DiscoverTALKING POLITICS
TALKING POLITICS
Claim Ownership

TALKING POLITICS

Author: David Runciman and Catherine Carr

Subscribed: 11,304Played: 264,646
Share

Description

Corbyn! Trump! Brexit! Politics has never been more unpredictable, more alarming or more interesting. TALKING POLITICS is the podcast that tries to make sense of it all. Each Thursday, in Cambridge, David Runciman will talk to his regular panel along with novelists, comedians, historians, philosophers - and even a few politicians - and ask them what they think is going on... Democracy is feeling the strain everywhere. What might happen next? How bad could it get? As it unfolds, TALKING POLITICS will be on it. It’s the political conversation everyone is having: please join us.


Talking Politics is brought to you in partnership with the London Review of Books, Europe's leading magazine of books and ideas.

218 Episodes
Reverse
We talk to lawyer and constitutional expert Alison Young about the current pressures on the UK constitution, from Brexit to devolution to political polarisation. Is parliamentary sovereignty still the linchpin of the system? What changed with the arrival of the Supreme Court? Can the constitution survive in its current form?Talking Points:How should we think about parliamentary sovereignty in the UK constitutional order? - The idea is that legislation enacted by parliament is the highest form of law in the land. - Unlike most other systems, the UK does not have a written constitution that is above legislation.What does this mean for the Union?  - In a nutshell, Westminster can still override other parliaments.  - The civil convention is the idea that Westminster won’t legislate in the devolved areas or change the devolved structures without the consent of the devolved bodies. - But this can’t be legally enforced, and Westminster doesn’t always comply with it.   - The UK doesn’t have a federal system: there aren’t the same legal limits on Westminster but there are legal limits on the devolved bodies. - In short, the institutions are permanent but their powers aren’t.Did Parliament limit its sovereign powers when it created the Supreme Court? - Parliament could still abolish the court, but that could also trigger a constitutional crisis. - It’s not necessarily the Supreme Court that has limited parliamentary sovereignty.  - EU law has primacy and direct effect. This is a restriction on parliamentary sovereignty. - Another tension is how the courts are beginning to interpret legislation.Brexit has led to renewed focus on parliamentary sovereignty. On the one hand, we see the reassertion of parliamentary sovereignty against the executive. On the other hand, the Brexiteers see themselves as this very principle from the EU. - The Gina Miller case revolved around the tension between the government and parliament—whether the government could trigger Article 50. This case actually reinforced parliamentary sovereignty. The referendum created a tension between the sovereignty of the people and the sovereignty of parliament. - This is the problem that has not been resolved.Further Learning: - The UK Constitutional Law Association - Alison’s article on populism and the UK constitution - Alison on “The Briefing Room” - Jonathan Sumption’s Reith Lectures on “Law’s expanding empire”And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
We talk to historian Jill Lepore about the idea of nationalism in America, from the birth of the Republic through to Trump. What defines the nation? Why does the illiberal version keep getting the upper hand?  Are there any politicians in America who can rescue the idea of liberal nationalism? Plus we ask Jill what she thinks of Johnson, Brexit and nationalism in the UK.The Union won the American Civil War, but the South won the peace. - The South won the peace by persuading the North both to undo the terms of Reconstruction and to remember the war as being about something different than it actually was. - The Confederacy was founded on the premise of racial hierarchy. - Reconstruction began as essentially a military occupation of the South to reinforce the new amendments to the Constitution guaranteeing equality for all people - But it was ended prematurely and the federal government wound up conceding the constitutionality of the Jim Crow laws that reenforced racial hierarchy.When did cities stop being a part of “the nation?” - To some on the right, there’s no such thing as a liberal nationalism or liberal patriotism.  - Trump sets the nation against the government. - Historically, the term “globalist” is code for antisemitism.  - The environmentalists may have replaced the old “internationalists.”The classic error on the left is to speak to either subgroups or the world. - Looking at the Democratic presidential candidates, you don’t really see anyone talking about what the nation is. - The concept of the “nation” is now one of the things that divides generations. - Obama did talk about the nation a lot—this is part of what made him so powerful rhetorically.There are competing notions of nationalism. On the one hand, you have an enlightened, liberal nationalism, which is about guaranteeing equal rights to citizens. On the other, there is illiberal nationalism, which is premised on exclusion.  - Right now, illiberal nationalism seems to have the upper hand.Further Learning:  - Jill on why America needs a new national story - What if Reconstruction hadn’t failed? - David Blight on the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1845-1877 (Open Yale Courses) - America First? And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
We talk to public policy expert Dennis Grube about the changing character of the civil service, from Victorian mandarins and Yes, Minister to the current battles over Brexit in the age of Twitter.  Senior civil servants increasingly find themselves in the public eye, expected to communicate their views. Has this politicised the advice they give? For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
