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Analysis

Analysis

Programme examining the ideas and forces which shape public policy in Britain and abroad, presented by distinguished writers, journalists and academics.

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Look who's talking - the rise of ?voice cloning?

When you listen to a radio programme, watch an animated film, or even receive a phone call, it?s unlikely you?ll question whether the words you?re hearing are coming from the mouth of a human being. But all that could be about to change thanks to the rise of ?voice cloning?. Elaine Moore is a tech columnist at the Financial Times and she?s interested in the ramifications of this new technology. Thanks to artificial intelligence, cloning a human voice can be achieved with just a few minutes of recorded audio. As the technology becomes more sophisticated and its use more widespread, how will this affect our society, our politics and our personal interactions? And is it time we were able to control what happens to our own voice both now and when we die? With contributions from: Carlton Daniel, lawyer at Squire Patton Boggs. Tom Lee, co-founder of LOVO. David Leslie, Ethics Theme Lead at the Alan Turing Institute. Rupal Patel, founder & CEO of VocaliD. Tim McSmythurs, AI Researcher and creator of Speaking AI. James Vlahos, co-founder of HereAfter AI. Producer: Craig Templeton Smith Editor: Jasper Corbett
2021-10-11
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Who Defends Europe?

This summer's hasty and poorly executed withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan caused shock and profound unease among Washington's allies, just as they hoped the unilateralism of the Trump era had been left behind. But anxiety about America's position on defence only intensified with the unveiling in September of AUKUS - a trilateral security pact involving Australia, the US and UK covering the Indo-Pacific region. The exclusion of France from that deal not only enraged Paris but also further alarmed European allies about American intentions. So what next? Can the Biden administration be trusted to uphold the security guarantee which underpins NATO? Or, as France's President Emmanuel Macron argues, do these and other actions by the United States show that the 70 year-old Alliance is effectively "brain dead" and that Europe has to set about achieving "strategic autonomy" without depending on Washington's whims? In a lively forum with key players and thinkers about European security from both sides of the Atlantic, Edward Stourton considers what should happen now on European defence and whether seemingly divergent views about it can be reconciled. Those taking part: Professor Malcolm Chalmers, Deputy Director of the Royal United Services Institute in London; Nathalie Loiseau, MEP, former French Minister of European Affairs and Chair of the European Parliament's Sub-committee on Security and Defence; Dr Constanze Stelzenmüller, expert on Germany and trans-Atlantic Relations in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.; and Linas Linkevicius, former Foreign and Defence Minister of Lithuania. Producer: Simon Coates Editor: Jasper Corbett Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
2021-10-04
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Reimagining the Nation

What keeps a nation together? For political scientist Benedict Anderson, it was the idea of the 'imagined community'. Although people from different backgrounds in a country might not know one another, they could imagine themselves as part of the same larger story. Peter Pomerantsev looks at how we can survive as a society when the idea of the 'imagined community' is under strain. Is it too late to find any commonality? Or are there other ways of imagining the future of the nation? Producer Ant Adeane Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-09-27
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Cancelling Colston

In June 2020 the statue of slaver trader Edward Colston was toppled and thrown into the harbour in Bristol ? one of the most visible moments of the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK. The statue now lies on its side in a museum, a testament to the dramatic re-evaluation of Bristol?s painful history at the centre of the transatlantic slave trade. Over the last year schools and buildings bearing Colston's name have been renamed. Colston has been cancelled. But what about the system of wealth, power and race that he represented? Bristol journalist Neil Maggs speaks to the people in Bristol dealing with Colston?s legacy. Current members of the Society of Merchant Venturers, a powerful charitable organisation which promoted Colston?s reputation as a philanthropist, have suddenly been thrust into the spotlight. School leaders are rolling out unconscious bias training. Elsewhere community leaders and politicians are navigating the potential for a backlash against terms such as white privilege as the national conversation on race continues. Producer: Lucy Proctor Editor: Jasper Corbett
2021-07-19
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Science in the Time of Cancel Culture

In an age of social media ?cancel culture? might be defined as an orchestrated campaign which seeks to silence or end the careers of people whose thoughts or opinions deviate from a new set of political norms. So if this threat exists for anyone expressing an opinion online in 2021, what?s it like for scientists working in academia and publishing findings which might be deemed controversial? In this edition of Analysis, Michael Muthukrishna, Associate Professor of Economic Psychology at the London School of Economics, assesses the impact of modern social justice movements on scientific research and development. Speaking to a range of experts, some who have found themselves in the firing line of current public discourse, and others who question the severity of this phenomenon and its political motives, Michael asks: if fear of personal or professional harm is strengthening conformism or eviscerating robust intellectual debate, can open-mindedness on controversial issues really exist in the scientific community? Or is rigorous public assessment of scientific findings helping to achieve better, more equitable and socially just outcomes? With contributions from: Emily M Bender, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Washington Pedro Domingos, Professor of Computer Science at University of Washington Caroline Criado Perez, writer and campaigner Brandeis Marshall, data scientist, Professor of Computer Science at Spelman College Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University David Reich, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School Producer Craig Templeton Smith Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-07-12
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Stalemate: Israel and the Palestinians after Gaza

After another round of violence, a two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict appears farther away than ever. Edward Stourton examines the future. Guests include: Ahmad Samih Khalidi - Senior Associate Member at St Antony's College, Oxford Anshel Pfeffer - Senior Correspondent, Haaretz Dore Gold - former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations & President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Jake Walles - former US Consul General in Jerusalem Salem Barahmeh - Executive Director of the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy Sawsan Zaher - Deputy General Director, Adalah Shlomo Ben-Ami - former Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs & Vice President of the Toledo International Center for Peace. Producer Luke Radcliff Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-07-05
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A Hundred Glorious Years?

