Episodes
David talks with Helen to get her take on the history of ideas - both what's there and what's missing. Why start with Hobbes? What can we learn from the Federalist Papers? Where's Nietzsche? Plus we talk about whether understanding where political ideas come from is liberating or limiting and we ask how many of them were just rationalisations for power. Talking Points:  Should we start the story of modern politics with Hobbes? - Hobbes poses a stark question: what is the worst thing that...
Published 07/09/20
David talks to the writer James Meek about what the Covid crisis has revealed about how we understand healthcare and how we think about the organisations tasked with delivering it. A conversation about hospitals and community care, about Trump's America and Johnson's Britain, and about WHO and NHS. James's writing on these themes is available on the LRB website https://www.lrb.co.uk/ Amy Maxmen on Ebola, Covid and the WHO...
Published 07/05/20
We have passed the deadline for any extension to the Brexit trade negotiations - now it's 31 December or bust. We catch up with three of our resident experts to explore what this means, what the chances are of getting a deal and where the sticking points might be. Plus we asses the impact of the Covid crisis on the fate of Brexit and its implications for what might happen later this year. With Anand Menon, Catherine Barnard and Helen Thompson. Talking Points:  The formal legal position is...
Published 07/02/20
In this extra episode David talks to Thant Myint-U about the fraught recent history of Burma (Myanmar) and asks what it can teach us about twenty-first century politics. Why did the West have so many illusions about Aung San Suu Kyi? Can democracy really rescue the country? What model of development might work in the age of Covid and climate change? A wide-ranging conversation about the forces shaping our world. Thant's website: https://www.thantmyintu.com/ Thant's book:...
Published 06/28/20
We talk with the writer and political commentator Fintan O'Toole about how British politics can and should deal with its imperial past in the age of Brexit. From battles over statues to fights over nationalism we explore whether history has become the new democratic divide. Why does Churchill loom so large over our politics? Can Labour reclaim the mantle of patriotism? Will the Union survive the history wars? Plus we ask whether there has been a generational shift in attitudes to race and...
Published 06/25/20
David and Helen talk with historian Sarah Churchwell about the origins, uses and abuses of the idea of American fascism. Where does American fascism come from? Does it follow a European model or is it something exceptional? What role do white supremacy and anti-Semitism play in its development? How close has it got to power? Plus we ask the big question for now: Does it make sense to call Trump a fascist? Talking Points:  Trump’s decision to hold a rally in Tulsa on 19 June is an act of...
Published 06/18/20
We talk to Adom Getachew, Jasson Perez and Gary Gerstle about the politics of protest and the politics of policing in America. What does 'Defund the Police' mean in practice? Is the current crisis likely to empower or curtail the surveillance state? How are the current protests different from ones we've seen in the past? And where Minneapolis leads, will the world follow? Plus we talk about the implications of the protests for the November elections. Talking Points: The ‘defund the...
Published 06/11/20
In an extra episode, we're back with last week's guest Jonathan Shainin, Head of Opinion at the Guardian, so he can talk us through the big blow-up at the NYT. What has it taught us about about the new battlegrounds in newspaper opinion? Where does power now lie in newspaper offices? And where does Jonathan draw the line between what can and can't be published? In our next episode, voices on the ground in the US. Further Reading: The Tom Cotton Op-Ed from the New York Times...
Published 06/08/20
David talks to comedian and host of the Political Party podcast Matt Forde about his lockdown experiences and about his life with the Labour party: before, during and after the Corbyn years. Plus we discuss the ways in which political allegiances are (and aren't) like supporting a football team. https://www.mattforde.com/ https://planetradio.co.uk/absolute-radio/presenters/matt-forde/   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 06/07/20
David and Helen talk with Jonathan Shainin, Head of Opinion at the Guardian newspaper, about the challenges of political journalism in a deeply polarised age. Is it possible to hold the line between news and comment? Are the arguments about Covid a rerun of Brexit? What can scientists and historians add to political analysis? Plus we discuss how American journalism has changed the way it talks about race and violence and what that means for the current moment. Talking Points:  The...
Published 06/04/20
David and Helen talk to the historian Dan Snow about the parallels for the current crisis. Is it like past pandemics or is it more like a war? What has it exposed about the weak spots in our societies? And what have we learned about the role of political leadership? Plus we explore the value of Churchill comparisons on the 80th anniversary of his great WWII speeches and we dip our toes into the Cummings affair. Talking Points:  Lockdown, quarantine, social distancing have been borrowed...
Published 05/28/20
David talks to the writer Annie Zaidi, winner of the Nine Dots Prize, about her remarkable memoir of life in India and the search for identity. It's s story of conflict, migration, belonging and the idea of home. We also discuss what home means for Indians now the country is under lockdown and Annie tells us how life is in Mumbai. *The sound is not great, we are sorry. It is nicer to listen through speakers than on headphones* Further Reading and listening: Annie Zaidi's...
