SOAS Law School horrified as colleague bids to represent far-right party in European Parliament

By on

Law profs at left-leaning uni ‘appalled’ at fellow academic and Alternative für Deutschland candidate Gunnar Beck

Dr Gunnar Beck

Law professors at London’s SOAS have lashed out at one of their colleagues over his candidacy for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party in Germany.

Staff at SOAS law school are “appalled” at the decision of Dr Gunnar Beck, an EU law expert, to stand for the AfD in the European elections.

The AfD was set up in 2013 to campaign against the euro but has since embraced an anti-Islam, anti-immigrant message. It is now the third largest party in the German federal parliament.

Dr Beck, 53, has worked with the pro-Brexit campaign group Lawyers for Britain and the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange. He practices as a lawyer in Germany and the UK, where he is a door tenant at 1 Essex Court, Chambers of Tony Baldry. Beck has previously worked for Herbert Smith (now Herbert Smith Freehills) as an employed barrister and is the author of a book on the EU Court of Justice. At SOAS, where his title is Reader in Law, Beck teaches an introduction to EU law module as well as on the master’s course.

Traditionally associated with left-wing politics, SOAS has 31 academic staff at its law school. Of those, 23 signed a statement attacking Dr Beck — including the head of the law school, Professor Carol Tan.

The academics said that they are “deeply dismayed that one of our colleagues, Gunnar Beck, is standing for election to the European Parliament as a candidate for the German party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The AfD is widely recognised as a far-right, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, and reactionary party”.

Citing examples of controversial AfD policies, the statement went on to say:

“We would like to express our vehement opposition to this party and its policies, and distance ourselves entirely from those who advocate and support them. We are appalled that one of our colleagues has chosen to associate with this party. We are speaking out because we recognise the importance of not being complicit in the normalisation of reactionary, right-wing populism.”

While law professors don’t always make natural politicians, Beck is in with a good shout of taking a seat. He is 10th on the AfD party list, with the party projected to take 11 seats. It won seven seats in the 2014 election.

The SOAS students’ union said that “Though we are forced to respect people’s political freedom, we can call into question why an academic who stands with a party with such hostile views wants to be a part of the SOAS community and teach students who hold and support so many of the identities he wants to see diminished”. SOAS students staged a protest on Friday.

Dr Beck could not be reached for comment, but reportedly told the Independent that he supports the AfD because “there is no other eurosceptic conservative party in Germany”, adding that “I have received messages of support from within SOAS — both from students and colleagues — who disagree with the line taken by the students’ union”.

SOAS condemned the AfD but refused to attack Beck, saying:

“We recognise the anxiety caused to staff and students as a result of this situation. However, as an academic institution, we are committed to the rights of academic freedom of speech within the law, despite the painful choices to which it gives rise. We encourage members of our community to tackle these issues through robust debate.”

Law schools have been coming under pressure to cut ties with conservative lecturers as students increasingly see the personal views of staff as an affront to institutional values and a threat to student welfare. In January, the famous legal philosopher John Finnis faced calls to quit his Oxford University role over allegedly homophobic writings.

Comments on this article are now closed.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub



Wow, how dare anyone challenged the established liberal orthodoxy which has destroyed the continent! Everyone should espouse marginally different versions of the same universalist tripe, obviously.



Talk about hitting the nail on its head.



Completely agree – free speech allows people to say what they want, but that equally means if what they say is threatening, abusive or in this case, not even dog whistle racist, just racist, that they get called out on those ideas.





Dirk Diggler

The Continent was destroyed by the far right nationalists in 1945. The EU has done a pretty good job of things. Instead of making up complete guff, engage in a realistic debate or else you’re the one causing the mess.



A European parliament candidate is allowed to have anti-migrant views.

A European parliament candidate is also allowed to be a professor of Law.

A University is not allowed to sack a professor for their political views, good luck SOAS.



Does it say they are trying to sack him? The other lecturers at the School for Oriental and African Studies are entitled to be critical of a colleague joining an anti-immigrant, anti-Islam political party, just as much as he is entitled to hold those views.



Not really, because it doesn’t work both ways.
If A is critical of B for being pro-LBTQ and immigration, A will be lynched.
Society is bullied by leftards in 2019. Just watch the Batwoman trailer if you don’t beliebe.



Ah you’re one of those trolls, aren’t you?



Or a big Justin Beiber fan.


Can someone set up a petition, I don’t know what opinion I’m supposed to have.



What provable ‘anxiety’ has this caused – does it mean actual psychiatric harm beyond hurt feelings or upset (I doubt it)?

Therefore who cares? People who you don’t like and disagree with you. That’s just life.



Stay clear from SOAS and universities alike.

They will teach you what to think and not how to think, thus leaving you with a mindset akin to Lavid Dammy.


Lavid Dammy

Please expect a letter before action from my lawyers shortly.


Divad Ymmal

Please expect a series of butthurt tweets from my personal Twitter handle shortly.



Do we live in a tolerant nation?

Tolerance involves tolerating views you agree with, as well as those you disagree with.

But hey, if you cannot defeat him in the course of intellectual debate, beat him by calling for his head.


