The College Historical Society (Hist) has taken a decision to revoke awarding the society’s Gold Medal to former United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage. The issue of whether the visit itself will go ahead will be discussed at the society’s next committee meeting.
The move comes as it was announced last night that Farage would be visiting the debating society in January or February of 2018.
In a post in the public Facebook group, The Hist, Hist Auditor Paul Molloy said: “The General Committee of the Society has decided to rescind the awarding of the society’s Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse to Nigel Farage. Over the past number of years, the convention of the Hist has been to offer those who address the Society either the Burke Medal for Contribution to the Arts or Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse. In this light, the Medal has been offered to many individuals who have made their mark in many different fields as well as in the public sphere, and to individuals who often hold divergent views. As a debating society, it has never been the intention of the Hist to confer the Gold Medal on individuals as a way to endorse any particular viewpoint individuals may hold, but rather to recognise the impact which they have made which has them stand out as people the Society looks to invite.”
Molloy continued: “In relation to this particular invitation, it was with that in mind that I extended such an invitation to Nigel Farage to receive the Medal as we do to all guest speakers the Society hosts throughout the year for an address. While it was extended as a matter of due course with the medal, I recognise that the decision to extend it was still one which I have made. While it is vital the society remains a platform of free enquiry and debate, it is clear in retrospect both to myself and the general committee that the conferral of the medal would be received by many as an endorsement of the views which Nigel Farage holds. It was never my intention in extending this invitation for that to be the case, and it should not be taken as a reflection of the views of the general committee or as an endorsement of them by the College Historical Society. It was wrong for me to extend an invitation to Nigel Farage in the manner which I did. I offer my sincerest apologies for any offence which has been caused from doing so.”
Farage, an MEP since 1999, served as leader of the Eurosceptic, right-wing party UKIP from 2006 to 2009, and again from 2010 until November 2016. He has unsuccessfully contested five British general elections. A leading figure in the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, Farage has been criticised for his anti-immigrant stance. He campaigned widely for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 American presidential elections.