Published 05/24/20
How does a judgement of the German constitutional court threaten to explode the European project? David talk to Helen Thompson, Adam Tooze and Shahin Vallee about what the court's decision might mean for the Euro, for the response to the pandemic, for Franco-German relations and for the future of central banks. Can the great European fudge continue? And what happens if it can't? Plus a bonus chat with Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd from the ‘Reasons to be Cheerful Podcast’...
Published 05/21/20
David is joined by Helen Thompson and Chris Brooke to try to get beyond the current crisis and work out where British politics is heading. How different is Starmer's political programme likely to be from Corbyn's? Can the Labour party become the party of the workers again? And is Brexit really going to happen without an extension and without a deal? Plus we explore the renewed influence of the trade unions and ask what it means for the political choices ahead. Talking Points: What kind of...
Published 05/14/20
David and Helen talk this week with Amy Maxmen, senior reporter at Nature.  Amy has covered the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa and now COVID-19 in the US. Does she see comparisons between the two? What explains the failures of the US response? Can the WHO still make a difference? Plus we explore the implications of the growing politicisation of science. When did data become so divisive? Talking Points: There are significant parallels between what is happening now and epidemics such as...
Published 05/07/20
We talk with David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee, about the impact of the pandemic on the world's poorest countries. What happens in places where social distancing is not possible? Plus we discuss the long-term implications of the crisis for the future global co-operation and global conflict. Is this the moment for social democracy? More details of the work of the IRC can be found here: https://www.rescue-uk.org/ Talking Points:  By fluke or demography, the virus...
Published 04/30/20
Published 04/30/20
Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is one of the most remarkable books in the history of ideas. A classic of early feminism, it uses what’s wrong with the relationship between men and women to illustrate what’s gone wrong with politics. It’s a story of lust and power, education and revolution. David explores how Wollstonecraft’s radical challenge to the basic ideas of modern politics continues to resonate today. To get all 12 talks - please subscribe to the...
Published 04/28/20
Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651) reimagined how we could do politics. It redefined many of the ideas that continue to shape modern politics: representation, sovereignty, the state. But in Leviathan these ideas have a strange and puzzling power. David explores what Hobbes was trying to achieve and how a vision of politics that came out of the English civil war, can still illuminate the world we live in. To get all 12 talks - please subscribe to the new podcast - Talking Politics: HISTORY OF...
Published 04/27/20
We catch up again with Lucia Rubinelli to discuss the latest developments in Italy. With anger against the EU on the rise and regional divisions getting more acute, can the Italian government hold it together? What is Salvini up to? And will the technocrats try another take over? Plus Lucia tells us what lockdown has been like for her. The New York Times Article mentioned: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/21/world/europe/italy-coronavirus-south.html   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and...
Published 04/26/20
A short trailer to introduce a brand new podcast called Talking Politics: HISTORY OF IDEAS. In each episode, David Runciman focuses on one writer and one piece of writing. The series of twelve will explore some of the most important thinkers and prominent ideas lying behind modern politics – from Hobbes to Gandhi, from democracy to patriarchy, from revolution to lock down. Plus David talks about the crises – revolutions, wars, depressions, pandemics – that generated these new ways of...
Published 04/23/20
David and Helen talk to the economist Diane Coyle about the long-term consequences of lockdown, for the economy, for society and for our well-being. How can we measure the costs? Who are likely to be the biggest losers? And what will it mean for how we structure our economies in future? Plus we discuss what will happen if we pull back from global supply chain and we ask whether inflation is on its way. Talking Points:  The crisis is revealing weaknesses in the global economy. - Previous...
Published 04/23/20
David and Helen talk to Adam Tooze about what we know about the crisis that we didn't know a month ago, and what we still don't have much of a clue about. From fights inside the French government to the fate of the planet, from shale gas to corona bonds, we try to join up the dots. Plus a small update recorded after news of the oil price-drop. Read 'Shockwave' by Adam Tooze in the LRB https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n08/adam-tooze/shockwave. Talking Points: The dominant reality is the...
Published 04/20/20
David and Helen talk to 538's Nate Silver about how to read the pandemic data and what they mean for politics. What do we know now that we didn't know six weeks ago? How should we model the future trajectory of the disease? Where does it leave the election in November? A conversation about everything from death rates to spring breaks, and from Belgium to Biden. Talking Points:  Are the COVID models we are using now better than they were before? - People don’t always understand the...
Published 04/18/20
We discuss whether British politics is about to undergo a fundamental shift. Are we seeing a new role for the state? Have the lines between the parties started to blur? What will be the long-term consequences of the economic decisions taken in the last few weeks? Plus we explore whether the crisis points in the direction of more democracy, less democracy or a different kind of democracy. With Helen Thompson and Tom McTague of the Atlantic. Talking Points: The government has taken on both...
Published 04/16/20