The first, modest Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took place in late July 1921. Of the twelve original members, only Mao Zedong and one of his closest aides survived to take part in the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. The others were killed by political opponents, lost factional struggles or took up other creeds. And the CCP's history has been punctuated by in-fighting, purges, jailings, defections and sudden deaths. The Party itself sees things differently. Only it was able to push China into the future, the CCP claims, after earlier abortive attempts to modernise the country - and to secure the global eminence that it now enjoys. Its narrative also insists on the CCP's seamless triumph over obstacles placed in its path by malevolent foreign powers and reactionary domestic forces. A hundred years on from the CCP's foundation, the eminent China-watcher Isabel Hilton assesses the importance of the Party's centenary and asks why control of its view of its history is so important. She shows which events and ideological shifts the CCP prefers not to highlight or to ignore altogether. She considers why so much of the Party's history swings between periods of repression and liberalisation. And she explores how Xi Jinping, its current leader, is using the centenary. What will preoccupy the CCP in the years ahead? Producer Simon Coates Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-06-28
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A New Unionism?

Unionism in Northern Ireland is facing a highly uncertain future. Its divided party politics make the headlines. But beyond that, post-Brexit border rules and talk of a possible vote on Irish reunification is causing much anxiety. Even more profoundly, changes in the province?s population and attitudes among different generations are weakening traditional loyalties. Pessimists fear all this could be seriously destabilising. Others argue that a new kind of unionism, focused on the practical benefits of links to Britain, can revive the cause. Chris Bowlby listens in to a debate with major implications for the UK as a whole. Producer: Jim Frank Editor: Jasper Corbett
2021-06-21
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Funny Money

What is the money in your pocket really worth? Come to think of it now we?re virtually cashless, do you even keep money in your pocket? Maybe you?re worried about the growth of government debt during the pandemic you now store your wealth in commodities such as gold or silver? Or maybe you?re a fan of another asset class: bitcoin. Are cryptocurrencies the future of money or a giant bubble waiting to burst? Why are governments and companies such as Facebook so interested in developing their own digital currencies? Fifty years on from the ?Nixon Shock?, when President Richard Nixon changed global currencies forever by taking the US off the gold standard, the BBC?s Ben Chu is on a mission to find out what money means to us today. Where does its value come from in this increasingly online world? Are we witnessing a revolution in the transfer of value into the metaverse? And how should make sense of this funny money business? Guests include: Historian Niall Ferguson Economist and academic Stephanie Kelton Investor Daniel Maegaard Investment strategist Raoul Pal Financial commentator Peter Schiff Economist Pavlina Tcherneva Producer Craig Templeton Smith Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-06-16
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Marvellous Medicine

Most of us were blindsided by the novel virus SarsCov2, but infectious disease experts had been warning about the possibility of a global pandemic for some years. For them it was never a matter of if, but when. What did come as a surprise was the speed of scientific progress to fight Covid 19. The first effective vaccine, from Pfizer/BioNTech, was developed in under 300 days, followed in successive weeks by Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca. The results of the UK?s RECOVERY trial, which was organised in a matter of weeks, has saved an estimated million lives worldwide by identifying which treatments are effective in treating Covid 19. And regulators around the globe, like Britain?s MHRA, are using innovative programmes to get medical products to people faster. During the pandemic, the world witnessed how fast medicine can advance with an abundance of cash and collaboration. Is progress at this speed and cost sustainable? Sandra Kanthal asks if drug development is something which should still take decades, or have we learned how to permanently accelerate the process? Guests: Rod MacKenzie, Chief Development Officer, Pfizer Nuala Murphy, President Clinical Research Services, Icon Professor Sir Martin Landray, Co-Chief Investigator, RECOVERY Trial Nicholas Jackson, Head of Programmes and Technology, CEPI Christian Schneider, Interim Chief Scientific Officer, MHRA Hilda Bastian, Independent Scientist Producer and Presenter Sandra Kanthal Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-06-14
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The Zoomshock Metropolis

Our towns and cities are facing an existential crisis. The rise of online shopping has left gaping holes in high streets. And if hybrid working takes off, some economists predict a dramatic 'zoom shock' as workers spend less time and money in city centres. What seems like a crisis could be an opportunity to reinvent our cities and 'Level Up' struggling towns. But are we ready to seize this moment? Helen Grady meets local leaders embracing this moment of change - from the Teesside town bulldozing a shopping centre to create a park to the US community paying remote tech workers to relocate. She hears how big cities like Manchester are enticing people back to the office. And she asks if we're about to see a move away from city-led growth to a model where jobs and prosperity are more evenly spread between towns and cities. Producer and presenter Helen Grady Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-05-31
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What the Foucault?

