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46 minutes | Jul 29, 2022
The Morality of Snobbery
People like us... you know what I mean. Snobbery? It's everywhere, and most of us would admit to it, at least occasionally. But beyond the caricatures of snooty and disdainful types who enjoy looking down on the tastes, habits and backgrounds of others, there's the serious matter of how it affects people's life chances. The British Psychological Society has launched a campaign to make social class a legally protected characteristic, like sex, race and disability. It would force employers and others to tackle discrimination on the basis of class. The idea is to reduce the damaging effects of class-based prejudice across education, work and health, and create a fairer society. People from working class backgrounds are less likely to get into a top university or land a highly paid job, but how much of that is down to the snobbery of others? Is a change in the law really going to shift prejudices that have been embedded over generations? Is it right to use the law in this way? More broadly, what’s wrong with expressing a preference about how other people present themselves? Isn't some behaviour that gets labelled as snobbery just an attempt to defend high standards, whether in speech, writing, taste or manners? Is there a moral case for snobbery? With Bridgette Rickett, D.J. Taylor, David Skelton and Alex Bilmes. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
43 minutes | Jul 21, 2022
The Future of the NHS
The Future of the NHS Can the UK keep its promise of free healthcare for everyone? NHS spending is higher than ever, yet waiting lists are getting longer and patient satisfaction is falling. The worst of the pandemic may have passed, but weekly Covid admissions remain high and many services are still struggling. While many patients feel delighted with the treatment and care they receive, stories of missed targets, staff shortages and crumbling buildings are common. Whether its waiting for an operation, mental health support, getting a GP appointment or just hoping an ambulance arrives in time, our cherished and beloved NHS is letting many people down, in spite of the heroic efforts of its staff. The people vying to be our next Prime Minister have acknowledged the problems, but are not promising big improvements. Is it time for a new model? Some believe it’s about funding, and we need to accept that the NHS we want and need will cost us much more. But in a cost of living crisis, are people really prepared to pay higher taxes to improve the NHS, and if not, why do we still expect a Rolls Royce health system? Others think it’s a bottomless pit of demand and it’s time to reduce our expectations. Can we afford the NHS to be anything more than a safety net for the sickest and poorest? Is it right to promise care to everyone, even those who can afford to go private? Or, might the public’s willingness to pay for the NHS evaporate, if it's no longer there for all of us? We may love our NHS, but how much should we expect of it, and how much are we willing to pay? With Tim Knox, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Matthew Lesh and Prof Allyson Pollock. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
43 minutes | Jul 14, 2022
The Right to Abortion
The Right to Abortion This weekend thousands of people marched on the White House in support of a woman’s right to choose an abortion. That constitutional principle, established nearly 50 years ago in the case of “Roe v Wade” has just been overturned by the US Supreme Court and already many Republican states have banned abortions. As President Biden moves to try to protect abortion rights, campaigners in the UK have been stirred to action. There have been ‘Pro Life’ demonstrations outside clinics in Northern Ireland and ‘Pro Choice’ protests outside the US Embassy in London. The number of abortions in England and Wales last year, more than 214,000, was the highest recorded since 1967, when a new law allowed, in most cases, terminations up to the 24th week of pregnancy. This also applied to Scotland but was only extended to Northern Ireland two years ago. Public opinion is clear: 85% of people in Britain think women should have the right to abortion. But should rights also be afforded to the unborn, and if so, at what stage of pregnancy? Has anyone the moral right to dictate whether a woman can have an abortion? For many women, “my body – my choice” is a fundamental principle. With Madeline Page, Professor Ellie Lee, Professor John Milbank and Kerry Abel. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
43 minutes | Jul 7, 2022
“Unacceptable” Opinions Have you ever felt that you can’t say what you really think, that your honest opinions have become somehow unacceptable? It’s a common complaint that freedom of speech is being restricted, that more and more views have become inadmissible or rejected as intolerable. On social media, people expressing thoughts that would have hardly raised an eyebrow a generation ago, are viciously attacked and branded as bigots. If that is a problem - and opinions differ - the government may be about to make it worse. Its Online Safety Bill, going through Parliament just now, is aimed at making the UK the safest place in the world to go online, but there are concerns that it could involve more censorship and less freedom. It is surely good to have a diverse range of views openly and freely expressed in public, important for democracy for honest discourse and a sure sign of true freedom of speech. But others feel that cleaning up the public space of unsavoury, prejudiced and hateful views makes for a more civilised society. It creates safer, more respectful places for everyone. Offensive comments that were shamelessly expressed in the past about, for example black, gay or trans people are rarer now. Is this evidence that modern values like equality are being widely embraced, or a sign that people feel muzzled and their views, far from going away, are festering into conspiracy theories, extremism and even the threat of violence? Does it matter if the range of views we can express becomes narrower? With Eric Heinze, James Bloodworth, Joe Mulhall and Jeevun Sandher. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
43 minutes | Jun 30, 2022
Ukraine - what should western countries do next?
