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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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Are we heading for a mass extinction?

Will human actions result in the demise of huge numbers of other species - in a mass die-off, comparable to the end of the era of the dinosaurs? Neal Razzell assesses the evidence that species are dying off at a rapid rate, and looks at some of the surprising things we might do to slow or reverse this process. Producers: Beth Sagar-Fenton and Josephine Casserley
2019-03-18
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Will humans survive the century?

What is the chance of the human race surviving the 21st century? There are many dangers ? climate change for example, or nuclear war, or a pandemic, or planet Earth being hit by a giant asteroid. Around the world a number of research centres have sprung up to investigate and mitigate what?s called existential risk. How precarious is our civilisation and can we all play a part in preventing global catastrophe? Contributors Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute. Phil Torres, Future of Life Institute. Karin Kuhlemann, University College London. Simon Beard, Centre for Existential Risk. Lalitha Sundaram, Centre for Existential Risk. Seth Baum, Global Catastrophic Risk Institute. Film clip: Armageddon, Touchstone Pictures (1998), Directed by Michael Bay. Presented (cheerily) by David Edmonds. Producer: Diane Richardson
2019-03-11
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Deliberative Democracy

Is there a better way to heal political divides - through panels of ordinary citizens? Sonia Sodha asks if the idea of citizens' assemblies, which have been used around the world to come up with solutions to polarising issues. Proponents argue that they avoid the risks of knee-jerk legislation, winner-takes-all outcomes or the pull of populism. Many in the Republic of Ireland believe that deliberative democracy was crucial in reforming the law on abortion without causing major political upheavals. Could this method still come up with a better way forward for Brexit? Producer: Maire Devine
2019-03-04
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Irish Questions

Voters and politicians in Britain claim to be perplexed that economic and political relations between the UK and the Republic of Ireland seem to be decisive in determining the course of Brexit. They shouldn't be, argues Edward Stourton. A glance at the history of the countries' relations since the Acts of Union in 1800 helps to explain the situation. From at least the time of Catholic Emancipation in the 1820s, political, social, cultural and economic issues on the island of Ireland have influenced and shaped politics at Westminster. The point is that MPs and others at Westminster have seldom appreciated this and therefore underestimated the power of that history to affect the course of a contemporary issue like Brexit. Looking at a range of issues from Emancipation, the 1840s Irish potato famine, Catholic clerical education, the campaign for Home Rule leading ultimately to the War of Irish Independence in the twentieth century and the bloody establishment of the Irish Free State, as well as the Troubles and the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Edward Stourton explores the way in which issues in Ireland have determined British politics. He considers especially what lessons these episodes may hold for today's Westminster politicians and how to imagine the Anglo-Irish future. Among those taking part: Lady Antonia Fraser, Professor The Lord Bew, Professor Sir David Cannadine, Professor Roy Foster, Professor Marianne Elliott, Fintan O'Toole and Declan Kiberd. Producer: Simon Coates
2019-02-25
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Fair Exchange?

Does a falling currency help or harm the economy? It's an urgent question for the UK, as the pound fell sharply in value against other major currencies after the referendum on Britain?s membership of the European Union in June 2016. Market commentators put this down to foreign investors becoming intensely gloomy about the prospects for the UK economy after Brexit. Others have welcomed the drop, saying it will benefit British exporters. But is it really such a simple, binary question? Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies investigates. Contributors: Richard Barkey, CEO, Imparta Roger Bootle, chairman, Capital Economics Meredith Crowley, reader in international economics at Cambridge university Jane Foley, head of foreign exchange strategy, Rabobank Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist, Conferdation of British Industry Mick Ventola, managing director, Ventola Projects Producer: Neil Koenig
2019-02-18
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Conspiracy Politics

Are we living in a ?golden age? of political conspiracy theories and what does belief in them tell us about voters and politicians? James Tilley, a professor of politics at the University of Oxford, talks to historians, psychologists and political scientists to ask why conspiracy theories are so common and who are the people spreading them. Why are so many of us drawn to the notion of shadowy forces controlling political events? And are conspiracy theories, in which things always happen for a reason and where good is always pitted against evil, simply an exaggerated version of our everyday political thinking? Producer: Bob Howard
2019-02-11
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Do children of married parents do better?