Last December Liz Truss made a speech. The Minister for Women and Equalities spoke about her memories of being at school in Leeds. She was taught about sexism and racism, she said, but not enough time was spent on being taught how to read and write. "These ideas," said Truss, "have their roots in post-modernist philosophy - pioneered by Foucault - that put societal power structures and labels ahead of individuals and their endeavours." So do Foucault's ideas pose a real danger to social and cultural life in Britain? Or is he a "bogeyman" deployed by some politicians to divide and distract us from real issues? In this edition of Analysis, writer and academic Shahidha Bari tries to make sense of Foucault's influence in the UK - and asks whether his ideas really do have an effect on Britain today. Producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Jasper Corbett Contributors: Agnes Poirier, journalist and author of Left Bank: Art, Passion, and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940-50 Michael Drolet, Senior Research Fellow in the History of Political Thought, Worcester College, University of Oxford Lisa Downing, Professor of French Discourses of Sexuality at the University of Birmingham Richard Whatmore, Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Co-Director of the Institute of Intellectual History Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent Clare Chambers, Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Cambridge Charlotte Riley, Lecturer in Twentieth-Century British History at the University of Southampton
2021-05-24
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Global Britain: is there substance behind the slogan?

Having left the EU, the UK is now re-branding itself as "Global Britain", but what does that actually mean? A key plank of the new foreign policy is a pivot to the "Indo-Pacific". How is this seen in India? And how should Britain deal with China, described as a "challenge" in the government's recently published Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy? And where does all this leave relations with the EU and US? Should "Global Britain" try to reassert itself as a major power on the international stage, or would the UK's interests be better served by acting as a broker between larger, or like-minded, countries instead, to help bring about beneficial agreements? And what effect could the reduction in the overseas development aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of Gross National Income have on Britain's "soft power" abroad, with the deep real-terms cuts to humanitarian and other programmes that this will mean for countries such as Yemen or Malawi? Presenter: Chris Morris Producer: Arlene Gregorius Editor: Jasper Corbett
2021-03-29
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Science in the Time of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the best of science and the worst of science. New vaccines have been produced in less than twelve months. But at the same time we?ve seen evidence exaggerated and undermined, falsified, and flawed. Scientists arguing in public over areas of policy that have reached into all of our lives in an unprecedented way. There has never been so much ?science?. But the pandemic has seen science politicised and polarised in ways some of us could never imagine. In this episode of Analysis, Sonia Sodha explores what the pandemic has revealed about the practice of science, and our relationship with it. Producer: Gemma Newby Editor: Jasper Corbett
2021-03-22
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The Fine Art of Decision Making

Margaret Heffernan explores the fine art of decision making in times of uncertainty. We make decisions all the time which affect our personal lives, but what about the decisions which affect the lives of many others? How do you decide, when the well being of a nation or the success of a company are at stake, but the path is unclear because the risks cannot be quantified? A desire for more data, the temptation to procrastinate, a reluctance to admit mistakes and the outsourcing of decisions to machines can all lead to bad decision making, so what processes and practices, leadership qualities and attitudes of mind can serve as the best guides? Senior politicians, public servants, business people and academics share their insights based on past failures as well as successes, and suggest ways of better decision making in an increasingly uncertain world. Contributors: Professor Gerd Gigerenzer, Director emeritus, Max Planck Institute for Human Development Martin Gilbert, former CEO, Aberdeen Asset Management Sir Oliver Letwin, former Conservative MP and Cabinet Minister Dame Louise Makin, former CEO, BTG plc Baroness Eliza Manningham- Buller, former Director General MI5, Chair of The Wellcome Trust Professor Cathy O'Neill, founder O'Neill Risk Consulting and Algorithmic Auditing Jonathan Powell, former Downing Street Chief of Staff to Tony Blair Producer: Sheila Cook Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-03-15
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Levelling Up Wakefield

With its low-wage economy, Wakefield is the kind of place the government has promised to help level up. But what kind of help do people there most need? Anand Menon returns to his home city to find out. He meets someone who remembers the days when Wakefield was known for its vibrant nightlife. He hears about the council's plans to entice new people to the district through attractions like the Hepworth Art Gallery and the transformation of the Rutland Mills. He finds out what attracts - and hinders - private sector investment. And he discovers how communities built around mills and mines have lost their economic purpose and been left stranded by poor local transport links. Producer: Helen Grady Data research: Professor Christina Beatty from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University Editor: Jasper Corbett
2021-03-08
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Magic Weapons

There used to be a romantic notion of globalisation that all countries would simply have to get along as we were all so interconnected. Why fight when your interests are aligned? It?s an idea that has made direct military engagement less likely. But something very different has emerged in its place. We live in a new era of conflict, where states try to achieve their aims through aggressive measures that stay below the threshold of war. This is a strategy of statecraft with a long history, but which has a new inflection in our technologically charged, globalised world. Now a mix of cyber, corruption and disinformation is employed to mess with adversaries. China?s president, Xi Jinping, has referred to political influence activities as being one of the Chinese Communist Party's 'magic weapons'. In this edition of Analysis, Peter Pomerantsev looks at how political warfare works in a world where we?re all economically entangled - and what Britain could and should do to adapt. Producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Jasper Corbett
2021-03-01
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Boiled Rabbits of the Left?

