Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Denis MacShane and the LSE reading list affair

The Association of Political Thought (UK) has spoken out here. The statement reads:

"During the debate on Human Trafficking on 18 May 2011 (Hansard Col 94WH) Denis MacShane MP, quoting from the list of essay titles for an academic political theory course at the London School of Economics, accused a distinguished professor, Anne Phillips FBA, of being unable to tell the difference between waged work and prostitution, and of filling the minds of students ‘with poisonous drivel’. Fiona McTaggart MP agreed, accusing Phillips of holding ‘frankly nauseating views on that issue’.

The ineptitude of this exchange – which is now forever on the official record – is extraordinary. Students are asked why we should distinguish between the sale of one’s labour and the sale or letting of one’s body. That condones neither the latter nor the former. It encourages students to reflect on how to draw an important line between things appropriate and things inappropriate for market exchange. Asking such questions, far from being ‘nauseating’, is central to public debate about policy and legislation. If Members of Parliament cannot tell the difference between an essay problem and an assertion of belief how can we trust them to legislate effectively?

Parliamentary debate is a cornerstone of our constitution and political culture. However, using the privilege of a Parliamentary platform ignorantly to traduce the reputation of a teacher of political theory is a dereliction of office.

Members and supporters of the Britain and Ireland Association for Political Thought:

David Owen, Southampton University
Michael Freeden, University of Oxford
Christopher Brooke, University of Cambridge
Marc Stears, University of Oxford
Simon Caney, University of Oxford
Stuart White, University of Oxford
Aletta Norval, University of Essex
Iain Hampsher-Monk, University of Exeter
Richard Bellamy, University College London
Thom Brooks, University of Newcastle
Raia Prokhovnik, Open University
Chris Brown, London School of Economics
Bonnie Honig, Northwestern University, Chicago, USA
Nicola Lacey, University of Oxford
Elizabeth Frazer, University of Oxford
Martin O’Neill, University of York
Tim Hayward, University of Edinburgh
Mark Philp, University of Oxford
Albert Weale, University College London
Kimberly Hutchings, London School of Economics
Kenneth Macdonald, University of Oxford
Chandran Kukathas, London School of Economics
Hillel Steiner, Universities of Manchester and Salford
Christopher Bertram, University of Bristol
Paul Kelly, London School of Economics
Jules Townshend, Manchester Metropolitan University
Emily Jackson, London School of Economics
Gary Browning, Oxford Brookes University
Adrian Blau, University of Manchester
Russell Keat, University of Edinburgh
David Leopold, University of Oxford
Katrin Flikschuh, London School of Economics
Cecile Laborde, University College London
Engin Isin, Open University
Dario Castiglione, University of Exeter
Clare Hemmings, London School of Economics
Christian List, London School of Economics
Evangelia Sembou, Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom
David Miller, University of Oxford
Wendy Stokes, London Metropolitan University
Ruth Kinna, Loughborough University
Joni Lovenduski, Birkbeck University of London
Moya Lloyd, Loughborough University
Cecile Fabre, University of Oxford
Adam Swift, University of Oxford
Vincent Geoghegan, Queens University Belfast
Jennifer Hornsby, Birkbeck University of London
Lynn Dobson, University of Edinburgh
David Howarth, University of Essex
Reidar Maliks, University of Oxford
Nicholas Southwood, University of Oxford
Jeremy Jennings, Queen Mary’s University of London"

One of the many moments I am glad to be a part of the APT as Secretary. Let us hope the message is heard.

UPDATE: The Times Higher has published this letter now here.

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