The podcast in which Prospect asks contributors: "What's the big idea?"by Prospect Team / August 26, 2018 / Leave a comment
Here, you can find all editions of the Prospect podcast, in which the team chats to contributors about the big issues of the day. To listen on a platform other than Soundcloud, click the relevant icon below.
The Prospect podcast #57: the problem with British capitalism
Prospect speaks to Paul Collier, the Oxford economist, about Britain’s London problem. The capital city attracts a huge amount amount of the country’s economic activity and keeps the benefits for itself: how can Britain’s smaller towns and cities get their fair share?
Hosted by Tom Clark, with Steve Bloomfield and Alex Dean. Producer, Jay Elwes
The Prospect Podcast #56: Who is the real John McDonnell?
The Labour Shadow Chancellor is Jeremy Corbyn’s oldest political ally, but is John McDonnell the hard-left bruiser that his image suggests? Kevin Maguire talks to Steve Bloomfield about the life and times of the man who would be Chancellor and how training for the priesthood, working in factories and running a care home have shaped his world view.
Featuring Sameer Rahim and Alex Dean. Produced by Jay Elwes
The Prospect Podcast #55: Is Socialism coming to America?
Prospect talks to Clare Malone from FiveThirtyEight.com about America’s new left. How far can people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez go? And how will Democratic Socialists like her affect the coming midterm elections?
Plus, Stephanie Boland on rediscovering a great writer and Alex Dean on when politicians just won’t take the blame.
The Prospect Podcast #54: Who was Sergei Skripal? With Mark Urban
The historian, author and BBC commentator Mark Urban discusses his new book on the former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned in Salisbury, along with his daughter. Who was Skripal, who tried to kill him and why?
Plus, Alex Dean on politics and Sameer Rahim on culture.
The Prospect podcast #53: Party conference special
From May’s speech to McDonnell’s economics, this week Prospect brings you a round-up of the Labour and Conservative party conferences—including an audio postcard from the Tory event in Birmingham.
What are the parties and their activists thinking? And what’s it actually like to be at a party conference?
Stephanie Boland, Steve Bloomfield, Sameer Rahim and Tom Clark get to grips with the state of the parties—while Jay Elwes and Alex Dean take you on tour to Birmingham.
The Prospect podcast #52—Is identity a mirage?
Kwame Anthony Appiah’s new book The Lies That Bind confronts the question of how social identities are formed. They are incredibly important to people: we are prepared to kill and die for them. But is identity actually a mirage?
Plus: Sameer Rahim on literary prizes and Alex Dean on why there’s no such thing as a Canada Brexit.
The Prospect podcast #51—Political cartoons in an age beyond satire
This week it’s Stephen Collins, the illustrator who’s been doing the Prospect cartoon these many years. Subject-wise he’s covered a huge range, but one returned to more often than not recently is Donald Trump. Here, we ask Collins how you find humour in an era that’s often beyond satire.
Plus: Sameer Rahim on new books about Trump and Alex Dean on Labour’s Brexit stance.
The Prospect podcast #50—refugees, rights and writers
This week Stephanie Boland speaks to historian of ideas Lyndsey Stonebridge about refugees and their status. How should history inform our thinking about the current refugee crisis? What rights should displaced people have? Stonebridge focuses on the literary side of those questions. Her new book is Placeless People and you can read her Prospect contributions here.
Before we get to that, Alex Dean on the decline of the Lib Dems and Sameer Rahim on Spike Lee’s new film BlacKkKlansman
The Prospect podcast #49—When music meets philosophy
This week Ivan Hewett asks what happens when music meets philosophy and explains what lovers of classical music get wrong about the chart hits. These are newly relevant questions thanks to the publication of Roger Scruton’s book on the western musical tradition. You can read Hewett’s review of Scruton’s book here.
Plus: politics with Alex Dean and culture with Sameer Rahim
The Prospect podcast #48—the untold story of the financial crisis
This week it’s economic historian Adam Tooze, whose new book Crashed tells the story of the financial crisis. It is prompting the world to rethink the near total breakdown in international finance that happened just 10 years ago. We bring you highlights from Tooze’s recent event in Prospect towers.
