Author Archives: donsspeakout!

24 Sept 2014



Message from Tarak Barkawi:

'Dear CACHE Members:

'I want to bring your attention to a donation for a chair accepted by the University and POLIS in 2012. A foundation run by Wen Jiabao's daughter appointed by name a professor of Chinese Development Studies in POLIS. The foundation is a lawyer's PO Box in Bermuda called "Respect China" or "Praise China" depending on translation. The professor, Peter Nolan, had a personal chair at the Judge where he taught (and has written with) Wen Jiabao's son in law. 

'Here is some of the reporting:

'Here is my op-ed:

'Here is Professor Nolan:

'This matter is still being investigated by the Telegraph, the New York Times, and others and there are more revelations to come. ?If anyone can be of assistance in this matter, or knows facts not yet reported, please do get in touch with Peter Foster at the Telegraph ( He will respect confidentiality.' 

Tarak Barkawi
Department of International Relations
London School of Economics
Houghton St. 
London WC2A 2AE





Cambridge Academics Speak Out Against Gaza Blockade

Some 60 academics working at the University of Cambridge have signed a statement condemning the state of Israel’s blockade on Gaza:

We wish to add our voices to those of the Palestinian resistance in appealing for an immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza. Beyond this most urgent demand, we also believe that no satisfactory end to this on-going humanitarian crisis can be achieved without the realisation of a more far-reaching justice for the Palestinian people, including the displaced refugees, and at the same time the realisation of a situation in which the inhabitants of historic Palestine, whatever their ethnicity, religion, or culture, whether they now live as Palestinians or as Israelis, are able to coexist under conditions of meaningful freedom and equality – equality of civic status, of respect, and of access to land and resources. We believe that a radical change is needed in order to achieve this, and that whatever the substance of this change, it cannot happen without an end to the violence perpetrated by the state of Israel against Palestinians, an end to the siege of Gaza and to the occupation, and an end to the discriminatory and dehumanising treatment of Palestinian citizens within Israel. Finally, as academics, we are concerned by the recent instances of victimisation of students and lecturers, inside and outside of Israel, for speaking out on this issue. We demand an end to the persecution of critics of Israel within academia, and pledge to lend our support to those targeted.


The full statement can be read here:

Industrial Action: A Student Guide

Industrial Action: a student guide


In the run-up to this coming Thursday’s WHOLE-DAY STRIKE (an odd phrase to have to use, but which the recent, barely detectable ripple of two-hour strikes  has now made necessary), those headed for the picket lines will already be able to hear in their minds the echoes of the voices of the many students who swanned past them, awkward or seemingly oblivious, on the last two, three or four occasions on which the current dispute has moved UCU, Unite and Unison to industrial action.  For the most part, those who crossed picket lines were not ideologically opposed to unions, did not want to sanction the 13% real-terms pay cut which staff have suffered over the last four years, and did not wish to antagonise or depress their own lecturers.  Many, it seemed, simply had very little idea of what a strike actually is (which, to be fair, puts them in the same boat as the UCU leadership).

So, here is a rough guide to the strike.  Let us proceed by looking at the top five comments from students crossing picket lines on the occasion of the last WHOLE-DAY strike:

  1. “I do support the strike, but I have a lecture.”

The thing is, this is a little like saying: “I am a vegetarian, but I do eat bacon”. Or: “I’m not a racist, I just don’t like Indians”.  What it means to support a strike, for employees, is not to go to work for the duration of said strike.  For students, that includes not being complicit in the decision of others to break the strike (e.g. by attending lectures).  If strikes cause inconvenience or disruption, it’s necessary to point out that this is not some avoidable and unacceptable side-effect of the action: it is precisely how a strike is supposed to work.  This strategic infliction of inconvenience is often the best or only means that people have to protect their own and others’ interests and to re-establish some sort of control over their working environments.

