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1 day ago
316 | Union at the Crossroads
David and Helen talk to Mike Kenny about what devolution has done to the politics of the UK as seen from Westminster and Whitehall. How have we ended up with a Unionism that is both complacent and aggressive? What lessons has the pandemic taught about the need for co-operation? And can the UK survive without a fundamental constitutional rethink?
Apr 15, 2021
315 | Wales, England and the Future of the UK
As part of our series about the future of the Union, David and Helen talk to Dan Wincott of Cardiff Law School about the history of Welsh devolution and the possibility of Welsh independence. How has English dominance shaped Welsh attitudes to the Union? What did the Brexit vote reveal about the different strands of Welsh and British identity? Has the pandemic made the case for more devolution and even independence for Wales stronger? Plus, what happens to Wales if Scotland votes to leave the UK?
Apr 8, 2021
314 | Adam Curtis
This week David talks to the celebrated film-maker Adam Curtis about his new series Can't Get You Out of My Head, which tells the history of the rise and fall of individualism. Why do so many people feel so powerless in the age of the empowered individual? How has digital technology turbo-charged our feelings of alienation? And what has all this got to do with behavioural psychology? Plus much more: Nixon, China, Dominic Cummings, complex systems, Max Weber and conspiracy theories. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/p093wp6h/cant-get-you-out-of-my-head
Apr 1, 2021
313 | How's Biden Doing?
70 days into the first 100 days we take the temperature of the Biden presidency and ask how he's doing, and how he's doing so much. What made sleepy Joe such an active president? Is it him or the people around him? And how should the Republicans respond? Plus we discuss what it would take to restore America's standing in the world - does anyone want that anyway? With Helen Thompson and Gary Gerstle.
Mar 25, 2021
312 | Technopopulism
David and Helen talk to Chris Bickerton about how technocracy and populism have come together to create a new form of democratic politics. From New Labour to Macron's En Marche, from Dominic Cummings to Five Star, we discuss what these different forms of politics have in common and whether the pandemic has entrenched the hold of technopopulism or whether we are on the brink of something new. https://bit.ly/2PixL2T
Mar 18, 2021
311 | The Tragic Choices of Climate Change
David talks to Helen Thompson and Adam Tooze about the choices facing the world in addressing climate change. Can we transition away from fossil fuels while maintaining our current ways of living? Will we act in time if we also insist on taking our time? Can the West uphold its values while getting its hands dirty with China? Plus we discuss whether American democracy is the worst system of all for doing what needs to be done.
Mar 11, 2021
310 | Sunakonomics
This week we discuss the government's post-Budget economic strategy and the new dividing lines in British politics. Have the Tories stolen Labour's clothes? Is there a new consensus emerging on tax and spend? What can Keir Starmer do to carve out a distinctive economic position? Plus we consider whether a new Labour leader in Scotland can kickstart a revival of the party's fortunes there. With Helen Thompson and Chris Brooke.
Mar 4, 2021
309 | Northern Ireland: Past, Present, Future
In the latest in our series on the fate of the Union, we talk to historians Richard Bourke and Niamh Gallagher about the history of Northern Ireland's relationship to the rest of the UK. From the Anglo-Irish Union to Partition to the Troubles to the Peace Process to Brexit and beyond, we discuss what makes Northern Irish politics so contentious and whether consensus is possible. Plus we ask if Irish re-unification is coming and what it might look like.
Feb 25, 2021
308 | What Does Jeremy Think?
This week we talk to Suzanne Heywood about her memoir of her late husband, Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood - the man who helped to run Britain for more than two decades, working with four different prime ministers. From Black Wednesday to Brexit, from the Blair/Brown battles to the surprising successes of the Coalition, Jeremy Heywood had a unique position at the heart of British politics. We discuss what he did, what he learned and what he wished had turned out differently.
Feb 18, 2021
307 | Is Boris Back?