George Orwell chastised the "boiled rabbits of the Left" for disliking what he called "the spiritual need for patriotism". He was writing in 1940 during Hitler's Blitz of London and other British cities. But Orwell also poses a challenge to those on the Left today who find patriotism redolent of flag-waving chauvinism, uncomfortably at odds with their cherished internationalism and an unwelcome diversion from other priorities. Since he was elected leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer has spoken of his love of country, determined to make a break with the legacy of his predecessor. Polling suggested Jeremy Corbyn was perceived to be cool in his patriotic sympathies. That view among electors in northern England and the Midlands was indeed so strong it was one of the main reasons former Labour supporters gave for switching to the Conservatives at the 2019 general election. In this edition of "Analysis", Edward Stourton asks how Labour can turn the page on its seemingly conflicted stance on patriotism. What would a distinctive Labour patriotism consist of? Could it appeal to different people in different parts of Britain when the Union now seems more fragile than ever? Is the task even so fraught with difficulty that Labour should simply leave this subject to its opponents? In short, what is Labour's answer today to the awkward challenge posed by Orwell eighty years ago and which stubbornly refuses to go away? Those taking part: Deborah Mattinson of BritainThinks; former Labour leader, Lord Kinnock; singer and author, Billy Bragg; Shadow Scottish Secretary, Ian Murray MP; New Labour loyalist, Lord Adonis; Labour MP, Florence Eshalomi; and Jon Cruddas, Labour thinker and MP for Dagenham & Rainham. Producer Simon Coates Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-02-22
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Flying Blind

What do we really know about the policy choices confronting us? Covid-19 has been a brutal lesson in the extent of our ignorance. We face hard decisions, and argue about them ferociously, when in truth we?re often in the dark about their full consequences. But Covid is not unusual in this respect - and we could learn from it. Other areas of life and policy are similarly obscured. Not that we like to admit it. How well, for example, do we know what the economy is up to? Quite possibly not nearly as well as you might think - even to the extent that it?s recently been suggested the first estimates of GDP can?t be sure of telling the difference between boom and bust - the problem really can be that extreme. Some recessions have turned out to be illusions. In this programme Michael Blastland examines our collective ignorance and how it affects policy and debate, asking if public argument needs a lot more humility. Producer Caroline Bayley Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-02-15
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Rogue Cops

Is it possible to identify rogue cops before they commit offences? Can we change police culture to improve police interactions with the public? The brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis shone a spotlight on how police treat suspects, particularly black suspects. In this Analysis, David Edmonds asks what the science of criminology has discovered about how such tragedies can be stopped. Producer Bethan Head. Editor Jasper Corbett
2021-02-08
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Personality Politics

Are we predisposed by our personality to be drawn to certain political policies or certain ideologies? And if so, should we take account of this when our views differ from other people? James Tilley, a professor of politics at Oxford University, talks to leading academics in the field about how this might help explain the current political polarisation seen in countries like the UK and the US. Producer: Bob Howard Editor: Jasper Corbett
2021-02-01
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Chasing Unicorns

We live in a world of unicorns. From hailing taxis to ordering pizza to renting a holiday home, the world has come to rely on huge tech startups known in Silicon Valley as unicorns. But in a post-pandemic world, can these mythical beasts survive? In tech lingo, a unicorn is a rare start-up company valued at $1 billion dollars or more in private markets. Five years ago there were fewer than 50. Today there are over 400, including Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo. Often created by eccentric founders and funded by evangelical venture capital backers with deep pockets, these companies have come to define our digital age while creating unimaginable riches for their investors. But with many enduring eye-watering losses even before the pandemic, and with big question marks hanging over their long term viability, is the magic dust finally coming off? Elaine Moore is a tech columnist at the Financial Times based in San Francisco - home of the tech unicorn. She's on a mission to find out what the future holds for the industry and what it could mean for us next time we take a taxi or order in a Friday night curry. Presenter: Elaine Moore Producer: Craig Templeton Smith Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-11-16
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Who Runs that Place?

Increasingly, Western governments see China as a problem to deal with because, as it has grown more powerful, it has re-committed to being a Leninist state. But under President Xi Jinping, how far does it still conform to the Leninist model and how far does it reflect much more traditional forms of Chinese statecraft? Is a country with a massive bureaucracy run by its nominal leaders or by other actors? And why do senior government figures - who in Russia and Western countries carry clout and influence - seem in China to have little to say about the policies Beijing is following? As the rest of the world continues to grapple with the consequences of Covid-19, these questions have never been more pertinent or more urgent. In this timely edition of "Analysis", Isabel Hilton, the eminent student of Chinese politics, considers who makes the decisions in Beijing and how they are reached. Speaking to China-watchers both internationally and in the UK, she explodes some myths about Chinese politics - including that it is a seamless polity with a single unchanging party line - and explores how power struggles take place and what happens to the losers of them. With the 14th Five Year Programme finally due to be unveiled next year, she assesses how far state planning still drives decision-making. And she considers how and when Xi Jinping's successor is likely to emerge - and what lessons that figure may draw from Xi's leadership since 2012. Presenter Isabel Hilton Producer Simon Coates Editor Jasper Corbett
2020-11-09
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This Fractured Isle

On February 1st this year nearly every news bulletin began with the words 'the UK has officially left the European Union'. Boris Johnson could have been forgiven for congratulating himself for fulfilling his constitutional promise to 'get Brexit done'. But there was another story in the news that day too - health officials were trying to find anyone who?d had close contact with two Chinese tourists being treated in Newcastle for coronavirus. No one at the time could have predicted then that a virus which began thousands of miles away in China would shake the foundations of Britain?s system of government; ten months on all the nations of the United Kingdom are living under different social regimes, internal borders divide the country as never before, and even parts of England have been in open revolt against Westminster. In this programme Edward Stourton will explore how Covid19 is rewriting the rules Britain?s leaders live by and ask where it could take the UK. Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-11-02
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The Future of Welfare

