University of Stirling Chancellor James Naughtie predicted a “battle royal” between the administration of US President Donald Trump and his opponents during a lecture at the university last night.
The talk, entitled ‘A World Turned Upside Down: Observations on the US Election’, and introduced by journalism lecturer Adrian Hadland, was this year’s Hetherington Lecture.
The lecture has been given annually in memory of former Guardian editor and BBC Scotland controller Alastair Hetherington, whose daughters were present at this year’s event.
Naughtie drew on his twenty-one years of experience as presenter of the BBC’s Today programme, and his experiences covering every US election since 1988, to analyse the issues that led to Trump’s historic upset at last year’s election, and the possible effects it will have on the world.
Speaking on the possible responses to Trump, Naughtie said: “The time has come for serious democracy, freedom of the press, and that old Quaker saying: speaking truth to power.
“It is perfectly clear that he is going to stand up to the system. The question is, will there be people to stand up to him? And the answer to that is yes.”
Naughtie gave the examples of Republicans such as John McCain and Lindsay Graham, who refused to vote for Trump at the election, and young people, who he said would use the issue of the environment and climate change as a “rallying point for those who are critical of the administration”.
The chancellor also argued against the role of Senator Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the race for the Democratic party’s nomination, during the election, saying he did “enormous damage”.
“He gave the people a cause. And what Hillary said was, ‘I am a safe pair of hands’. He gave them a cause, and she didn’t, and in the end, I think a lot of Bernie supporters stayed home, and that made all the difference.”
Naughtie left his role as a presenter of the Today programme in 2015, but he returned to the show as a special correspondent last year. This role led him to cover the 2016 US elections for Radio 4, and he included anecdotes from several major rallies and speeches in his lecture.
In closing the lecture, Naughtie once again called for a powerful and effective opposition to hold the Trump administration to account:
“The time for calm, passionate calm is when there isn’t much of it about. And that time is now.”