Students furious as King’s College Tory society debates reinstating the British Empire

The debate has been called ‘openly racist’

The largest university Conservative association in force at King’s College London, KCLCA, has held the debate motion “This House Would Restore the British Empire”. 

This motion was debated on the 9th February in the society’s regular Port and Policy event. Upon its announcement on Instagram two days prior, it was met with extensive backlash from students at King’s College London amongst others.

Many voiced their thoughts that KCLCA has developed into a far-right wing group, and branded members as “fascists”, “pigs” and “bigots”. 

Several other KCL societies and individual students demonstrated their disgust at such a motion on the KCLCA Instagram profile. Further alarm was created as the KCLCA post declared that “the event will operate strictly off the record”, sparking questions concerning the contents of the discussion. 

Amongst those societies condemning the motion online was the Politics Society. Speaking to The King’s Tab the society said: “Whilst the Politics Society is traditionally non-partisan, we strongly condemn the decision of the KCLCA to organise an event which discusses reinstating the British Empire as a racist and distasteful endeavour.

“As the Politics Society, we were organising a debate between the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats societies at the end of February. In light of the event organized by the KCLCA, the Labour society asked for an apology from the Conservatives, which they refused to provide.

“Consequently, the debate has been cancelled since, despite our best attempts at contacting other Conservative societies in London, none of them were available to replace the KCLCA.”

Regarding the location of the event, it was moved from the KCL campus to University College London, in a suspected attempt to avoid student protests. 

Liberate KCL is a liberal student movement demanding the urgent decolonisation of higher education in London. Liberate has shown strong dismay in the KCL student union body (KCLSU), asserting that the motion was explicitly racist and would negatively affect many KCL students.  

“Recent events have led us to the conclusion that KCLCA has moved beyond even your standard right-wing student group; promoting the British Empire is promoting genocide and white supremacy.”

“Rather than dealing with this problem, KCLSU is trying to intimidate us into silence in order to suppress criticism. We are not scared, however, and we urge everyone who wants to stand with us in solidarity to join us on March 1st when we will be protesting KCLSU’s complicity in allowing KCLCA to spread hatred with impunity. Follow @liberatekcl on Instagram, time and meeting point will be released on our stories closer to the time.”

However, when approached for comment, a KCLSU representative has deemed that: “KCLSU holds, together with the university, a strong commitment to the values of freedom of expression as outlined in our joint statement.

“As a diverse students’ union which values critical thinking and dialogue among our members, we are proud to facilitate a wide range of events, allowing open and uncensored debate from all sides, without fear of intimidation and within the framework of the law. All KCLSU student groups are able to choose their topics for discussion, on the understanding that there is the opportunity for participants to challenge.”

Co-hosting the event was the UCL conservative association (UCLCA), who prior released a statement saying they did not support it and urged for it to be dismissed. Nonetheless, KCLCA pushed for the motion to go ahead. It was at this point that several other university Tory societies from UCL, London School of Economics and University of Westminister also disengaged with the event. 

The King’s Tab has contacted KCLCA for comment.

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