Ralf Little Challenges Jeremy Hunt To A Debate On NHS

19 December 2017, 09:54

The Royle Family actor has challenged the health secretary to a debate, James O'Brien says they can use his studio.

Jeremy Hunt has found himself embroiled in an unusual Twitter spat with Ralf Little and Stephen Hawking.

The comedy actor instigated the row with the Health Secretary by accusing him of "knowingly lying" on the Andrew Marr show over the state of NHS mental healthcare.

Little has since retracted the "knowingly" aspect of his allegation, admitting he made it in the heat of the moment, but he still insists the Cabinet minister was presenting the public with incorrect statistics.

Regardless, it was enough to ensnare Hunt. He hit Little back, citing three statistics alleged to support his case that Britain has seen the "biggest expansion of mental health provision in Europe."

What followed was a 40 tweet rebuttal thread, featuring statistics from the independent fact-checking charity Full Fact.

Little told James he debunked two of Hunt's claims and actually bolstered one, the health secretary having undersold his achievement.

It has been shared more than 20,000 times.

The actor, who has starred in The Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, also challenged Hunt to a debate over the NHS' mental healthcare provision. He said the aim wouldn't be to score points, believing the NHS transcends party politics, but to have a transparent discussion.

Little envisages a discussion with a team of fact checkers, as well as a few junior doctors in attendance to provide first hand evidence.

It might be why Hunt has so far not taken up the offer, last month he had to retract a claim to parliament about increasing the number of mental health workers by 30,000 - 43 times the actual figure.

James even offered his studio to host the argumentative duo: "It's HD ready, go viral all the time these days."

Little feels Hunt is ducking him with semantic arguments, he said: "Now what's happened is this. Jeremy Hunt is being chased on Twitter: 'When are you going to debate Ralf? When are you going to talk to Ralf?'

"What he's now doing is saying 'Even though I said I'd meet with Ralf, and his fact checkers and junior doctors, I only said I would do that if Ralf could prove his claim that I knowingly lied.'

"It's getting extremely semantic, extremely technical and it may even be legally sound.

"This man, who is a clever politician and knows how to produce stats and facts, is obfuscating and avoiding a serious discussion about the NHS, mental health and the future of the NHS.

"Off the basis of a semantic argument, and a technicality, and I don't think that's reasonable. I think people deserve better, I think they should know."

Watch the clip above.