Academia is an unwelcoming place for people who support the Conservative Party, leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt says.
Speaking at the final hustings debate for the Conservative Party leadership, Hunt was asked by a party member: “How you will free the education system from the grips from socialism?”
Hunt replied: “We cannot have a situation where people are harassed or intimidated or feel threatened because they do something as bold as say they are a Conservative.”
To my knowledge there is only one vice-chancellor in the whole country who openly says that he supports the Conservatives – Jeremy Hunt
If elected leader, Hunt said he would “make sure we’re properly defending free speech on our campuses”.
“To my knowledge there is only one vice-chancellor in the whole country who openly says that he supports the Conservatives.”
LBC presenter and hustings host Iain Dale asked why vice-chancellors should declare their political allegiances.
The foreign secretary clarified: “They shouldn’t have to declare it; everyone can decide if they want to do that or not.
“But I am making the point that in our 300 universities the fact that there is only one [vice-chancellor] that feels able to declare that is an indication of just how difficult it is to support the Conservatives in academia, and that isn’t right.”
In response to the question from the floor, Hunt also said: “I think we need a bit of honesty from the vice-chancellors in this country that what has made this country great is free debate, enlightenment values, getting rid of the Spanish inquisition and the great things that happened in our universities that happened here before they happened anywhere else. And we need to stay true to those principles today as we always have done.”
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