Saturday 14 September 2019

John Simpson stands up to be counted

Simpy McSimpface

Besides his BBC journalism, John Simpson (the BBC's World Affairs Editor) also has his Twitter feed. 

And now he was a podcast (which he's promoting this weekend on Twitter). 

Here are transcripts of some of his answers to question from the latest, climate-change-based episode:

[On Donald Trump's opposition towards action to tackle climate change]
I think it's insane, actually. And I think it's really, really stupid. And it flies in the face of everything.  
And, you know, when he's talked about it, when people like him talk about it, they say, oh, it's only a few years since all the scientists were saying we were going to enter a new ice age and now, you know, last year was the hottest in human history, you just think, Come on! Don't be so pathetic! Realise the problem and do something about it!
The short-termism - and it's particularly a problem for democracies - is killing us, and we've got to force our governments to do something about it. 
I'm not very, very enthusiastic usually about all the direct action stuff, and going to the houses of government ministers and screaming at them and so on, because I think, you know, it gets out of hand quite fast that kind of thing. But I really do sympathise with the people that say this is too late for ordinary methods, we've got to do something and we've got to do it now, and the only way we can reasonably do that is by demonstrating in the streets. 

[On whether he'd get involved with political demonstrations]
I haven't in the past because my contract with the BBC says I'm not allowed to get involved in these things. 
But, again, I think that with something this important, you know, I don't think my contract ought to stand in the way of that. 
I didn't go to the anti-Iraq demonstrations, huge one...well I did go to it, but as reporter. I didn't take part in it in 2003. I felt the same as the demonstrators, and I think we've all been proven very, very much right about that. 
But I just think you've got to put pressure on the people who are, at the moment, saying, oh well, my political position, our political position, is the most important thing and we'll sort out the future of the planet afterwards. 
There ain't gonna be an 'afterwards' if we're not careful.

[On not being a Trump fan]
I'll tell you. This is something which really gets to the heart of a lot of things.  
I don't like ignorance. I don't like deliberate lying. I don't like falsehoods of that kind. 
Of course, to say that one President of the US, that one Prime Minister of Britain, is better than another and maybe I should just shut up about it...but I do feel that we're living in different times and I often think about journalists who were in Germany in the early 1930s.  
Now, I do not want to present my argument as being that Trump=Nazism, because that isn't the case at all and it's stupid and it's ignorant, but there are similarities between various types of populism and the populism in Germany in 1930, 1931, through to the victory of the National Socialist Party in the January 1933 election in Germany. 
That period often stays with me, and I've written...of course, I wasn't even alive then, but I've written quite a lot about it and I've studied it quite a lot, and there were journalists, foreign journalists, who were quite outspoken about it. There were British diplomats who were very outspoken in private to their bosses back in London. 
But it didn't somehow effect the way that the general public saw these things. 
And I don't want to be one of those kinds of journalist that just says, oh well, forget the big picture, let's look at the day-to-day stuff. 
I think you have to think about the big picture. 
And I don't want people to come along and find my work in 20-30 years time (assuming they would and that it hasn't just disappeared) and think, oh that Simpson, he was just another one of these useless characters that didn't make...they'll probably think that anyway and they'd be right but...who didn't stand up for anything. 
And I feel that when things are as clear as they are with Donald Trump, with other people, that you have to stand up and be counted. 


  1. Octogenarian John Simpson shouldn't have to work so hard in his dotage. Instead of podcasting why doesn't he just put up a sign saying: "I agree with everything I read in the Guardian. No requirement for further thought."

  2. "Now, I do not want to present my argument as being that Trump=Nazism...."

    Always that little get-out clause. (But I'm sure we all got the message, wink, wink, nudge, nudge).


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