Plus: Alex Dean on ministerial churn and Sameer Rahim on impeachment
The Prospect podcast #47—Rethinking Israel-Palestine
This week we speak to Donald Macintyre, the author and journalist who was Jerusalem correspondent for the Independent.
Macintyre has written an essay for our September issue on the gradual death of the two-state solution. Twenty-five years since the Oslo Accords were signed, it is no longer achievable. Time to look at a radical alternative?
Plus: Alex Dean on the minimum wage and Sameer Rahim on Israel and Palestine in the world of music.
The Prospect podcast #46—sci-fi currencies and the philosophy of money
This week it’s Eric Lonergan, the financier, economist and philosopher of money. Listeners will remember last year’s Bitcoin boom and bust and cryptocurrencies are now raising profound theoretical questions. If money could think for itself would that change the world for the better
Plus: Sameer Rahim on VS Naipaul and Alex Dean on the WTO.
The Prospect podcast #45—What politeness masks
Freya Johnston wrote a widely-discussed essay for our July issue on British politeness. Is there something rude about enforced civility? More worrying, is it all an act to hide far more barbaric instincts that lurk beneath the surface? She discusses these questions with Sameer Rahim.
Plus: in politics and culture, Alex Dean and Stephanie Boland look north of the border. The topics are Brexit and the devolution settlement, and the future of the Edinburgh Fringe.
The Prospect podcast #44—Where “America First” came from
This week the Prospect team is joined by esteemed writer Sarah Churchwell. Churchwell’s new book Behold, America charts the origins of Donald Trump’s America First approach, which goes back much further than you’d think. She also asks: have we lost sight of the fact that equality was part of the American dream?
Before we get to that, the Prospect staff discuss what’s new in politics and culture.
The Prospect podcast #43—A left-wing route to Remain
This week Zoe Williams speaks to Tom Clark about the left-wing path to a new Europe. But what would that look like and where does Jeremy Corbyn fit in? If the Labour leader did get into Downing Street could he really do a better job than the current crop? Williams raised these questions in her essay for our August issue. Plus: Alex Dean talks select committees and Sameer Rahim on the Man Booker.
The Prospect podcast #42—Maestros in miniature
Eight-year-olds playing Chopin is certainly impressive, but is it good for children to develop prodigious skills so early on? Suna Erdem talks to Prospect about maestros in miniature, whether they’ll grow up hating their parents and why we’re so fixated on the concept of the youthful genius anyway. Erdem wrote on the subject for our August issue.
Also: Alex Dean discusses the future of the Brexit departments and Sameer Rahim asks how much first time novelists can expect to be paid.
The Prospect podcast #41—Inside the Obama White House
This week Ben Rhodes speaks to Steve Bloomfield. Rhodes was formerly at the centre of the Obama administration: he started as a speechwriter but quickly became one of Obama’s closest advisors on foreign policy. He was there for some of the most important geopolitical events in recent history.
His new book is called The World As It Is: Inside the Obama White House. Bloomfield, Prospect’s Deputy Editor, reviews it here.
The Prospect podcast #40—Why everyone should learn a dying language
This week Cal Flyn speaks to Stephanie Boland about Britain’s other languages. Flyn wrote about learning Scottish Gaelic in our July 2018 issue. But what is the place of Gaelic in Scotland—and are dying languages really worth saving?
Flyn certainly thinks so, and argues that all of us should be taking lessons.
The Prospect podcast #39: Rock n’ Roll n’ Brexit
Rock music is on the way down, music magazines aren’t what they used to be—but there are still an awful lot of sharp pens around. That’s the opinion of DJ Taylor who expands on his piece in Prospect’s July issue and talks to Sameer Rahim about the rock memoir. It’s a curious genre and we might think of it as unsophisticated, but actually it is at the centre of a new golden age of rock writing.
Before that, Alex Dean and Tom Clark do a five minute political round-up on Brexit, Heathrow and the question of whether British politics will be lifted if England delivers in the World Cup.
Listen: Headspace #38—Will Brexit sink the Tories?