Does being born to non-married parents affect a child's prospects? It is a question that is notoriously hard to answer. BBC Education Editor Branwen Jeffreys investigates research from Princeton's landmark Fragile Families study, which has gathered data from 5,000 births over the last 18 years. She speaks to principal investigator Professor Sara McLanahan to find out how much we know about the differing outcomes of children raised by married, cohabiting or single parents. Branwen asks how applicable the results of the study are to British society, where very soon, a minority of births will be to married parents. Professor Emla Fitzsimons has been following the lives of 19,000 children, born across the UK in 2000-01. She reveals what the project, know as The Millennium Cohort Study has found. Producer: Diane Richardson
2019-02-04
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The War for Normal

We live in a world where everyone is trying to manipulate everyone else, where social media has opened up the floodgates for a mayhem of influence. And the one thing all the new propagandists have in common is the idea that to really get to someone you have to not just spin or nudge or persuade them, but transform the way they think about the world, the language and concepts they have to make sense of things. Peter Pomerantsev, author of an acclaimed book on the media in Putin's Russia, examines where this strategy began, how it is being exploited, the people caught in the middle, and the researchers trying to combat it. Because it is no longer just at the ?fringes? where this is happening ? it is now a part of mainstream political life. Producer: Ant Adeane
2019-01-28
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America's Friends

From a US president who is turning the world upside down ? with a relish for dismantling global agreements ? the message is clear: it?s America first. But where does that leave old European allies? Few expect the transatlantic relationship to go back to where it was before Trump. Europe, says Angela Merkel, now has to shape its own destiny. James Naughtie explores the uncertain future for America's friends. Producer: Kate Collins
2019-01-14
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The Trumped Republicans

Republican insider Ron Christie discovers how Donald Trump's presidency is changing his party. Trump arrived in the White House offering a populist revolt in America, promising to drain what he calls "the swamp that is Washington D.C". So what does his own Republican Party - traditionally a bastion of the nation?s establishment - really make of him? Where is he taking them and what will he leave behind? Christie, a long-time Republican who has served in the West Wing under George W Bush, takes us on a journey behind the scenes to meet Trump?s inner circle - including figures like Mercedes Schlapp, White House director of strategic communications, and to influential conservative broadcaster Sean Hannity. He talks to the supporters and the sceptics alike who watch in amazement as one of the most controversial presidents of all time takes his country and his party by storm. Producer: Kirsty Mackenzie
2019-01-08
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The Next Crash

What could cause a future financial crash? Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University, talks to some of the world's leading economists about whether we have learnt lessons from the 2008 financial crash and whether countries are now better prepared to meet the next crisis. Or are we condemned to another economic meltdown, perhaps even more severe, which would provide new fuel to the fires of populism? A decade ago, the world was taken by surprise. Will it be again? Featuring contributions from the IMF's Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, Lord Nick Stern, Professor Peter Piot, Pascal Lamy and Jeffrey Sachs. Producer: Ben Carter
2018-11-19
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The Replication Crisis

Many key findings in psychological research are under question, as the results of some of its most well-known experiments ? such as the marshmallow effect, ego depletion, stereotype threat and the Zimbardo Stanford Prison Experiment ? have proved difficult or impossible to reproduce. This has affected numerous careers and led to bitter recriminations in the academic community. So can the insights of academic psychology be trusted and what are the implications for us all? Featuring contributions from John Bargh, Susan Fiske, John Ioannidis, Brian Nosek, Stephen Reicher, Diederik Stapel and Simine Vazire. Presenter David Edmonds Producer Ben Cooper
2018-11-12
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How to kill a democracy

How many democracies around the world are gradually being dismantled. Democracies today are less and less likely to be overthrown in violent coups. Today?s methods of establishing one party rule are much more subtle and insidious. Political scientist Professor Matt Qvortrup explores how the modern authoritarian leader takes control of his or her country. High on their list will be subtly manipulating elections to win with a comfortable but credible majority: appointing their own supporters to the judiciary whilst watering down their powers: silencing critics in the press while garnering positive coverage from their media supporters: punishing opponents by denying them employment while rewarding lackeys with key positions. And using technology to help rig votes and spread propaganda. Matt traces these methods back to Roman times while looking at their contemporary relevance in countries as diverse as Kenya, Poland, Hungary, and Venezuela. Producer: Bob Howard
2018-11-05
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Do Assassinations Work?