Ukraine - what should the west do next? It's 125 days since Russia's tanks rolled into Ukraine in a full scale invasion of the country. Since then the world has watched, appalled by the bloodshed, the destruction of towns and cities, the 12 million refugees. At first there was relief that the Ukrainians had beaten back the attack on the capital Kyiv. Now there is less optimism as Russia takes more territory in the east. From the start Britain and its allies have been clear: Russia must be stopped. Billions of pounds worth of weapons have been sent to help Ukraine fight back. With a unity that surprised many, western countries have imposed tough economic sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine says it needs more weapons, and more powerful ones, if it is to drive the Russians back across the border. Some observers do not think that’s a realistic aim in any case. The conflict has become bogged down and our own Prime Minister says 'we need to steel ourselves for a long war.' Global prices of food and energy have risen steeply, causing hardship in the west and the prospect of famine in Africa. What should the west do now? Is it time to supply Ukraine with NATO's most powerful weapons, short of nuclear missiles? Must Russia fail and be seen to fail? Or should we, as the French President has argued, be offering Putin an ‘off-ramp’? In any case, is it practical - or moral - to behave as though the choice between war and peace can be our decision? With Paul Ingram, Orysia Lutsevych, Richard Sakwa and Edward Lucas. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
43 minutes | Jun 23, 2022
The morality of striking
Is it morally acceptable to go on strike, disrupting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people who are uninvolved in a dispute? This week’s rail strike is expected to be the biggest in 30 years with only a fraction of services running and widespread disruption. But whatever the arguments behind the dispute, what’s the moral case for a strike? The right to withdraw labour is seen by many as fundamental, an essential last resort in a battle with employers where workers are trying to secure reasonable pay and conditions. Improved pay deals resulting from strikes are seen as clear evidence that striking itself is legitimate. But where should the limits be? The police and armed forces can’t go on strike but doctors and nurses can, as well as other essential workers. Is a strike still morally acceptable if it causes widespread misery or severely damages the economy, or if lives are lost as a result? Some feel that strikes are always unfair. The main victims are usually not employers but people uninvolved in the dispute. Also strikes by some groups of workers are far more disruptive than strikes by others. Has that unfairly driven up pay in some sectors? It is decades since widespread strikes were a common feature of life in the UK, but this year some are predicting a “summer of discontent”, a wave of disputes that could involve teachers, NHS staff, and others. Should tougher laws be introduced, to protect us all from the worst effects of strikes? Or is it essential that the basic rights of workers are upheld by the law? What’s the moral case for striking? With Paul Nowak, Caroline Farrow, Dr Sam Fowles and Benjamin Loughnane. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett
44 minutes | Jun 16, 2022
Inequality: Is the gap between rich and poor in the UK fair?
Is the gap between rich and poor in the UK fair? The soaring cost of living is raising questions about the gap between rich and poor. As prices have been forced up by global events, including the war in Ukraine, families on low incomes, who spend most of their money on basics, have been hit hard. In the last year, more than two million people in the UK turned to food banks. Stories of parents forced to choose between food and warmth, or skipping meals so their children can eat, have become common. Can the UK, one of the richest countries in the world, morally justify millions of its people relying on charity just to keep their children warm and fed? The wealthiest ten per cent of households own 43% of the country’s wealth, so is it naïve to suggest that the poorest should get more help and the richest should pay for it? The recently announced windfall tax on energy companies was an extraordinary moment: cash taken from big companies and handed to their customers. Is it time for more of this? Or are Robin Hood taxes, taking money from people who have earned it and handing it to people who haven’t, essentially unfair? Isn't wealth inequality the very driver of human effort? We work, so we can become better off. Remove that incentive, and what happens to economic growth, on which we all rely? What is the case for redistributing the nation’s wealth? Is it immoral to accumulate enormous personal wealth? Or is it acceptable for some people to become fantastically rich, provided that nobody is truly poor? Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
43 minutes | Jun 9, 2022
What is the future of the monarchy?