We talk to political economist Helen Thompson about the birth of the Euro and its tortuous recent history. Whose idea was it in the first place and how much of its current troubles were baked into its origins? A story of ambition, intrigue and unintended consequences.Talking Points:The euro was the brainchild of the French government, sometime around late 1987. - The French had become extremely dissatisfied with the exchange rate mechanism. They thought the set-up benefitted Germany to the expense of everyone else. - France saw monetary union as a way to Europeanize monetary policy.The French persuaded the rest of the European community to set up a committee to look into monetary union, which was chaired by the former French finance minister. - He understood that union would have to be on German terms: there would be an independent central bank committed to price stability. - Helmut Kohl also wanted shifts on the institutional questions within the European Community.The Maastricht Treaty was agreed in December 1991—ratification went on for two years. - The treaty is about much more than monetary union. - During contentious elections, Kohl started talking about monetary union as a symbol of European peace rather than a purely macroeconomic issue.The general improvement in economic conditions in the mid-1990s allowed the monetary union to proceed. - This doesn’t mean that there weren’t significant issues, but there wasn’t an existential crisis like the one that would emerge in 2009 with Greece.Before the euro itself got going, there was the convergence of interest rates. Even for states like Italy and Greece, that has been a clear advantage. - You also see some alignment on inflation.  - But you don’t get fiscal convergence. Some states run much higher deficits than others.If the euro were to end now, it would be because of an implosion not states voluntarily seceding. - There is more skepticism over the euro in Eastern Europe.There is a recession coming; this will put more pressure on this system. - The flashpoint may be Germany.  - There is going to be considerable pressure to go back to quantitative easing. Whether Draghi’s successor can secure tacit German approval is a different question. Further Learning: - Helen for the LRB: Will the EU hold? For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
We ask regular TP contributors and guests to tell us about the books they've most enjoyed recently and the ones they are looking forward to reading this summer. History, science fiction, philosophy, memoirs and a little bit of politics too: it's all here.Sarah Churchwell - My Face for the World to See, Alfred Hayes - In Love, Alfred HayesChris Bickerton - The Man Without Qualities, Robert MusilHans van de Ven - The Great Flowing River, Chi Pang-yuanHelen Thompson - Dominion, Tom Holland - The Hotel Years, Joseph Roth - The Emigrants, W.G. SebaldDennis Grube - The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis - Middle England, Jonathan CoeCatherine Bernard - In our Mad and Furious City, Guy GunaratneDavid Runciman - From Bacteria to Bach and Back, Daniel C. Dennett  - Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted ChiangClare Chambers - Invisible Women, Caroline Criado Perez - Normal People, Sally RooneyChris Brooke - On Mercy, Malcolm BullPaul Mason - Love Song: The Lives of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, Ethan MorddenTom HollandNefertiti’s Face, Joyce Tyldesley For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
We talk to historian of China Hans van de Ven about the origins of the CCP and its extraordinary rise to power. How has it managed to adapt to the changes of the last forty years and what lessons will be drawn as it approaches its one hundredth birthday?Talking Points:The Chinese Communist Party is an incredible success story. A group of students met in Shanghai; 30 years later, they were running a vast country. - A lot of luck was involved. If the Japanese hadn’t invaded, they never would have gone anywhere.The CCP didn’t become a Maoist party until the Second World War. - Communist parties are supposed to thrive in cities, but Mao turned his attention to the countryside. - Mao was a great tactician of violence. He was heavily influenced by Clausewitz. - Mao was also able to draw in both the youth and the intellectuals.The West tends to see Mao’s death as the decisive shift, but Mao himself allowed new people to come to the fore, including Deng Xiaoping. - Tiannamen was an existential threat to the Party, and it extended far beyond Beijing.The Party is still the dominant institution in Chinese life. Although Chinese life is more pluralistic under market reform, the Party still calls the final shots. - China has always been highly commercialized. Viewing reform as “Westernization” may not be the best approach.A key element of the Chinese political tradition is a direct connection between the highest and the lowest rungs of society. New technology makes this easier.  - The leadership is extremely concerned with what people are thinking.As the 100th anniversary of the Party approaches, the leadership faces a dilemma: taking the history of the Party seriously could threaten its present legitimacy. - How do you explain all of the suffering? You can’t just ignore it.Further Learning: - Hans’ book, China at War: Triumph and Tragedy in the Emergence of the New China - ChinaFile - A guide to China from the Council on Foreign RelationsRecommended Reading:  - A Critical Introduction to Mao Zedong, Timothy Cheek, ed (CUP, 2010) - Mao's Little Red Book: A Global History, Alastair Cook (CUP, 2014)Red Flags: Why Xi's China is in Jeopardy, George Magnus (Yale, 2018) For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
We talk to historian Sarah Churchwell about the Gilded Age in late nineteenth century America and the comparisons with today. Rampant inequality, racial conflict, fights over immigration, technological revolution: is Trump's America repeating the pattern or is it something new?Talking Points:In 1873, Mark Twain and Charles W. Warner coined the term “The Gilded Age,” in their eponymous novel.  - The phrase was re-discovered in the 1920s and applied retrospectively to the period of the 1870s-roughly 1900. - The Gilded Age satirized the way wealth and consumerism were taking over American life and showed how this move towards a “huxterist” culture was subverting America’s democratic ideals.Yet this was also a period of real growth.  - The major transformation of the period was the railroad.  - Rampant inequality characterized the era: the robber barons on the one hand, and poor immigrant communities on the other. But in the middle of this, there was also a group of people working their way into the middle class.Immigration, particularly from Eastern Europe, exploded during this period. - America did not have immigration control.  - The first immigration laws were passed in the 1880s and 1890s, most notably the Chinese Exclusion Act.Reconstruction overlaps with the Gilded Age. - There was no redistribution to the former slaves. Johnson effectively pardoned the former Confederates.  - The Klan emerged during this period as domestic terrorists. - This ultimately leads to the Great Migration, African Americans leaving the South to seek opportunities further North.The bridge between the Gilded Age and the Progressive Period was the age of populism. - William Jennings Bryan was a grassroots populist who almost became president. - There are many echoes to the present moment: white working class men asserting their right to be middle America at the cost of excluding other communities.Is this a new Gilded Age? - Today, the tech giants are cornering technology the way that Carneige cornered steel.  - But maybe the gilt is the story, and the exceptional moments are the aberrations. Further Learning: - Sarah’s book, Behold America - Chapters of Erie, Henry Adams For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Autumn of Chaos