Poison, exploding cigars and shooting down planes: tales of espionage and statesmanship. Government-ordered assassinations may seem the stuff of spy novels and movie scripts, but they seem to have entered the realm of reality of late. Why do states choose to take this action and can we measure their success? Edward Stourton assesses how various governments -including Israel, Russia, America and the UK - have dabbled in assassination and asks whether it works as a tool of foreign policy. Producer: Phoebe Keane
2018-11-02
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The Pupil Premium

How do you increase the attainment of disadvantaged children? Poorer children consistently perform worse at school by not reaching higher grades at age 16, compared to richer children. There is broad agreement, across party lines that they require more money to help them succeed and reduce inequality. Therefore, schools in England adopted the pupil premium policy in 2011 where extra funding was attached to each child in receipt of free school meals. Professor of Education at University College London, Dr Rebecca Allen assesses how well the policy has been working. Producer: Nina Robinson Editor: Hugh Levinson
2018-10-22
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Northern Ireland - Where Next?

Could Northern Ireland soon face a huge decision - whether to leave the UK? Andrea Catherwood returns to where she grew up to discover why the biggest question of all is looming beyond Brexit. Demography may soon leave Catholics as the largest population group. And Brexit debate over new border controls in Ireland has challenged the uneasy compromise of the Good Friday Agreement. So how could a vote on creating a united Ireland come about? How would different traditions and generations decide what to do? And away from political debate, how do the people of Northern Ireland feel about the prospect of such a sensitive and fundamental choice? Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson
2018-10-15
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Operation Tory Black Vote

Can the Conservatives ever win over non-white support? Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are as diverse in their values and beliefs as the rest of the population, yet there is a history of ethnic minority voters overwhelmingly supporting the Labour Party. Recent studies show that in 2017 three quarters continued to back Labour, while under a fifth voted for the Conservatives. Long-term this is a headache for the Tories, as the proportion of the population who identify as BAME is expected to double to between 20 and 30 percent over the next thirty years. Professor Rosie Campbell of King's College London looks at the potential political impact of ethnic minority voters and what the parties can do to do win the trust and votes of communities which may in future, decide who governs Britain. Producer: Adam Bowen
2018-10-08
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Power Shift

How power moved from West to East after the 2008 financial crisis. Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University, explores how Asian nations, especially China, demonstrated resilience, and rebounded quickly from the crisis. This led to a profound loss of faith in the ability of the Western leaders to manage the global economy effectively. Interviewees: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister, Nigeria Nick Stern, former chief economist, The World Bank Jeffrey Sachs, professor Columbia University Kumi Naidoo, secretary general, Amnesty International Willem Buiter, former Chief Economist, Citibank Martin Wolf, the chief economics commentator, The Financial Times Kishore Mahbubani, professor, University of Singapore Justin Lin, professor, Beijing University Adam Tooze, author of 'Crashed' Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton
2018-10-01
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The Truth About Britain's Beggars

Former homeless drug-addict Mark Johnson explores our relationship with street beggars
2018-08-31
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What's Fair?

As well as marking the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service, this year marks a similar milestone in adult social care. But whereas our notions of fairness in treating those who fall ill are simple and straightforward - free to those who require care at the point of delivery in the NHS - with social care it is different: means testing remains the device by which assistance with care is decided. When it comes to helping the aged and the infirm, then, we struggle with decidedly different ideas of fairness - and have done so since the advent of National Assistance - the forerunner of today's social care - in 1948. What should the individual contribute and how much should the state provide? What ideas of fairness properly apply in providing social care? And how can agreement on them be reached? Paul Johnson - the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the respected economic research body - asks why politicians should find it so difficult to agree on simple ideas of equity and fairness in this area. From Labour's so-called "death tax" in 2010 to the Conservatives' alleged "dementia tax" last year, attempts to come up with ways to reform a system that is widely considered to have broken down, have collapsed in failure and left both main parties reluctant to get their fingers burnt again with proposals for change. So with the pressures on available services continuing to grow as the proportion of the population that is elderly rises and its needs become more specialised and as numbers of working age adults with social care needs increase, Paul Johnson considers what principles a fair social care system should enshrine and what likelihood there is that policies to give effect to them will be implemented. Editor Hugh Levinson.
2018-07-23
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Trump and Trade