What is the future of the Monarchy? A pageant, a star-studded concert, street fairs and picnics; it was a joyful four-day tribute to the Queen and millions revelled in her Platinum Jubilee. Seventy years of service, celebrated in true British style. But now the bunting is down and the carnival is over, how committed are we, as a nation, to the monarchy? A recent poll suggests that about 62% are in favour of retaining it, down from three quarters a decade ago. About 22% would prefer an elected head of state. It's all much closer among young people, with only a tiny majority of 18-24 year olds saying they want to stick with the monarchy. Many people love the Royal family and how the Queen has helped the UK to stand out in the world, providing long term stability, untainted by politics. Others despair at the behaviour of younger Royals, whose lives can more resemble a soap opera than the bedrock of the nation's sovereignty. But what is the moral case for the monarchy? For some, the very idea of an unelected figure with huge inherited wealth, enjoying the top position in the land, is simply intolerable. It legitimises, they say, the worst aspects of our age-old class system and should be abolished. As the tributes from around the world attest, there is deep and wide respect for Queen Elizabeth. But how might public opinion on the monarchy change in the future? Might a new system, with a democratically elected head of state be more morally defensible and serve the country better? With Tracy Borman, Martha Gill, Sean O'Grady and Richard Murphy. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
42 minutes | Jun 2, 2022
What's the point of university?
Eight universities are under investigation for providing poor quality degrees. The Office for Students has sent inspectors in to investigate whether undergraduates are getting decent value in return for the huge debts they rack up to get their degrees. For years, there’s been concern about so-called “Mickey Mouse” degrees that do nothing to boost job prospects. But the expansion of universities was rooted in a grand ambition to create a better-educated workforce and to turbo-charge social mobility; a wider variety of degree courses, it was thought, would offer something for everyone. Surely it's positive that more young people now get an opportunity that years ago was offered only to a privileged few? University is about more than boosting the student’s future earnings; it’s about learning to think critically, gaining independence and broadening horizons. Some, though, believe we have too many universities competing for customers by offering firsts to failures. Standards have fallen, and so many people now have degrees that they don’t count for much any more. Young people, it's claimed, are being misled into taking on huge personal debts, in return for three wasted years that will do little to improve their employability. Have we reached peak-university? Is it time to go into reverse? Are we reducing the value of higher education, or is the university experience valuable for its own sake? What's the point of university? With Rachel Hewitt, Harry Lambert, Professor Dennis Hayes and Professor Edith Hall. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
43 minutes | May 26, 2022
The Priorities of the Police
Dame Cressida Dick, the newly-departed Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, says policing has become ‘too politicised’. When her force has been criticised on the right for investigating ‘Partygate’ and on the left for letting the Prime Minister off too lightly, and when the Durham Police must now decide whether to end the career of the leader of the Labour Party, it’s hard to argue with her. The Public Order Bill, which had its second reading this week, will create new legal powers to prevent or punish disruptive demonstrations. That too, critics say, is putting politics into policing. Meanwhile, the newly-arrived Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Andy Cooke, has been talking about priorities. He predicted that the cost of living crisis will trigger an increase in crime and advised officers to ‘use their discretion’ when people are caught shop-lifting. One columnist wanted to know exactly how much he could nick without getting banged up. Police officers in Scotland have asked for guidance on how to enforce new hate crime legislation after being ‘inundated’ with complaints about posts on social media. At its conference last week, the Police Federation of England and Wales was given a list of horror stories about misogyny in ‘every single force’. This week the National Police Chiefs Council declared itself ‘ashamed’ about racism in law enforcement. Only six per cent of all crimes resulted in a charge last year. For reported rapes, the charge rate was 1.3 per cent. Some reformers want police priorities and targets set locally by the communities that are being policed. Others say it is precisely the new requirement that the police should be sensitive to everybody’s feelings that’s stopping them from locking up law-breakers. Where should the police's priorities lie? With Morag Livingstone, Dr Victor Olisa, Zoe Strimpel and Dr Roy Bailey Producer: Peter Everett.
