Durham City’s Conservative candidate from the 2019 general election has called for “much more civility” in Durham student politics.
His comments come in the aftermath of last week’s controversy, when Durham University Conservative Association (DUCA) President Christopher Page published a private Instagram post by Durham Students’ Union President-elect Seun Twins.
Page’s post has since been deleted, and the original Overheard at Durham Uni Facebook page has been archived.
Speaking to Palatinate, Harvey Morgan denounced “abhorrent language and behaviour” regarding how Twins has been treated following the incident.
Twins has been the victim of “targeted misogynoir” and “blatant racism”, according to statements by Durham People of Colour Association (DPOCA), Durham Intersection Feminist Society (DIFS) and Durham Women’s Association (DWA). Twins’ experience has prompted many other BAME students at Durham to share their experiences of racism, harassment and discrimination online in recent days.
Morgan originally sent a letter to Palatinate expressing “extreme disappointment” in Twins’ statement, which gained much publicity on Facebook last week. “While I understand that Ms Twins has defended her comments by saying they weren’t politically orientated, I would suggest that any use of the word ’Tories’ makes it political.
“I’m sure the many thousands of those who voted Conservative [in County Durham] would not take kindly to being called ‘grotesquely entitled’, with many of our voters being hard working people from areas like Consett, Bishop Auckland, Darlington and Sedgefield.
“It is a shame the Durham Students’ Union future leader does not believe that the views of many local voters, or indeed many students, should be tolerated, and feels that such language can help proper political debate.”
Morgan, who was unsuccessful in the 2019 general election, losing out to Labour’s Mary Foy, added: “I stood on similar electoral promises and objectives to Ms Twins and I would encourage her to reach out to people of all political and ideological persuasions if she wants to achieve her goals.”
However, when asked about the racism and misogyny faced by Twins following the publication of her comments, Morgan wished to “decry” such behaviour: “I have spent much of my career denouncing prejudice in all forms.
“I am proud to stand with a party that believes in meritocracy irrespective of your background, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation and has proudly had Priti Patel, Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak amongst its senior ministers and, of course, Britain’s only two female Prime Ministers.”
He said the controversy demonstrated “the need for much more civility in political debate and making strong arguments that influence rather than alienate people.”
Twins has been contacted for comment.
Image: Maddie Flisher