In 2016, during the American presidential election campaign, Edward Stourton travelled to the rustbelt of the United States to report on the new political power of Protectionism. Now, as Donald Trump seems poised for a trade war on two fronts - with China and Europe - he asks how far the American president will go to put "America First". Producer Smita Patel Editor Hugh Levinson.
2018-07-16
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British Politics: A Russian View

Peter Pomerantsev asks why new techniques in political campaigning have succeeded and what the consequences are for society. He has a different view to most from his past career working inside the TV industry in Moscow. The future arrived first in Russia. The defeat of communism gave rise to political technologists who flourished in the vacuum left by the Cold War, developing a supple approach to ideology that made them the new masters of politics. Something of this post-ideological spirit is visible in Britain. Centrism no longer seems viable. Globalisation is increasingly resented. Ours is an uncertain political landscape in which commentators and polls habitually fail to predict what is to come. There was a time when if you lived in a certain place, in a certain type of home, then you were likely to vote a certain way. But that is no longer the case. Instead, political strategists imagine you through your data. The campaigns that succeed are the ones that hook in as many groups as possible, using advances in political technology to send different messages to different groups. Pomerantsev, one of the most compelling voices on modern Russia, is a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and is the author of "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia". Producer: Ant Adeane.
2018-07-09
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The Middle East Conundrum

Edward Stourton asks if there any chance of a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tensions have been rising following the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and the deadly clashes at the border between Israel and Gaza. The peace process - if it exists at all - seems to be in deep freeze. The idea of a two-state solution does not appear to be getting any closer, while a one-state solution would effectively mark the end of a Jewish state. Does Israel have a long-term strategy? Producer: Ben Cooper.
2018-07-02
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Can Technology Be Stopped?

Can the Big Four - Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple - be reined in and forced to play by the rules society sets, rather than imposing their own standards on society? It seems like news breaks every few weeks that reveal how the technology on which we increasingly depend - smartphones, search engines, social media - is not as passive as many of us thought. Big data, fake news, extremism, Russian trolls: with little or no regulatory supervision, the big tech companies are changing the world and disrupting our lives. Yet governments seem to have little power to respond. The tech giants look too big, too international and too hard to pin down. So is it time to disrupt the disrupters? Journalist and writer Jamie Bartlett asks how we can regulate big tech. He meets the regulators who are daring to reclaim power, and assesses the challenges involved in imposing rules on an industry which is deeply complicated, ever changing and supranational. Do governments have the resources to reassert sovereignty over something which has become so embedded in our culture? And how would society change if they did? Producer: Gemma Newby.
2018-06-25
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Death Is a Bore

Most of us are resigned to the fact that we won't escape death in the end. But there are people who have dedicated their entire lives to conquering death. This relatively new movement of 'transhumanists' believes that science is close to finding a cure for aging and that immortality may be just around the corner. Chloe Hadjimatheou asks whether it's really possible to live forever and whether it's actually desirable.
2018-06-18
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Disconnected Britain

New infrastructure such as major transport projects promises huge benefits. London and the South East are currently looking forward to Crossrail, the start of HS2 and much more besides. But how does all this look from further north? Chris Bowlby heads for his home territory in the north east of England to discover a region full of new ideas about future connections, but worried that current national plans risk leaving it lagging behind. And what, he asks, might this mean for the whole country's future? Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
2018-06-11
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Algorithm Overlords

