‘Do I feel this strongly about children’s names?…no’: We spoke to Exeter grad Katie Hopkins
We chatted to viral sensation, Exeter graduate and certified ‘rent-a-gob’ Katie Hopkins
Since her appearance on Wednesday’s This Morning, former Apprentice contestant and tabloid-certified ‘bitch’ Katie Hopkins has become a viral sensation.
Over 8 million people have watched the YouTube clip of presenter Holly Willoughby ‘losing her cool’ with the Exeter alumnus, as they argue about what a child’s name can tell you about their upbringing.
We called up Katie earlier today to have a chat about her new-found infamy, allowing her to let loose on her targets du jour.
-that the basis of her career is “pure self-promotion“.
-that she doesn’t want her kids playing with those who “come from a lower class“.
-that social class very much exists and “is a very efficient mechanism for filtering out people”.
-how social media users have called her “a cunt” and told her that “they’re going to come and rape me in the arse with a gun“.
-that these critics are “ill-educated…the sort of people who are on free school meals”.
-that the names debate was a means for her to discuss how our country supports those who “don’t deserve the support” at the expense of those “that are working really hard, who come from really great parents who’ve struggled necessarily to pay for school fees“.
Read the full interview below:
MMc: Firstly, what’s happened to your website?!
KH: (laughs) Someone…yeah, I don’t know the technical term for this, but anyway, someone got onto my website, was able to put their own material on my website and effectively crashed part of it, and so we’ve shut it down because it was being overloaded by about, I don’t know, 2 million people trying to access it.
MMc: So do you have any idea who’s responsible for this?
KH: Yeah, someone let me know that they had done it and that our website security clearly wasn’t sufficient.
MMc: What, they emailed you?
KH: They found a way of telling me, let’s put it that way. I kind of admire it, if they’re that smart, it’s the kind of person you want to have around really.
MMc: To get to the crux of your argument, what’s in a name?
KH: Well, in my opinion, over a good few years now of being around schools and school gates, when you compare, for example, the birth column in the Telegraph versus, let’s say, the names that are up at the magistrates court after the riots or any other public disruption, that gives you a fairly clear indicator of the types of people they are.
If you sort of take that back into schools, I think you’ll find exactly the same correlation, so the Tylers, the Brandons, the Chardonnays, the Charmaines, all of that, they are for me the sorts of children that I think come from a lower class and I don’t want my children playing with, really, and I’m not interested in hanging around with them or their parents.
MMc: It seems like the reason why this has exploded is that the argument’s based more around social class than anything else. Bearing that in mind, why do you think that social class is such a taboo subject?
KH: Well yes, it’s kind of the really interesting thing, it’s as if we all pretend that we’re all terribly PC, we all read The Guardian and watch Channel 4 at all times, we still have to pretend that we’re all terribly PC, and everything’s about social mobility, and everything’s about the fact that we HAVE to encourage people from less privileged backgrounds to make it to the top.
I completely disagree with that notion, I think social policy is much weaker than social class, and actually class massively still exists and rightly so; class is a very efficient mechanism for filtering out people. I work a lot with lawyers; class is a very good way of filtering out good lawyers from bad lawyers, and I think it’s absolutely fair or right to say that class still exists.
I’ve really tried to highlight that issue with a topical chat around childrens’ names which actually came from a Netmums survey that was produced on that day, Wednesday 3rd, that was talking about childrens’ names and the fact that people want to give their children the right name.
MMc: How would you respond to the haters in more than 140 characters?
KH: I think, you know, they have a right to their view. What I’m perplexed about is that I’ve yet to see in less than 140 characters anyone coming up with a witty retort or anything that I would vaguely pass as amusing.
All they appear to be able to do, these individuals that I’ve named such as the Daryls and the Ethans is call me a cunt, or ask me to go and cut myself, ask me to go and die, tell me they’re going to come and rape me in the arse with a gun .
I really think that sort of thing highlights the point I’m rather trying to make, which is that these people are ill-educated. They are the sort of people who are on free school meals and get their mother parked outside in a BMW 7 Series, you know. My view of school is that things have become very corrupted and actually it’s very easy for those who do bugger all in this society to get a great deal.
MMc: So what does ‘Katie’ say about you? Would you let your daughter play with a Katie and why?
KH: (laughs) You know, I haven’t actually thought about myself in all of this at all, and clearly people have told me all sorts of things that Katie clearly now stands for. I think Katie’s sort of an average Joe name.
