Analysis

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Synopsis

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

Episodes

  • Funny Money

    07/06/2021 Duration: 28min

    What is the money in your pocket really worth? Come to think of it now we’re virtually cashless, do you even keep money in your pocket? Maybe you’re worried about the growth of government debt during the pandemic you now store your wealth in commodities such as gold or silver? Or maybe you’re a fan of another asset class: bitcoin. Are cryptocurrencies the future of money or a giant bubble waiting to burst? Why are governments and companies such as Facebook so interested in developing their own digital currencies? Fifty years on from the ‘Nixon Shock’, when President Richard Nixon changed global currencies forever by taking the US off the gold standard, the BBC’s Ben Chu is on a mission to find out what money means to us today. Where does its value come from in this increasingly online world? Are we witnessing a revolution in the transfer of value into the metaverse? And how should make sense of this funny money business? Guests include: Historian Niall Ferguson Economist and academic Stephanie K

  • The Zoomshock Metropolis

    31/05/2021 Duration: 27min

    Our towns and cities are facing an existential crisis. The rise of online shopping has left gaping holes in high streets. And if hybrid working takes off, some economists predict a dramatic 'zoom shock' as workers spend less time and money in city centres. What seems like a crisis could be an opportunity to reinvent our cities and 'Level Up' struggling towns. But are we ready to seize this moment? Helen Grady meets local leaders embracing this moment of change - from the Teesside town bulldozing a shopping centre to create a park to the US community paying remote tech workers to relocate. She hears how big cities like Manchester are enticing people back to the office. And she asks if we're about to see a move away from city-led growth to a model where jobs and prosperity are more evenly spread between towns and cities. Producer and presenter Helen Grady Editor Jasper Corbett

  • What the Foucault?

    24/05/2021 Duration: 28min

    Last December Liz Truss made a speech. The Minister for Women and Equalities spoke about her memories of being at school in Leeds. She was taught about sexism and racism, she said, but not enough time was spent on being taught how to read and write. "These ideas," said Truss, "have their roots in post-modernist philosophy - pioneered by Foucault - that put societal power structures and labels ahead of individuals and their endeavours." So do Foucault's ideas pose a real danger to social and cultural life in Britain? Or is he a "bogeyman" deployed by some politicians to divide and distract us from real issues? In this edition of Analysis, writer and academic Shahidha Bari tries to make sense of Foucault's influence in the UK - and asks whether his ideas really do have an effect on Britain today. Producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Jasper Corbett Contributors: Agnes Poirier, journalist and author of Left Bank: Art, Passion, and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940-50 Michael Drolet, Senior Research Fellow in the History o

  • Global Britain: is there substance behind the slogan?

    29/03/2021 Duration: 29min

    Having left the EU, the UK is now re-branding itself as "Global Britain", but what does that actually mean? A key plank of the new foreign policy is a pivot to the "Indo-Pacific". How is this seen in India? And how should Britain deal with China, described as a "challenge" in the government's recently published Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy? And where does all this leave relations with the EU and US? Should "Global Britain" try to reassert itself as a major power on the international stage, or would the UK's interests be better served by acting as a broker between larger, or like-minded, countries instead, to help bring about beneficial agreements? And what effect could the reduction in the overseas development aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of Gross National Income have on Britain's "soft power" abroad, with the deep real-terms cuts to humanitarian and other programmes that this will mean for countries such as Yemen or Malawi? Presenter: Chris Morris Producer: Arl

  • Science in the Time of Covid-19

    22/03/2021 Duration: 27min

    The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the best of science and the worst of science. New vaccines have been produced in less than twelve months. But at the same time we’ve seen evidence exaggerated and undermined, falsified, and flawed. Scientists arguing in public over areas of policy that have reached into all of our lives in an unprecedented way. There has never been so much “science”. But the pandemic has seen science politicised and polarised in ways some of us could never imagine. In this episode of Analysis, Sonia Sodha explores what the pandemic has revealed about the practice of science, and our relationship with it. Producer: Gemma Newby Editor: Jasper Corbett

  • The Fine Art of Decision Making

    15/03/2021 Duration: 29min

    Margaret Heffernan explores the fine art of decision making in times of uncertainty. We make decisions all the time which affect our personal lives, but what about the decisions which affect the lives of many others? How do you decide, when the well being of a nation or the success of a company are at stake, but the path is unclear because the risks cannot be quantified? A desire for more data, the temptation to procrastinate, a reluctance to admit mistakes and the outsourcing of decisions to machines can all lead to bad decision making, so what processes and practices, leadership qualities and attitudes of mind can serve as the best guides? Senior politicians, public servants, business people and academics share their insights based on past failures as well as successes, and suggest ways of better decision making in an increasingly uncertain world. Contributors: Professor Gerd Gigerenzer, Director emeritus, Max Planck Institute for Human Development Martin Gilbert, former CEO, Aberdeen Asset Management Si