The furlough scheme, introduced in response to Covid-19, has raised a question: should Britain?s social insurance be a bit more German? Germany has what?s known as an earnings-related contributory system ? individuals pay quite a lot in, and if they lose their job, they receive quite a lot out - around 60% of their previous salary, for at least a year. Critics of the German system say it?s costly and puts too little emphasis on redistribution. But advocates claim it commands far wider support than the British system. So does the pandemic and the calls it has provoked for a fresh look at the shape and scope of our welfare state provide an opportunity? Should Britain move towards a system that is more like Germany?s? Presenter Ben Chu Producer David Edmonds Editor Jasper Corbett
2020-10-26
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The Rise and Fall of the Bond Market Traders

In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher famously said that 'You can?t buck the markets' and Governments back then feared that, if they borrowed too much, they'd pay a terrible price in the markets in terms of higher borrowing costs. But now governments around the world are borrowing record amounts but paying record-low rates. In this programme Philip Coggan examines how the markets were tamed. Philip talks to Don Kohn, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, economist and author Eric Lonergan, Andrew Balls, Chief Investment Officer at Pimco and economist and author Stephanie Kelton. Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-10-19
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Trouble on the backbenches? Tory Leaders and their MPs

Despite winning a large majority at the last election, Prime Minister Johnson?s relationship with his party is an uneasy one. Just a few months after achieving its long term aim of leaving the EU, the Conservative Party seems ill at ease with itself and the sound of tribal Tory strife can be seen and heard. Is this just the way it?s always been: a cultural and historical norm for Tory leaders and their backbenchers? Or is there something else going on? In this edition of Analysis, Professor Rosie Campbell assesses Boris Johnson?s relationship with his own party and asks why Conservative backbenchers can be such a thorn in the flesh of their leaders. Will this Prime Minister go the same way, or can he buck the trend? Presenter: Rosie Campbell Producer: Jim Frank Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-10-12
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Planning for the Worst

How ready are we for the next pandemic, cyber attack, volcanic eruption, or solar storm? Our world, ever more interconnected and dependent on technology, is vulnerable to a head-spinning array of disasters. Emergency preparedness is supposed to help protect us and the UK has been pioneering in its approach. But does it actually work? In this edition of Analysis, Simon Maybin interrogates official predictions past and present, hearing from the advisers and the advised. Are we any good at anticipating catastrophic events? Should we have been better prepared for the one we?ve been living through? And - now that coronavirus has shown us the worst really can happen - what else should we be worrying about? Presenter/producer: Simon Maybin Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-10-05
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Is the Internet Broken?

The internet is a cornerstone of our society. It is vital to our economy, to our global communications, and to many of our personal and professional lives. But have the processes that govern how the internet works kept pace with its rapid evolution? James Ball, author of 'The System - Who Owns the Internet, and How It Owns Us', examines whether the infrastructure of the internet is up to scratch. If it's not, then what does that mean for us? Producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-09-28
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Behavioural Science and the Pandemic

There were two narratives that emerged in the week before we locked down on 23rd March that could go some way to explaining why the UK was relatively slow to lockdown. One was the idea of ?herd immunity? - that the virus was always going to spread throughout the population to some extent, and that should be allowed to happen to build up immunity. That theory may have been based on a misunderstanding of how this particular virus behaved. The second narrative was based on the idea of ?behavioural fatigue?. This centred around the notion that the public will only tolerate a lockdown for so long so it was crucial to wait for the right moment to initiate it. Go too soon, and you might find that people would not comply later on. It turns out that this theory was also wrong. And based on a fundamental misunderstanding of human behaviour. Despite photos of packed parks, crammed beaches and VE day conga lines, on the whole the British public complied beyond most people?s expectations. So what informed the government?s decision making?In this programme we ask, what is ?behavioural fatigue?, where did it come from, how much influence did it have on the UK?s late lockdown, and where does Nudge theory fit into the narrative? Presenter: Sonia Sodha Producer: Gemma Newby Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-07-20
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Humans vs the Planet

As Covid-19 forced humans into lockdown, memes emerged showing the earth was healing thanks to our absence. These were false claims ? but their popularity revealed how seductive the dangerous idea that ?we are the virus? can be. At its most extreme, this way of thinking leads to eco-fascism, the belief the harm humans do to Earth can be reduced by cutting the number of non-white people. But the mainstream green movement is also challenged by a less hateful form of this mentality known as ?doomism? ? a creeping sense that humans will inevitably cause ecological disaster, that it?s too late to act and that technological solutions only offer more environmental degradation through mining and habitat loss. What vision can environmentalists offer as an antidote to these depressing ideas? And how can green politics encourage radical thinking without opening the door to hateful ideologies? Producer/Presenter: Lucy Proctor Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-07-13
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Thinking for the Long Term

