Finance & Economics

Arts & Culture

Science & Technology



Contact us


Behind KCLCA’s Closed Doors: Keeping Us From The Room Where It Happened
KCL Conservative Association hosted yet another controversial 'Port and Policy' event, tabling the motion "this house would restore the British Empire". Politics Editor Daisy Eastlake and @ King's Editor Xuan Lin Tan investigate the fallout within the KCL community, and discuss what this represents for student politics.
10 February, 2023

KCLCA (KCL Conservative Association) are facing criticism for proposing a debate motion entitled ‘this house would restore the British Empire’. Backlash resounded from their direct opposition, with KCL Labour condemning the motion “in it’s entirety” and Liberate KCL staging a protest outside the original venue. The event relocated to UCL – although the location was only disclosed to members via personal invitation, and it was initially hazy as to whether the event had gone ahead at all. 

King’s Business Review were able to contact people who were in attendance during the formulation process of this ‘Port and Policy’ event. In an exclusive interview with an anonymous inside source, King’s Business Review have been told that the motion was opposed internally, and initially changed, as only the KCLCA were comfortable with the topic. However, the change was u-turned, as KCLCA members and other members of the committee attempted to reinstate the motion; all while hurling vulgar and sexist abuse, such as “weak b*tch” to quote, at the UCL Tories chair. Members from across other Conservative societies were unhappy with this conduct, with the UCL Tories chair appearing “obviously affected” by the abuse. 

Whilst other Conservative societies wanted to scrap the motion altogether, another current senior committee member of the KCLCA wanted to keep but rephrase the motion to something they deemed “less radical”; deciding on “this house believes the British Empire was a force for good”. Subsequently, when the controversial motion was still put forward, UCL, LSE, and UOW Conservative associations “staged a joint walkout against [the motion]”, leaving KCLCA seemingly primarily responsible.  Our source claims that other Conservative societies are allowed little to no input in setting the agenda for these debates – “when it comes to port and policy, KCL are almost always the sole organisers”. 

The King’s Business Review contacted KCL Labour for a statement, and were quickly told:

“KCL Labour in it’s entirety condemns the Conservative Association’s motion on whether or not to restore the British Empire. Imperialism devastated the lives of millions of peoples – it’s consequences are still felt today and it’s entirely inappropriate to entertain the idea of restoring it. We don’t expect much from the Conservative Association, but we expected better than this.”

– Lewis Warner, Co-Chair of KCL Labour

KCL Labour have accepted the statement from the UCL Tories, posting on their Instagram that they “appreciate the solidarity from UCL Tories condemning tonight’s event”. However, they have reaffirmed that they will be “proudly” refusing to collaborate with the KCLCA on any event until they apologise over the motion. 

In the pursuit of fair and unbiased reporting, a Politics Editor of the King’s Business Review approached the President of the KCLCA for a statement, but was told that the society is not issuing statements at this time. 

Although arguments about the British Empire being a force for good – because of the abolition of slavery, and the banning of the suttee, to name a few examples – do arise, in the modern context the British Empire is commonly viewed as a negative force. AlJazeera identified 50 million excess deaths – explicitly, those outside of the ‘normal mortality’ baseline – as being a direct result of British colonialism in India alone in the 29 years between 1891 and 1920. Economically, colonialism has ensured divides that are still seen in full force today. Indian development, which lags behind it’s Western counterparts despite being one of the fastest growing developing economies, could’ve been “on a par with the developing parts of Western Europe”, if British colonialism had never halted it’s progress. This is only a tiny selection of the impact in India – the British empire also orchestrated the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the opium wars in China, Boer concentration camps, inadequate response to a deadly famine in Ireland that killed millions, and so much more. 65 separate countries have claimed their independence from Great Britain. This article would be dissertation-length if we were to detail every atrocity, every murder, and every detriment associated with the British empire. The legacy of the colonial era runs so deep it is almost immeasurable.

It appears to be agreed that the motion proposed by the KCLCA was wildly inappropriate. With such a diverse and international student body, this kind of topic of conversation is arguably not merely another policy debate. The debate then follows; should university societies, under the platform of a national political party, be able to debate topics such as restoration of the British empire?

On one hand, the go-to argument is preservation of the freedom of speech. However, the lines between freedom of expression and creating an atmosphere of discomfort for other students becomes worryingly blurred. This isn’t just in regards to the recent controversy; the KCLCA have been criticised previously by Roar News for hosting a debate on the proposition of a two-state solution for Israel-Palestine. A select group of attendees dressed in Keffiyeh scarves, presenting themselves as “a caricature of a Middle Eastern terrorist”. 

