Wales politics

Conservative voters 'vermin' jibe by lecturer sparks outrage

Andy Williams
Image caption Dr Andy Williams said he was quoting his political hero Aneurin Bevan

A Cardiff University lecturer has been criticised by a Welsh Tory for branding Conservative voters "vermin".

In a post-election tweet, Dr Andy Williams said: "British men & boomers [are] statistically more likely to be vermin than women & the young."

Former Tory assembly group leader Andrew RT Davies asked university bosses to consider whether this showed an "inclusive and tolerant atmosphere".

Dr Williams said he was quoting his political hero, Labour's Aneurin Bevan.

A senior lecturer at the university's school of journalism, media and culture (Jomec), Dr Williams referred in his tweet to polling data suggesting that men and older voters had been more likely to back the Conservatives in last week's general election.

In response, Mr Davies tweeted: "I'm a big defender of free speech, but not sure how @cardiffuni can maintain an inclusive and tolerant atmosphere with teaching staff behaving like this.

"I will be writing to the vice chancellor to express my concerns."

Image caption Andrew RT Davies said the lecturer was showing "a bias that's dangerous"

Speaking to BBC Wales, the South Wales Central AM claimed the views expressed could reflect "a wider pattern from others within the establishment".

"If this was about race, religion or sexual orientation there would be outrage," Mr Davies said.

"What's alarming is he's a lecturer in one of our premier universities and he's in a position of trust.

"You're meant to look after students from every background. It shows a bias that's dangerous."

Image copyright Twitter/Andy Williams

Dr Williams, who previously spent a short period as a researcher for Plaid Cymru assembly member Leanne Wood, responded to critical tweets by defending his choice of words.

In one response he said: "I was quoting Nye Bevan, a political hero of mine. I stand by my view of Tories as vermin.

"Those who support, whether wittingly or not, the human devastation doled out by the Conservative Party are not worthy of respect."

In another response, Dr Williams said "the only problem with the vermin metaphor is that I've known quite a few decent rats".

During a speech marking the creation of the NHS in 1948, the then Labour health minister Aneurin Bevan spoke of his "deep burning hatred" for the Conservative party, saying that "so far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin".

A Cardiff University spokesman said: "These are Dr Williams's personal comments, expressed on his personal account.

"They do not reflect the view of Cardiff University.

"We will respond to Mr Davies's letter as soon as it's received."

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