Why John Simpson was right to raise the issue of white poverty in South Africa

Martin Plaut, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Keith Somerville raised several important points in his review of John Simpson’s controversial coverage of white poverty in South Africa. As a former colleague at the BBC and a fellow research fellow at the Institute I respect his views and he makes some telling criticism of Simpson’s journalism. But at the heart of Keith Somerville’s argument is a presumption that it is somehow illegitimate to discuss the poverty into which many whites have now fallen.

Of course, these poor whites are in a minority. Most whites have continued to do very nicely, thank you. But why should this mean that the tens of thousands of whites living in squalor should be ignored?

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BBC’s Simpson unites ANC and DA over the future of South Africa’s white population

Keith Somerville, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies

It is hard these days to get the ANC and the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) to agree on anything.  But the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, John Simpson has managed it. How?  With a clumsy and largely context-free feature entitled Do white people have a future in South Africa? 

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Thatcher, the Commonwealth and apartheid South Africa

By Dr Sue Onslow, Senior Research Fellow, ICwS

Margaret Thatcher was not just a highly controversial figure on the British Left, and in the history of Britain’s relations with Europe. As Prime Minister, she proved equally controversial within the Commonwealth for her staunch opposition to the imposition of economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa.

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