Jacob Rees-Mogg chased out of Cardiff University by pro-Palestine protesters

Jacob Rees-Mogg faced protests from students at the university’s student union, so what does this mean for freedom of speech?

Jacob Rees-Mogg is the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, and has been an MP continually since the 6th of May 2010.

After speaking at an event hosted by Cardiff University’s Conservative and Unionist Association at the student union, upon exiting Jacob Rees-Mogg was met by a chorus of angry pro-Palestine protesters objecting his presence at the University. 

The demonstration was organised by Cardiff University Communist group who are branch of Cardiff Communists. The group is largely made up by students and they led the rally against Rees-Mogg last Friday.

Speaking to Alex Falconer, a member of Cardiff Communists, he explained the groups choice to protest Rees-Mogg, he said, “For us, Rees-Mogg is a representative of the interest of British imperialism and that is a supporter of Israel’s genocide against Palestine. Because the students had taken a vote last year calling for a ceasefire we thought it was wrong that somebody who not only doesn’t support a ceasefire but actively supports what Israel is doing against Palestine, would be invited onto the campus.”

Cardiff Communists wanted to make it known they disagreed with the University’s choice to allow Rees-Mogg to speak there. Alex said, “It’s not really just about Rees- Mogg, it’s about what he represents, not just in terms of his support for Israel against Gaza, but also for his other stances, I think it’s well known that he’s very anti workers rights, he’s very anti women controlling their own bodies, and these kind of things. So we felt it was important to show what he represented and to not allow him get a free pass on the campus as if he is just another speaker.”

Rees-Mogg responded to the incident by stating the actions of the protesters were “legitimate and peaceful if noisy,” and commended the Universities responses saying, “The Cardiff University security team was exemplary in allowing a lawful protest while keeping everyone safe. Universities ought to be bastions of free speech and as both the protesters and I were able to give our views without fear or intimidation, the proper traditions of adversarial debate were upheld.”

However, the choice to protest has sparked debates around the right to free speech as some politicians have criticised the groups actions. Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden wrote on X: “No elected politician should have to put up with this shrill intimidatory idiocy.” Furthermore, Labour’s shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens said, “I disagree with him on almost everything, but we cannot accept a culture of intimidation in our politics.”

Alex believes the protest was justified and did not infringe on Rees-Mogg’s freedom of speech, he said, “It’s a little bit laughable really considering he’s got the BBC, he’s got his own segment on GB news, he speaks on national radio a lot. He can write for all the columns of the national press,Jacob Rees-Mogg has a bigger platform than any individual, worker or student. So protest is the only way really that workers and students can collectively show their voice against him.”

Alex continued, “I think the media whip up this frenzy around intimidation and cutting off free speech. ​But the end of the day, what does Rees- Mogg represent? 40,000 people have been killed in Gaza and yet they are more angry about Rees-Mogg being chased off the campus by some students and workers. I think that shows the hypocrisy of the media and where they actually stand on free speech because they weren’t up in arms when this conflict started and they also weren’t in uproar when the brought in the police and crime commission bill to curtail protest. So it shows where a lot of the media’s interests really lie.”

Alex criticised Jo Stevens, Labour’s shadow Welsh Secretary, decision to condemn the protests, he said, “They (Labour) just completely side on the side of the Tories and therefore they themselves are complicit in what’s going on in in Palestine at the moment. And I think if the, the Labour Party and Joe Stevens wanna stand on the side of the Tories, then by all means we’ll stand on the side of the workers, students and Palestinians, which we think is the is the right side of history. We’re for a revolutionary alternative to the situation, not just a continued exploitation and murder of tens of thousands of people.”

Alex called for anyone who resonates with his statements to look into joining the Revolutionary Communist Party, he said, ” We’re always looking for people who have reached conclusions that this system can’t be fixed, it can’t be reformed. And so I think if people have reached a a revolutionary conclusion, they should get organised and join the communists.”