Analysis

Analysis

United Kingdom

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

Episodes

Brexit: What Europe Wants  

How political forces in other countries will shape any future UK-EU deal. As a younger man, Anand Menon spent a care-free summer Inter-railing around Europe. Some decades later, and now a professor of European politics, he's taking to the rails again - this time with a more specific purpose. While British ministers squabble over what they want for a post-Brexit UK, less attention is paid to the other 27 countries in the negotiations. Each can veto any long-term deal between Britain and the European Union. And each, critically, has its own politics to worry about. Professor Menon visits four European countries where politicians will face their electorates next year. What forces will decide their political survival? And how will those forces shape the EU's future relationship with the UK? Producer: Simon Maybin.

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How Did We Save the Ozone Layer?  

On 30 June this year, a study was released in one of the world's top scientific journals. It explained how a group of scientists who had been measuring the amount of ozone in the stratosphere had made a startling observation: the hole in the ozone layer had shrunk. Here, they said, was the first clear evidence that the ozone layer had begun to heal. So how did this happen? Helena Merriman tells a story that involves dogged scientific endeavour, the burgeoning green movement of the 1980s and the signing of what has been described as the most successful treaty ever created. Producers: Lucy Proctor and Hannah Sander.

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Trusting Inmates  

Should we place more trust in prisoners to help them change their lives? "Trust is the only thing that changes people," says Professor Alison Liebling, the director of the Prisons Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. But, asks Lucy Ash, how can we encourage trust in prisons that are overcrowded, often understaffed, and blighted by rising rates of violence? Prisoners are locked up because they broke trust, and on the wings distrust, rather than trust, is an essential survival skill. And yet Professor Liebling's latest evidence surprisingly shows that ultimately it is only staff-prisoner relationships built on trust that ensure better outcomes. "Values grow virtues", she argues. Treating prisoners with the same values as other people - dignity, respect, trust - will help them turn their lives around. Producer: Arlene Gregorius (Image: A knife with a blunted point, chained to a work surface. Credit: Rene Hut, of the Dutch Ministry of Justice).

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The Myth of Mobs  

In popular imagination, being in a crowd makes people scary and irrational. But is this true? In this edition of Analysis, David Edmonds asks social psychologists - including a leading expert on groups, Steve Reicher - about the psychology of crowds. This is far more than merely a theoretical matter. It has profound implications for how we police crowds.

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Brexit and Northern Ireland  

Is the island of Ireland where Brexit will matter most? Edward Stourton visits Londonderry, right on the Irish border, to explore what's at stake as the UK leaves the EU. Some locals fear the border across Ireland - as the EU's new external border - will harden, causing great practical and economic difficulty and even threatening the Northern Ireland peace process. Others say change the will matter far less, and that peace is now guaranteed. While people in Derry ask anxious questions, we'll hear too how policy makers in London and Dublin face a particular challenge in making Brexit work. Producer: Chris Bowlby.

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Gentrification  

Can the process of gentrification be controlled? It is often hailed as a sign of social and economic progress. Places which were originally poor and downtrodden are transformed into prosperous and vibrant neighbourhoods. The phenomenon applies to large swathes of London and other cities across the country. David Baker asks whether gentrifying urban areas can retain their diversity and vibrancy. Is there a danger that in the latter stages of gentrification these places become the preserve of the very wealthy, losing much of their original character in the process? What tools are available to urban planners, local and national politicians to avoid this happening? Are there any lessons to be learned from cities in Europe and North America? Is there a new model of urban development emerging or will the British obsession with owning bricks and mortar define the way places become gentrified? Producer: Peter Snowdon.

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Breaking Promises  

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, asks if the time has come for the government to break pledges made to pensioners. He charts how the average income of senior citizens has risen and is now higher than that of the rest of the population. "We are in a position we never intended," he says. "One generation has lucked out and generations coming after are not only doing much worse, but paying for the older generation." He asks whether the government can and should sustain the "triple lock" which makes the state pension rise much faster than other benefits. And he argues that the inequality between generations is now entrenching inequality within generations. Producer: Helen Grady Interviewees: Torsten Bell, the Resolution Foundation Angus Hanton, the Intergenerational Foundation Baroness Ros Altmann, former pensions minister John Kay, economist Joanne Segars, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association Baroness Onora O'Neill, philosopher Frances O'Grady, Trades Union Congress Ben Page, Ipsos MORI.

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Tearing Up the Politics Textbook  

British politics has been going through a period of rapid and remarkable change. That's a headache for the politicians and for the voters. But spare a thought also for politics professors like Rosie Campbell of Birkbeck, University of London. Following the results of the 2015 election and the EU referendum, she ask whether it's time for her and her colleagues to bin their old lecture notes and start afresh. How should we understand this new landscape where old assumptions about the dominance of two mainstream class-based parties and the crucial role of a few swing seats have become outdated? And what should go in the new politics textbooks? Producer: Rob Walker.

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How Low Can Rates Go?  

Martin Wolf, Chief Economic Commentator of the Financial Times, examines how policymakers are testing the norms of economic life as they seek solutions to slow growth. The payment of interest goes back to the Babylonians. Today, the business of banking is based on paying savers and charging borrowers for money. Negative interest rates, paying banks for holding our funds, violates this established norm. Yet, five central banks, which together oversee a quarter of the world's economy, have opted to impose negative rates on the commercial banks that must use their services. The aim of this unconventional policy is to convince people to spend and invest rather save. The results so far have been mixed. So might central banks be running out of options to boost economic growth, nearly ten years after the start of the last financial crisis? Martin Wolf talks with economists and central bankers, past and present, about why ideas once thought utterly shocking, such as "helicopter money" and a the abolition of cash, are being openly considered. How might such policies affect the way people spend and save in the future? And how low can interest rates go? Producer: Sandra Kanthal.