How can we be sure that the technology we are creating is going to do the right thing? Machines are merging into our lives in ever more intimate ways. They interact with our children and assist with medical decisions. Cars are learning to drive themselves; data on our likes and dislikes roam through the internet. Sandra Kanthal asks if we already in danger of being governed by algorithmic overlords.
2018-06-04
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#metoo, moi non plus

Do French women really think differently about sexual harassment - and if so, does feminism have national borders? Catherine Deneuve was one of 100 prominent women who signed an open letter to Le Monde critiquing the #metoo movement. "We believe that the freedom to say yes to a sexual proposition cannot exist without the freedom to pester," they wrote. Have the French mastered a more sophisticated approach to relations between men and women, based around seduction - or is this a myth that sustains male power? Parisian journalist Catherine Guilyardi investigates. Producer: Estelle Doyle Contributors: Claude Habib - historian and author of "Galanterie francaise" Elaine Sciolino - ex New York Times Paris bureau chief and author of "La Seduction" and "Rue des Martyrs" Eric Fassin - professor of sociology, Paris-8 University Sylvie Kauffman - editorial director and columnist at Le Monde Sandra Muller - journalist and founder of #balancetonporc Cécile Fara and Julie Marangé - feminist activists, organisers of the Street Art and Feminism tour in Paris Fatima El Ouasdi - feminist activist and founder of Politiqu'elles Peggy Sastre - philosopher of science and author of "Male Domination Doesn't Exist".
2018-05-28
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Too Young to Veil?

This year, St. Stephen's primary school in east London found itself at the centre of an incendiary and increasingly far-reaching debate that is rocking not only Muslim communities and campaigners across the UK but also penetrates the very heart of the country's education system. An attempt to ban girls under the age of 8 from wearing the hijab to school resulted in a major backlash from the local community and beyond. Over 19, 000 people signed a petition to reverse the ban, a national campaign group got involved and social media was awash with outrage, some comparing the head teacher to 'Hitler' and branding her a 'paedophile'. The ban was swiftly reversed. What is really at the root of the outrage given that Islam does not require children to cover their heads? And what is motivating the trend for younger girls -some as young as four- to wear the hijab, when previous generations would not have veiled so young? Female Muslim campaigners have warned that it should be fiercely rejected' as it ?sexualises' young girls. Ofsted has voiced concern and is investigating whether teachers have come under pressure from religious groups to change uniform regulation. Others argue it is simply a case of girls copying their mums and suggesting otherwise is a form of Islamophobia. In all the noise between parents, teachers, religious leaders, campaigners and authorities, who - if anyone - has the right to decide what a young girl puts on her head? Producers: Lucy Proctor and Sarah Stolarz
2018-04-24
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The End of Arms Control?

Existing arms control treaties are under threat - at the same time that new types of weapon emerge, with nothing to regulate them. There is a growing crisis in the arms control regimes inherited from the Cold War era, which threatens to undermine existing agreements. At the same time, new technologies are emerging like drones, cyberwar, biotech and hypersonic weapons, which are not covered by existing rules. BBC Defence and Diplomatic Correspondent Jonathan Marcus asks if a new era of chaos beckon or might the whole idea of arms control and disarmament be revived? Producer: Matthew Woodcraft.
2018-03-26
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Screens and Teens

Do we need to "do something" about the effects of smartphones on teenage children? The backlash against the omnipresent devices has begun. Parents on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly worried that smartphones pose a threat to the current generation of teenagers, who have grown up with a phone almost constantly in their hand. Smartphones make our teenagers anxious, tired narcissists who lack empathy and the ability to communicate properly in person. Or so the story goes. David Baker examines the evidence behind the case against smartphones. He hears from the academics calling for action to curb the addictive pull of the screen and from a former Silicon Valley developer who won't let his children have a smartphone. But he also speaks to experts convinced this is just another moral panic about technology's effect on the young. Could there be a danger in blaming smartphones for the rise in teenage anxiety, especially among girls, at the expense of finding the real cause? What, if anything, should we be doing to protect our kids? And who can we look to for guidance in fashioning a healthy relationship with this incredibly powerful piece of kit? Producer: Lucy Proctor.
2018-03-19
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What Are Universities For?

