Rebellious students? Behaving foolishly and tweaking the tail of authority? Whatever next?
There has been an old-style backlash from pundits and politicians after a group of Oxford University students stripped a portrait of the Queen from a senior common room.
Members of the Magdalen College Middle Common Room voted to remove the picture as part of a refurb, saying the image wasn’t appropriate because it is a symbol of “recent colonial history”.
Predictably, culture wars warrior Piers Morgan has waded in to protest Queen Liz’s apparent cancellation: “FFS. These woke lunatics are beyond parody. Can we vote to have Monarch-ordered Tower of London imprisonment powers restored for these insolent wastrels?”
Morgan’s Good Morning Britain successor echoed the sentiment. In an outburst on the show this morning, Richard Madeley branded the students “thick”. Hmmm…
Waving a £10 note in the air, he said: “If you’re watching at Magdalen – you won’t be as you won’t be awake until 9-10 – but assuming that you are, would you rip this up? It’s got a picture of the Queen on it, bit of colonial culture going on there. So would you stop using cash? Actually, I can’t help but think this is a wind-up because it’s so stupid.”
Lorraine Kelly, the Scottish TV host, was similarly scathing. “I think they’re just really wanting attention, and sadly we’re giving it to them,” said Kelly, giving them attention.
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, labelled the decision “simply absurd”.
According to Dinah Rose QC, the president of Magdalen, college staff have been receiving “obscene and threatening messages” since the news of the vote spread. Rose has distanced herself from the decision, stressing that “The Middle Common Room is an organisation of graduate students. They don’t represent the College.”
But she also defended her students’ right to call the shots. “Maybe they’ll vote to put it up again, maybe they won’t.” In the meantime, she has reassured all those incensed by the republican gesture, that the photo will be “safely stored”.
Apparently without irony given the institution’s track record on cancel culture, Rose issued an icy rebuke aimed at the likes of Morgan: “Being a student is about more than studying. It’s about exploring and debating ideas. It’s sometimes about provoking the older generation. Looks like that isn’t so hard to do these days.