"The origin of civil government," wrote the Scottish philosopher David Hume in 1739, is that "men are not able radically to cure, either in themselves or others, that narrowness of soul, which makes them prefer the present to the remote." Today, Hume's view that governments can help societies abandon rampant short-termism and adopt a more long term approach, feels little more than wishful thinking. The "now" commands more and more of our attention - quick fixes are the order of the day. But could that be about to change? Margaret Heffernan asks whether the current pandemic might be the moment we are forced to rediscover our ability to think long term. Could our ability to emerge well from the current health crisis be dependent, in fact, on our ability to improve our long-term thinking? Among those taking part: Paul Polman (Co-founder of Imagine and former CEO of Unilever), General Sir Nick Carter (Chief of the Defence Staff), Justine Greening (former Conservative minister and founder of the Social Mobility Pledge), Lord Gus O'Donnell (former head of the Civil Service), Chris Llewellyn Smith (former Director General of CERN), and Sophie Howe (Future Generations Commissioner for Wales). Producer: Adele Armstrong Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-07-06
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The Post-Pandemic State

Government intervention on an unprecedented scale has propped up the British economy - and society at large - during the pandemic. But what should be the state's role from now on? Can Conservatives successfully embrace an enduring central role for government in the economy given their small-state, Thatcherite heritage championing the role of the individual, lower spending and lower taxes? And can Labour, instinctively keener on a more active state, discipline its impulses towards more generous government so that they don't end up thwarting its ambitions for greater equality and fairness? Four eminent political thinkers join Edward Stourton to debate the lessons of political pivot points in Britain's postwar history and how these should guide us in deciding what the borders of the state should be in the post-pandemic world - and who's going to pay. Those taking part: Andrew Harrop of the Fabian Society, who draws inspiration from Labour's 1945 landslide victory to advocate a highly active and determined state to promote opportunity, fairness and equality; former Conservative minister David Willetts of the Resolution Foundation, who sees the lessons of the Conservative revolution in 1979 as relevant as ever about the limits of the state but also argues core Conservative beliefs are consistent with bigger government; former Blairite thinker, Geoff Mulgan, who, drawing on the lessons of 1997, resists notions of a catch-all politics in the face of the multi-faceted demands on today's state; and Dean Godson of Policy Exchange, influential with the Conservative modernisers of the Cameron era, who insists a Thatcherite view of the state shouldn't rigidly define how the centre-right responds to our new circumstances. Producer Simon Coates Editor Jasper Corbett
2020-06-29
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Radical Self-Care

Wellness is easy to lampoon. A vast, trillion-dollar industry, at its worst it offers bogus cures, prescribing over-priced paraphernalia and dubious advice for ailments that might be treated elsewhere. But there is a forgotten political and philosophical history of self-care, taking in the Black Panthers and feminist activism, that is all too often erased from our understanding of wellness. Shahidha Bari looks at the radical roots of self-care and what it tells us about how we are looking after ourselves during the current crisis. Producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-06-22
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Modern Parenting

More time and money is being spent on children than ever before. And it's a global trend. Professor Tina Miller, who has studied how parenting styles have changed over several decades, considers what this investment in our sons and daughters tells us about the modern world. She considers whether the gold standard of educational achievement goes hand in hand with rising inequality and individualism. What might the unintended consequences be and how difficult is it for parents to opt out? Contribuors: Professor Rebecca Ryan, Professor Matthias Doepke, Frederick De Moll and Jan Macvarish. Producer: Rosamund Jones Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-06-15
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The Smack of Firm Leadership

What does the way in which rival political systems around the world have managed the Covid-19 pandemic tell us about the global political future? Writer and broadcaster, John Kampfner, considers what has made a "good leader" during the months of the outbreak and how that is likely to affect the vitality and long-term future of individual regimes. Are today's authoritarians - often savvier and subtler than their twentieth century counterparts - becoming more confident and optimistic? Is this a good time for the world's populist leaders from the Americas to Europe to East Asia? And has democracy, already tainted by its response to the global financial crisis and enduring questions over its popular legitimacy, continued with its woes or might there be a glimmer of light after the years of darkness? Among those taking part: Francis Fukuyama (author of "The End of History and the Last Man"); Anne Applebaum (soon to publish "The Twilight of Democracy"); Singaporean former top diplomat and President of the UN Security Council, Kishore Mahbubani; writer and broadcaster, Misha Glenny; eminent international affairs analyst, Constanze Stelzenmüller; Bulgarian political thinker, Ivan Krastev (joint author of "The Light that Failed") and Lionel Barber, former editor of the "Financial Times". Producer Simon Coates Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-06-08
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The Return of Reality?

Before Covid-19 hit, the latest research showed we were more polarised than ever. We broadly agree on the issues - it's the emotions where things get tricky. If someone is part of the other tribe then we want little to do with them. And the more polarised we are, the more prone we are to what philosophers call 'knowledge resistance' - rejecting information that doesn't fit our worldview. If we're in a situation where identity trumps truth, is there anything that can pull us back to reality? Peter Pomerantsev, author of This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality, looks at whether Covid-19 could bring us back towards a sense of shared reality - or whether it might push us further apart. Presenter: Peter Pomerantsev Producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-06-01
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Identity Wars: lessons from the Dreyfus Affair and Brexit Britain

