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KCLSU & Societies

King’s Conservatives Formally Suspend Individual Following Roar Exclusive

KCLCA letter heading and suspension notice
Image courtesy of the KCLCA. 12 February 2024.

In a letter seen by Roar, an individual has been suspended from all future London University Conservative (LUC) events for an “unacceptable, inappropriate and deeply contemptible” toleration of fascism.

This comes just two days after Roar revealed that an unnamed individual had brought a replica British Union of Fascists (BUF) armband to a King’s College London Conservative Association (KCLCA) Port & Policy debate.

This was then thrown to a speaker, before calls from the audience encouraged them to “put it on”.

The item was not worn at any point during the event, but the armband’s presence was not challenged by KCLCA leadership. The society did later apologise for failing to take “more stringent action” and attributed this to a “lack of clarity regarding the nature of this item” in the immediate aftermath.

The formal suspension notice, issued on Monday 12 February, bars the individual from attending all LUC events “until further notice”. The letter also specifies that the individual is not a member of the KCLCA or LUC and therefore has no grounds on which to appeal the suspension.

The letter also alleges an “astonishing lack of contrition” from the guilty party.

“You attended a KCLCA Port & Policy event on Thursday 08 February in possession of an armband that replicated that which is associated with the British Union of Fascists, an organisation that is anathema and entirely contrary to mainstream conservatism, the values of LUC and of the KCLCA. Not only did you believe it appropriate to bring this item along, but you also threw it at a speaker. I am shocked and beyond disappointed that I need to point out this is utterly unacceptable, inappropriate and deeply contemptible.

Furthermore, your actions have been the catalyst for significant reputational damage to the KCLCA and risk the reputations of Association and LUC members, likely impeding their future unfettered participation.”

KCLCA letter of suspension, 12 February 2024

The individual’s presence at future LUC events was described as “irreconcilable with our values”. Fascism was condemned as “anathema and entirely contrary to mainstream conservatism, the values of LUC and of the KCLCA”.

Alongside the private suspension notice, the KCLCA President issued an open letter to members. This included an appeal for “high standards of debate” to be upheld at future events.

KCLCA open letter heading and opening lines
Open letter from KCLCA President Farnbank. Courtesy of the KCLCA. 12 February 2024.

This comes after the Roar exclusive also revealed that attendees had made Islamophobic, antisemitic and classist comments. Audience members had also been seen using the Nazi ‘Sieg Heil’ gesture to vote in support of or against motions at previous events.

The last three years have seen frequent accusations of improper conduct being levelled at the KCLCA, including the proposition of motions such as ‘This house would sink the boats’ and ‘This house would restore the British Empire’.

In the open letter to members, KCLCA President Isaac Farnbank argues in favour of the Chatham House rule, which sees reporters able to reveal what was said at an event but not who said it, but cautions against its abuse by LUC event attendees. In a comment to Roar, he said that he intends this to be “the start of a process to ensure the highest standards really are upheld”.

“Port and Policy events present a rare opportunity for you to debate a range of topics – some serious, others less so – in an environment where your identity is protected. The purpose of this is to encourage the unfettered exchange of ideas and your development as speakers, debaters and reasoned political thinkers. It is not a means of dodging responsibility for contributions that are not symptomatic of intellectual, impressive or reasonable debate. I would urge all speakers and attendees to reflect on this and to aspire to the highest standards of civil debate.

KCLCA open letter to members, 12 February 2024

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