Vince Cable has cancelled his talk in Oxford today after being told by police that a large student protest was planned.
A spokesperson said the cancellation, decided the day before he was due to speak, “followed advice from Thames Valley police about threats of a protest and his concern about the level of disruption this could cause to the people of Oxford plus the possible cost of policing”.
A police spokesperson said yesterday they had advised Cable’s office the speech could proceed, despite the planned demonstration, and that their forces were ready “to facilitate peaceful protest”.
Student activists suggested that Cable, the Business Secretary, was trying to avoid a debate over higher education policy reform.
“A government minister should have the courage to face the electorate – even those who disagree with him,” said a spokesperson for the Oxford Education Campaign, a grassroots organisation which has been a driving force behind the planned protests.
“In the past few weeks Vince Cable has turned his back on students,” said Oxford Student Union President David Barclay. “Today he has admitted he can’t even look them in the eye.”
Yesterday evening Barclay said the protest would go on despite Cable’s cancellation: “This government may want to plug its ears but tomorrow Oxford students will make themselves heard.”