Ideally, ‘supporting the strike’ means asking for lectures and seminars to be cancelled, and coming to the picket lines to show solidarity.  But at the very least, it means not crossing the picket lines.  If you do that, you don’t support the strike.  At least admit it.

  1. “Thanks!”

For what?

  1. “Sorry!”

No you’re not.

  1. “Maybe next time…”

Er, that’s not really how it works…

  1.  “But I want to get an education!”

Right.  This one requires a deep breath.  Aside from this cruel and unusual law of nature, which always produces this irresistible passion for learning on strike days, what exactly are you saying, when you say these words? Is the suggestion that lecturers who go on strike rather than suffer endless pay cuts don’t want their own students to get an education? Perhaps they went into academia for the money (oh no, wait…).  Or could it be that they want to educate under conditions where education and educators are properly valued, and are trying to make use of the only kind of leverage they have – the strategic withdrawal of labour – where other more ‘diplomatic’ means have demonstrably failed?

This is something in which students and staff have a common interest – even if the increasing tendency for the relationship between the two to be modelled as one between service-provider and consumer tends to obscure this simple point.  In the first place, it tends not to be good for students to be taught by people who are over-stretched, underpaid and generally pissed off.  And more generally, it is important to remember that students and staff alike are being screwed over by the same set of policies, imposed by the same set of people.  The cutting of wages, casualization and the proliferation of ‘zero hours’ contracts, the tripling of tuition fees and the cutting of funding for the arts cannot be seen as unrelated incidents.  They are all part of the one-and-the-same drive – an obsession of the current Government but totally lacking in democratic mandate, whether from the people directly involved or from the population at large – towards the privatisation of Higher Education, so as to expose the sector to ‘market forces’ and open the way for investors to make massive profits.

Twin reactionary initiatives make this process hard to resist: the criminalisation and increasingly draconian punishment of student protest, on the one hand; and, on the other, a handy law introduced by Mrs Thatcher which makes it illegal for trade unions officially to take strike action over anything other than the narrow self-interest of members, i.e. pay or conditions – whereupon, of course, such action is dismissed as ‘selfish’.

We have a choice.  We can either fall for this little trick, or we can recognise that staff and students actually share a deep set of interests, and support one another in the effort to oppose the forces that threaten to undermine them.  As one banner from the last action has it:

Students! The people cutting your lecturers’ wages are the same as those privatising your loans.  Don’t cross picket lines!

 don't be a scab




Priyamvada Gopal, UCU’s ‘Have a Lie-in’ Strike

‘UCU’s “Have a Lie-in” Strike’

by Priyamvada Gopal

If there is one cheerful observation to be made about the University and College Union’s (UCU) decision to call a series of two hour strikes (yes, you read that correctly) from next week, it is the quantity of water-cooler humour that it has generated in a profession not known for the art. One lecturer notes that he sometimes sits for longer on the toilet now; another academic has come up with the slogan ‘Educate, Agitate, Lunch Break’, which received the stirring counter cry: ‘All Power to the Sandwiches!’  A fourth wag observes that the ‘action’ will go down in history as ‘The Extended Fag Break Strike.’ A historian colleague of mine wonders how to get her students to notice that she’s on strike for the two hours she would normally spend answering emails and attending to paperwork. In the event that she does participate in the action, she’ll obviously make up the work at home in the evening or it’s her life that will become unmanageable, not that of her oblivious managers (who are probably already having a good belly laugh at the fearsome threat issued by UCU President Sally Hunt of two withdrawn hours). A research fellow in my department proposes to not think for two hours a day. If no one notices you striking, did you still strike?

