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Oxford Conservative abused by online trolls

An Oxford student at Christ Church has faced a torrent of abuse on the Guardian Facebook page following an interview with left-wing writer Owen Jones at the Conservative Party conference.

A segment of the interview with third-year historian Daniel Freeman has gone viral after the video was uploaded to Jones’ YouTube channel.

Jones, who himself states in his Twitter bio that he is “losing [his] Northern accent,” asked Freeman, “Your accent’s not a classic Merseyside accent. What’s happened there?” Freeman responded, “I am not entirely sure. I mean I listened to a lot of Radio 4 growing up and then I went to University and the accent does sort of fade without you sort of really trying.”

The comments underneath the video on the Guardian Facebook page have appalled many Oxford students, with explicit and defamatory statements made attacking Freeman personally.

Freeman hit back in good humour on Facebook last night, making an extended public post which garnered over 140 likes in the space of two hours. “On a positive note the video’s comments section has provided me an endless source of entertainment over the last 24 hours. I was very impressed by some of the inventiveness displayed in describing and explaining my voice and politics; I particularly enjoyed…’His parents were cousins [and] his only friend growing up was a horse’ and ‘We must ban Radio 4 on this evidence alone.’ That said, I do feel that some of comments did drift into unnecessary mean-spiritedness.

“While most of these attacks I can happily live with and ignore, there’s one suggestion that I can’t leave unchallenged. That is that I’m somehow embarrassed about being from Liverpool, or having not especially high-earning parents. That I’ve consciously changed my accent to hide my background. This is simply untrue.

“I have never and will never be remotely embarrassed about where I’m from. Liverpool is a wonderful city which I am very glad to have grown up in, and neither my accent nor my political outlook change that.”

Jan Nedvídek, President of OUCA, reading PPE at Christ Church and a personal friend of Freeman, told Cherwell, “I find it so sad that people on social media find the time to just shout abusive things at others. And they then have the nerve to accuse other people of being horrible and mean just because they happen to support a different political party?

“As everyone in Christ Church and OUCA will agree, Dan is one of the nicest, friendliest and most knowledgeable people on Earth, and he was an absolutely cracking Political Officer last Trinity…I think Dan’s calm and cool response to all this goes to show what a great character he is.”

Freeman has received numerous messages of support in the two days following the Guardian’s publication of the video excerpt entitled, “The least scouse Scouser of all time”. Many commentators have endorsed the Guardian’s assessment of Freeman’s accent and his subsequent affinity to his home city.

Luke Cave, Christ Church JCR President, told Cherwell, “Though not everyone may agree with his stance in politics, each and every person should have the freedom to believe in what they choose. I think it’s extremely sad that complete strangers will take the time to write such hurtful and judgmental comments based on a 25-second clip, and I pity those who are insecure or jealous enough to warrant such despicable behaviour. It has become too easy for such abuse to be sent online, and I am deeply saddened that this is currently being directed toward such a good person”.

Maryam Ahmed, President of OUCA during Freeman’s officership, told Cherwell, “Liverpool has an awful lot to be proud of in having produced this guy.”

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