Opinion split over Katie Hopkins’ offer to speak at Wales’ schools
CONTROVERSIAL right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins has engaged in a war of words with Wales’ Education Secretary Kirsty Williams and a teaching union after it was revealed she is offering herself as a speaker at schools.
Hundreds of parents also expressed outrage after Hopkins’ manager said she was already booked to speak to 11 to 16-year-olds at several schools and is looking for more to take part.
Others defended Hopkins, who lost her job as a presenter on the LBC radio station after making controversial comments about the Manchester Arena bombing, saying she had a right to air her views.
Hopkins is offering herself to schools for no fee to deliver Q&A sessions in November and her manager said she was “confirmed” to appear at venues in Wales and Scotland.
Welsh Education Secretary Kirsty Williams urged schools not to book her, describing her as “unelected” and “unpleasant”. She added: “Orwell said that sometimes the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of the intelligent. Katie Hopkins is unelected, unpleasant and needs PR and reaction to thrive. No proof that she will speak in Welsh schools. When they go low, we should go high.”
Hopkins sarcastically responded to the Secretary on Twitter.
She wrote: “Thanks to the Welsh Education Secretary for her warm welcome. In Wales school speakers must be elected. Apparently.”
She also hit out at the National Union of Teachers for criticising the tour. The union’s Welsh secretary David Evans said he “wouldn’t give Hopkins the time of day” and asked schools to be “very careful in regards to ideas they expose pupils to”.
She tweeted in response: “Respectfully @NUTonline Wales. You do have an issue with jihadis in the valleys. Some balance would be a fine thing.”
Hopkins also faced criticism from the National Education Union and worried parents. Writing on Facebook, mum Karen Pickford commented: “I would keep my daughter off school. I don’t want her to become a bigoted show-off like this woman.
“Katie Hopkins should be kept away from schools and keep her opinions to herself. Dreadful woman.”
Mum Rebecca Mark Morgan agreed. She wrote: “I’d refuse to send my child to school if she was there and to be honest, with her views, I can’t imagine this is true.”
But not everyone agreed the divisive Daily Mail columnist should be banned. Reader Martin Jones said: “She has a right to air her views if anybody is willing to listen however controversial.
“I don’t believe any schools would book her to speak unless she was part of a debate with other participants who would be able to challenge her views and opinions however distasteful.”
Frankie Moore said: “What is everybody so afraid of?
“That your kids might question her views, there are plenty of opinionated extreme views in schools by speakers with dubious credentials, but shouldn’t kids make their own minds up?”