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The Long View

Author: BBC Radio 4

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Jonathan Freedland presents the series in which stories from the past are compared with current events.
43 Episodes
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Although not dominating the COVID headlines the backlog of legal cases in the UK is taking a heavy toll on everyone from the people involved who are seeking resolution to the legal profession itself. That's the story today, but it was also the story back in 1666 when after a year of plague and then the Great Fire of London, our capital city was crippled by a legal backlog which made economic recovery and the rebuilding that it required all but impossible. The challenge then was to deal with all the cases to do with Landlords and Leaseholders who had lost everything in the fire and so couldn't afford to begin the rebuilding process. Jonathan is joined by the historian Professor Jay Tidmarsh who will tell the story of the Fire Courts and Fire Judges, set up to deal with the backlog as quickly and efficiently as possible. What they did, how the courts operated and just how much work they got through in less than a decade might provide some ideas for today's legal practitioners. To compare the history with the present Jonathan also hears from the Chair of the Bar Council Amanda Pinto and Sir Ernest Ryder a Lord Justice of Appeal, master of Pembroke College, Oxford and a law reformer. That's the Long View of Legal Backlogs. Producer: Tom Alban
It's been a Presidential race like no other with the internet and social media age insuring a bitter divide between the two sides and acrimonious debate throughout. And even at its conclusion there's dispute over the result. But does that make 2020 unique? Jonathan Freedland is joined by Historian Professor Adam Smith of Oxford University and commentators from both wings of the US spectrum, Kate Andrews and Richard Wolffe to compare today with what happened back in 1800 when another one term President, John Adams, lost an equally divisive election. And as with today's result Adams was far from content to accept defeat. Famously, he didn't turn up to the inauguration ceremony of his successor, the Republican-Democrat Thomas Jefferson. Actor Kerry Shale reads the words of Adams, Jefferson and the extreme press of both sides. Did Adams come to terms with his loss? And what damage did the election do to his party, the Federalists who included in their number the now famous star of musical theatre, Alexander Hamilton. Producer: Tom Alban
Jonathan Freedland takes the Long View of Civil Service reform. With the PM’s Chief Advisor Dominic Cummings promising a ‘hard rain’ on the Service, Jonathan follows the story of Charles Trevelyan, the ‘stormy reformer’ of the 1850’s, who reshaped the Civil Service and made many enemies along the way. Featuring Lord Butler, former head of the Civil Service and Dead Ringers star, Jon Culshaw. Historian Catherine Haddon from the Institute for Government and Sebastian Payne Whitehall journalist at the Financial Times. Producer Neil McCarthy
Jonathan Freedland takes the long view of presidential elections fought against a backdrop of racial turmoil, comparing 2020 with 1968, the year when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. In 1968, Richard Nixon adopted a 'law and order' strategy to win over the so-called 'silent majority' in the face of escalating unrest. Donald Trump has adopted the same language in 2020 following outrage provoked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The law and order approach worked for Nixon in 1968 - will it work for President Trump this November? Readings are performed by Clarke Peters who stars in the latest Spike Lee film, Da 5 Bloods and who played detective Lester Freamon in the hit TV show The Wire. Jonathan is also joined by Dr Peniel Joseph, who holds a joint professorship at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the History Department at The University of Texas at Austin; Asma Khalid, political correspondent for NPR and co-host of The NPR Politics Podcast; and Corrin Rankin, founder of the Legacy Republican Alliance. Producer: Laurence Grissell
Racism in sports crowds

Racism in sports crowds

2020-01-0628:071

The racist chanting and gestures of several members of the crowd at a recent England international match in Bulgaria was a stark reminder that Racism in sports crowds is still an issue that hasn't been driven from stadiums around the world. There have also been recent episodes in British domestic football, particularly in the Manchester derby in which one man in the crowd was given a lifetime ban for what the club believes was clear racist gestures towards two Man Utd players. But there was an ugly situation back in 1810 during a Boxing bout between Tom Cribb, the champion of England, and his African American former slave rival Tom Molyneux. In fact a number of the crowd which numbered thousands turned to violence against Molyneux when he appeared to have gained the upper hand in what was the most important sporting event in the country at the time. An invasion of the ring resulted in an injury to Molyneux's hand which made victory all but impossible. What Molyneux did about it and how the Boxing authorities tried to quell the racial tensions is the story told by Historian Peter Radford, with contributions from Troy Townsend of the anti-racism movement Kick It Out and the former Manchester United and England player Paul Parker who has watched attitudes appear to change over his playing career only to see the ugliness return in the form of online abuse of players. Producer: Tom Alban
Impeaching a President

