Insults fly at King’s College ‘Question Time’ debate

Colm Murphy 12 May 2014

UKIP and Green candidates compared each other to ‘nutcases’ and ‘fascist Germany’ at a student-organised debate which took place at King's College earlier today.

A vitriolic spat between UKIP European candidate Mark Hughes and Green Party candidate Rupert Read erupted during the King’s Politics Society’s ‘Question Time’ event, the debate was organised ahead of the European elections on the 22nd of May.

After Mr Read heckled Mr Hughes, saying “UKIP have lied to us”, the UKIP candidate angrily retorted that Read was trying to "shut down debate" and was “comparable to fascist Nazi Germany”. In response, Read told Hughes to “look in the mirror, mate”, and called his party “pathetic Little Englanders” and “nutcases”.

The pair proceeded to heckle each other throughout the debate.

The spat occurred during the ‘Question Time’ debate involving European election candidates from five parties. Sandy Martin of Labour, Andrew Duff of the Liberal Democrats and Tom Hunt of the Conservative party were the other participants.

Chaired by Micha Eversley, the debate saw wide-ranging questions and enthusiastic debate from an audience of around 60 people, comprised mainly of Cambridge students. The issue of food banks was a hotly debated topic, other salient talking points were the problem of unemployment, refugees and an in/out referendum.

Speaking on the spat, the UKIP’s Mark Hughes afterwards said that sometimes “our parties work together”, and explained “on a platform, I can be honest. I’m a Democrat, and I’m glad we’ve been given the chance to state our case”. On his part, Mr Read regretted that he didn’t have more time as he “had so much more to say on important issues other than UKIP”.

The Conservative candidate, Mr Hunt, also regretted the shortness of the debate. On the bitter disagreement, he thought there “was no place for Rupert heckling Mark”, although he admitted that Hughes’s fascist remark was “a bit random”. Labour’s Sandy Martin said that, on the whole, debates such as this were a good thing, as they “encouraged interest” in the election.

Photo: Colm Murphy, the candidates weren't afraid to traid insults during the event

Liberal Democrat’s Duff argued strongly for the UK remaining in the EU. Mr Martin agreed with this, although said he supported reforms. The Conservative, the Green Party and UKIP candidates all supported a referendum, but only UKIP advocated unconditional withdrawal. Mr Hunt wanted to remain “only if the EU was reformed”, while Mr Read wanted a referendum to “lance this boil of Eurosceptism”.

Speaking about why they hosted the debate, the Director of Communications for King’s Politics Andrew Lawrence explained: “Our mission is to have a lively hub of debate within the student community at Cambridge. We are proud to be able to bring the students into connection with their candidates – otherwise students get ignored”.