And yet, of course, this is a singularly unfunny decision taken by the UCU’s leadership in the wake of a mandate given to it by the membership to escalate industrial action over fair pay and working conditions. It began last autumn with a series of one-day strikes coordinated with other unions including Unite and Unison, a heartening attempt at wider solidarity with those at the sharp end of ‘austerity’. Laughter isn’t always the best medicine—when it turns into derision from the sympathetic and sneering from the hostile, it can be actively harmful. For a union that has long been struggling for credibility and efficacy, this action isn’t going to be merely ‘pointless’, as is widely suggested, but a nail in the proverbial coffin. Far from pulling in the undecided and the disgruntled, this policy has already alienated existing activists and will undoubtedly lose it members who are still there only because they haven’t bothered to cancel their subscriptions. The action will also affect adjunct labour particularly adversely—those who are most vulnerable institutionally and least able to afford it financially will have to take the greatest risk by not turning up to teach some of the handful of hourly-paid classes they have managed to scrape together. We should think twice before piously condemning anyone who decides that this kind of gestural ‘action’ is not worth the high price they might have to pay.

Now, the idea of a two hour work stoppage is not in and of itself pointless.  Serial two hour strikes make sense on factory floors where a quarter-day’s cessation in production will make a direct dent in profits with cumulative effect, pinching where it hurts. However, labour solidarity across sectors does not mean that when it comes to industrial action one size fits all: there’s something rather embarrassing, a stylized silliness, in asking academics to pretend they are undertaking stoppages on some kind of imaginary assembly line.  When it comes to the most effective form of work stoppage in this sector, the closest thing to messing with the assembly line is also the one thing that makes university administrations and politicians sit up and worry: a refusal to mark the coursework and exams that are essential to the production of degrees. As a letter from the branch chair of the Institute of Education, University of London UCU notes, the two hour strikes, far from representing an escalation towards this drastic (and in my view, necessary) action, ‘amounts to a de-escalation of the strike’. Such a de-escalation, shamefully but not untypically argued for by National Executive Members at my own local branch at Cambridge—not an insitution renowned for challenging establishment policies— explicitly violates the mandate given to the UCU’s leadership to escalate over the year if faced with intransigence from employers. Should that not raise questions, not only about this policy’s viability, but about its legality?

There’s a notion abroad that such de-escalation is merely an honest blunder as opposed to systematic and predictable docility in keeping with what university administrations very much like. Managers in the HE sector are not, as is widely assumed, anti-union, so much as pro-weak unions. Weak and biddable unions are preferred by university managements because it enables them to keep up the pretence of participatory decision-making and legitimises the most outrageous transformations in the sector, including quiet privatisation. While we reluctantly and ritualistically participate in next week’s action—most of us with secure fulltime jobs not really missing a beat unless we happen to be teaching at those specific times—we need to start asking some very tough questions about the direction this union is headed. What should we do in the face of a union leadership that is clearly retrograde, accommodating of employers and disregarding of members, and, above all, lacking in an ethical and strategic vision? How do we stop enabling their foolishness and malign complicity in a regime that is eroding every hard-fought trade union gain determinedly and single-mindedly? We are at a turning point in the history of this union: if these questions are not asked, fought over and resolved, the conflagration will be one that overtakes us by stealth. The Extended Fag Break will turn into the cigarette which set the bed alight while we fell asleep at the headboard.

Oxbridge speaks out against Oldfield deportation proceedings

As staff, students, and alumni of Cambridge and Oxford Universities, we are calling on the Home Secretary to stop deportation proceedings against Trenton Oldfield for disrupting the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in April 2012.

We neither believe that this action constituted an infraction serious enough to warrant such a heavy penalty, nor accept that it establishes that Mr Oldfield is ‘undesirable, has unacceptable associations and could be considered a threat to national security’.

The Boat Race is a game; its disruption should not result in any individual’s deportation. Certainly its disruption should not be cause to separate an individual from his family, which includes a recently-born child.

