The former Conservative home secretary Amber Rudd has hit out at “rude” students at the University of Oxford who cancelled her appearance at an International Women’s Day event 30 minutes before it was due to take place.
The event, called “In Conversation: Amber Rudd” and organised by UNWomen Oxford, was scheduled for Thursday evening as part of its UN Women’s 2020 Trailblazer Series before International Women’s Day on Sunday.
Rudd, who stepped down as an MP at the last election, was supposed to be interviewed about her earlier role as minister for women and equalities and was due to speak about encouraging women to get into politics.
But after receiving criticism for inviting Rudd because of her links with the Windrush scandal, the society announced on Facebook that the talk was cancelled after a majority vote by the group’s committee.
Writing on Twitter, Rudd said: “Badly judged and rude of some students last night at Oxford to decide to ‘no platform’ me 30 mins before an event I had been invited to for #IWD2020 to encourage young women into politics. They should stop hiding and start engaging.”
Rudd stepped down as home secretary as the Windrush scandal escalated and it emerged she had misled parliament over the existence of targets within the Home Office to deport undocumented migrants.
Before cancelling the event, the society attempted to assuage concerns about her appearance in a statement on Facebook. “The concerns we see happening now around this event are absolutely ones which we as a committee feel ourselves,” the statement said.
“We invited Ms Rudd on the understanding that this would be an honest and frank conversation about how her policies have impacted women of all races, religions, classes etcetera.
“We will not run away from mentioning any of Ms Rudd’s past comments or policies, and we ask you to attend this event to help us campaign for a truly frank feminism which is not afraid of taking such opportunities to discuss these issues with high-profile figures.”
The society was incorporated as part of the UNWomen UK’s Student Champion Programme, which aims to involve university students in advocating for gender equality.
In response, Rudd’s daughter Florence Gill tweeted: “Can not believe mum was ‘no-platformed’ at my old Uni yesterday. Mum doesn’t need the platform and travelled to talk for FREE for International Womens Day-proceeds to FGM charity. I don’t care if you disagree with her. Its fucking rude This is NOT how women should treat each other.”
A number of former politicians also came to Rudd’s defence.
Responding to Gill, the former chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne tweeted: “Don’t worry about your mum – ‘no platforming’ one of the most senior female politicians of our generation at an International Women’s Day event just makes the Oxford students involved look stupid & small-minded, the very opposite of what that great university stands for. Their loss.”
The former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson posted: “If you’re trying to silence Amber Rudd you really are being anti-democratic.”
The former Conservative and Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Wollaston tweeted: “No platforming of @AmberRuddUK by Oxford is absurd & worrying. Why are universities allowing ideological fringes to crush freedom of speech in our centres of excellence?”