YOUTH AND AUTHORITY
To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.]
SIR,—The Oxford University Labour Party would like to make clear its attitude to the recent expulsion of students and imposition of a censorship at the London School of Economies. We regard these two matters as distinct. First. we protest emphatically against the imposition of a general censorship on all publications sold within the school. Besides being out of all proportion as a measure against a single passage in a student paper, it amounts to an open admission that the London School of Economics is no longer a place where free discussion is allowed but only discussion that the Director personally holds to be desirable. Such a standard by which to judge what is admissible in discussion seems to us absurd and indefensible in an English University.
Secondly, the expulsion of students. We cannot, of course, protest against such action as we can against a general censorship in all circumstances whatever ; but in the present circumstances we have no hesitation in demanding the reinstatement of the two expelled students. For appar- ently they have been punished, not for anything they wrote but for continuing to sell a particular paper in defiance of a suddenly enforced censorship. It appears that the object of their punishment is to enforce a ban that should never have been imposed ; and that they are being victimized not for violence or disorder but for defending the right of freedom of expression.
- If their punishment is also because of the nature of anything they wrote, then it is equally indefensible ; for if what was published was a libel, English law is not without remedies against libel. • The use of executive action against students whose defence was not public but only their con- demnation, will hardly persuade the outside world that what they wrote was an offence against the law and not merely an offence in the interested 'view of Sir William Beveridge. If it was not a libel it should not have been punished.
We are not competent to judge whether the action of the authorities was a violation of the rights of the Students'. Union ; but in any case the calculated disregard of this body is unwise, and reveals the dangerous- attitude that students are at a University not primarily for their own good but for the undisclosed ends of the authorities, very possibly out of all sympathy with them.
The remission of sentence against three of the students may seem a concession ; but there seems to be no difference between the cases of those that were condemned and those that were reinstated. It looks very much as if this con- cession was an admission of an indefensible position, and at the same time an attempt to give way in detail to maintain what is bound to become a very dangerous precedent if it is allowed to go unchallenged.
It is for this reason that the Committee of the Oxford University Graduates' Labour Party wishes to express itself very clearly against the action of the authorities of the London School, and to associate itself with the protest telegraphed by M. Henri Barbusse to these authorities.— (for the Committee of the Oxford University
Christ Church, Oxford. Labour Party).