An academic has rallied against her no-platforming from an education conference over suggestions she would have made other speakers feel “unsafe”.
Dr Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, 62, spoke on GB News about being told that her panel discussion at the Rethinking Education conference on Saturday had been cancelled due to complaints from speakers and delegates about her attendance.
Dr Cuthbert, director of Don’t Divide Us, is a vocal critic of the idea that Britain is systemically racist.
She had been invited to speak on a panel about education “indoctrination” and how it can be “avoided”.
Dr Alka Sehgal Cuthbert was due to speak at the Rethinking Education conference
The academic hit out at the “irony” of her talk ultimately being shunned, telling GB News’ Andrew Doyle that the mentality displayed was set to be a key focus of her discussion.
“In a conference with many sessions on all sorts of things, I would say that this was probably the most intellectually and politically challenging”, she said.
“It was exactly the one that teachers and educators need to be engaging with, so I’m very saddened that it didn’t go ahead.”
In an email from a conference organiser on Friday, Dr Cuthbert was told that the organisers had been contacted by seven speakers and delegates who said “they would not feel safe to appear at the conference alongside a representative of Don’t Divide Us.”
They added: “In seeking to re-imagine an education system where all young people and adults can flourish and thrive, I strongly believe that we need to have difficult conversations and that people should be prepared to subject their ideas to scrutiny and challenge.
“However, psychological safety is a precursor to free and open debate and the need to subject ideas to scrutiny.”
Dr Alka Sehgal spoke to Andrew Doyle about her no-platforming
Dr Cuthbert criticised the aforementioned speakers and delegates for their “shameful” actions, adding they should be defending the organiser’s decision to no-platform her rather than remain anonymous.
She told GB News: “There were seven anonymous people here and I think it’s a bit shameful on them really that they haven’t come public on this, not even to offer support to the organiser that stood up for them.
“We don’t believe Britain is structurally racist and we don’t feel people feel into white privilege or black oppression.
“We don’t think schools should be teaching those things as if they’re facts.
Kathleen Stock's talk at Oxford Union was disrupted in April
“This is about much more than me being cancelled.
“Poll after poll shows people agree with us, and they don’t think Britain is structurally racist.
“When they cancelled me, they weren’t just denying the other 473 people at the conference a chance to hear that debate, they were actually siding with an aspect of an ideology that is seeking to delegitimise public opinion.
“That has huge democratic implications.”
No-platforming speakers at public conferences has become increasingly regular.