People from opposite ends of the political spectrum have clashed at the University of Reading due to the presence of a conservative organisation on campus.

Turning Point UK (TPUK) describes itself as ‘a student movement for free markets, limited government, personal responsibility & duty to others’.

TPUK is an offshoot of TP USA, founded by American  sociopolitical commentators Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens.

The group has a society on campus from which it spreads its activism.

Members of TPUK recently held a physical poll which asked “If given a custodial sentence, should a trans-woman be sent to a male or female prison?”

This has led to a petition calling for the TPUK society at the university to be ‘shut down’, branding the group as ‘far right.’

The petition, started by Elliot Venables has 205 signatures.

It declares that the university should follow the Office for Students zero tolerance policy for to discrimination in any form.

The petition also asks the university to consider formal action and reaffirm its support to the LGBT community.

The petition states: “As a community, we have faced the consequences of hatred in the form of the Forbury Garden attack. It’s horrific to see that during LGBTQ+ history month, people who are spreading fear and hatred have been given a platform.

“We are calling on Reading University Students Union to disband Turning Point UK as a society, and issue a statement condemning their views.”

Reading Chronicle: Members of Turning Point UK held a poll survey at the University of Reading earlier this month. Credit: Turning Point UKMembers of Turning Point UK held a poll survey at the University of Reading earlier this month. Credit: Turning Point UK

Non-student members of TPUK were told to leave the campus on Thursday, February 9.

Reacting to the petition, Nick Tenconi, the chief operating officer of TPUK confirmed the group has a presence on campus and claimed they are ‘well received by the vast majority of students’.

Mr Tenconi added: “We did have to leave campus recently, not because we aren’t allowed to perform outreach sessions, but because we had a mix up with the Student Union.”

He said the group now has a procedure to liaise with the students union before they conduct activism with the necessary risk assessments in place.

Mr Tencioni said: “This was nothing to do with our messaging, which vast amounts of Reading students support, and purely down to health and safety rules.

“In regards to the petition, it seems to have been written at best naively, at worst maliciously.

“We did not ‘protest’ at Reading, like at all universities we visit, we carry out outreach sessions in which we ask students their opinions on current events.

“This petition has attempted to brand us as extremists which couldn’t be further from the truth as our aim is to promote freedom of speech and debate on campuses to help engage students in politics.”

Finally, Mr Tenconi finished by adding that the group are ‘strong supporters of the LGB community’ and have featured numerous groups such as the LGB Alliance on its platforms.

For its part, a spokesperson for the university said: “Discussion of ideas, valid student societies, and genuine open debate are welcome on our campuses. Hatred and discrimination are not.

“We have clear guidelines to ensure that we provide freedoms to discuss issues in an inclusive and respectful environment.”