This week, as last, there’s one big story: Brexit and the Conservative Party. Theresa May just about managed to see off Remainer rebellion in the Commons. But is it a hollow victory? Tom Clark asks whether after 300 years, Brexit could be the row that finally sinks the Tories.
It’s not just in Britain that the traditionally dominant centre-right is on its knees; Andrew Gamble argues in our new issue that it’s a much broader trend and explains why here. Hephzibah Anderson discusses the fall of another great institution: the British high street.
Listen: Headspace #37—The unbridgeable divide in the Tory Party
This week saw a series of crunch votes in the commons on the EU withdrawal bill and the role of parliament in the exit process. The government escaped defeat—just—but only by making dramatic last minute concessions. It promised Tory Remainers that parliament will indeed play a significant role. Antoinette Sandbach was one of the MPs to receive personal assurances from the prime minister and she explains what was said.
But over recent days Brexiteers have insisted no such assurance can have been made. It has put the stark split in the Tory Party on display for all to see: can the PM appease both the Remainers and the Brexiteers on this and other issues? Sandbach is joined by Prospect’s Jay Elwes and Alex Dean.
Listen: Headspace #36—From cold war to hot peace
When Michael McFaul became the United States’ ambassador to Russia, he didn’t realise what he was letting himself in for. As the architect of Barack Obama’s “Reset,” he thought he’d be welcomed. But instead Vladimir Putin’s cronies orchestrated a campaign of harassment and spread lurid personal allegations. McFaul talks to Sameer Rahim about his new book, From Cold War to Hot Peace, which tells of how US-Russia relations broke down and why Putin’s aggressive posture on Crimea and Syria seems to be outfoxing the west. And why on Russia Donald Trump is at loggerheards with his own administration.
Listen: Headspace #35—The end of the World Cup?
This week it’s football. The World Cup is fast approaching and we are preparing for what is usually one of the greatest sporting spectacles on earth. But with a cloud of corruption hanging over the event, could we fall out of love with the World Cup altogether?
Jonathan Lieu of the Independent has written an essay on this subject for our June issue. Here he talks the question through with Prospect’s Deputy Editor Steve Bloomfield.
Listen: Headspace #34—Fifty Shades of Atheism
Sameer Rahim talks to philosopher John Gray about what atheists get wrong about atheism. Dismissing the “God debate,” which as a non-believer Gray has no interest in, instead he focuses on the variety of atheisms on offer in the modern world: from liberalism as a modern day secular religion to the atheism of silence of Spinoza. Gray, as usual, takes no prisoners.
Listen: Headspace #33—Planet China
China is the new great global power. But while much has been said about China’s economic and military heft, what about the rise of Chinese ideas? As Beijing grows increasingly dominant we will have to decide how firmly we hold western values of academic freedom and human rights: they will increasingly be challenged.
Tom Clark is joined by Isabel Hilton, who has written an essay on China for our new issue, Kerry Brown, who examines how Australia is dealing with China’s rise, and Rana Mitter who discusses great thinkers of China’s past.
Listen: Headspace #32—Why globalism has failed
The unipolar world of a dominant United States is falling away as other nations—most prominently China—come to the fore. Ian Bremmer, the American political scientist, speaks to Prospect Deputy Editor Steve Bloomfield about his new book Us and Them. The average citizen across the west is not a believer in “globalism,” he says. Executive Editor Jay Elwes speaks to David Omand, former head of GCHQ about how the internet is shaping and shifting politics around the world.
Listen: Headspace #31—Local election special
We’ve all read the local election headlines by now: disappointment for Labour, relief for the Conservatives. But what are the deeper trends at play? For this week’s edition of Headspace the Prospect team tunnels deeper into the results with help from psephology great David Butler and Jade Azim, head of Women in Political Data. We ask why Labour failed to deliver on expectations and what it all means for the shifting contours of the British political landscape.
Headspace #30—The parliamentary showdown on Brexit
Article 50 is ticking down and the politics is getting messier. A series of government defeats in the Lords are setting the stage for a dramatic scrap in the Commons. John Kerr, the man who wrote the exit clause, sits down with Victoria Hewson of the Institute of Economic Affairs, as well as Prospect’s Tom Clark and Alex Dean. They try to make sense of the unfolding drama in Westminster. Just how is this immense constitutional challenge going to play out?
