By Helen Shaw
ON 16 May, 30 students and “Open Borders” campaigners protested against David Coleman, professor of demography at Oxford, speaking at a conference at Manchester University.
Last year Coleman was the subject of a campaign by Oxford students on the grounds of his membership of the council of anti-immigration campaign Migration Watch and his long-standing connection with the Galton Institute, going back to the days when it called itself the Eugenics Society. This met with a storm of indignation from the Mail and Telegraph — who like to quote Migration Watch in their anti-migrant tirades — and protests from well-known scientists such as geneticist Steve Jones, who claimed that, apart from a “few cranks”, the Galton Institute had long abandoned its concerns with selective breeding to improve the “human stock.”
Maybe – but then Coleman must be one of those cranks. Dismissing any economic or social benefits from immigration into the UK, his concerns are fundamentally racial and genetic. He has written:
“…the scale of immigration is now much greater than during any period since the Anglo-Saxon and Danish invasions of the 1st millennium, the impact of which upon the genetic structure of the population is still very evident.”
And again: “ …the question of ethnic replacement was raised in the national press: whether the high rates of immigration and the high level of fertility in some immigrant groups, would cause Britain to cease to be a white country, with all that would entail for cultural transformation.”
It is not surprising that the BNP sees Coleman as “a very distinguished demographer whom we trust.” Yet his academic reputation and status enable him to be quoted in the Mail and Telegraph as an independent expert.
Despite this, the Oxford students were wrong to demand that the university sack him because he was bringing the university into disrepute and that he separate his university activities from his political ones. Such a decision would create a precedent for universities to dismiss anyone who took an embarrassing public political stance. Rather we should continue to oppose and expose Coleman wherever he appears and to call on his fellow academics not to collaborate with him or give him a platform.