We note that the race was completed successfully and no one was harmed by Mr Oldfield’s actions. We do not wish this draconian penalty to be applied in the name of an event representing our institutions.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Professor Bill Adams
  2. Hilary Aked
  3. Pav Akhtar
  4. Dr Anne Alexander
  5. Jennifer Allsop
  6. Ed Anderson
  7. Fraser Anderson
  8. Thom Andrewes
  9. Dr Rosa Andújar
  10. Dr Houshang Ardavan
  11. James Arnold
  12. Nehal Bajwa
  13. Anushree Banerjee
  14. Alex Barker
  15. Jack Barron
  16. Professor Horace Barlow
  17. Professor John Barrell
  18. Jo Beardsmore
  19. Daniel Benjamin
  20. Abhishek Bhattacharya
  21. Anindya Bhattacharyya
  22. Ian Birchall
  23. Alex Blake
  24. Dr Adrian Boutel
  25. Kate Bradley
  26. Ruthi Brandt
  27. Richard Braude
  28. Maggie Bridge
  29. Callum Brodie
  30. Rachel Bower
  31. Harriet Boulding
  32. Dr Warren Boutcher
  33. Professor Andrew Bowie
  34. Christopher Bowlers
  35. Dr Deborah Bowman
  36. Simon Brackenborough
  37. Olivia Brogan
  38. Tarin Brokenshire
  39. Marianne Brooker
  40. Michael Brooks
  41. Abbe Browne
  42. Anna Bull
  43. Toby Bull
  44. Dr R E R Bunce
  45. Imogen Buxton
  46. Dr Brendan Burchell
  47. Revd James Buxton
  48. Dr Melissa Calaresu
  49. James Cameron
  50. Brian Cantwell
  51. Max Charles Compton
  52. Julian Cheyne
  53. Danny Chivers
  54. Dr Jean Chothia
  55. Jordan Laris Cohen
  56. Xavier Cohen
  57. Joshua Coles-Riley
  58. Dr Philip Connell
  59. Dr Sophia Connell
  60. Professor Steven Connor
  61. Andrew Conway
  62. Professor Helen Cooper
  63. Emma Claussen
  64. Dr Stephen J Cowley
  65. Dr Teresa Almeida Cravo
  66. Tim Cribb
  67. James Crowley
  68. Dr Martin Crowley
  69. Dr Ildiko Csengei
  70. Robert Deakin
  71. Dr Andreas Dimopoulos
  72. Bella Dimova
  73. Caitlin Doherty
  74. Cath Duric
  75. Jennifer Edmunds
  76. Hannah Elsisi
  77. Dr AL Erickson
  78. Ann Evans
  79. Nicholas Evans
  80. Dr Tom Eyers
  81. Hannah Fair
  82. Olivia Fletcher
  83. Dr Katrina Forrester
  84. Professor Alison Finch
  85. Dr Lorna Finlayson
  86. Felix Flicker
  87. Joey Frances
  88. Tessa Frost
  89. Paul Furnborough
  90. Dr Sinéad Garrigan Mattar
  91. Professor Vic Gattrell
  92. Amy Gilligan
  93. Dr Philip Gilligan
  94. Professor Heather Glen
  95. Louis Goddard
  96. Charlotte Godwin
  97. Simon Gomberg
  98. Dr Priyamvada Gopal
  99. Professor Robert SC Gordon
  100. Dr Abhijit Gupta
  101. Emily Hammerton-Barry
  102. Jeremy Hardingham
  103. Dr Rachael Harris
  104. Dr Paul Hartle
  105. Luke Hawksbee
  106. Ned Hercock
  107. Sarah Hickmott
  108. Sky Herrington
  109. Sean Hewitt
  110. Peter Hill
  111. Robert Hinde
  112. Dr David Hillman
  113. Professor Hugh Haughton
  114. Owen Holland
  115. Dr Alex Houen
  116. Elizabeth Homersham
  117. Dr Edward Holberton
  118. Robert Holman
  119. James Hooper
  120. Dr Sarah Howe
  121. Dr Michael Hrebeniak
  122. Dr Katherine Ibbett
  123. Professor Mary Jacobus
  124. Graham Jeffrey
  125. Dr Richard Jennings
  126. Peter Matthew James
  127. Dr Jessica Johnson