The episode "tore society apart, divided families, and split the country into two enemy camps, which then attacked each other ??   A description by some future historian looking back at Britain after Brexit? No - it is how the late French President Jacques Chirac described the so-called ?Dreyfus Affair?, which shook France from top to bottom a century ago.   Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish army officer who was convicted on false charges of passing military secrets to the Germans. He spent several years in prison on Devil's Island, and was only released and exonerated after a long campaign led by eminent figures such Emile Zola.   Although the circumstances of the Dreyfus affair are very different to those surrounding Brexit, there are certain parallels ? for example, the way that people came to identify themselves as either Dreyfusards or anti-Dreyfusards.   The Dreyfus affair and its aftermath convulsed France for decades, with French society split down the middle about whether Dreyfus was guilty or innocent.   How important are societal divides like these?  Should they be allowed to run their natural course - or should steps be taken to encourage ?healing?, as Boris Johnson recently urged?   In this edition of Analysis, Professor Anand Menon, Director of the UK in a Changing Europe, looks back at the Dreyfus affair, and asks what lessons we can learn - and whether they can help us better understand what is happening in Britain as the country faces up to the reality of Brexit, and the coronavirus crisis.   Contributors: Alastair Campbell, former Downing Street press secretary to Tony Blair Ruth Harris, Professor of Modern European History, University of Oxford Margaret MacMillan, emeritus Professor of International History, University of Oxford Philippe Oriol, historian and author of ?The False Friend of Captain Dreyfus? Paula Surridge, Senior Lecturer in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at Bristol University Nick Timothy, former joint chief of staff at 10 Downing Street Anthony Wells, Head of Research, YouGov Translation of extract from ?J?Accuse?!? by Emile Zola, by Shelley Temchin and Jean-Max Guieu, Georgetown University. Presenter: Professor Anand Menon Producer: Neil Koenig Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-05-25
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Command and Control?

When Sajid Javid resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer in February rather than accept Boris Johnson's reported demand that he dismiss his own team of special advisers and accept a new one drawn up in 10 Downing Street, many saw the episode as a crude attempt by the Prime Minister to wrest control of economic policy from the Treasury. But would such a reform necessarily be a bad thing? Edward Stourton considers the case for economic policy being driven from the very top of government. If decision-making, in arguably the most important government department, took place on the prime minister's terms rather than having to be negotiated with a powerful colleague leading a vast bureaucracy, would that make for quicker and more streamlined decision-making that gave clearer direction to the government overall? And has in any case the time come to clip the wings of the Treasury which too often determines policy on narrowly financial grounds rather than properly allowing for the potential benefits of government spending - and which has recently signed off such alarmingly over-budget projects as HS2 and London's Crossrail? In seeking answers to those questions, Edward speaks to the former Chancellors, Alistair Darling and Norman Lamont; to former Chief of Staff to Tony Blair in Downing Street, Jonathan Powell; to former Treasury minister, David Gauke; and and to ex-officials, including former top Treasury civil servant, Nic Macpherson. Producer Simon Coates
2020-03-28
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The Roots of 'Woke' Culture

Barack Obama condemned it. Black American activists championed it. Meghan Markle brought it to the Royal Family. ?Wokeness? has become a shorthand for one side of the culture wars, popularising concepts like ?white privilege? and ?trigger warnings? - and the idea that ?language is violence?. Journalist Helen Lewis is on a mission to uncover the roots of this social phenomenon. On her way she meets three authors who in 2017 hoaxed a series of academic journals with fake papers on dog rape, fat bodybuilding and feminist astrology. They claimed to have exposed the jargon-loving, post-modern absurdity of politically correct university departments - whose theories drive ?woke? online political movements. But is there really a link between the contemporary language of social justice warriors and the continental philosophy of the 1960s and 70s? And are critics of wokeness just reactionaries, left uneasy by a changing world? Producer Craig Templeton Smith Editor Jasper Corbett
2020-03-23
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Unequal England

Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies explores what the world of work can tells us about inequality and why some towns and cities feel left behind. He finds England is one of the most regionally unequal economies in the developed world. He looks at the differences in wages and opportunities across the county and seeks to understand why this has created areas where people struggle to find well paid work. This edition of the programme includes interviews with: Professor Steve Machin - The Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics Helen Barnard - Joseph Rowntree Foundation Tom Forth - Open Data Institute Leeds Henry Overman - Director, The What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth James Bloodworth - Author "Hired - Six months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain" Richard Hagan - MD, Crystal Doors Tony Lloyd MP for Rochdale Jade & Billy - workers Producer - Smita Patel Editor - Jasper Corbett
2020-03-09
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China's Captured "Princess"

If you want to understand the global reach of a rising China, visit Vancouver. Canada has been sucked in to an intractable dispute between the US and China after the arrest on an American warrant of Meng Wanzhou, an executive with the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Beijing?s furious response caught Canada off guard. Two Canadians have been detained in China ? seemingly in response, precipitating an acute foreign policy crisis. Canadian journalist Neal Razzell examines what could be the first of many tests both for Canada and other nations, forced to choose between old allies like America and the new Asian economic giant.
2020-03-02
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It's Not Easy Being Green

If the future of politics must include tackling climate change, it holds that the future should be bright for the Greens. In parts of Europe, their influence is growing. In Germany the Green Party is enjoying unprecedented support. But in the UK there?s only ever been one Green MP and the party won just 2.7 per cent of the vote in last year's election. In this edition of Analysis, Rosie Campbell, Professor of Politics and Director of the Global Institute for Women?s Leadership at Kings College London, goes in search of the Green vote. Who are they? If the Parliamentary path is blocked due to the voting system, how do they make an impact? And can they persuade more people not only to vote Green but also to become ?Greener?? Producer: Jim Frank Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-02-24
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Do voters need therapy?