Headspace #29: Will Self on drugs
The novelist Will Self talks to Prospect‘s Tom Clark and Sameer Rahim about his experiences with drugs, and how they’ve shaped his view of the world. He discusses his recent essay for Prospect which examines the new book by Michael Pollan and also offers some useful advice for those who’ve accidentally taken too much acid.
Headspace #28: Brexit and the economy—time to change direction
If modern economic theory led to the Financial Crisis of 2008, some of its basic ideas need to change—but how? In this podcast, Howard Reed describes how the discipline went wrong, and how it must be reformed and Linda Yueh asks how the great economists of the nineteenth century might have reacted to modern times.
And if we do develop a new economic outlook, who will be in No 10 to implement it? Jacob Rees-Mogg? Perhaps, says Sonia Purnell, who describes the Tory MP’s continuing allure for his party—even if others elsewhere find him less appetising. And Patience Wheatcroft, the Conservative peer, discusses the Parliamentary fight over Brexit. Will it happen? Chaired by the Editor of Prospect, Tom Clark.
Headspace #27—With friends like these…
Britain’s international relationships are in a highly sensitive moment, not only with adversaries such as Russia but with more traditionally friendly states such as the United States. And with Vladimir Putin playing the poison-handed joker on the world stage, how should Britain approach these crucial diplomatic challenges? What can Britain offer and what do we want?This podcast features interviews with Jane Kinninmont of Chatham House, an expert on Saudi Arabian politics and Luke Harding of the Guardian, who has spent years delving into the relationship between Trump and the Kremlin. Who are Britain’s friends now and who are our opponents?
Headspace #26—What is Putin’s game?
Jay Elwes takes a deep dive into the aftermath of the attempted assassination in Salisbury of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Why has this happened? Can we be certain Russia is behind it? What is Putin’s game?
Featuring comment from Jonathan Eyal, one of Britain’s most experienced Russia experts, Pauline Neville-Jones, the former head of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee, and Anatol Lieven of Georgetown University, this edition goes deep into the world of espionage, disinformation and the strange logic of the man behind it all—Vladimir Putin.
Headspace #25—The end of death
This week Tom Clark, editor of Prospect, sits down with Cathy Rentzenbrink, the writer, and Joanna Bourke, the social historian, to discuss our changing relationship with death.
Medical science is now able to prolong human life in a way that was unthinkable even ten years ago. But is it in our interest to extend life in that way? Who benefits from putting people into this half-alive state? And how is digital technology affecting our ability to mourn?
Also on the podcast Philip Ball, the science writer, describes how scientists in London are growing a second version of his brain. And if we can do that, can we live on after death in the Petri dish? And what does that mean for the question of “the self”?
Headspace #24—The great gender injustices of our time
This week, Prospect’s Editor Tom Clark sits down with Shami Chakrabarti, the lawyer and Labour peer whose new book, Of Women, takes a close look at the place of women in society and reveals in uncomfortable detail the gross unfairness that they still face.
But then the Labour Party is not immune from sexism in its own ranks—and unlike the Conservative Party has never had a female leader. Chakrabarti thinks that record is set to change. Anne Perkins of the Guardian and Sameer Rahim, Prospect’s Arts and Books editor, join in the debate.
Headspace #23—The world is getting better all the time
Prospect Editor Tom Clark sits down with Steven Pinker, the Harvard scientist, to discuss his new book on the Enlightenment and how that period in the development of human thought continues to shape our world.
The ideals of reason and tolerance are winning out, Pinker says, and the result is immense material progress. Things are quite simply getting better all the time—contrary to popular belief.
That’s the argument. But is the division of history into pre- and post-Enlightenment as clear-cut as his book suggests? And really, was the Enlightenment quite as enlightened as we might think? Sameer Rahim, Prospect’s Arts and Books Editor and Philip Ball, the science writer and Prospect contributor, also give their thoughts.