Autumn of Chaos

2019-07-2400:46:448

Boris Johnson is off to see the Queen to become her 14th (!) Prime Minister, but where might he be taking the country this autumn?  We try to work through the various Brexit scenarios, from a renegotiated Withdrawal Agreement to a crash no-deal exit. Can the backstop be changed? What is a 'standstill' arrangement? Will Macron force the issue? Plus we explore whether an early election or a second referendum can really provide a way out of the mess. Something's got to give - what will it be? With Helen Thompson, Catherine Barnard and Chris Bickerton.Talking Points: Can you change the backstop? - Deep changes seem unlikely, though maybe some changes around the edges would make it more sellable. - If the DUP won’t swallow it, will Johnson have to essentially sacrifice Northern Ireland to get a deal? - But cutting out the DUP presents a problem for parliamentary arithmetics.  - The things that Johnson wants to discuss are in the withdrawal agreement. Europe is not open to talking about these things. What is GATT Article 24 5b? - This is the idea that you could have a “quick and dirty” free trade agreement ready to go on the 31 Oct.  - The trouble is that the law gets in the way: the EU has to agree with it. - From the EU perspective, any agreement will require that the UK addresses citizens rights, money, and the backstop. - The idea that there’s some kind of standstill option is a unicorn.There’s a change of leadership in the EU as well. Does it make any difference? - The instability in German politics deserves more attention. - The Franco-German relationship is in a worse place than it was in March. - If the German position is weakened, this could strengthen Macron and the harder line.When will the moment of truth come? - The sequencing here is incredibly complex. - At some point, Johnson’s government will have to make a choice. Will it be over an election? Over no deal? - A confidence vote isn’t a last resort for Tory remainers, but it’s very close to it. - We also need to think more about the legal realities of a no deal Brexit. Mentioned in this Episode: - Who is Boris Johnson?  - More on GATT Article 24Further Learning: - Catherine on the EU and the conservative leadership race - Helen on geopolitics, the EU, and BrexitAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Waiting for Boris