“At this point a member of the audience exclaimed that at least it’s a ‘one to five kill ratio’, referring to the death toll of Israelis versus Palestinians.”

Violetta Fernandez Dieguez, News Editor at Roar News

By only allowing a handful of pre-approved attendees to their events, essentially cherry-picking who can and can’t hear their debates, the KCLCA can attempt to evade differing opinions and challenges. However, perhaps the lesson to learn from this is that if your topics of debate are so controversial you have to switch up venues and pre-approve audience members, you shouldn’t be discussing them at all. If you believed them to be honest, valuable conversations, then you wouldn’t be having them in whispers behind closed doors.

+ posts


  1. Anon Ymous

    Saying ‘the British Empire was undeniably a force for bad’ is bold, but poor, journalism. I completely agree with the idea that the British empire was a net negative, and that it should never be restored. But many of the supposed ‘victims’ of the British empire, including people of Caribbean and Indian descent, were speaking in support of the motion – arguing that their countries were in fact better off during the British empire. To, likely deliberately, leave this out of the article is disingenuous at the very least. But then again, the white British such as yourself obviously have a history of silencing opinions from the BAME community. Don’t unequivocally assert the British empire was a force for bad when some of the ‘victims’ you’re supposedly standing up for disagree with you. Don’t pretend to be a journalist.

    • xxx

      Completely agree!

    • Daisy Eastlake

      Hello – thanks so much for your feedback. I take full accountability for the problematic use of the word “undeniable”, and have since rephrased that portion of the article to be more reflective of the debate at large. Thanks again for pointing this out to me – the article is now better for it – and again I apologise for the initial slip-up.

  2. Insider aswell

    The walk outs were for 2 reasons: the topic and behavior of the crony who controls KCL Tory committee.

    People left because of the original motion still being debated

    People left in protest to the behavior of said crony and the president who sided with him

  3. Anony Mous

    I would be very interested in the background of these people with ‘Caribbean and Indian decent’ supporting the motion. Of course, everyone is allowed their own opinion, but as someone who is from India of a family who quite literally worked their way up from nothing, I cannot even fathom how anyone from a country that was under the control of the British empire who isn’t in the top 1% when it comes to income would agree with this. And as I know I don’t quite know the full picture on the colonisation of India, I consulted a relative who has a degree on the history of India and they too confirmed the points being made in this article: that India is better off without the British empire. Although as I said, everyone is allowed their own opinion as everyone has had different experiences so although I do not agree with yours, I respect you for speaking them and possibly trying to support those of the BAME community.
    Now, when you use terms such as “the white British such as yourself” followed by what you wrote, it is extremely rude and borderline, in fact quite probably, racist. Would you have left such a strongly worded comment if the author was of colour? I think not. You are using someone’s colour, their race, as a target. As someone who is brown, quite frankly I find it embarrassing. If you are someone of ethnic heritage, stop it, you are merely stooping when you throw phrases like that around incorrectly and it is incredibly offensive to someone such as myself who has witnessed white friends and family be a victim of racism and hate from my Asian family throughout my life. The author of this post was not silencing anyone’s opinions, it is a very well written article on merely observing and providing information on recent events.
    Feel free to share your own opinion, just don’t be a child.

    • Anony Mous

      This was in response to ‘Anon Ymous’, I don’t know why it dropped it down



  1. KCLCA "Port and Policy" Debate Sparks Heated Controversy with Motion to "Restore the British Empire" - Roar News - […] got upset and started swearing and shouting and threatening random people”. According to the King’s Business Review, tension escalated…
  2. The staggering crimes of British imperialism – 🚩 - […] last week, the Conservative Association at King’s College London provoked a furore on campus by attempting to host a…
  3. "Weird and perverse": KCLCA's Provocative Port and Policy Debate Reveals The Dark Side of Free Speech - Roar News - […] who walked out at the event, with KCLCA members hurling “vulgar and sexist” abuse at them, according to King’s…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related articles

The Implications of AI for Authoritarian Regimes

The Implications of AI for Authoritarian Regimes

In states where maintaining power and control over society is paramount to regime survival, AI algorithms are likely to serve as a method of strengthening autocrats’ grip over the state. Disregard for freedom of information, privacy, and human rights, increases the potential for the exploitation of AI tools by authoritarian leaders.