“Bizarrely hectoring” John Humphrys criticised for Ed Miliband climate change interview

As the former climate change secretary urged us to address this global emergency, the presenter interrupted with unrelated rants about holidays to the Costa Brava.

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Perhaps understandably unruffled by the prospect of extinction, the BBC Radio 4 Today programme’s John Humphrys inflicted a trivial and unnecessarily hectoring interview on the former Labour leader Ed Miliband this morning.

While the former energy and climate change secretary articulated his call for Britain to be on a “war footing” for climate change, it was clear Humphrys didn’t have any intention of engaging with the issue on a policy-based level – instead subjecting Miliband to cheap, aggressive interruptions.

“War footing means – haha – what it says…” chuckled Humphrys.

“This is an emergency,” Miliband cut in.

“During the war, we had rationing, we couldn’t go anywhere because there was no fuel and so on – are you telling us we shouldn’t fly, we shouldn’t drive, we should change the way we eat?”

“No, but let me give you some concrete examples…”

“No to all of those?” Humphrys interrupted, audibly stifling a snigger.

At another point, when Miliband spoke about more sustainable ways to heat homes in the UK, Humphrys chipped in in his best political-correctness-gone-mad voice: “Where are we gonna get that gas from? We’re not going to get it from fracking because that’s not going to be allowed any longer.”

When Miliband stated that the “costs of not acting are much greater than the costs of acting”, Humphrys dismissed this as “a bit of a cliché”, with no evidence or cost-benefit analysis of his own.

“You applauded Greta Thunberg last week, because everybody agrees she’s a wonderful young woman, etc etc,” he said, again unnecessarily dismissively.

Then Miliband quoted an Extinction Rebellion protester (who said “reach for the stars and you’ll get the sky”), but was unable to explain his point because Humphrys immediately interrupted again with his unfounded cynicism: “And that’s fine for somebody on a stage, not fine for a serious politician because you cannot do that, can you? You’ve got to be practical.”

He then instructed Miliband to tell listeners how he “want[s] you to change your life starting today”, hounding him for the nanny-state newsline he so clearly was pursuing.

“We are going to have to eat less meat over time,” Miliband conceded.

“Right. Stop eating meat, OK,” interrupted Humphrys. “Stop flying,” he added, before Miliband even mentioned it.

“Not to say stop completely but we are going to have to eat less meat,” Miliband responded. “I’m not saying we’ll have to fly less, but we can’t have unlimited airport expansion…”

Humphrys cut in and crowed: “See, this is the point, these great ambitions that you had are withering away!”

“Take Heathrow, we shouldn’t be going ahead with Heathrow,” Miliband ploughed on, patiently.

“Should we be going ahead with our holiday to Costa Brava?” asked Humphrys, with an entirely undeserved self-congratulatory tone.

“Of course you can find ways of taxing flights,” said Miliband.

“Tax them more?” came the inevitable Humphrys response.

He then quoted some unnamed “nasty old cynics out there” (who could they be??) who argue that the UK produces “less than 1 per cent of total emissions, it’ll make no difference at all, take the message to China”.

Miliband replied that Britain has to have “moral authority”, to which Humphrys pulled out what he somehow thought was his trump card: “You really think that China will listen to us because we’ve stopped going on holiday to the Costa Brava?”

Listeners on Twitter accused Humphrys of “belligerence”, “bizarre hectoring”, being “aggressive”, and not “prepared to do the slightest amount of research”.

Listen to the whole interview here.

I'm a mole, innit.

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