Headspace #22—Free speech wars
What is freedom of speech? Who has it? And how has it become a cornerstone of a new culture war?
In this week’s Headspace podcast, Prospect contributors Lionel Shriver, Mary Beard and Afua Hirsch discuss if free speech is being denied—or if the new “assault” on free speech is really just about finding space for different voices.
Headspace #21—Exclusive John Sawers interview
Prospect published an exclusive podcast interview with John Sawers, head of MI6 from 2009-2014. Sawers raised deep concerns over the security and intelligence consequences of Brexit. He said:
“My concern on the intelligence and security front is over the exchange of data. Data is now central to the way in which security services in particular monitor threats. Track people who might pose a threat to UK security—and the rules on exchange of data are going to be set in the EU and we won’t be round the table with our voice with our weight stressing the vital importance of these data exchanges to our national security.”
Headspace #20—Crunch time on Brexit
The immense political, constitutional and legal challenge posed by Brexit becomes clearer by the day. With talks now stepping up a gear and turning to the future relationship, Prospect Editor Tom Clark and Deputy Digital Editor Alex Dean sat down with representatives from either side of the debate. Gisela Stuart, the Labour politician who chaired Vote Leave, clashed with Ian Dunt, Remainer and editor of politics.co.uk.
Prospect’s Executive Editor Jay Elwes spoke to polling extraordinaire John Curtice. Where does public opinion now stand on this defining issue of our times?
Listen: Headspace #19—Monsters of art
Prospect’s Editor, Tom Clark, spoke to the writer and academic Shahidha Bari about her recent essay on the problem of art made by terrible men. What should our attitude be to their work and does history give examples of how those views might change over time? Stephanie Boland, Digital Editor and Sameer Rahim, Managing Editor (Arts and Books) were on hand to offer their insights, in the first in a new series of weekly podcasts from Prospect.
Listen: Headspace #18—Web of control
Not so long ago the web was on the quirky edges of life, but today it is at its heart. John Naughton started out as an enthusiast, but today he joins Tom Clark to explain why it has fallen prey to corporate capture and bred a new surveillance capitalism. James Ball explains how social media has been used to brainwash voters. Meanwhile, Samira Shackle comes back from a trip to Mosul, the Iraqi city until recently under IS control, and explains how blameless citizens there are today paying the price for having been unwilling appendages to the jihaddi killing machine.
Listen: Headspace #17—Globalisation
Not long ago, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton said there was no more point in arguing with globalisation than the weather: it was an unstoppable wind of change. No longer. It has spun into reverse. Dani Rodrik joins Tom Clark and explains why good economics always made hyper-globalisation a dubious proposition. Meanwhile, Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky reappraises the record of one thoughtful globaliser: Gordon Brown. And feminist Lynne Segal takes on another sell from the economics profession: the “happiness industry.”
Listen: Headspace #16—Brexonomics
Britain’s business leaders are increasingly jittery about a “cliff edge” Brexit. But is leaving Europe necessarily a threat for UK PLC, rather than an opportunity? Economists Adam Posen and Diane Coyle join Tom Clark and give the low-down, both on the scale of the coming shock as they see it, and the pre-existing frailty of the low-productivity British economy. Meanwhile, Andrew Dickson has taken a trip to Bilbao and asks whether culture is the key to restarting an economy.
Headspace #15—The state of the nation
Dutchman Joris Luyendijk imagined he was moving in with European cousins when he arrived in London; six years later he was cheering on Brexit. He tells Tom Clark how he learned to loathe England. At least Britain can laugh at itself—Sameer Rahim has been talking to our greatest living satirist, Armando Iannucci. All nations are defined by the stories they tell about themselves, and Daniella Peled reviews the work of the new Palestinian Museum in putting twists in the tale of a people without a land.
Listen now, or find us on your favourite podcast provider below.
Headspace #14—”The Character Thing”
Just how much difference—or not—do the quirks of an individual make to the tide of history?
In this month’s episode we welcome historian-turned-Cabinet minister Andrew Adonis, who claims every election is won by the more talented leader.
We hear from Wittgenstein’s biographer, Ray Monk, who argues that one of the greatest philosophical minds of the lot—Gottlob Frege—lived in a husk of a man.