Dirk Diggler

So, we have to worship intolerance then? We can’t say anything bad about people who want to use the state to do dangerous, violent things against minorities? Thanks for clearing up your entirely logical poisition about embracing scubags or else we’re the baddies!


Just Anonymous

I know nothing about the AfD. They might be as vile and repulsive as these academics suggest. I don’t know.

I am getting increasingly sick of being told by certain individuals that some political entities are so vile that I am not even allowed to consider supporting them. This attitude is condescending, patronising and actually in a democracy deeply counter-productive.

If you think that I should not vote for a certain political party, then pay me the respect of giving me a rational argument why. Forget the hysteria. Forget the emotion. Forget the outrage. Just persuade me, with facts, evidence and logic that these people do not deserve my vote.

If you persuade me that these people actually are vile racists then I will happily not give them my vote!

However, simply asserting without proper evidence that these people are vile racists – as if this is some unchallengable doctrine that all virtuous people just know – is not good enough.



“If you think that I should not vote for a certain political party, then pay me the respect of giving me a rational argument why. Forget the hysteria. Forget the emotion. Forget the outrage. Just persuade me, with facts, evidence and logic that these people do not deserve my vote.”

Answer: They aren’t fielding any candidates in the U.K.


Just Anonymous

I was talking more generally about all political parties, not simply the AfD.

In the UK, you could easily apply what I have just said to UKIP or the Brexit Party, giving two obvious examples off the top of my head.



Yeah, of course you were mate. Just admit that you made a mistake. Apology awaited.


Just Anonymous

You’re right – very sorry. I got owned.


“I know nothing about the AfD”.

A punchy start to a post, but entirely in keeping with the last 3 years in this country.

This is a good start –



Poster cites a BBC website on a European political matter and expects us all to assume it’s not fake news –



Just Anonymous

That analogy does not help you. The exact same principle does apply and I do not shy away from it at all.

The answer to the question – why should we not vote for Nazis – is very straightforward:

“Amongst other things, Nazis believe that the Jewish people are sub-human and do not deserve to live. Accordingly, when they last achieved power – in Germany between 1933 and 1945 – they proceeded to murder six million of them in a deliberate attempt to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe.”

Notice how simple and straightforward that was. The reason why virtually all people condemn Nazis is not because everyone “just knows” they are bad, but because there are patently good reasons why they are bad. And when challenged, we can give those reasons.

The difference between the Nazis and modern day political parties is that the Nazis’ crimes were so atrocious and horrific that we were all taught about them. Thus, everyone generally knows what they did.

However, everyone does not generally know what a given modern day political party is or stands for. Hence I return to my basic point. I’m open to believing that certain political parties are nothing more than collections of vile racists espousing racist beliefs. However, you have to persuade me of that fact with logic, facts and evidence. Assertions are not sufficient.


Just Anonymous

The uniforms, mostly.



Nice smokescreen, trying to avoid the question. Now, if you wouldn’t mind addressing it please?



That’s fine.

Presumably you would never support a party without doing intense due diligence on them, assuming you are the rational enlightened thinker you think you are. So there is no need for me to persuade you of anything because when you do your DD on the populist/fascist morons you will never support them.

What I question, however, is why you are motivated to write two extremely long posts (on an article about a party you know literally nothing about) where you argue that 100% of the obligation is on other people to educate you about the positions of political parties. Perhaps everyone else has done their research and know already AfD are fascists? Perhaps you need to take some personal responsibility and do your own research instead of demanding others do it for you?

Your original post said “I am being told… that some political entities are so vile that I am not even allowed to consider voting for them”. Why are you considering voting for anyone on whom you haven’t already done vast and extensive background research, assuming you are truly an enlightened thinker?

In any case, your views have no relevance to the subject because you aren’t involved. All these SOAS lecturers know what AfD stands for, as does the pro-AfD chap presumably. Would you have written the same long post if he’d been a declared Nazi and his colleagues had objected to it? Well of course you wouldn’t. But their obligation to educate you personally is no greater just because a modern fascist party is involved instead of a historical one.


Just Anonymous

You’ll be pleased to know I can dispose of this diatribe with a relatively short post.

My own political views and practices are none of your business.

They are none of your business because I am not the one making assertions. I do not care who you choose to vote for and/or support.

You are the one making assertions about other parties – in this case the AfD. You say they are fascists. You might be right. You might be wrong. But if you cannot support your assertions with reasoned arguments, then your assertions are worthless, and I don’t care about them.



I am a current student at SOAS

Gunnar Beck is sensible, sound-minded, and very intelligent.


Dirk Diggler

As I recall, he doesn’t talk much outside of class and even then it’s about the most boring thing imaginable – EU law. This provides some explanation for that- he knows he has highly objectionable fringe views.



It may come as a shock to you but normal adults don’t want to waste time talking to university students unless they are paid to do so as part of a job.


SOAS Law Student

The SOAS student backlash is barbaric, the major left wing populous aims to silence him for his ‘fascists’ views. Mind you, this is a lecturer who believes in the free market principle. Fascism? I think not. The sheep-like students eat the propaganda they are fed and believe it at face value. Disappointing.