Almost half of the UK's school leavers are now going to university. But the university sector is under more scrutiny than ever before. Sonia Sodha argues that it's time to take a profound look at what universities are really for. Should we be spending vast amounts of public money educating young people at this level if the main purpose is to get ahead of the next person? Are vast numbers of students being failed by a one-size-fits-all system that prizes academic achievement above all else? Why has Apple - and several other companies in Silicon Valley - decided that training young people's imagination and sense of civic culture is of paramount importance? What are the long-term risks to society if universities increasingly become little more than training grounds for the workplace? Producer: Adele Armstrong.
2018-03-12
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Town v Gown: New Tribes in Brexit Britain

In the 2016 referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union, a stark division emerged: those with university degrees were far more likely to vote remain than those with few educational qualifications. And Britain is not the only country where such a gap exists - in the recent American presidential election, far more graduates voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. Edward Stourton investigates the impact of this faultline on voting and politics, and asks how policy makers and wider society should respond. Producer: Neil Koenig.
2018-03-05
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The Dictator's Survival Guide

When Robert Mugabe was deposed last year, he had ruled Zimbabwe for nearly four decades. How do dictators and authoritarians stay in power? James Tilley, a professor of politics at Oxford University, finds out what's in the dictators' survival guide. How do they control ordinary people and stop revolts? How do they stop rivals from taking over? And how do they manipulate apparently democratic procedures like elections to secure their rule? Producer: Bob Howard.
2018-02-26
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Political Electricity

Electricity is crucial to modern life - and in the digital or electric vehicle age, that dependence is going to grow even more. But will we all get the power we need? Chris Bowlby discovers what life is like when power suddenly fails, and how a revolution in the way we generate electricity is posing huge political questions. This could give everyone secure, cheap power - or leave society divided between those with a bright future, and those left increasingly in the dark. Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
2018-02-19
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A Very British Battle

The latest round in the fight over the future of the UK armed forces is raging in the corridors of Whitehall. As politicians and military top brass argue about money, wider questions about what we want the Army, Navy and RAF to do once again top the defence agenda. Caroline Wyatt spent many years covering defence for the BBC and has heard warnings from retired generals about chronic under-funding many times. But with army numbers already down to a level not seen since before the Napoleonic Wars, big projects like the F-35 fighter jets in trouble, and a £2bn a year black hole in the defence budget, further salami slicing seems untenable. How then to prioritise which capabilities the UK must maintain and improve? The UK faces an intensified threat from Russia, 'hybrid' warfare where cyber attacks and political destabilisation are used alongside military force, and advances in missile technology. Post Brexit, the UK's strategic position both globally and within the European defence space is unclear. How we want to deploy our armed forces - where, with whom, and at what cost - is once again up for debate. Producer: Lucy Proctor.
2018-02-12
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The Illiberal Democrats

Poland and Hungary appear to be on paths to what the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called "illiberal democracy". What does this mean for the European Union? Naomi Grimley hears how in Hungary a respected newspaper was shut down overnight after criticising government officials. A liberal university is fighting for its survival. In Poland, a popular singer was disinvited from a festival after speaking out against the proposed outlawing of abortion. Laws have been passed which give politicians more control over the appointment of judges. Both countries are in trouble with the European Commission. And yet, the view from Warsaw and Budapest is that their governments were democratically elected, and that they are enacting the will of their peoples - a will that may not be the same as that of Brussels, but has a popular mandate. In Hungary, Naomi is told that the country simply wants to keep its Christian identity. In Poland, the argument is that the changes of the court systems are simply an overdue updating of the judiciary after the Communist era, and that Poland is entitled to develop as its voters see fit. Could their new paths divide East and West and eventually threaten the EU itself? Producer: Arlene Gregorius.
2018-02-05
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Why Are Even Women Biased Against Women?