Finally, globe-trotting journalist Wendell Steavenson, who followed a refugee family from Syria to the US, describes the heartening signs that America’s open-armed tradition towards immigrants surviving the personality of Donald J Trump.
Headspace #13—Crowns and culture wars
This month Tom Clark and guests chew over three simmering—or potential—culture wars.
Immigration is often said to divide the “metropolitan elite” from “the masses,” but Steve Bloomfield says that Canada proves that, done the right way, immigration can be popular.
Jessica Abrahams fills us in on what’s good, what’s bad and what’s complacent in fourth-wave feminism.
And the Sun‘s Emily Andrews fills us in on how insiders fear that the change of the guards at Buckingham Palace that will bring in Charles III could bring down the institution at the pinnacle of British class: the monarchy.
Headspace #12—Experts on trial
Alison Wolf, Paul Ormerod and Adam Tooze join Prospect Editor Tom Clark to discuss whether it’s a good thing that so many people go to university; why trust in experts has fallen so low; and how, 10 years on from the banking crisis, a new system of regulation has been quietly introduced under-the-radar. But how sustainable is it?
Headspace #11—Game, set and match to the malcontents
The malconents have, once again, wrought revenge on the know-it-alls, landing Britain with a hung parliament instead of the predicted Conservative landslide. Steve Richards sees election 2017 as one more instance of the worldwide trend for outsiders causing an upset at the expense of an establishment which has lost all legitimacy since the economic crisis of a decade ago. Rachel Sylvester says the campaign performed an X-ray on Theresa May’s political soul, and revealed a brittle character that was never strong nor stable. Meanwhile, David Berry looks back to the 1930s, when radicals took a break from politics to set up tennis clubs—and made with such success that they took gas fitters and machinists to the All England Club, in the Worker’s Wimbledon.
Headspace #10—Election special!
In this special edition of Headspace, Prospect editor Tom Clarke hosts the Big Election Debate with Nick Cohen, Matthew Paris and Meg Russell, in front of a live audience
Headspace #9, June 2017 issue—Never ending Tory
Headspace #8, May 2017 issue—Upending the old
Simon Jenkins, Wendell Steavenson, and Paul Hilder join Tom Clark to discuss the fraying Union between England and Scotland, the reordering of London to favour the global elite, and the way that new digital campaigns are disrupting the old politics everywhere
Headspace #7, April 2017 issue—The end for Labour?
Ross McKibbin, Nicholas Timmins and Lucy Wadham join Tom Clark to discuss the condition of Labour and its greatest creation, the NHS, as well as Marine Le Pen’s run at the French Presidency.
Headspace #6, March 2017 issue—Grave new world
George Magnus, Jay Elwes and Anne Perkins join Tom Clark to discuss whether globalisation will spin into reverse, what spies think of the Trump presidency, and the life of the woman at the wheel: Theresa May.
Headspace #5, February 2017 issue—Democracy under attack
Luke Harding, Elizabeth Pisani and John Kay join Tom Clark in the studio. Harding explains Putin’s cyberwar, Pisani says the aids activists of the 1980s knew how to campaign for change, Kay says humans aren’t as rational as we like to think.
Headspace #4, January 2017 issue—Is The American Century over?
Francis Fukuyama, Adam Tooze and Wendell Stevenson join Tom Clark for half an hour to discuss what Trump means for the liberal world order.
Headspace #3, December 2016 issue—2016 takes another twist with President Trump
Tom Clark is joined by Sam Tanenhaus, Diane Roberts and Ruth Dudley-Edwards. Tanenhaus and Roberts ask: what will Trump do? Dudley-Edwards asks what Brexit means for Ireland.
Headspace #2, November 2016 issue—The romance delusion
Will Self, Rachel Shabi and Diane Roberts talk to Tom Clark about love, religion, Jeremy Corbyn and hillbillies.
Headspace #1, October 2016 issue—Utopia
In the first episode of “Headspace,” Joanne Paul, Rachel Holmes and David Willetts talk Thomas More’s utopia, women in power and the government’s industrial strategy.