Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow university rector nominee attacks critics

Writer Milo Yiannopoulos addresses students at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado Image copyright Associated Press

Milo Yiannopoulos, a former editor of Breitbart, has hit back at calls to remove him from the ballot to be the next rector of Glasgow University, calling his critics "close-minded".

He told BBC Scotland efforts to block him from standing were hypocritical.

"The closed-minded demonstrate virtue to their equally closed-minded peers by attempting to silence anyone who disagrees with them," he said.

He is one of 12 names put forward by students to become rector.

Also on the ballot paper is Scottish human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar who said he had been left "disgusted and appalled" that students had voted for Mr Yiannopoulos to be in the running.

'Snowflake culture'

In response Mr Yiannopoulos told the BBC: "He [Mr Anwar] is free to be disgusted by the students who nominated me.

"He should call them a basket of deplorables. That strategy worked well for Hillary Clinton.

"Sooner or later these loonies will figure out the lessons of Brexit and the Trump election - calling the other side bad names is not an adequate replacement for reason, logic and good arguments."

The 32-year-old also said that, if elected, he would hope to bring an end to what he termed as the "snowflake culture", which he believes has taken hold in the collective student psyche in many university campuses across the western world.

The term has become a popular insult by Donald Trump supporters and far-right campaigners who claim their liberal opponents avoid dissenting ideas and opinions.

'Bubble-bursting material'

He said: "If Glasgow students want to break away from the snowflake stereotype - and I hope they do - then I'll gladly represent them, and push back against any member of the administration that tries to impose a culture of trigger warnings and safe spaces.

"My election would be a clear signal that, in Glasgow at least, this culture is coming to an end and that people come to university to be challenged and to grow."

He also said that, if elected, he would represent students by "making sure they encounter as much upsetting, offensive, and bubble-bursting material as possible during their time at university. They'll thank me for it later in life".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Voting for the University of Glasgow rector opens on 20 March

Mr Yiannopoulos also said he would protect the LGBTQ community by calling for the Students Muslim Association to be banned, arguing that they are "representatives of a homophobic, theocratic system".

In terms of his opinions about Glasgow he said it was a "great town despite its garrulous dranks and drab, spiky-haired lesbian 'comedians'".

Mr Yiannopoulos has previously referred to Scots as "whining, kilted leeches", and has argued in favour of Scotland becoming independent.

Labelled by his critics as a provocateur, the British-born journalist, who now lives in Miami, describes himself as "the most fabulous supervillain on the internet".

Online petition

He has courted controversy in recent weeks for comments which led some to suggest he was advocating paedophilia.

Mr Yiannopoulos resigned from his job at Breitbart after he spoke out in support of relationships between "younger boys and older men".

He later said he was horrified by paedophilia and had devoted large portions of his career to exposing child abusers, but he admitted that he should not have used the word "boy", which he said had been misinterpreted by heterosexual people to mean someone under the age of consent.

An online petition to get Mr Yiannopoulos removed from the ballot has accrued more than 3,500 signatures.

Literature student Holly Hallam, who set up the petition, told BBC Scotland: "We don't have a set goal in mind but we would like to take it as far as it takes it... for him to ideally be removed from the ballot or at least for him to become absolutely aware that his presence is not welcome on campus."

A hustings for the candidates - which also include former Lib Dem MP Vince Cable - will be held before voting opens on 20 March.

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