Impeaching a President

2020-01-0627:55

With the fast-developing saga of the investigations gathering pace towards a possible impeachment of President Donald Trump, Jonathan Freedland and his guests explore the process of removing a US president from office and compare today’s events to those surrounding the first ever presidential impeachment 150 years ago. Producer: Simon Elmes
Huawei and Siemens

Huawei and Siemens

2019-11-2628:031

Jonathan Freedland takes the Long View of suspected state espionage through technology companies. He compares investigations into spy activity in Britain by Siemens employees for Nazi Germany in the run up to World War II and the allegations about Huawei’s 5G equipment containing 'back doors' that could be used by Chinese state intelligence. Following the historical story from the National Portrait Gallery Archive, to the former tech corridor of the Great West Road and ending at the Churchill War Rooms Jonathan is joined by historian Rob Hutton, Chris Cook editor at Tortoise Media , Elisabeth Braw of the Royal United Services Institute, Chair of UK5G Ros Singleton and actor Greg Jones. Producer Neil McCarthy
Jonathan Freedland and his guests compare the Bonfire of the Vanities in fifteenth century Florence with Extinction Rebellion's Autumn Uprising. Girolamo Savonarola was a Dominican Friar whose apocalyptic sermons inspired his followers, the Piagnoni or 'wailers' to take over Florence's streets and squares, challenging the authorities and condemning the consumption of sinful luxuries, such as mirrors, cosmetics and musical instruments. Today's Extinction Rebellion activists have also staged city-centre protests, demanding radical action to reduce carbon emissions and the consumption of modern luxuries such as fast fashion and air travel. Joining Jonathan to discuss past and present are Evelyn Welch, Professor of Renaissance Studies at King's College London, Tim Stanley of The Telegraph and William Skeaping of Extinction Rebellion. Producer: Julia Johnson
Jonathan Freedland compares the drive to attract more women into intelligence and cybersecurity today to the recruitment of women at Bletchley Park during World War Two. The government's National Cyber Security Centre - a branch of GCHQ - are keen to address the shortage of women in their workforce. Jonathan travels to Bletchley Park to look at what lessons can be learned from the wartime codebreaking operation where by the end of the war 75% of the workforce were female. Among Jonathan's guests is Charlotte Webb, who worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and is author of the book Secret Postings. Jonathan is also joined by Erica Munro, Exhibitions Manager at Bletchley Park; Jacqui Chard, Deputy Director for Defence & National Security at the National Cyber Security Centre; Elisabeth Braw of the Royal United Services Institute; and Jane Frankland, Cyber Security Consultant. Producer: Laurence Grissell
Jonathan Freedland considers the career of Julian Assange and looks back at the life of Robert Ferguson, a seventeenth century pamphleteer and fugitive. Harnessing the power of new media to challenge the authority of English Kings, Ferguson was accused of conspiracy and forced to seek refuge in the Netherlands. Back in England he faced prison and notoriety as a plotter and possible double agent. Joining Jonathan to take the long view of journalists on the run are Justin Champion, Professor of History at Royal Holloway College, University of London, the journalist James Ball, lawyer Michael O'Kane, Senior Partner at Peters and Peters and Dr Karin von Hippel, Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute.
Jonathan Freedland takes the Long View of the gender debate in women's sport. There are currently two points of contention. The success of the Canadian Cyclist Rachel McKinnon, a trans gender athlete, in a master's world cycling event, lead to a number of senior female athletes objecting to the inclusion of trans gender women in international sporting competition. Their development as men, the argument runs, gives them a huge advantage when competing against women who matured as women. At the same time the Court for arbitration for sport is hearing the South African runner Caster Semenya's challenge against an International Amateur Althletics Federation ruling that says she must reduce her natural Testosterone levels in order to compete in women's sport. So where should the line be drawn between mens and women's competition? That's the story today, but it was also the story back in the 1930's when a Polish American runner Stanislawa Walasiewicz was the favourite for the women's 100 metres at the Berlin Olympics. Walasiewicz had settled with her parents in Cleveland and was better known as Stella Walsh. By 1932 she was also known as the Cleveland Flyer, but faced with unemployment she took up the offer to run for Poland at the Los Angeles Olympics and won Gold in the 100m. Already she was viewed by many