Dame Diana Rigg

So weird when people pretend to be something their comments clearly prove they are not. You’re a 47 year old man from Chichester, just admit it.



We are genuine soas law students.



Whilst these students can protest against him, they will not invite him to debate. Why? because they do not have an argument and simply shut down any views which diverge from those of Marx.

Its absolute insanity what is happening to our higher education institutions – they have become left-wing echo chambers where feelings trump intellectualism and free thinking

It is disappointing to see so-called universities creating a generation of students who are guarded against alternative views. Shame on this censorship culture that is sweeping across western nations



And if he was invited to debate, no doubt someone would throw a milkshake at him, or he would be subject to disruptive action such as that witnessed during similar on campus events.



“where feelings trump intellectualism and free thinking”

This is literally what all right wing populist parties are, m88.



What is “the free market principle”, SOAS student?



Don’t know why commenters above are so outraged. This guy is entitled to his political views, and his colleagues are entitled to be appalled by them and say so.



And we are entitled to be appalled by the backlash and to say so.

Ten more seconds of analysis, and you’d have answered your own question.


Dirk Diggler

That’s the old-school liberal answer. Unfortunately, the far right feels entitled to mandatory worship for whatever they spew. That’s what this is all about.


Every Legal Cheek Commenter




Erm, which part of “comment section” don’t you understand, idiot? Isn’t that literally the point? Unless you’d like us all just to leave recipes here, or tips for getting those stubborn stains out of your favourite white shirt?



I agree you are all complying fully with the ethos of a comment section, but it doesn’t make you any less of a knob. And, being a Cambridge-educated lawyer (a qualified solicitor, not just a law student), I would hazard a guess that I’m infinitely less idiotic than you.



Not at all hypocritical comment there about being a knob whilst boasting about going to Cambridge.



I don’t deny I am a knob, just a successful one.


Well, you’re half right.


While we have broached the topic. During an incident of shoe shining, I got some polish on my white shirt. Are there any tips or tricks floating around on how to remove the stain?

I open it to the floor too.



You really are all a bunch of bilious bellends.



What do you expect, he’s a (((WHITE MALE)))!

I didn’t come to SOAS to be “lectured to” (more like “mansplained at”) by CIS, gender-binary, heteronormative men.



Can’t tell if this is genuine or satire… You never know these days.


SOAS Law Student

Funny how the “outraged” protesting students had nothing to say when Gunnar Beck challenged them in our lectures and tutorials!

Leftists love the safety of crowds and simply fail face of lone adversity, everytime, evidently.


SOAS law Student

Exactly, they follow the empty promises of a Utopia where everyone has unlimited resources… and then say Russia wasn’t real socialism…






Up the gunnars.



In more important news: Eve Cornwall has uploaded a new Instagram photo.



Adam is finalising a 1500 word article as we speak.



I think the reason why this comment section is rage-filled is that it’s the only article LC has published today (which people can comment on). The e-rage which is normally distributed over three or four articles has been condensed into one.



The German political party of olden times being referred to were the National Socialists – hence ‘Nazis’.

It has never made any sense to describe them as “far right” unless the suggestion is that be believing too strongly in the free market, individual liberty and the rule of law, a human being accidentally starts to believe the polar opposite.

Everytime anyone mentions this the lefties get very emotional and aggressive. That too makes no sense, because both Stalin and Mao were equally as evil as Hitler, yet the shadow chancellor was happy appearing on a podium with portraits of both last month.

But for some reason they don’t mind two mass murdering psychopaths being left wing, but having one more is beyond the pail …



This above is a nugget of a post, well done.

I lament the absence of George Lansbury as a hero to the left.

Former Labour leader, methodist, teetotal, pacifist. Wanted to steer the League of Nations to be a settler of the injustices of peace treaties and build cooperation amongst different people locally and internationally in an organised but non monetary manner.

He teamed up with King leopold of belgium and the former pm of belgium to form a little pacifist think tank.

He even booked in to meet hitler, mussolini and roosevelt to preach pacifism to them. Approx 1938. It was a big enough gig for hitler and mussolini to meet him in their separate quarters, almost 1 to 1. Roosevelt snubbed him. GL gave a speech at a dinner instead and briefly met his wife , if i recall.

He was bullied out of office in 1935 as the Labour party and unions appeared to wish for war but he didnt die till 1940.

There’s hardly anyone who takes Peter of Galilee as an example of how to live, but plaudits go to Lansbury.

It is sad that George Orwell is famous, not he, and, as the poster suggests, it is sad that the Davos left, like the shadow chancellor, court stalin and mao.

Please leave this post up till the soas students have had chance to read it, at least, Lc. George Lansbury and his hero have flatlined, maybe the poster and these students will check him out.



My brother studied at this university for his undergraduate degree – needless to say he hated his time there due to how sensitive the other students were. He received a complaint from the student union whilst he was studying there for wearing a heavy metal band t-shirt with the St. George’s flag on it…Apparently it was deemed to be racist.


Comments are closed.

Related Stories