  • Levelling Up Wakefield

    08/03/2021 Duration: 29min

    With its low-wage economy, Wakefield is the kind of place the government has promised to help level up. But what kind of help do people there most need? Anand Menon returns to his home city to find out. He meets someone who remembers the days when Wakefield was known for its vibrant nightlife. He hears about the council's plans to entice new people to the district through attractions like the Hepworth Art Gallery and the transformation of the Rutland Mills. He finds out what attracts - and hinders - private sector investment. And he discovers how communities built around mills and mines have lost their economic purpose and been left stranded by poor local transport links. Producer: Helen Grady Data research: Professor Christina Beatty from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University Editor: Jasper Corbett

  • Magic Weapons

    01/03/2021 Duration: 30min

    There used to be a romantic notion of globalisation that all countries would simply have to get along as we were all so interconnected. Why fight when your interests are aligned? It’s an idea that has made direct military engagement less likely. But something very different has emerged in its place. We live in a new era of conflict, where states try to achieve their aims through aggressive measures that stay below the threshold of war. This is a strategy of statecraft with a long history, but which has a new inflection in our technologically charged, globalised world. Now a mix of cyber, corruption and disinformation is employed to mess with adversaries. China’s president, Xi Jinping, has referred to political influence activities as being one of the Chinese Communist Party's 'magic weapons'. In this edition of Analysis, Peter Pomerantsev looks at how political warfare works in a world where we’re all economically entangled - and what Britain could and should do to adapt. Producer: Ant Adeane Editor: J

  • Boiled Rabbits of the Left?

    22/02/2021 Duration: 28min

    George Orwell chastised the "boiled rabbits of the Left" for disliking what he called "the spiritual need for patriotism". He was writing in 1940 during Hitler's Blitz of London and other British cities. But Orwell also poses a challenge to those on the Left today who find patriotism redolent of flag-waving chauvinism, uncomfortably at odds with their cherished internationalism and an unwelcome diversion from other priorities. Since he was elected leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer has spoken of his love of country, determined to make a break with the legacy of his predecessor. Polling suggested Jeremy Corbyn was perceived to be cool in his patriotic sympathies. That view among electors in northern England and the Midlands was indeed so strong it was one of the main reasons former Labour supporters gave for switching to the Conservatives at the 2019 general election. In this edition of "Analysis", Edward Stourton asks how Labour can turn the page on its seemingly conflicted stance on patrio

  • Flying Blind

    15/02/2021 Duration: 28min

    What do we really know about the policy choices confronting us? Covid-19 has been a brutal lesson in the extent of our ignorance. We face hard decisions, and argue about them ferociously, when in truth we’re often in the dark about their full consequences. But Covid is not unusual in this respect - and we could learn from it. Other areas of life and policy are similarly obscured. Not that we like to admit it. How well, for example, do we know what the economy is up to? Quite possibly not nearly as well as you might think - even to the extent that it’s recently been suggested the first estimates of GDP can’t be sure of telling the difference between boom and bust - the problem really can be that extreme. Some recessions have turned out to be illusions. In this programme Michael Blastland examines our collective ignorance and how it affects policy and debate, asking if public argument needs a lot more humility. Producer Caroline Bayley Editor Jasper Corbett

  • Rogue Cops

    08/02/2021 Duration: 29min

    Is it possible to identify rogue cops before they commit offences? Can we change police culture to improve police interactions with the public? The brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis shone a spotlight on how police treat suspects, particularly black suspects. In this Analysis, David Edmonds asks what the science of criminology has discovered about how such tragedies can be stopped. Producer Bethan Head. Editor Jasper Corbett

  • Personality Politics

    01/02/2021 Duration: 27min

    Are we predisposed by our personality to be drawn to certain political policies or certain ideologies? And if so, should we take account of this when our views differ from other people? James Tilley, a professor of politics at Oxford University, talks to leading academics in the field about how this might help explain the current political polarisation seen in countries like the UK and the US. Producer: Bob Howard Editor: Jasper Corbett

  • Chasing Unicorns

    16/11/2020 Duration: 29min

    We live in a world of unicorns. From hailing taxis to ordering pizza to renting a holiday home, the world has come to rely on huge tech startups known in Silicon Valley as unicorns. But in a post-pandemic world, can these mythical beasts survive? In tech lingo, a unicorn is a rare start-up company valued at $1 billion dollars or more in private markets. Five years ago there were fewer than 50. Today there are over 400, including Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo. Often created by eccentric founders and funded by evangelical venture capital backers with deep pockets, these companies have come to define our digital age while creating unimaginable riches for their investors. But with many enduring eye-watering losses even before the pandemic, and with big question marks hanging over their long term viability, is the magic dust finally coming off? Elaine Moore is a tech columnist at the Financial Times based in San Francisco - home of the tech unicorn. She's on a mission to find out what the future holds for the in

  • Who Runs that Place?

