Brendan O’Neill, Tim Squirrell and Shami Chakrabat to debate at Oxford Union


The Oxford Union has confirmed that Brendan O’Neill will appear in a debate with Tim Squirrell and Shami Chakrabat this term.

O’Neill, journalist and editor of Spiked Online, will debate against Squirrell, ex-President of the Cambridge Union. Speaking in proposition at the debate will be civil rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti, the director of civil liberties organisation, ‘Liberty’.

This follows controversy over events last November, when a debate hosted by Oxford Students For Life was cancelled by Christ Church. This was due to concerns over the security threat posed by opposition to the debate. The title of the debate, “This house believes Britain’s abortion culture hurts us all”, incurred particular criticism from feminist groups.

Squirrell defended students in a piece entitled “Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you get whatever platform you want” online on the website Cambridge Tab. In it, he stated that “part of the problem with the OSFL debate was that the speaker panel was entirely men, who have had and will have no experience of the physical and emotional ramifications of abortion”.

Brendan O’Neill, one of the scheduled speakers at the cancelled OSFL debate, wrote a response in The Spectator, published on 22nd November, in which he which he attacked “furious feministic Oxford students”, calling them “suppressors of offensive speech”.

Several hundred copies of the edition of The Spectator in which this article appeared were sent to Squirrell.

Squirrell told The Oxford Student that: “I realise that my views are probably in the minority, but I think that’s partly because freedom of speech is a pretty complex and emotive issue which not everyone has necessarily thought about critically. I’m hoping to leave the debate with more people on my side than when it started. I’d also settle for a total end to patriarchy, whichever is easiest.”

On 5th January, Squirrell posted on the Facebook group Cuntry Living: “I have it on good authority that Brendan O’Neill is going to in a debate at the Oxford Union this term.”

On the same day, he Tweeted about a piece concerning the death of Leelah Acrorn, written by O’Neill and published on Spiked Online, calling it “vile, hideous, unforgivable hate speech”.

Oxford Union President Lisa Wehden and Secretary Robert Harris have further confirmed the line up will include O’Neill, Squirrell and Chakrabarti.

Wehden did not respond to our request for comment.





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