In a poll last year, two thirds of people suggested that Britain?s exit from the EU was negatively affecting the nation?s mental health. But is that really about customs unions and widget regulations, or is it a more a product of how we think about politics? James Tilley, a professor of politics at Oxford, finds out how our distorted ways of thinking create emotional reactions to politics and how those emotions affect what we do politically.
2020-02-17
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The Early Years Miracle?

The government spends billions on free early years education. The theory goes that this is good for children, their parents and society as a whole. But does the evidence stack up? Despite the policy's lofty intentions, Professor Alison Wolf discovers that the results aren?t at all what anyone expected. Contributors include: Steven Barnett - National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University Christine Farquharson - Institute for Fiscal Studies Liz Roberts - Nursery World Magazine Torsten Bell - Resolution Foundation Lynne Burnham - Mothers at Home Matter Neil Leitch - Early Years Alliance Presenter: Professor Alison Wolf Producer: Beth Sagar Fenton Editor: Jasper Corbett With thanks to N Family Club
2020-02-10
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The NHS, AI and Our Data

The NHS has a unique resource - data. David Edmonds asks whether a combination of data and Artificial Intelligence will transform the future of the NHS. The programme features among others Sir John Bell, who leads the government?s life-sciences industrial strategy and Matthew Gould chief executive of NHSx, the unit set up to lead the NHS's digital transformation. As the NHS tries to make use of its data, the programme raises the danger that data may be flogged off to the private sector at bargain basement prices. Producer Sheila Cook Editor Jasper Corbett
2020-02-03
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Get woke or go broke?

When you buy your trainers, do you want to make a political statement? Businesses want to attract consumers by advertising their commitment to liberal causes like diversity and tackling climate change. It is a phenomenon known as woke capitalism. But is it a welcome sign that multinationals are becoming socially responsible? Or is it just the latest trick by business to persuade us to part with our cash, and a smokescreen to disguise the reluctance of many companies to pay their fair share of taxes? The Economist's Philip Coggan asks whether it's a case of getting woke or going broke. Contributors: Dr Eliane Glaser - author of Get Real: How to See Through the Hype, Spin and Lies in Modern Life Dan Mobley - Corporate Relations Director, Diageo Saker Nusseibeh - Chief Executive at Hermes Investment Anand Giridharadas - author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World Kris Brown - president of Brady United, a gun violence prevention organisation Abas Mirzaei - Professor of Marketing at Macquarie Business School Doug Stewart - Chief Executive of Green Energy UK Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Jasper Corbett
2020-01-27
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NATO at 70

NATO?s military strength and unswerving trans-Atlantic solidarity enabled it to contain and ultimately defeat the Soviet Union. But with Vladimir Putin?s Russia resurgent, and eager to restore some of its past glory, people speak of a new ?Cold War?. But this one is very different from the first. It is being fought out on the internet; through propaganda; and by shadowy, deniable operations. It is not the kind of struggle that plays to the Alliance?s traditional strengths. Worse still, NATO ? currently marking its seventieth anniversary - is more divided than ever; its member states having very different priorities. President Trump has added additional strains, raising a question-mark over Washington?s fundamental commitment to its European partners. So can NATO hold together and adapt to the new challenges it faces or will it sink into a less relevant old age? Producer: Stuart Hughes Editor: Jasper Corbett
2019-11-18
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The uses and misuses of history in politics

Barely a day passes when an MP doesn?t reach for an historical analogy to help explain contemporary events. But to what extent do the Battle of Agincourt and World War II really help us better understand what?s happening now? Edward Stourton asks if there is a danger that some politicians might have misunderstood some of the best known moments in Britain?s history? Guests: Professor David Abulafia (Emeritus, University of Cambridge) Professor Anne Curry (Emeritus, University of Southampton) Professor Neil Gregor (University of Southampton) Professor Ruth Harris (University of Oxford) Professor Andrew Knapp (Emeritus, University of Reading) Professor Andrew Roberts (Visiting, King?s College London) Professor Robert Tombs (University of Cambridge) Producer: Ben Cooper Editor: Jasper Corbett
2019-11-11
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Can I Change Your Mind?

There?s a widespread belief that there?s no point talking to people you disagree with because they will never change their minds. Everyone is too polarized and attempts to discuss will merely result in greater polarization. But the history of the world is defined by changes of mind ?that?s how progress (or even regress) is made: shifts in political, cultural, scientific beliefs and paradigms. So how do we ever change our minds about something? What are the perspectives that foster constructive discussion and what conditions destroy it? Margaret Heffernan talks to international academics at the forefront of research into new forms of democratic discourse, to journalists involved in facilitating national conversations and to members of the public who seized the opportunity to talk to a stranger with opposing political views: Eileen Carroll, QC Hon, Principal Mediator and Co-founder, Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution Jon Connor-Lyons, participant, Britain Talks James S. Fishkin, Janet M. Peck Professor of International Communication and Director, Centre for Deliberative Democracy, Stanford University Danielle Lawson, Post Doctoral Research Scholar, North Carolina State University Ada Pratt, participant, Britain Talks Mariano Sigman. Associate Professor, Torcuato Di Tella University, Buenos Aires Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard Law School Jochen Wegner, Editor, Zeit Online Ros Wynne-Jones, columnist, Daily Mirror Presenter: Margaret Heffernan Producer: Sheila Cook Editor: Jasper Corbett
2019-11-04
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