Morning Call: pick of the comment

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers

1. The inconvenient truths about Tory councils (Guardian)

Jon Cruddas and Chuka Umunna argue that the record of Conservative councils on green issues and public services shows up David Cameron's claim that the Tories are "progressive".

2. Even failed terrorists spell serious trouble (Times)

David Aaronovitch says that the airline "bomber" reminds us that there are jihadis who continually experiment with ways of achieving the next 9/11. The "it's all an exaggerated fuss" brigade has been proved wrong again.

3. Cameron will regret flirting with Clegg (Independent)

Michael Brown warns David Cameron that his persistent overtures to the Lib Dems dilute his political message and expose a lack of confidence.

4. Gordon Brown should forget class war and worry about civil war (Telegraph)

Mary Riddell says the Prime Minister must act to prevent an escalation of government feuding that could swiftly hand power to David Cameron.

5. Global tides that shaped the Noughties (Financial Times)

Simon Schama says that the past decade has profoundly undermined the collective optimism of the Enlightenment.

6. Gladstone was a political giant compared to our puny, modern MPs (Guardian)

Geoffrey Wheatcroft laments that no modern politician attracts the awed admiration Gladstone received from friend and foe alike.

7. Some in the US already see Arab state as "tomorrow's target" (Independent)

Patrick Cockburn warns that Yemen may become a target for US intervention, with Washington quietly supplying military equipment and training to the Yemeni armed forces.

8. In Africa they won't feel lonesome tonight (Times)

Richard Dowden says that Africa's communalism has a lot to teach a world that suffers from loneliness and depression.

9. Iran and Twitter: the fatal folly of the online revolutionaries (Daily Telegraph)

Will Heaven argues that Twitter activists have done little to give genuine support to Iranian dissidents.

10. Look back in anger at the spirit of the age (Financial Times)

John Kay looks at the phrases that encapsulated an era of financial folly.


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Why a group of Brunel students walked out on Katie Hopkins instead of no-platforming her

"We silently walked out because Ms Hopkins has the right to speak, but we also have the right to express our discontent."

Earlier this week, columnist and all-round provocateur Katie Hopkins turned up to Brunel University to join a panel in debating whether the welfare state has a place in 2015. No prizes for guessing her stance on this particular issue

But as Hopkins began her speech, something odd happened. Around 50 students stood up and left, leaving the hall half-empty.

Here's the video:

As soon as Hopkins begins speaking, some students stand up with their backs to the panelists. Then, they all leave - as the nonplussed chair asks them to "please return to their seats". 

The walk-out was, in fact, pre-planned by the student union as an act of protest against Hopkins' appearance at an event held as part of the University's 50th anniversary celebrations. 

Ali Milani, the Brunel Student Union president, says he and other students knew the walk-out would "start a conversation" around no-platforming on campuses, but as he points out, "What is often overlooked (either purposely or as a result of the fanfare) is that the conversation at no point has been about banning Ms Hopkins from speaking on campus, or denying her right to speak."

Instead, students who found her appearance at the welfare debate "incongruous" and "distasteful" simply left the room: "We silently walked out because Ms Hopkins has the right to speak, but we also have the right to express our discontent."

Milani praised the student body for treading the line between freedom of speech and expressing their distaste at Brunel's decision: 

"They have respectfully voiced their antagonism at the decision of their institution, but also . . . proven their commitment to free of speech and freedom of expression."

The protest was an apt way to dodge the issues of free speech surrounding no-platforming, while rejecting Hopkins' views. A walk-out symbolises the fact that we aren't obliged to listen to people like Hopkins. She is free to speak, of course, albeit to empty chairs. 

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.