as unusually manly in her running style and build. In the years between 1932 and the Berlin Olympics in 1936 insinuations continued but there was no action taken and she went on to compete successfully. However, in Berlin a French journalist suggested that Stella had to shave twice a day. She was favourite to win the 100m again. In the event she came second to the American Helen Stephens. The Polish team and press raised objections to Stephens suggesting that she was a man. What appears to be the first ever gender identity test was called for and Helen Stephens was its first victim. It would later be described by the legendary British Pentathlon Olympic Gold Medal winner,Dame Mary Peters, some forty years later as 'what in modern parlance, amounted to a grope.” Helen Stephens was exonerated and kept her medal, but it was a crude and profoundly humiliating way of dealing with the problem of gender verification in women's sport. Jonathan is joined by an Olympic athlete and a trans gender sportswoman to take the Long View of gender verification in women's sport.
Jonathan Freedland explores parallels between Brexit and a major dispute between King Offa of Mercia and Charlemagne, King of the Franks in the 790s. In the 790s, King Offa of the English kingdom of Mercia found himself at loggerheads with Charlemagne, King of the Franks on the other side of the Channel. Jonathan and guests examine how the dispute was resolved and explore how the difficulties compare to Britain's relations with the EU in the postwar era. Jonathan is joined by historian Dr Rory Naismith of King's College London and Sir Stephen Wall, former Private Secretary to John Major and former Europe advisor to Tony Blair. Stephen Wall was also Britain's ambassador to the EU in the late 1990s and is the author of an official history of Britain's relations with the European Community 1963-75. Produce: Laurence Grissell
Jonathan Freedland takes the long view of pioneering invention and the trials and tribulations thereof in the form of Elon Musk's Hyperloop and Isambard Brunel's Atmospheric Rail system. Both men were driven and capable of challenging accepted engineering norms but in their two rail systems they struggled to make a break through. Elon Musk believes that his Hyperloop system can shoot passengers at breakneck speed through a vacuum tube, cutting journey times and revolutionising rail travel. Ever the coy publicist he refers to his Hyperloop as the "fifth mode of transport" after road, rail, sea and air. Brunel was convinced that steam wasn't the only way of providing cheap, efficient mass transport. Using a sealed tube in the centre of the rails to deliver vacuum propulsion, his system ran on a 20-mile section of track between Exeter and Newton Abbot and was a match for the speeds available to the best steam trains of the day. But both systems have proved more than challenging and in Brunel's case the challenges became insurmountable and the inventor's appetite for new adventures saw it fall quickly into disuse. How will Elon Musk's plans mature? Historian Colin Divall is on hand to help tell the parallel stories of these two men and their transport dreams. Producer: Tom Alban
A new figure on the world stage with enormous influence, is creating confusion. Heralded as a reformer he is also responsible for extreme intolerance towards those who exhibit disloyalty or threaten to cross him. That was the story in the 11th century with Pope Gregory Vii, and it's also the story now with the Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Pope Gregory appeared to be leading major reforms within the church including attitudes towards clerical celibacy. But while there may have been suggestions of a willingness to accept change and to be flexible in the face of changing pressures he was also capable of ruthless intolerance. He was accused of necromancy, torture of a former friend, assassination attempts and unjust excommunications. His conflict with King Henry iv, Holy Roman Emperor dominated the European stage in the 1070s and 1080s. Conrad Leyser, associate Professor at Worcester College, Oxford helps Jonathan tell the story of a man billed as a reformer but whose reputation underwent a dramatic change during his time as head of the church in Rome.
Jonathan Freedland compares Theresa May's woes now with those of Arthur Balfour in 1903-06, taking the long view of prime ministers confronted with deep divisions in their own party. In the early 1900s Prime Minister Arthur Balfour was faced with a seemingly irreconcilable split in his party. Back then, Balfour’s Conservatives were tearing themselves apart over Imperial Preference - a proposal for a free trade zone within the British Empire. Advocates of Imperial Preference saw it as vital to maintaining Britain's place in the world. Opponents saw it as a dangerous folly. Jonathan Freedland looks at what lessons can be drawn from Balfour's experiences. Producer: Laurence Grissell
Russian Expulsions

