Monday, November 6, 2017

Seth Ferris — We May Be At The Beginning of “Lettergate,” Great as and Even “Greater than Watergate!

UK, not US.
Few people had heard of Chris Heaton-Harris before October 2017. He is the Conservative MP for Daventry, a place most couldn’t pinpoint on a map. But he has now made himself notorious by writing to to a number of university Vice-Chancellors, asking for the names of the professors who are teaching about Brexit at their universities and copies of what they are teaching.
On the surface, the MP’s letter is a simple information request. But it was not regarded as such by the people he wrote to, for various reasons.
Firstly, Heaton-Harris is a strong supporter of leaving the EU, and most academics are not. It is therefore clear that Heaton-Harris expects to find these professors teaching things he doesn’t like. Heaton-Harris and his supporters regard those who oppose Brexit as “enemies of the people”, and here he is, seemingly asking for proof so he can denounce individuals publicly.

Secondly, he sent this signed letter on official House of Commons notepaper. An MP is only allowed to do this when they are conducting official business connected with their own constituency. He also gave no reason why he wanted this information. All this implies that the powers-that-be, rather than this one MP, want the information for some reason they daren’t give.

Thirdly, if Heaton-Harris wanted to know what was being taught at universities he could have done what everyone else does: look at their websites, obtain their prospectuses or attend their lectures. Asking for this information in an official capacity, without giving a reason, smacks of government monitoring of academic work. No university Vice-Chancellor in the democratic world would accept that, as they all insist that independent thought is what their university is there for, and this principle must be respected.
When this letter was made public it provoked a furious backlash, along the lines of “McCarthyite Witchhunt“....
This may just go away, or not. Ferris thinks not since it apparently reaches further than Chris Heaton-Harris, as he explains.

We May Be At The Beginning of “Lettergate,” Great as and Even “Greater than Watergate!
Seth Ferris

1 comment:

NeilW said...

It's interesting how those in the bubble see themselves as righteous.

Perhaps a more self-aware viewpoint would lead to a better outcome.

The paranoid ramblings of those who have been rejected by the electorate is starting to look like something that requires serious professional attention.