David and Helen talk to Nick Timothy, former chief of staff in Downing Street under Theresa May, about the future for Boris Johnson's government. Is he now safe from leadership challenges? Can he hold together the coalition that won the 2019 election? Is Keir Starmer the one under pressure? Plus we discuss where the next big destabilising threat to this government might come from: Scotland, Northern Ireland, the EU, China?
Feb 11, 2021
306 | Rating the Government on Covid
David talks to Bronwen Maddox, Director of the Institute for Government, about how well the Johnson government has performed over the past year of the pandemic. There have been some successes - the furlough scheme, vaccines - and plenty of failures - education policy, health outcomes. But which were the key choices? Who can claim the credit? And where does the blame really lie? Plus we discuss how much personality still matters in political decision-making.
Feb 9, 2021
305 | The Coup in Burma
In this extra episode David catches up with Thant Myint-U to discuss the latest developments in Burma (Myanmar), following the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi's government. What prompted the generals to act? What do the protestors want? And what does it mean for the future of Burmese democracy? Thant Myint-U is the author of The Hidden History of Burma.
Feb 4, 2021
304 | What is the Union?
For this first in our series looking at the future of the UK, we talk to the historian Colin Kidd about the origins of the Union and the ideas that underpin it. Is the island of Britain a natural territorial political unit? Is nationalism compatible with Unionism? What changed in the 1970s? Plus we discuss how the shifting character of the SNP has shaped the arguments for and against the Union.
Jan 28, 2021
303 | Germany, Italy, Coalitions and Vaccines
We look at two countries where things may be changing: Germany, as it starts to imagine life beyond Merkel, and Italy, after the resignation of the prime minister. Would Armin Laschet as Chancellor mean business as usual? Can Conte cobble together a new government? Where are the biggest challenges to the established order coming from? Plus we talk about the new politics of vaccine nationalism. With Helen Thompson, Hans Kundnani and Lucia Rubinelli.
Jan 20, 2021
302 | Biden Begins
David, Helen and Gary reflect on what lies ahead for American politics and for the Biden administration. Does Trump pose more of a threat from inside or outside the Republican party? Is immigration about to become the central partisan dividing line once again? How much good can calls for unity do in such a fractured country? Plus, we look at Trump's list of entrants for his garden of national heroes. From Emily Dickinson to Hannah Arendt to Woody Guthrie - but no Bruce Springsteen. What's going on?
Jan 14, 2021
301 | The Long-term Legacy of Brexit
David and Helen are joined by Diane Coyle and Anand Menon to have another go at pinning down the long term consequences of Brexit. Now we have a deal, what are the prospects for rebalancing the UK economy? Do EU politicians want a post-Brexit UK to succeed or to fail? Can Labour really avoid re-opening the Brexit wars for the next four years? Plus, an update on the next series of History of Ideas.
Jan 12, 2021
300 | Jill Lepore on the Insurrection
David talks to historian Jill Lepore about what took place at the Capitol on January 6th. What should we call it? What can we compare it to? And what should happen next? Plus we ask how Biden ought to address what happened in his inaugural next week. Are we past the time for talk about reconciliation?
Jan 7, 2021
299 | New Year, New World?
Happy New Year! David and Helen look at what's changed - and what hasn't - since we last spoke, from Brexit to Biden to Covid. Has the Brexit deal really given the UK a chance to do things differently? Do Democrat wins in the Georgia Senate races open up new possibilities for Biden? What is at stake in the politics of vaccination? Plus, we talk about where things now stand for the future of the Union.
Jan 3, 2021
297 | How to Fix British Democracy?
Another recent talk by David on democracy: does it make sense to talk about fixing British democracy, and if so, how? David discusses electoral reform, institutional change and he returns to the question of votes for children.
Dec 31, 2020
296 | Did Covid Kill the Climate?
A recording of a recent talk by David on what we've learned in 2020 about the resilience of democratic societies in the face of disaster. Has the experience of Covid shown us how we can deal with climate change, or has it shown us what we are missing? An argument about optimism, pessimism and everything in between.