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6 February 2015updated 24 Jul 2021 11:15am

What exactly did Tristram Hunt say about nuns, and why is everyone so angry?

People are criticising the shadow education secretary for being contemptuous of nuns, but what really happened?

By Anoosh Chakelian

Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, entered a skirmish on the BBC’s Question Time last night regarding teaching provided by nuns. He clashed with the journalist, and former Catholic Herald editor, Cristina Odone, who disagreed with him that all teachers should be qualified.

Her argument was that some of her best teachers when she was at school hadn’t received teacher training. In response, much to Odone’s outrage, Hunt said:

“These were nuns. These were all nuns, weren’t they? . . This, this is, I mean, I know about your religious schooling, and there’s a difference I think between a state education system, having a state education system, having qualified teachers in the classroom . . . ”

Watch it here:

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Video: YouTube

His remarks have caused offence among viewers who saw his response to Odone’s education as contemptuous. Although he has come under fire mainly from right-wing commentators and Tories (and Odone later called his comments “arrogant and ignorant”), some on the left saw his comments as ill-judged:

UPDATE 12.04

Hunt has tweeted that he meant “no offence to nuns”.

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