44 minutes | Mar 24, 2022
Cleaning the Internet
For a brief moment this month Ukrainians were allowed to call for the death of Vladimir Putin on Instagram and Facebook. That freedom was subsequently withdrawn – “hate speech” isn’t tolerated on those platforms after all. But can Ukrainians really be expected to hold back on how they feel about the Russian military? And maybe we, as bystanders, could do with seeing that anger expressed without the filter of online ‘etiquette’ policies devised by a Silicon Valley CEO. Maybe our rage about Mariupol is all we’ve got, so is it wrong to share it. How should we strike the right balance between reason and raw emotion, without on the one hand caring too little, or on the other hand losing perspective. The trouble is, if we allow ‘hate speech’ about the Russian President, where do we then draw the line? And what about propaganda, misinformation and conspiracy theories. The social media platforms spend millions on trying to sort truth from lies, but why should it be an internet company that gets to decide? The just-published Online Safety Bill sets out plans to punish internet companies for failing to censor material that is ‘legal but harmful’. The aim is to protect us from the effects of dark images and suggestions. But is it foolish to imply that we can make the internet ‘safe’. And if we agree that the internet will always be dangerous, shouldn’t we cultivate a healthy suspicion of it, rather than a misplaced trust in its moderators. Might it not it be better, and more moral, to teach our children – and trust our fellow-citizens – to think for themselves? With digital researcher Ellen Judson; CEO of Index on Censorship Ruth Smeeth; internet safety expert Will Gardner and former teacher and author Joanna Williams. Produced by Olive Clancy
43 minutes | Mar 17, 2022
Refugees and borders
Nearly three million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian tanks crossed the border at the end of February. Some say the UK was slow to respond but many thousands of people are now signed up to a government scheme to turn their houses into homes for Ukrainian refugees - the first should arrive soon. There has been an outpouring of generosity and goodwill toward those suffering in this conflict, but uncomfortable questions remain. Are we really doing enough? Why such generosity now, when we have spent years discussing how to keep migrants out? Is it morally acceptable to feel more comfortable welcoming large numbers of Ukrainian - rather than Syrian or Afghan - refugees? Is racism a factor, or is it simply that these people are fleeing an enemy who threatens us too? Shortly the Nationality and Borders Bill will return to be voted on in Parliament. Campaigners say the bill is at odds with rhetoric about welcoming refugees as it could criminalise those who arrive to seek asylum in the UK without first filling in the correct forms. Is it right to put up yet more barriers? Perhaps it is a failure of moral imagination to turn away any individual who wants to make a better life? Some economists argue that the free movement of workers makes nations prosperous, but there’s more to Britain than its economy, and not everyone wants to do away with borders. How, without fierce gate-keepers, can we protect the places where we feel at home? With the human rights campaigner Bella Sankey; David Goodhart, who researches integration at the centre right think-tank Policy Exchange; the Chair of Britain’s oldest Immigration Museum, Susie Symes; and the former MEP and journalist Patrick O'Flynn. Produced by Olive Clancy
43 minutes | Mar 10, 2022
Sanctions, enablers and collective punishment
We can’t help Ukraine with troops and planes, most politicians insist, but we can hit back at Putin by punishing his friends and choking the Russian economy. This week the long-promised Economic Crime Bill zipped through the Commons and could be law within a month. The Home Secretary said the legislation proves she’s determined to “hobble Putin and his cronies”. But it will do nothing to hurt their ‘enablers’ – the London-based accountants, lawyers and fixers who’ve helped the oligarchs to hide their money and muzzle their critics. Should we try to punish those people too, or does that cross a moral red line? We don’t need to wait for a new law before we start hurting ordinary Russians with economic sanctions. We’re already punishing extraordinary Russians, from Paralympians to opera singers, with bans and boycotts. Have they all deserved this for the crime of being Russian? Soon visa restrictions will start to trap Russian dissenters in a country that isn't safe for them. Is such "collective punishment" morally justified? What about our own economy, our businesses and their workers? Are we sure we will tolerate squeezing Russia when we have massive rises in the costs of energy and food? Some global companies are shutting down their Russian operations - at least temporarily. Others have not, though the pressure on them is growing. But is that a commercial decision or a moral one? Do we even want businesses to advertise their virtue, if (as the Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman put it) the social responsibility of business is solely to increase profits? With broadcaster Isabel Hilton; journalist Niko Vorobyov; City University Professor of Finance and Accounting Atul K Shah and Economist Julian Jessop. Produced by Olive Clancy
43 minutes | Mar 3, 2022
Putin - did we help create a war criminal?