Women are sexist too. Even avowed feminists are found to be unconsciously biased against women when they take 'implicit association' tests. Mary Ann Sieghart asks where these discriminatory attitudes come from and what we can do about them. Evidence for women's own sexist biases abounds. In one example, female science professors rated the application materials of ostensibly male applicants for a lab position considerably higher than the identical documentation of ostensibly female candidates, in an experiment with fictitious applicants where only the names were changed. The reasons for the pervasive bias seem to lie in the unconscious, and in how concepts, memories and associations are formed and reinforced from early childhood. We learn from our environment.. The more we are exposed to sexist attitudes, the more we become hardwired to be sexist - without realising it. So what to do? Does unconscious bias training help? Or could it make our implicit biases worse? A good start might be to tell little girls not that they look so pretty in that dress, but to ask them what games they like to play, or what they are reading. And so teach them they are valued not for how they look, but for what they do. Producer: Arlene Gregorius.
2018-01-29
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The Invisible Hand of Donald Trump

Donald Trump's surprise elevation to the office of president last November stunned the world and electrified the financial markets. Promises to cut red tape, bring huge infrastructure projects to life, and sort out the byzantine American tax system propelled Wall Street to record highs. It's called the Trump Bump. Yet Trump's protectionist rhetoric simultaneously created fears of a global trade war. Martin Wolf, Chief Economic Commentator of the Financial Times, reflects on what Trump has accomplished in economic terms in the year since the election heard round the world. Financial systems are recovering from the calamities of the last decade, but that improvement was well under way before Trump took the helm of the world's largest economy. New proposals from the administration are stalled for lack of clarity, infirmity of purpose and political disarray. This doesn't mean that President Trump's decisions on everything from trade tariffs to the Federal Reserve will not send ripples around the globe in the years ahead. He's vowed to deliver tax reform, build a wall, bring jobs home and tear up trade treaties. Will these promises still be delivered? If they are, what might follow? Producer: Sandra Kanthal.
2017-12-01
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Offence, Power and Progress

In 2017 it's easier than ever to express offence. The angry face icon on Facebook, a sarcasm-loaded tweet or a (comparatively) old-fashioned blog post allow us to highlight the insensitivities of others and how they make us feel - in a matter of moments. Increasingly, offence has consequences: people are told what they can and cannot wear, comedy characters are put to bed. Earlier this year, a white artist was condemned for her depiction of the body of a murdered black teenager. Those who were offended demanded that the painting be destroyed because 'white creative freedoms have been founded on the constraint of others'. It's easy to scoff. Detractors refer to those asking for a new level of cultural sensitivity as "snowflakes" and insist the offence they feel is self-indulgent. But history teaches that fringe discussions often graduate to mainstream norms. So are these new idealists setting a fresh standard for cultural sensitivity? A standard that society will eventually come to observe? Mobeen Azhar puts aside familiar critiques about the threat to free speech. Instead, he tries to understand the challenging arguments put forward by those who are pushing for new norms, and who believe that being offended will create a more culturally aware, progressive society. Featuring contributions from X-Factor star Honey G, black lesbian punk rockers Big Joanie and RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Charlie Hides Producer: Tim Mansel.
2017-11-20
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Authenticity

These days when we talk about politicians we are more likely to discuss whether they are authentic than whether they are great orators or statesmen or women. Few of us take the time to listen to a speech or read a manifesto and when we judge politicians we more often focus on whether they seem sincere, warm or passionately committed to a cause rather than weighing up their policy programmes . We're turned off by spin and cynical about many politicians' motivations and we seek reassurance that they can really be trusted. Professor Rosie Campbell asks how we can make judgements about a politician's authenticity. Are politicians more trustworthy if they stick to their principles without compromise? Or is authenticity about revealing our true character, warts and all? And what is better for democracy? Authentic leaders who are straight talking and stick rigidly to their ideals or leaders who are willing to negotiate behind the scenes? Producer: Ben Carter.
2017-11-13
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Primate Politics

Professor James Tilley finds out what we can learn about politics from the power struggles within chimpanzee groups and how our evolutionary past may affect the political decisions that we make today. Interviewing primatologists, evolutionary psychologists and political scientists, he explores the parallels between our political world and that of other primates. These include the way politicians form coalitions, how people choose leaders, loyalties to parties and even how, and when, we go to war. These similarities to other primates reflect our evolutionary heritage and the way in which stone-age human groups settled disputes internally and externally. Producer: Bob Howard.
2017-11-06
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Courting Trouble

