Controversy and conversation with Katie Hopkins

Chase Smith 3 December 2015

Katie Hopkins is not well loved by the vast majority of the Cambridge population, to put it lightly: that much is certain. But when she took the floor at the final Union Society debate of term, during which she was characteristically unapologetic, unashamedly brash, and deeply offensive, she seemed to have the audience right where she wanted.

She argued, of course, against the motion that ‘Tabloid Journalism is Bad for Britain’, defending free speech and pointing out that tabloid journalists don’t want the world to love them. During the inevitable interruptions and points of information which engulfed her speech, she called one student’s earlier comment ‘dull’, igniting the chamber, and later engaged extensively with another student who eventually left the debate. She believed, fundamentally, that she, and by extension all that she represents, is good for Britain.

I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions afterwards, during which she expanded on her outspoken approach to journalism, an approach which boils the blood of not a few Cantabs on a regular basis.

CS: Hello! I’m Chase. I’m from The Cambridge Student. So, do you think there’s a line between hate speech and free speech?

KH: Yeah. And obviously well I would feel like I’m not part of hate speech. I see that some people call me a hate speaker, and I see that some people think I have hate speech, and I understand that, in terms of understand that they have that view. But I feel like my views are just very strong views, and my views are very – I like to feel that I’ve thought them through. For example, if we go Israel-Palestine, for me, I would always be pro-Israeli, because I see how the media reporting was all from hospitals and schools when they were being bombed, but equally if we looked at it in the other way round, those were the places that rockets were being launched from, and I see the way the media reported that and I see that whereas then I become a hate [speaker], because I was pro-Israeli. So I guess it just depends which side of an argument you’re on, and if I’m on the opposite one I could become a hate speaker. Of course I guess I’m quite outspoken, and we don’t have a lot of outspoken people these days, particularly not women – I don’t wanna bring that in, in a sort of, play the woman card – but a strongly outspoken woman is often seen as a bit strange, I think.

CS: So, in various press things you’ve been described as a "faux-posh imbecile…"

KH: I mean that’s time going through things.

CS: Oh I’ve [written] them all down.*

KH: I can see!

CS: "… an insufferable snob, and a low-life superbitch."

KH: Harsh.

CS: Yes, quite. Do you feel that these descriptions have any ring of truth?

KH: I’m sure they worked in the copy that was submitted, so that’s nice. Look, I am harsh, I am blunt. I will give it out plenty and I’ll accept it back equally. And I don’t need to be loved. And certainly the strength of my views aren’t – I don’t see many other people with those… politicians don’t have the freedom to express those. And yet, you know, I hear them […] we think that to stop the war protesters and the things they shout and do, and trash people’s homes, that seems to be a lot more violent than I would…. I just speak and I’ve got a platform. And I think the only thing that I sometimes question, if I’m called a "faux-posh imbecile," is that if I was just a faux-posh imbecile, I would actually just be ignored, cause I’d just be an idiot. Whereas actually if you speak, 50 percent of people will hate you, but actually for a certain amount of people you are articulating something they feel frustrated that they no longer have a voice for. And that’s why I have a voice, I think is because I articulate a view of a certain percentage of people.

CS: Mr. Mosley said, among many things…

KH: He was very good. I liked him a lot.

Voice: Which one? Two Mr. Mosley’s.

KH: Oh I think senior.

CS: The old… senior! Sorry!

KH:  I mean junior is fine too, but senior… he’s lovely.

CS: That was really funny, yeah. So he said that tabloids parade as free speech. Do you agree with that statement?

KH: Yeah, I agree. You know, his wisdom is from slightly a time before, but he did the greatest thing. Jon Ronson wrote a book about ‘you’ve been shamed’ – it was very good. It was about internet trolls and how they act like a mob to take people down. And Max Mosley actually is one of the only individuals who went, ‘Yeah, sure. I was naked with this. And I did that with these three women, and? What? What’ve you got? Brilliant! So actually he’s one of my real heroes […] but he’s one of my real heroes. So whatever he says about tabloids I would a hundred percent support. I mean I’d come back with some few counter points if we had more time, but I think what he said and what he put across was perfect. And he’s very modest, cause he’s one of the only people that ever stood up to a tabloid and won. He’s fantastic.

CS: If you had one thing to say to the students at Brunel, what would you say?

KH: 'Yeah. Tell me what it is you don’t… tell me why you’re angry.’ And then I’d just listen. Yeah, I just wanna hear. And then I’d be interested, and then see if they want to hear me tell them back what my view is, like, try and see if we could say something in the same room without needing to walk out. And, you know, Brunel, I was invited there. I didn’t, like, ring up and ask if I could go. [Laughter]. You know, I didn’t just like gate crash it.

CS: Thank you.

*Not really. I found this string of descriptions on Wikipedia.