Russian Expulsions

2018-05-3127:402

Jonathan Freedland and guests take the Long View on the expulsion of Russian diplomats - both in 2018 after the Skripal poisionings and in 1927 after a notorious raid of a building in London's Moorgate. The story begins in 12 King's Bench Walk in London's Inner Temple, where on 9th May 1927 MI5's head of anti-Soviet work met with Edward Langston a whistle-blower who revealed that a secret military document had been in the possession of the Soviets in the Head Quarters of the All Russian Co-Operative Society, located at 49 Moorgate. And the story ends in Victoria Station where the expelled Russians started their journey home, sent off by crowds of supporters which included MPs and trade unionists. Joining Jonathan Freedland to take this Long View are: Timothy Phillips: Historian, and author of "The Secret Twenties: British Intelligence, The Russians And The Jazz Age" Edward Lucas: Times columnist, espionage expert and author of "The New Cold War: Putin's Russia and the Threat to the West", "Deception: The Untold Story of East-West Espionage Today", and "Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security and the Internet" Oksana Antonenko: Visiting Fellow at Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics and former Programme Director for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Sir Tony Brenton: Former British Ambassador to Russia (2004-08), including during the Litvinenko case Tim McMullan: Actor who played Arthur Valentine, an MI5 operative in Foyles War Producers: Ben Mitchell and Paul Kobrak.
Jonathan Freedland compares safety on the railways in the 1830s to the debate around driverless cars today. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was opened to great fanfare on 15 September 1830. It was clear this new form of transport would radically transform society. Yet the day was overshadowed by the death of William Huskisson MP who stepped on the tracks and was struck by Stephenson's Rocket as it steamed down the line. With the the first death to result from driverless vehicles in Arizona a few weeks ago, Jonathan Freedland and guests tell the story of Huskisson's death and explore the implications for the development of self-driving vehicles today. Producer: Laurence Grissell.
Jonathan Freedland and guests compare the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data row with Luther's rejection of Purgatory and a loss of trust in the Church in pre-Reformation Europe. With Diarmaid MacCulloch. Professor of the History of the Church; Mic Wright, technology writer; Emily Taylor, associate fellow of Chatham House and editor of the Journal of Cyber Policy; Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Digital Minister and actor Anton Lesser. Producer: Georgia Catt.
Brexit Special

Brexit Special

2018-04-0639:352

The Long View marks a year to go to Brexit. Jonathan Freedland & guests consider multiple historical scenarios when Britons faced a new and uncertain direction for their collective island fate. Dr Erin Goeres uncovers a little known story of 11th Century Brexit & unhappy Anglo Saxons. David Andress details how Britain weathered war & a Napoleonic trade ban but workers rights were challenged. Whilst in May 1940 a strengthened alliance with France promised a second chance for Europe and then it was gone in a Blitzkreig. As David Reynolds reveals , Churchill's heroic words masked the desperation of a leader who had no idea what awaited his people. Jonathan and contemporary commentators, Conservative M.P. Kwasi Kwarteng & Eloise Todd, C.E.O. of Best for Britain, gather to learn from the past in this lengthened Brexit Special. Ian Harte, one of the stars of the BBC's The Last Kingdom reads the chronicles of yesteryear. Producer: Mark Burman.
Jonathan Freedland and guests take The Long View of Donald Trump's trade plans. The United States slapping hefty tariffs on goods from abroad in order to protect their industries at home is the story now, but also just a few years after the founding of the American Republic. The man imposing the tariffs, the then Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton. Producer: Georgia Catt.
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Comments (2)

Rob Morgan

Problem with the 10 November US Election episode. Been trying to download it (unsuccessfully) on and off since it first dropped.

Dec 23rd
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Jennifer

There is a problem with this episode that the podcast has not finished and it stopped in the middle

Nov 21st
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