  128. Dr Charles Jones
  129. Sophie Jones
  130. Dr Anna Kemp
  131. Owen Kennedy
  132. Nada Kevlin
  133. Neil Kirkham
  134. Lucy Amber Kitching
  135. Professor Peter Kornicki
  136. Marie Kolkenbrock
  137. Thomas Lalevee
  138. Dr Mary Laven
  139. Daniel Lawrence
  140. Orland Lazar-Gillard
  141. Heather Lee
  142. Jia Hui Lee
  143. Roses Leech-Wilkinson
  144. Caroline Leonard
  145. Dr Helena Lima de Sousa
  146. Professor M M Lisboa
  147. James Lovedale
  148. Louisa Loveluck
  149. Gavin Lowe
  150. Peter Luca
  151. Rory Macqueen
  152. Claire Males
  153. Professor Willy Maley
  154. Edward Maltby
  155. Dr Andy Martin
  156. Kathryn Maude
  157. Vasiliki Mavroeidi
  158. Jack May
  159. Richard McAleavey
  160. Dr Maryon McDonald
  161. Dr Willia McEvoy
  162. Dr Laura McMahon
  163. Lucy McMahon
  164. Catherine Metcalfe
  165. Dr Drew Milne
  166. Agnieszka Mlicka
  167. Dr Sarah Monk
  168. Liran Morav
  169. Freya Morrissey
  170. Dr Joe Moshenska
  171. Ruby Moshenska
  172. Professor Clément Mouhot
  173. Dr Subha Mukherji
  174. Decca Muldowney
  175. Georgia Mulligan
  176. Dr Kamal Munir
  177. Fuad Musallam
  178. Edd Mustill
  179. Swiya Nath
  180. Dr Alex Niven
  181. Dr George Oppitz-Trotman
  182. John Parrington
  183. Matthew Parsfield
  184. Dr Ian Patterson
  185. Vaia Patta
  186. Rose Payne
  187. Dr Tom Perrin
  188. Harriet Phillips
  189. Ben J Platt
  190. Gabriel Polley
  191. Orla Polten
  192. Timothy Poole
  193. Kirsty Philbrick
  194. Sam Pritchard
  195. Ben Pritchett
  196. Ivan Rajic
  197. Dr Lucy Razzall
  198. Taz Rasul
  199. Nicola Read
  200. Dr John Regan
  201. Emma Reeves
  202. Dr Nicky Reeves
  203. David Renton
  204. Graham Riach
  205. Dr James Riley
  206. Ali Robertson
  207. Dr Josh Robinson
  208. Elly Robson
  209. Karlijn Roex
  210. Or Rosenboim
  211. Akram Salhab
  212. Austen Saunders
  213. Professor Raphael Salkie
  214. Dr W Owen Saxton
  215. Yasmeen Sebbanna
  216. Matthew Sellwood
  217. Dr Jason Scott-Warren
  218. Arianne Shahvisi
  219. Matthew Smith
  220. Brian Simbirski
  221. Dr Pritam Singh
  222. Tanya Singh
  223. Pakkamol Siriwat
  224. Dr Sophie Smith
  225. Dr Peter Sparks
  226. Lindsay Stronge
  227. Olivia Arigho Stiles
  228. Professor Tiffany Stern
  229. Helen Stokes
  230. Dr Hugh Stevens
  231. Dr Adam Stewart-Wallace
  232. Dr Bernard Sufrin
  233. Dr Helen J. Swift
  234. Arianna Tassinari
  235. Angelica Tatam
  236. Dr Trudi Tate
  237. Alex Temple
  238. Professor Jeremy Till
  239. Dr Deborah Thom
  240. Max Trevitt
  241. Professor David Trotter
  242. Dr Kate Tunstall
  243. Jo Tyabji
  244. Isobel Urquhart
  245. Rebecca Varley–Winter
  246. Dr Filippo De Vivo
  247. Dr Jennifer Wallace
  248. Dr Caroline Warman
  249. Laurence Watson
  250. Dr Peggy Watson
  251. Dr Hannah Weibye
  252. Caroline Williams
  253. Dr Daniel Wilson
  254. Dominic Williams
  255. Sophie Williams
  256. Jacob Wills
  257. Colin Wilson
  258. Dr Hope Wolf
  259. Johannes Wolf
  260. Harry Wright
  261. Waseem Yaqoob
  262. Musab Yunis
  263. Sophie Zadeh
  264. Dr Nicolette Zeeman
  265. Dr Andrew Zurcher