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A Subversive History of School Reform  

Change, change, change - conventional wisdom is that the classroom is the site of an endless set of reforms, a constant stream of White Papers and directives that promise 'revolution' and sudden changes in direction. Yet is the real story of school reform really one of continuity? Professor Alison Wolf of King's College London explores the post-war history of school reform in England. Speaking to former secretaries of state, historians, and teachers, she explores the forces and events that have shaped schools. She argues that real changes have been surprisingly few and that despite a great deal of fiery rhetoric, they have generally continued across party lines. And she asks if that means that governments have perhaps been listening to what parents genuinely want? Producer: Gemma Newby.

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Money for Nothing  

Should the state pay everyone a Universal Basic Income? Sonia Sodha finds out why the idea is winning support from an unlikely alliance of leftists and libertarians. Producer: Helen Grady.

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Obama's World  

Politico foreign correspondent Nahal Toosi examines the international record of President Obama's eight years in office and tries to discern the governing principles behind his foreign policy. The president sought to avoid costly overseas interventions - yet his critics allege that he has allowed rival powers like Russia and China to flex their muscles and threaten American interests. And he has been condemned for his signature foreign policy achievements, like rapprochements with Iran and Cuba. With interviews gathered in Europe, the Middle East and in Washington DC, Nahal examines the president's decisions to ask if there is such a thing as an "Obama Doctrine". Producer: Lucy Proctor.

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The Charitable Impulse  

Charity is big business. In the UK, over £9 billion is donated to charitable institutions each year. But fundraising can also be controversial as recent news stories about expensive electricity tariffs, elderly donors receiving incessant requests for donations and the tactics of some "chuggers" have confirmed. So studies in experimental psychology that reveal which approaches persuade people to be more generous are timely and could offer charities a neat way to raise more money. David Edmonds explores the results of this research - including findings published for the first time. He asks if, by adopting techniques already used by the marketing and advertising industries, charities could transform their fortunes - but at what cost? Producer Simon Coates.

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Marxism Today  

Journalist Robin Aitken comes from a conservative political viewpoint to a man who has inspired mass movements on the left: Karl Marx. Robin who was a BBC reporter for 25 years thinks Marx was always in the background discourse of politics, an influence he partly feared and didn't fully understand. He takes a walk through central London in the footsteps of the great revolutionary. And in conversation with the likes of Paul Mason, Judith Orr, Marc Stears and Peter Hitchens he tries to find out what political and economic influence Marx retains today. Producer: Nina Robinson.

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The New Young Fogeys  

Young people today drink and smoke much less than previous generations. The rates of teenage pregnancy and youth crime have fallen dramatically. New Statesman editor Jason Cowley talks to experts to find out what is shaping the attitudes and choices of young people today. He grew up in Harlow in Essex during a time of particular social unrest. He returns to his former sixth-form college where he meets a group of students who are markedly more conformist and disciplined than his generation, but more anxious too. So what accounts for this change in young people's behaviour? Is it economic pressures, government policy or the fear of transgressors being shamed on social media? Will we continue to see the rise of a generation of New Young Fogeys? Producer: Katie Inman.

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Silicon Valley Values  

David Baker explores the identity and values of Silicon Valley - and what they mean for the rest of us. He talks to entrepreneurs, investors, academics and activists about how those values are permeating the world and what to do when they clash with other priorities down on the ground. Producer: Peter Snowdon.

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Protectionism in the USA  

Edward Stourton examines America's long history of resistance to free trade, and asks why it has again become such a potent political force. Donald Trump's most consistent policy has been opposition to free trade agreements which he sees as unfair, particularly with China. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has been equally opposed, if for different reasons, while Hillary Clinton has had to tack away from her previous support for free trade pacts. Edward looks back to debates from the 19th century to the 1990s to shed new light on these forces. And he asks whether the protectionist impulse is a natural reaction to globalisation's wrenching changes. Producer: Smita Patel.

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Beyond Binary  

In communities around the globe, genderqueer, gender-variant and gender-fluid people are rejecting the categories of male and female, and attempting to re-define gender identity. Linda Pressly asks if being non-binary breaks the last identity taboo, and explores the challenges it creates for the law, society and conventional concepts about the very nature of gender. Producer: Lucy Proctor (Photo: Pips Bunce, the global head of Fixed Income & Derivatives IT engineering at Credit Suisse, who identifies as gender-fluid, or gender-variant).

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Free Speech 1 - Oxygen of Freedom  

Timothy Garton Ash introduces the subject of freedom of speech and why it is more important than ever in today's internet-connected world. Professor Garton Ash sets out the arguments for why we need free speech, including for the sake of diversity, good governance and the search for truth. He argues that as smartphones and the web change our communications, we need a set of principles which govern free speech more than ever as this essential human right comes under attack. Drawing on research behind his book on the subject, he identifies three main threats. The first is what he calls the heckler's veto: if you shout loudly enough you can restrict free speech. The second is the offensiveness veto: if you cry 'I'm offended' you can restrict free speech. The third is the assassin's veto: if you say that, we will kill you. Produced by Nina Robinson

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Free Speech 2 - I'm Offended  

Timothy Garton Ash examines how free speech is being eroded in the place it should be most secure: in universities. He examines the activist practise known as 'no platforming'. It means that one group of students is being prevented from hearing someone they do want to hear, because another group of students doesn't want that voice to be heard. Feminists Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer were both 'no platformed' due to their views on transgender people. Professor Garton Ash argues that the practice goes directly against a core principle of free speech, which is that all views - even offensive ones - must be robustly challenged in well-informed debate and not censored by those who cry 'I'm offended'. Producer: Nina Robinson

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