THE last minute no-platforming of former Home Secretary Amber Rudd by Oxford students is, to put it mildly, absolutely pathetic. And it’s not the first time this has happened either. I doubt it will be the last.

Universities used to be hives of healthy and vigorous debate, sometimes even of sedition and blasphemy, a powder keg of radical, brilliant and outlandish ideas where the best minds of their generation clashed and humanity was all the better (and wiser) for the conflagrations that followed. I have no doubt that today’s Oxford students are exceptionally bright and gifted people (more so than I could ever hope to be – after all I only went to Sheffield). But in a way that is what makes this sorry mess all the more disturbing, especially as freedom of speech is something for which our forefathers fought and died.

Not only does no-platforming suggest a narrow-minded ideological bigotry, a form of intellectual fascism if you will, but a lack of robustness, an over-sensitivity which is of little utility in the rough and tumble of the modern world. These students are, in short, snowflakes. Love him or loathe him, Jacob Rees-Mogg was quite correct to say: “Free speech is the bedrock of a democracy and Oxford University ought to lead the way rather than being snowflake central.”

Intelligence is one thing but people need the emotional strength, the resilience to hear things with which they vehemently disagree and to speak to people whose ideas and past actions they may actively dislike.

It’s sad that these students, who should be the best free thinkers of their generation, have become mere sheep repeating 'woke' political views parrot-fashion, a conclave of brainwashed conformists, puppets in effect. They should be the rebels and the revolutionaries. Instead, they remind me of the Inquisition, hunting out perceived heretics, enforcing dogma.

Universities should never be about consensus, just the opposite in fact. If you listen to people rather than simply turning your back on them there is a good chance you may learn something. If that is obvious to a thicko like me, surely it should be obvious to them? If Ms Rudd had not been snubbed the students could have challenged her about the Windrush scandal instead of throwing a tantrum like spineless, spoilt, sulky brats.