Boat race protester threatened with deportation

Trenton Oldfield, the man who in April 2012 protested against the Boat Race by swimming into the path of the boats, is being threatened with deportation. He would thereby be separated from his wife and young child. The Home Office holds that his actions showed him to be someone whose presence in the UK is “not conducive to the public good”.

The following is the text of a letter which will be sent to The Guardian and posted online. If you are affiliated with Oxford or Cambridge and wish to sign, please send your name, title and affiliation as soon as possible to

Please circulate to staff, students and alumni.

As staff, students, and alumni of Cambridge and Oxford Universities, we are calling on the Home Secretary to stop deportation proceedings against Trenton Oldfield for disrupting the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in April 2013.

We neither believe that this action constituted an infraction serious enough to warrant such a heavy penalty, nor accept that it establishes that Mr Oldfield is ‘undesirable, has unacceptable associations and could be considered a threat to national security’.

The Boat Race is a game; its disruption should not result in any individual’s deportation. Certainly its disruption should not be cause to separate an individual from his family, which includes a recently-born child.

We note that the race was completed successfully and no one was harmed by Mr Oldfield’s actions. We do not wish this draconian penalty to be applied in the name of an event representing our institutions.

Materials 22/11/2011 – 01/07/2012 [Incomplete]


On 22 September 2011, a speech to have been given by David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, was subject to a protest by some thirty or so students and academics. An epistle was read to the minister and the stage afterwards occupied. Immediately after the event ended, an occupation of the venue – Lady Mitchell Hall – began. Some months later, a prosecution was begun by the University of Cambridge against a single graduate student, for his part in the initial protest. After pleading ‘not guilty’ to ‘impeding freedom of speech’, he was sentenced to seven terms’ rustication (suspension) by the University Court of Discipline. Following an appeal, as well as several active campaigns against the sentence by student and staff of the University, the University’s highest court, the Septemviri, reduced the sentence to one term’s rustication, while upholding the initial verdict and making ‘no criticism of the Court of Discipline, which conducted its proceedings with care’.
The following is a list of sources and documents pertaining to the case. The  University’s handling of the affair has been criticized by many people concerned by the lack of transparency and accountability in the way it effected its statutory duties. This page attempts to redress this deficit by bringing together as many of the known sources as practical and legal.

The editors of this blog would be grateful should readers choose to contact them with observations about completeness or accuracy. For the sake of clarity, discursive materials like articles and public arguments have been omitted, except where these were deemed to be produced in association with some sort of official or disciplinary capacity relevant to the University’s internal processes.

the protest


Prof. Goldhill, Director of CRASSH and organizer of the event

University Council statement:


Description of the Court of Discipline:

Leaked record of the proceedings:

Various documents relating to the University’s response to the protest:

Other relevant documents:


21 March 2012: Silent protest on the day of Lord Sainsbury’s installment as Chancellor of the University

24 April 2012: Discussion in the University Senate-House


Description of the Septemviri


Jeremy Prynne, who attended the appeal hearing as an observer, responds.

Other material, including analyses of the University’s disciplinary procedures and letters of concern written to the Vice-Chancellor.