Sky News' Adam Boulton accuses climate protesters of 'fascistic disruption'

Andrew Griffin
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Sky News' Adam Boulton accuses climate protesters of 'fascistic disruption'

Sky News' Adam Boulton accuses climate protesters of 'fascistic disruption'

Sky News presenter Adam Boulton has likened Extinction Rebellion protesters to fascists in a controversial interview with one of its founders.

Boulton accused the group of using "fascistic disruption" in protests aimed at convincing people to change their lifestyles, saying "I just simply do not understand what you think you're achieving".

The presenter was swiftly criticised by viewers who accused him of mischaracterising the protesters.

It came just a day after the presenter attacked another Extinction Rebellion activist, suggesting the group was made up by "incompetent, middle class, self-indulgent people".

The latest row came after Boulton asked Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of the group, about tactics its members have used - which have involved stopping traffic on a variety of busy roads in the centre of the capital, including Oxford Circus and Parliament Square.

"I just simply do not understand what you think you're achieving by putting this particularly kind of, you know – one does have to use the word fascistic – disruption of other people's lives to make your argument," Boulton said in the interview.

Dr Bradbrook disputed his characterisations.

"I'm sorry, I'm really not OK with you calling us fascists – I don't know what that's about, but that's up to you," she said.

"Do you think the children are fascists when they're going on school strike?"

She went on to argue that government was failing to respond adequately to climate change and that action would only come through such protests.

"We know that social change doesn't happen unless people get on the street and make their demands," she said.

Boulton defended his language, saying: "No, but by fascist I mean that you think you have the rights to impose your views on everyone else's lifestyle."

He said the group was not being "fully open about what you're proposing", including restrictions on eating meat or taking flights.

"This is actually dictating to people how they live their lives," he continued.

"It's not democratic at all."

Dr Bradbrook explained that one of the group's demands was for randomly chosen citizens' assemblies, in which people would gather together and decide the country's response to climate change.

She added that politicians had indicated they "need a social movement like ours, to give them the permission" to make changes.

Numerous viewers criticised the interview, accusing Boulton of lacking impartiality and a "gross misuse of words".

"In Adam Boulton's wibbly-wobbly world, stopping the traffic is fascism," one Twitter user wrote.

Sky News has been contacted for comment.

The discussion came soon after another interview with Extinction Rebellion during which Boulton mocked the group, accusing organiser Robin Boardman of representing “incompetent, middle class, self-indulgent people”.

Boardman later walked out of the interview, though the presenter later tweeted that he had not been aware.

"TBH I hardly noticed the flounce out, I’d finished the interview anyway," he wrote.

Boulton - who claims he has not voted since 1979, apparently on the basis of perceived impartiality - criticised Extinction Rebellion in a number of other posts in which he suggested that the group were undermining the cause of environmental activists.

"On the subject of condescension, ER are condescending to the rest of us, that we are too stupid to face up to environmental problems without their theatrical shock therapy," he wrote in a later post.