AnalysisAuthor: BBC Radio 4
18 Aug 2018

Analysis

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

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    What's Fair?

    As well as marking the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service, this year marks a similar milestone in adult social care. But whereas our notions of fairness in treating those who fall ill are simple and straightforward - free to those who require care at the point of delivery in the NHS - with social care it is different: means testing remains the device by which assistance with care is decided. When it comes to helping the aged and the infirm, then, we struggle with decidedly different ideas of fairness - and have done so since the advent of National Assistance - the forerunner of today's social care - in 1948. What should the individual contribute and how much should the state provide? What ideas of fairness properly apply in providing social care? And how can agreement on them be reached? Paul Johnson - the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the respected economic research body - asks why politicians should find it so difficult to agree on simple ideas of equity and fairness in this area. From Labour's so-called "death tax" in 2010 to the Conservatives' alleged "dementia tax" last year, attempts to come up with ways to reform a system that is widely considered to have broken down, have collapsed in failure and left both main parties reluctant to get their fingers burnt again with proposals for change. So with the pressures on available services continuing to grow as the proportion of the population that is elderly rises and its needs become more specialised and as numbers of working age adults with social care needs increase, Paul Johnson considers what principles a fair social care system should enshrine and what likelihood there is that policies to give effect to them will be implemented. Editor Hugh Levinson.

  • Posted on 23 Jul 2018

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    Trump and Trade

    In 2016, during the American presidential election campaign, Edward Stourton travelled to the rustbelt of the United States to report on the new political power of Protectionism. Now, as Donald Trump seems poised for a trade war on two fronts - with China and Europe - he asks how far the American president will go to put "America First". Producer Smita Patel Editor Hugh Levinson.

  • Posted on 16 Jul 2018

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    British Politics: A Russian View

    Peter Pomerantsev asks why new techniques in political campaigning have succeeded and what the consequences are for society. He has a different view to most from his past career working inside the TV industry in Moscow. The future arrived first in Russia. The defeat of communism gave rise to political technologists who flourished in the vacuum left by the Cold War, developing a supple approach to ideology that made them the new masters of politics. Something of this post-ideological spirit is visible in Britain. Centrism no longer seems viable. Globalisation is increasingly resented. Ours is an uncertain political landscape in which commentators and polls habitually fail to predict what is to come. There was a time when if you lived in a certain place, in a certain type of home, then you were likely to vote a certain way. But that is no longer the case. Instead, political strategists imagine you through your data. The campaigns that succeed are the ones that hook in as many groups as possible, using advances in political technology to send different messages to different groups. Pomerantsev, one of the most compelling voices on modern Russia, is a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and is the author of "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia". Producer: Ant Adeane.

  • Posted on 09 Jul 2018

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    The Middle East Conundrum

    Edward Stourton asks if there any chance of a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tensions have been rising following the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and the deadly clashes at the border between Israel and Gaza. The peace process - if it exists at all - seems to be in deep freeze. The idea of a two-state solution does not appear to be getting any closer, while a one-state solution would effectively mark the end of a Jewish state. Does Israel have a long-term strategy? Producer: Ben Cooper.

  • Posted on 02 Jul 2018

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    Can Technology Be Stopped?

    Can the Big Four - Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple - be reined in and forced to play by the rules society sets, rather than imposing their own standards on society? It seems like news breaks every few weeks that reveal how the technology on which we increasingly depend - smartphones, search engines, social media - is not as passive as many of us thought. Big data, fake news, extremism, Russian trolls: with little or no regulatory supervision, the big tech companies are changing the world and disrupting our lives. Yet governments seem to have little power to respond. The tech giants look too big, too international and too hard to pin down. So is it time to disrupt the disrupters? Journalist and writer Jamie Bartlett asks how we can regulate big tech. He meets the regulators who are daring to reclaim power, and assesses the challenges involved in imposing rules on an industry which is deeply complicated, ever changing and supranational. Do governments have the resources to reassert sovereignty over something which has become so embedded in our culture? And how would society change if they did? Producer: Gemma Newby.

  • Posted on 25 Jun 2018

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