We don't know how the Ukrainian conflict will end. But how did it begin? The responsibility for the Ukraine conflict lies squarely with Vladimir Putin - described by some as cunning and crazy by others - this is his war. But was there a chance to prevent it? Would he have done this if the West behaved differently after the collapse of the Soviet Union when the new Ukraine was born? In these last decades, Russia built up its military strength while the European democracies made every effort to disarm. NATO might have trained Ukrainian troops and sent supplies right up to the invasion, but it repeatedly said it wouldn’t get directly involved. And now we have sanctions that could take years to act. Are the democracies weak? Or is despotism always doomed to fail in the end? What happens if, as seems likely, Putin takes Kyiv and installs a puppet regime. There will be a Resistance and our own Prime Minister is committed to helping it. How far should we go with that – food and medicine, of course, but will we potentially fund fighters who, to us, will be patriots but to the Kremlin will be terrorists? Russia is already waging “hybrid war” against the democratic nations. Should we try to beat Putin at his own game of cyber-attacks and deniable operations? To defeat a monster, must we become monstrous ourselves? With Alan Mendoza, Director of the right leaning think tank, The Henry Jackson Society; Political Scientist Yascha Mounk; Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele and Professor Janina Dill who researches the role of law and morality in International Relations. Produced by Olive Clancy
43 minutes | Feb 24, 2022
What is the countryside for?
We should all have a legal right to nature, according to a group of more than 60 campaigning charities who say we need better access to the countryside. They have written to the government, complaining that one in three of us lives more than 15 minutes’ walk from the nearest green space. But is nature there for our enjoyment? Is the countryside just a recreational resource, to be exploited by anyone in possession of a pair of wellies? If we are entitled to delight in the landscape, don’t we also share the moral responsibility for looking after it? Maybe that means leaving it alone. Or should we be doing more to encourage our city-dwellers and minority ethnic communities to feel included there? The UK’s countryside is about to live through enormous change, with farmers to be given taxpayer cash to ‘rewild’ some of their land. But what should rewilding mean to them and to the rest of us? Bees and butterflies are lovely, but is it worth the loss of a few lambs to see eagles back in our skies? How about a few hundred lambs? Maybe the countryside really belongs to those who for generations have worked it for a hard-earned living; and maybe they have a perfect right to sell some of it to developers who want to build much-needed housing estates. We want the countryside to be richly stocked with exciting animals and beautiful woodlands. We want badgers and beavers and some of us (not the shepherds) want wolves and wildcats. We can't have everything, so what should we do? With Dr Sue Young of The Willdlife Trusts; Farmer Gareth Wyn Jones; Director of Rewilding Britain Alistair Driver and Property Analyst Kate Faulkner. Produced by Olive Clancy
43 minutes | Feb 18, 2022
How do we make a longer life a moral one?
We can add ten years to our lives if we chose, we’re told this week by scientists who have measured the effects of tweaking our lifestyles. The downside is we’ll need to give up meat and eat a lot of lentils to do it. Oh, and start very young. It won’t be easy – but is there a moral imperative to do it? Elsewhere, science is forging ahead with new, possibly less onerous ways to help us live longer. Researchers in Japan this week unveiled a serum that can halt aging, though so far only in mice. And Silicon Valley is reported to be full of start-ups working on rejuvenation techniques. But is a longer life a more moral life? If we get those extra years will they be worth the effort? Was Kingsley Amis right when he wrote: "No pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home" ? Or is it irresponsible to indulge in life-shortening activities that you happen to enjoy, if they increase the reliance you may (sooner than you hope) be placing on the state? As a society we’re living longer than our parents, and much longer than our grandparents. But there are wide disparities. On average the rich make older bones than the poor, and a BMJ article this week deplored the fact that life expectancy is actually in decline in many deprived communities in the UK. Perhaps we have a collective moral duty to even that out, but it will be expensive. Who’s going to pay for the pensions and the care homes? Is the individual ambition to live to 100 intrinsically selfish and immoral when it imposes such burdens on others? With Repotting Your Life author Frances Edmonds; Longevity expert and London Business School Professor Andrew Scott; Director of the Free Market think tank IEA - Mark Littlewood and Political Economist Jeevan Sandher. Produced by Olive Clancy
45 minutes | Feb 10, 2022
What's our moral responsibility to the future?
