Press release: Lobby in Defence of academic freedom and David Miller!

Press release

A coalition of Labour Left organisations has called a ‘National Day of Action to defend academic freedom and free speech’ for tomorrow March 31 in Bristol. 

Bristol University is currently investigating Professor David Miller, teacher of political sociology, for alleged antisemitism. “Nothing could be further from the truth”, says Tina Werkmann from the Labour Campaign for Free Speech. “Professor Miller is a highly regarded academic who has spoken out against Zionism. That is why he has come under fire. Professor David Miller’s job at Bristol University is at stake, because he dared to speak out on Zionism. This is an important test case – should he be sacked, this will result in even more attacks on academic freedom.”

Organisations in support of the March 31 action include Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Campaign for Free Speech, Labour Left Alliance, Labour in Exile Network, Support David Miller Campaign, Labour Representation Committee, Labour International Left Alliance, Bristol and West Labour Left Alliance and a number of local left groups.

They will assemble at 2pm outside the Wills Memorial Building of Bristol’s University to express “solidarity and support for Professor Miller”.

Jewish Voice for Labour sent a message of support, which will be read out at the lobby and reads as follows:  “The University of Bristol has come under huge pressure to sack one of its senior academics, Professor David Miller. The attack has concentrated on his public statements, which reiterate forcefully his analysis of the role and influence of Israel and of Zionism, its supporting political ideology. The demand for David Miller’s sacking has been substantially based on the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, a widely criticised document that should have no role in university governance. Undoubtedly there are people who have been offended by what he has said. But, in our view there is no supporting evidence to suggest that Miller’s views are motivated by antisemitism. And of course, there is no right not to be offended. Indeed, the freedom of expression of staff, of students and of visiting speakers is expressly protected by law. For the university to “cancel” his job would be a truly extreme case of no platforming. Jewish Voice for Labour calls on the University of Bristol to resist calls to sack David Miller.”

Dr. Kevin Bean, fellow of the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool, and a member of the steering committee of the Labour Campaign for Free Speech says: “The right to free speech and the right to protest are coming under increasingly brutal attack. The government is already threatening to defund universities who do not adopt the IHRA mis-definition of antisemitism, which even its author Kenneth Stern has described as having been abused to ‘chill free speech’. Together with the proposed policing bill, which would make it illegal to cause ‘serious annoyance’, we are witnessing a very serious, coordinated attack against our basic human and democratic rights.”

David Miller is also supported by the rapper Low Key, comedian Alexei Sayle, former Labour MP Chris Williamson and Middle Eastern expert, Professor Moshe Machover. Hundreds of academics and Jewish supporters have signed two open letters in support of Miller, which are available on the website here:

Film director Ken Loach has said: “Universities depend on the freedom within the law to challenge all ideologies and political movements. Professor Miller is renowned and respected for his rigorous analysis and considered judgements. His voice is important.  All are free to challenge his opinions but none should advocate their suppression. Everyone who cherishes free speech should stand with David Miller.”

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has said: “The Israeli Lobby and its supporters in certain factions of Keir Starmer’s “Blairite” apology for a Labour Party, use of false accusations of anti semitism, as its only defense of Israel’s illegal, racist, apartheid policies. That would be laughable were it not so insidious and effective. David Miller, like many other good men and women, who Keir Starmer has purged from the Labour Party, are the life blood of a real labour movement that believes in human rights, a party that must be free from censorship and foreign influence. Support David Miller and the rest of the good and true – the Labour movement depends on it”

For editors:

More information about the day of action here:

The Support David Miller Campaign is here:

The lobby takes place at 2pm outside Bristol University (Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1QE).

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