the first motion, a speaker paraphrased from Enoch Powell’s infamous Rivers of Blood speech from 1968. Powell is one of the most controversial political figures in British history and espoused an expressly racial, anti-immigrant form of politics. The speaker began, “the streets of London will flow…” before being cut off by raucous audience laughter.

One speech in favour of the second motion, inviting Farage to rejoin the Conservative Party, praised him as someone who “stands against the invasion of our homeland by those who seek to dilute our shared heritage”.

The same speaker also referenced Powell: “let us not forget the eternal words of Enoch Powell. ‘We are a nation of sheep ruled by wolves’.” The panellist continued, “wolves – people like Rishi Sunak and ‘Savage’ Javid, or whatever his name is”. Sajid Javid, a Birmingham MP, was the first Muslim and the first Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) person to hold one of the four Great Offices of State.

There was not unanimous support for the references to Enoch Powell, with one panellist seeming to mouth “what the f*ck” in response to the comments. Later, the same speaker also stressed the need to support “genuine conservatism”, receiving vocal support from a small section of the crowd.

During the first motion’s debate, the discussion quickly shifted towards the ethnic demographics of London, with one attendee declaring that it “had to be said” that there were “loads of foreigners” in London. After referencing Tower Hamlets as a key example of how bad London has become, a visiting panelist stated “we don’t need more migration from those countries”.

An audience member later made several Islamophobic remarks during a floor speech against the first motion, including: “If London left Britain, it would not be a city-state it would be a caliphate”. Near the end of the debate, the same individual shouted from the audience that “all Muslims have seven wives”, a common Islamophobic trope.

These comments come not long after former Conservative Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson MP was suspended from the party after refusing to apologise saying that “Islamists” had “got control” of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London.

The opening speech for the motion to make London an independent city-state also included several classist remarks, with one panelist stating that “we would price poor people out of London”. Later in the evening an attendee stated, “Have you been to East London? Third world.”

Sexist comments were made repeatedly throughout the evening, with one attendee shouting from the audience that women from Yorkshire had “nice big tits”, during the debate on the second motion. Further sexist comments were made by panelists arguing in favour of the second motion, with one speaker basing their argument for inviting Farage to rejoin the Conservative Party on his sexual prowess.

The speaker extensively mentioned Farage bringing “two migrants, two beautiful Ukrainian women” to an event on Net Zero. They later referred to the women as “two magnificent birds” and continued “the future of this country is two Ukrainian women… it comes down to that”.

Later in the debate, the same speaker said, “he took that opportunity like every man would take it”, referring again to the picture of Farage, adding that “if I was him, I wouldn’t bring two Ukrainian women, I would take 20”. This remark received substantial applause from the audience.

This event could represent a violation of the King’s College London Students’ Union’s (KCLSU’s) Safe Space Policy. This document states that “prejudice or discrimination” are not permitted forms of free speech.

“KCLSU believes all students should be free from intimidation or harassment, resulting from prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, marital or maternity/paternity status, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, trans status, socio-economic status, or ideology or culture, or any other form of distinction.”

KCLSU Safe Space Policy

Roar understands that similar comments and actions from KCLCA Port & Policy events have already been brought to the intention of the KCLSU. Last month, a non-member attendee was barred from attending future KCLCA events after a fascist armband was produced. The outcome of any KCLSU investigation into the incident is yet to be announced.

In January, the University College London (UCL) Conservative Association was suspended by their Students’ Union after announcing a motion entitled ‘This house would sink the boats’. This message which was co-posted with the KCLCA.

The KCLSU Safe Space Policy further requires that unacceptable comments are challenged by those chairing the event. Most of the comments outlined above were not challenged by KCLCA leadership.

The KCL Politics Society were informed by the KCLSU last autumn that they should have done more under their Safe Space obligations in response to comments from Isaac Farnbank, the KCLCA President, at the Annual Politics Debate. Responses advocated by the policy include issuing cautions for violations and asking offenders to leave an event.

Neither the KCLCA nor the KCLSU responded to Roar’s request for comment.

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