An Interview with Sir Kim Darroch

Written by Megan Lupton. Interview by Mark Matthews

Sir Kim Darroch, former British Ambassador to the United States of America and esteemed politics speaker, sat down in this exciting interview to discuss the turbulent geopolitical landscape. With over three decades of experience in the civil service, he has been on the frontlines of several national security crises. Discover how politics has changed over that period and the importance of cyber security in national security. 

As an experienced civil servant, how has politics changed since you first joined the Government? 

“Quite a lot has changed. I mean, politics has become sharper-edged; it’s become less polite, less decorous. It’s become more adversarial, I think. Senior civil servants in top positions now face much more public exposure than they used to. You’ve seen with the current government in the last couple of years, a number of very senior civil servants have been pushed to resign, out of sympathy with the Government’s policies and intentions.

“That didn’t happen 40 years ago; the single biggest change is in the media landscape. I was in the press office, in the foreign office, very early in my career back in the late 1970s – I’m that old! In those days, there was ITV and BBC and the national newspapers; that was it. Nowadays, you have a multiplicity of TV channels, you have these 24-hour news channels competing with one another, and you have social media, which also has massively changed the media landscape. 

“So, the pressure now from the media is much more intense than it used to be. The news cycle is 24 hours, 7 days a week and the pressure that comes from [the media] for instant government reactions to almost any significant event, around the world, it’s really intense. Let me tell you, my experience is that having to respond or react instantly to some event somewhere before you fully understood what is going on with all those ramifications doesn’t make for good policy, it just makes things a lot more difficult.”

Why is cyber such an important aspect of our national security defences?

“I remember, as a National Security Advisor, going down to [the Government Communications Headquarters] in Cheltenham and being shown on the screen just how many cyber-attacks there were on UK communications, over the course of a few hours. It was extraordinary and shocking to see just how much of this was going on! 

“So, the answer is that cyber was important then, and it’s even more important now; the Government has put a lot more resources into our cyber defences. This, in the first place, is about protecting government and military communications. It’s also about educating our businesses, and our corporate sector on how to protect their confidential information because, for them, information about new technology and new products is extraordinarily valuable.

“They need to defend themselves because there are certainly attacks going on all the time. So, cyber is now a very, very big part of the national security scene for us and other countries around the world.”

What are your reflections on our current geopolitical landscape? 

“I have to be frank here and say that I don’t think the geopolitical landscape is in a good place. I think the world is as uncertain, as troubled, and as dangerous as it has been at any point in the last 40 years. We now have war in Europe of a scale not seen since the Second World War, we have massive economic uncertainty around the world. We have the nightmare of climate change looming over us and so far, the global response to that is inadequate. 

“I think we’re also seeing the stalling of globalisation. Globalisation is, in some people’s minds, a bad thing, but the reality is, it has brought unprecedented global prosperity over the last few decades. The combination of all the factors that I’ve mentioned means that it is now, if not completely, stalled. It is slowing down. 

“You’re going to have to get used to a world in which economies aren’t growing at the rate they used to, in which you have people like Vladimir Putin invading neighbours with no reason other than increasing their own territory. It’s not something we’ve seen since the Second World War, that’s not to mention problems like international terrorism. 

“So, I think it’s quite a bleak landscape. I think it needs really good leadership around the world to tackle these problems and these challenges, I’m not sure we’ve got that. Of course, I would say this as a former diplomat, but diplomacy is more important than ever.”This exclusive interview with Lord Kim Darroch was conducted by Mark Matthews.

Megan has managed the internal content for Champions Speakers since 2019 when she joined the company as a Digital Copywriter. In 2020, she progressed to Content Executive, and only a year later, Megan was promoted to Senior Content Executive, where she now manages the Champions Speakers YouTube channel and PR outreach.

Continuing her passion for writing, Megan started a PhD at De Montfort University in October 2021. She previously earned her Bachelor of Arts in Film & Creative Writing at the University of Essex and her Masters of Arts in Creative Writing from Teesside University. In her current course, Megan is studying the ethics of such digital forms as podcasts and is conducting metafictional research on the creative process.

In her role, Megan has interviewed several exciting names including Dr Alex George and Sir Mo Farah. She is particularly passionate about LGBTQ+ pride and female empowermentdigital media and journalism – topics Megan enjoys writing about at Champions and researching for her PhD.

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