Researchers have found that only one in six people are in favour of “no-platforming” controversial speakers at British universities with the majority believing students should be exposed to all views.
According to a recent study into the so-called culture wars more Britons believe people are too easily offended (55 per cent) than think there is a need to talk more sensitively to those from different backgrounds (42 per cent).
Arranged by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI the poll suggests most people (62 per cent) think political correctness has gone too far, but 16 to 24-year-olds are less likely to agree (38 per cent) than those aged over 55 (76 per cent). The report found that 50 per cent of the UK public disagreed that no-platforming was the right response to those with controversial views, compared with one in six (17 per cent) who were in favour. B
However less than a third of those aged 16 to 24 opposed the idea compared with 60 per cent of over-55s. No-platforming is the act of denying a platform to speak for someone whose opinions you view as unacceptable. The survey which canvassed the views of more than 2,800 UK adults aged over 16 found 53 per cent of the public thought universities should expose students to all types of views, even those offensive to certain groups.
Director of the policy institute at King’s College London, Professor Bobby Duffy, said: “Large proportions of the public start from the perspective that political correctness has gone too far, and that other people are too sensitive. There are very different perspectives on this depending on your age and political identities: our views of political correctness are one of the clearest dividing lines in ‘culture war’ issues. The large majority of the public still say they are happy to express their views on controversial issues.”
The findings come after the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill was introduced in parliament. Among proposals the Government has put forward is the appointment of a “free speech champion” who will investigate potential infringements of duties such as no-platforming speakers or dismissal of academics. Those suffering from a breach of the free speech duties under the Bill would be able to seek compensation in the courts.