Levelling up - a brighter and fairer future is on the way according to the Government. But what is our moral responsibility to the future and how does it weigh against the needs of the present? Maybe the stars of technology, economics and politics really are now aligned to bring an end to post-code inequalities. Or is this another hotch-potch of plans that can’t be judged until a time so distant we’ll have forgotten why we dreamed them up in the first place. Are plans for the future destined to fail because we over-reach? Or do they fail because we don’t reach far enough, so preoccupied are we with the selfish here and now? Meanwhile the UK is committed to the ambition of going carbon neutral by 2050, something that requires the sacrifice of higher energy bills today. Should we be prepared to be individually worse off, to put up with inconvenience and sacrifice our comfort for the benefit of our grandchildren? Does that remain true as gas prices rocket and new price rises are inevitable? And isn’t it true that if our forebears had made the sacrifices and adopted a forward looking energy plan 30 years ago, we wouldn’t be in this mess at all. What is our moral responsibility towards the future? And does it outweigh our responsibilities to the present and the inheritance we have from the past? With author of End State, James Plunkett; Politics Professor Rosie Campbell; Journalist Ross Clark and Politics lecturer Dr Gareth Dale.
43 minutes | Feb 3, 2022
How Free Should Speech Be?
Yielding to the big star pressure of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, this week Spotify agreed to put a content advisory label on any podcast that includes material about Covid. Mitchell and Young removed their music in protest at Joe Rogan’s podcasts. These shows are extremely popular globally but they aired views sceptical of Covid vaccines. In an Instagram post Rogan himself said he'd aim for more impartiality in future, but Spotify’s shares are down and more artists are joining the boycott. Who is responsible for the content of Spotify or any other digital platform? Is Covid a special case or must they remove or add a warning about anything any listeners might object to? Is it enough to say sorry or offer to slap on a "contentious material" label? At what point do such safeguards become censorship? And what about other, more traditional, intermediaries? This week the poet and teacher Kate Clanchy said she considered suicide after parting company with her publisher. She’d been accused of racism in the words she used about pupils in her memoir Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me. The students have defended her in print and Clanchy has apologised. And yet the debate goes on. Are publishers morally responsible for their authors ideas and beliefs? If the publisher or internet platform truly disagrees with the material, is it enough to issue an apology or label the offending material as contentious? And does intent count at all? With Journalist Brendan O'Neill, Academic Julie Posetti, Broadcaster Inaya Folarin Iman and Poet Anthony Anaxagorou.
43 minutes | Jan 28, 2022
Ukraine - to intervene or not to intervene.
President Putin insists that he has no intention of invading Ukraine. In amassing troops and weapons along the border, the Russians are merely ‘protecting their national interests’. Meanwhile NATO, the US-European military alliance, is busy reinforcing its eastern member states with ships and planes. Our own Prime Minister has issued dire warnings that Russia will not be allowed to harass a smaller neighbour in this way. So, who is right? Is there a moral imperative for us to protect a fledgling democracy that seems to be under threat? What, if anything, can we – or should we – do to support Ukraine? And what moral arguments do we have, to help us decide? Perhaps this is just aggressive posing by both sides that will drift on and die down. But what if it becomes something more? What if it embroils us in a European war? And if that happens, who will be to blame? Given the record of the UK and the West in Afghanistan and Iraq, do we even have the appetite for another foreign intervention? Is the very idea morally dubious? And, in any case, doesn’t the size of Russia’s nuclear arsenal make it impossible for us to call Putin’s bluff? With Global Governance Professor Mary Kaldor; Russia Expert Keir Giles; Newspaper Columnist Simon Jenkins and Kyiv University Political Scientist Taras Kuzio. Produced by Olive Clancy
43 minutes | Jan 20, 2022
The Rules - Expectations and Apologies
In spite of his apology the calls continue for the Prime Minister to resign. He did not follow his own rules so he must go, says a sizeable majority in the polls. But why must he go? Sympathy, understanding and forgiveness are all virtues to celebrate - unless we happen to be talking about people we don’t like. Most of those who broke the lockdown rules (maybe you, maybe me) got away with it. Some got a caution or a fine; very few lost their jobs. The charge against Boris Johnson is not so much that he broke the law as that he crossed a moral boundary. So, what are the moral rules he is accused of breaking? And why isn’t his very public apology deemed by some to be not good enough? Anthropology tells us that the basic rules of morality are universal. But sociologists say that cultural norms dictate how we’re expected to behave, and Britain is culturally diverse. Given that politics is almost by definition an interplay of pragmatism and integrity, perhaps we should learn to live with our politicians’ clay feet and look elsewhere for paragons of moral virtue? With former Conservative MP Edwina Currie, Anthropologist Dr Oliver Scott Curry, Political theorist Dr Stephen de Vijze and Philosophy professor Quassim Cassam. Produced by Olive Clancy
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