I don’t think I’d necessarily pick it for my children, but you know, I think Katie’s quite an average name. I haven’t got any great musings about Katie.
MMc: My dad used to teach A Level English Language, and he’s explained to me about power names. So if you’re calling your child something like Victoria or Elizabeth, that’s a power name.
KH: Yes, agreed.
MMc: And then, if you name them, say, after a bottle of wine, that’s not a power name. Do you not think that if you framed your argument almost in a more academic rhetoric that perhaps it wouldn’t have received as much fury as it has?
KH: I think you’re really looking at it from a university student perspective and I very much admire that, and were I to be doing maybe something that was more BBC, perhaps on the BBC Breakfast sofa, that’s absolutely the route you’d go, but you have to modify your argument depending on your audience, so a This Morning audience is exactly who I’m pitching this at.
You don’t just rock in the door, throw yourself on the sofa and just blurt out, there’s 2 hours of research, then there’s the legal team briefing in order that you don’t offend anyone more than you should, and then you’re on the sofa, so there’s quite a lot of press involved in these things.
To pitch at a This Morning audience, the argument I went for was exactly the right one, given that This Morning has had more hits for this particular segment than they’ve ever had in the history of This Morning. That this has gone viral, I think it’s got 7.something-million, that people text me from Dubai saying that people around the pool are slagging me off, and Radio Sydney are calling later, means that arguably you couldn’t pitch an argument more appropriately for the audience.
MMc: What happened in the studio after the cameras went off?
MMc: Because Holly Willoughby seemed like she reacted fairly
KH: It was nice, after these debates, everyone stands up, everyone’s very lovely, Holly and Philip thank you, you toddle off and then usually for me some of the senior production team will come down and thank you for doing a good job.
In this case, quite a lot of the senior producers came down to thank me for doing a good job, and the nice thing about this, and the reason it actually has the traction in the UK to send it viral, is that instead of Holly and Philip being presenters, they were being themselves.
Holly turned into a mum, and Philip turned into a sort-of dad figure role, and that’s what you’ve got, instead of fabricated presenters, you’ve got real people having a discussion or an argument with another real person, and I think that was a good thing.
MMc: So if I were to run some names by you, can you give me your associations for them…I mean I’m 21, so in about 10 years’ time chances are I’ll have children
KH: What’s your name?
MMc: My name’s Matt, Matthew.
KH: Yep, good.
MMc: Typical, average Joe name.
KH: Biblical, strong, good.
MMc: OK, so give me your association…Thomas.
KH: Thomas…yes, good, strong, nice, English, British name, Biblical possibly, but yes, stoic, nice, Exeter University, good.
KH: Cordelia…yes, also pretty strong name, pretty associations, I know a few Cordelia-lawyers, I go straight to the lawyer I know, she’s fab, she’s ballsy, and she will make a senior associate, I’m certain, and she puts her career first, Cordelia, yes.
KH: Vanessa? Well most Vanessas would be a no, cake shop, bun shop, floating around town, flippy-floppy, slippers and elasticated clothing, the one Vanessa exception I hold is Vanessa Feltz who’s brave, actually works about eight times the speed of a normal individual, but most Vanessas, no.
KH: Ooh…Cain…yes, I mean it would be…it would probably be a yes…a little too Biblical for me, verging on extreme Biblical so it’s well-bred, fro-yo, tofu…
MMc: What about with a K?
KH: Ah. Kayne with a K, no. Possibly verging near the courts, the magistrates. It’s a very fine line, the Ks thing.
MMc: What about Coco?
KH: (laughs) Coco…it’s a very different thing, if I heard Coco at the state school down the road I would go ‘oh, for God’s sake’, fat mum, leggings, Primark bag bigger than the latest baby she’s had, that sort of thing, (mock ‘common’ voice) “Coco, get over here!”, but if I heard (posh voice) “Coco” on Exeter University campus, that could be an interesting family who’ve decided to name their child in an interesting fashion. It depends where I heard it.
MMc: OK…I’m almost hesitating saying this one…Chantelle.
KH: (laughs)…yes…that is…mother outside in the BMW 7 Series, can’t be arsed to get out of the car to pick the kids up from the state school playground, probably smoking out of the window at the same time, overweight kid, badly dressed, not in uniform, won’t have done home-learning, doesn’t turn up on time, doesn’t give voluntary contributions to the school trips as required but has Sky at home, has TVs in bedrooms, child has iPad, iPhone 5.
MMc: So you went to Exeter University?
MMc: Presumably got a 2.1, at least?