When does flirting go too far? In a changing world, can we agree on what is acceptable behaviour? Sexual harassment is much in the news, new laws and codes are in place. Legal definitions are one thing, but real life situations can be a lot messier and more uncertain. Mixing expert analysis of the issues with discussion of everyday scenarios, Jo Fidgen asks: what are the new rules of relationships? Producer: Chris Bowlby.
2017-11-01
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Europe Unbound

Edward Stourton asks how the European Union might change after Britain leaves. "The wind is back in Europe's sails", according to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. In September, in his annual address to the European Parliament, he set out a bold dream for the future. Soon afterwards it was echoed by another, this time from French President Emmanuel Macron who declared that "the only path that assures our future is the rebuilding of a Europe that is sovereign, united and democratic". Amongst the proposals that the two leaders put forward were a European budget run by a European finance minister, an enlargement of the Schengen passport-free travel zone, and much closer collaboration on tax, defence, and a host of other issues. But at present, the European project faces huge challenges. Britain is about to leave the EU, whilst Catalonia's bid for independence is causing turmoil in Spain. In the face of such developments, how realistic are the grand visions that Europe's leaders have for the future of the continent? Producer: Neil Koenig.
2017-10-30
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Parliament - A Building Catastrophe?

What does the dangerous state of the Houses of Parliament tell us about our politics? There are increasing fears of a catastrophic fire, asbestos leak or major systems failure in the famed buildings. But after years of warnings, MPs and Lords are still struggling to decide what to do. Some say Parliament must remain active in the buildings while urgent work is done. Others say they must be vacated for renovation - and that this is an opportunity for a complete rethink of how our parliamentary democracy functions. Chris Bowlby visits the buildings' secret and hazardous corners and talks to key figures in the debate, discovering a story of costly but revealing political paralysis Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
2017-10-23
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Can We Teach Robots Ethics?

From driverless cars to "carebots", machines are entering the realm of right and wrong. Should an autonomous vehicle prioritise the lives of its passengers over pedestrians? Should a robot caring for an elderly woman respect her right to life ahead of her right to make her own decisions? And who gets to decide? The challenges facing artificial intelligence are not just technical, but moral - and raise hard questions about what it means to be human. Presenter: David Edmonds Producer: Simon Maybin.
2017-10-16
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What would war with North Korea look like?

What could spark a major conflict on the world's most sensitive front line, and just how devastating would it be? Alarm about North Korea has spiked. It claims to have successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit Alaska. Some experts estimate that North Korea is now 18 to 36 months away from launching a missile able to reach Los Angeles. President Trump has threatened to "totally destroy" the country, in an exchange of increasingly belligerent messages from both sides. Neal Razzell takes a look at the two sides' war plans and asks: what would war with North Korea look like? Producer: Sarah Shebbeare.
2017-10-09
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The Fintech Revolution

Will technology radically reshape the highly profitable world of finance? Technology can revolutionise industries, making goods and services cheaper and more accessible. Television is going the same way with online services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime providing thousands of movies and boxsets. From the point of view of the consumer the picture is the same - we tend to have more choice and pay less money. Profits get squeezed. Yet there's one service we buy that seems to be a glaring exception - finance. Philip Coggan of The Economist asks whether the rapidly growing financial technology sector is about to change all that, creating a future that's much less comfortable for City fat cats, but better for everyone else. Producer: Ben Carter (Photo: Tech Globe on hand. Credit: Shutterstock).
2017-10-02
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Reducing re-offending

'The Fix' brings together twelve of the country's bright young minds and gives them just one day to solve an intractable problem. This week we have asked our teams to come up with ways to stop criminals re-offending when they leave prison. The day is introduced by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA and the teams will be led through the day by Cat Drew, Director at design consultancy Uscreates. Can the teams do enough to impress our judges, Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund and David Willetts, former minister and Executive Chairman of the Resolution Foundation, or will they fall short?
2017-08-30
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The Fix: Childhood Obesity

The teams have just one day to find solutions to the problem of childhood obesity
2017-08-23
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En liten tjänst av I'm With Friends. Finns även på engelska.
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