Waiting for Boris

2019-07-1800:48:039

Barring an act of God, Boris Johnson is going to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. We're exploring what that means in two parts. Today, Helen and David talk about the domestic implications.  Can Johnson avoid an election? Can he hold on to the seats he needs while winning others he doesn't have? Will he unite or divide his party? Will Labour be able to stop him either way? Plus we talk about what's at stake for the Tories in Johnson's relationship with Trump.  Next week: Europe and Brexit.Talking Points:What shifted to make Boris Johnson’s victory almost inevitable? - We need to go back to the third attempt to get the meaningful vote through the House of Commons. That was Theresa May’s chance. - After 31 March, the political calculus changed.  - If May had been able to pass her deal, there might have been more of an effort to stop Johnson from becoming PM.Labour is now the more divided party. And the Conservative Party has united around a very unpopular leader. - There are some parallels to the United States. - The Labour remainers have been emboldened since the 31 March, but Labour also looks more divided than it did a few months ago.Are there enough people in the parliamentary Conservative Party who would be willing to precipitate a general election if Johnson pursued no deal? - It’s not impossible, but this would be a big deal.Could Johnson usher in a new relationship with the United States? - A lot would ride on his relationship with Trump—that’s risky.  - Is there anything that Johnson can say that will not alienate Trump and not alienate the British public?The most important decision next week, if Johnson becomes PM, will be who he appoints as Chancellor.  - Whoever it is will likely have a lot of power. - What happens with Brexit will be crucial to what kind of economic policy comes next. - The Conservatives will need to maintain their coalition, and probably make up for seats in Scotland.Will the opposition to a Johnson prime ministership coalesce around Labour or not? - Last time, the Conservatives committed an act of destruction with the social care issue.   - And if the next general election happens after Brexit, there will not be the same disciplining effect. - If Johnson can walk a very narrow path in the next 6 months (which is far from certain), he could be prime minister for a long time. Mentioned in this Episode:  - Hunt and Johnson on Trump’s tweets - Steve Baker’s tweet in response to Trump’s tweet - John Lanchester on Universal Basic Income - Adam Tooze on GermanyFurther Learning: - Who is Boris Johnson?  - The Party Splits! (In 1846!)And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Hong Kong

Hong Kong

2019-07-1100:42:2110

What is happening in Hong Kong? We talk to a professor of Chinese history and a Hong Kong journalist about the recent wave of protests there and try to discover what is really at stake on all sides.  Who are the protestors? What are their core demands? Can these be met? And what will happen if they aren't? Plus we explore the parallels with other protest movements around the world and look at the possible knock-on effects, from Beijing to Taiwan. With Hans van de Ven and Angus Hui.Talking Points:The protests in Hong Kong are now in their second month. As many as half a million people have taken to the streets. - There is also a smaller group of much younger people who occupied the legislative council chambers last week. - The initial protests were about repealing an extradition law. But the protest now seems to be about the entire system. - This is the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The protesters want to show that Hong Kong is not China. - Is this a threat to one country, two systems?  - The Umbrella Movement in 2014 was about suffrage and democracy. Is this going beyond that? - One country, two systems was meant to last 50 years. We are now 22 years in. What would the protesters count as success? - Independence is an unrealistic goal.  - The protesters want three things: 1) The withdrawal of the extradition bill 2) An independent investigation committee into police violence against the protesters and 3) protection from prosecution for the protesters. - A real win would be a genuinely elected chief executive and a genuinely elected legislative council. This would involve negotiations with Beijing.Even if these protests fade, the issues remain and will only get more serious. - What is happening in Hong Kong is the building up of a tradition of protests that will feed on each other. - There is a broader breakdown in trust between mainland China and the people living in Hong Kong, including the fear that the social credit system may be introduced in Hong Kong.Mentioned in this Episode: - English language news sources on the situation in Hong KongFurther Learning: - Background from the NYTimes on the protests - More on the umbrella revolution - More on Christianity and the Hong Kong protestsAnd as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
loading
Comments (12)

Andrew Packman

"I'm not a negative person... but it's going to be a catastrophe" 😂🤦🏾‍♂️

Aug 9th
Reply

Lino Vari

Over the time I've been listening I've developed a clearer picture of what Brexit means, and yet I'm no closer to understanding why such a decision was taken or how it was allowed to get to this stage. Thanks for illuminating people like me in the antipodes. Also, Australia recently had an election where the pollsters, for the most part, got it completely wrong. Although I'm not asking for analysis of that particular election but rather, where do pollsters stand when people will say one thing to them and then clearly do another at the ballot box? Can we take their pronouncements seriously if people themselves don't? Anyway, I'll mope around for a week until the next episode drops. 😉

Jul 25th
Reply

Lino Vari

I came to this podcast late and binge listened to the lot over a few weeks. Really hate having to wait a week for the next one!

Jul 23rd
Reply

Tom Thumb

The guest said only 2 US Democratic candidates were taking climate change seriously. Sanders and who was the other one?

Apr 28th
Reply

T

Tom Thumb Not sure who the guest was referring to, but Jay Inslee has been camping very much on climate change I believe.

May 19th
Reply

Andrew Browne

Disaster money man with no support from IPCC, but he likes the cash

Mar 24th
Reply

Robin Jamieson

excellent podcast, more please!

Mar 15th
Reply

Jason D'Cruz

solid episode

Dec 4th
Reply

Richard Kay

Neoliberal talking shop.

Oct 27th
Reply

Samuel Baeza

generally on the money, but sometimes it gets a little pompous

Oct 25th
Reply

Alan

Samuel Baeza the title is a loaded question

Oct 27th
Reply

Colin Erskine

This podcast is where I discovered podcasts and it's still the best listen. That one on the seventies I've listened to thrice and counting. I'd like to hear more on the sterling crisis?

Jul 30th
Reply
loading
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store