KH: (laughs) And I think Exeter University have tried very hard, and they’ve done a good job, of making sure they disassociate themselves with anything to do with me, and I think that’s probably for the best.
MMc: You did Economics and Politics?
MMc: What would you say if I told you that all the names I’ve just read off were members of this year’s graduating class in Economics or Politics?
KH: I would say…fair enough. It wouldn’t…you know, it doesn’t surprise me, clearly, my views on some of the names, and most of them I was quite nice about I think you’ll find…clearly there has to be some generalisations behind this, but as you would expect…our tax schemes in this country are a generalisation otherwise they’d be far too costly to administrate.
You have to generalise in life with all things, but, in my experience I’ve noticed, there’s a high prevalence of issues for people like Tyler, and not very many problems with people that are called Monty.
I stand by what I’ve said, I don’t find that a lot of lawyers that I work with are called Chantelle, so yeah, I definitely stick by what I’ve said.
MMc: Obviously I didn’t manage to get on your website yesterday, but I was trying to do a bit of research…in the past, your personal life has come under a lot of media scrutiny, you’ve had a lot of tabloid attention…surely that level of scrutiny, that level of interference, could almost be as limiting to a child’s success as how they’re named?
KH: Um…I think that arguably having media attention on you can be limiting…I think though, you have to be quite resilient, don’t you, in this world, and you learn more and more that resilience, you have to become really quite thick-skinned, and I think people can say ‘oh, your poor kids’, ‘ooh, your poor kids’ all they want, but if you don’t give yourself and give your children the thick skin and the ability to brush comments off left right and centre, then you’re not really equipping them for life.
I can tell you, the large kids in the playground that are carrying as much body weight as they do are going to get bullied any time over my children, so there are other issues out there, bigger issues than me saying a couple of things in the press that perhaps kick off a little bit from time to time.
What I do notice is that the core of what I say…is that people come to me and say, you know, ‘thank Christ for you, thank Christ someone’s finally speaking up for regular people in this country that are going out to work, paying their taxes, trying their hardest, supporting their children, thank God someone’s speaking up for regular British people who are trying to make this work’.
There is a class system; frankly some of us would be better if we didn’t have to be quite so socially integrated all of the time. Social mobility works against students, like the students at Exeter University, and I will continue to speak out against it. There, massive rant!
MMc: One final question…obviously you rose to fame after leaving The Apprentice on your own terms…and then before that you were on the reserve list for Big Brother, right?
KH: Well, that was a loooooong time ago, they needed people to go and test out the house so that’s what me and a bunch of my mates did.
MMc: OK, and then after The Apprentice you appeared on I’m A Celebrity right?
MMc: So a more cynical person could see this latest controversy almost as part of an ongoing campaign of flagrant self-promotion?
MMc: So do you ACTUALLY feel THIS strongly about the names of the kids your kids are playing with? Or is it just part of that kind of discourse?
KH: I…I think you have a fair point and I agree with you entirely, that would be an entirely fair argument, it’s pure self-promotion, boring boring boring, and you can’t really argue back too much from that because if you’re around and associated with the media, you will always get that criticism.
I think there’s a lot of people out there in this country, and there’s only a few of us that they choose to use for certain items on BBC News, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, This Morning, and there’s a reason for that, because we can put a point across, put it quite saliently, and use language that we need to, and stick within the legal parameters that you’re given, so there’s a reason that we are used, it’s not that we just rock up.
Addressing your second point…do I feel this strongly about children’s names? That surface level…no. Do I feel really strongly that this country continues to support individuals that don’t deserve the support and continue to put down individuals that are working really hard, who come from really great parents who’ve struggled necessarily to pay for school fees…the country is not in favour of those individuals, and that’s really what I was getting at behind all of this.
The Tab says: Katie, I, like you, am a graduate of the University of Exeter. By this measure, I presume that I am not to be considered ‘ill-educated’, despite the fact that I’ve attended state schools all of my life, some of which were located in poor areas. My parents are teachers, a noble profession, and therefore I presume you’d view them as ‘really great’.
Hopefully this means you consider my opinion valid when I add my voice to the chorus in saying: you are a cunt.
Ten years’ down the line, I won’t be allowing little Chantelle and Vanessa anywhere near your kids if they’re as grossly socially regressive as you are.
My friend Kayne reckons that “Katie Hopkins’ kids are going to be sheltered little geeks with their virginities intact aged 43.”
Fingers crossed you deem one of these retorts ‘witty’ enough.