    09/11/2020 Duration: 28min

    Increasingly, Western governments see China as a problem to deal with because, as it has grown more powerful, it has re-committed to being a Leninist state. But under President Xi Jinping, how far does it still conform to the Leninist model and how far does it reflect much more traditional forms of Chinese statecraft? Is a country with a massive bureaucracy run by its nominal leaders or by other actors? And why do senior government figures - who in Russia and Western countries carry clout and influence - seem in China to have little to say about the policies Beijing is following? As the rest of the world continues to grapple with the consequences of Covid-19, these questions have never been more pertinent or more urgent. In this timely edition of "Analysis", Isabel Hilton, the eminent student of Chinese politics, considers who makes the decisions in Beijing and how they are reached. Speaking to China-watchers both internationally and in the UK, she explodes some myths about Chinese politics - including t

  • This Fractured Isle

    02/11/2020 Duration: 28min

    On February 1st this year nearly every news bulletin began with the words 'the UK has officially left the European Union'. Boris Johnson could have been forgiven for congratulating himself for fulfilling his constitutional promise to 'get Brexit done'. But there was another story in the news that day too - health officials were trying to find anyone who’d had close contact with two Chinese tourists being treated in Newcastle for coronavirus. No one at the time could have predicted then that a virus which began thousands of miles away in China would shake the foundations of Britain’s system of government; ten months on all the nations of the United Kingdom are living under different social regimes, internal borders divide the country as never before, and even parts of England have been in open revolt against Westminster. In this programme Edward Stourton will explore how Covid19 is rewriting the rules Britain’s leaders live by and ask where it could take the UK. Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Jasper Corbett

  • The Future of Welfare

    26/10/2020 Duration: 28min

    The furlough scheme, introduced in response to Covid-19, has raised a question: should Britain’s social insurance be a bit more German? Germany has what’s known as an earnings-related contributory system – individuals pay quite a lot in, and if they lose their job, they receive quite a lot out - around 60% of their previous salary, for at least a year. Critics of the German system say it’s costly and puts too little emphasis on redistribution. But advocates claim it commands far wider support than the British system. So does the pandemic and the calls it has provoked for a fresh look at the shape and scope of our welfare state provide an opportunity? Should Britain move towards a system that is more like Germany’s? Presenter Ben Chu Producer David Edmonds Editor Jasper Corbett

  • The Rise and Fall of the Bond Market Traders

    19/10/2020 Duration: 28min

    In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher famously said that 'You can’t buck the markets' and Governments back then feared that, if they borrowed too much, they'd pay a terrible price in the markets in terms of higher borrowing costs. But now governments around the world are borrowing record amounts but paying record-low rates. In this programme Philip Coggan examines how the markets were tamed. Philip talks to Don Kohn, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, economist and author Eric Lonergan, Andrew Balls, Chief Investment Officer at Pimco and economist and author Stephanie Kelton. Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Jasper Corbett

  • Trouble on the backbenches? Tory Leaders and their MPs

    12/10/2020 Duration: 28min

    Despite winning a large majority at the last election, Prime Minister Johnson’s relationship with his party is an uneasy one. Just a few months after achieving its long term aim of leaving the EU, the Conservative Party seems ill at ease with itself and the sound of tribal Tory strife can be seen and heard. Is this just the way it’s always been: a cultural and historical norm for Tory leaders and their backbenchers? Or is there something else going on? In this edition of Analysis, Professor Rosie Campbell assesses Boris Johnson’s relationship with his own party and asks why Conservative backbenchers can be such a thorn in the flesh of their leaders. Will this Prime Minister go the same way, or can he buck the trend? Presenter: Rosie Campbell Producer: Jim Frank Editor: Jasper Corbett

  • Planning for the Worst

    05/10/2020 Duration: 28min

    How ready are we for the next pandemic, cyber attack, volcanic eruption, or solar storm? Our world, ever more interconnected and dependent on technology, is vulnerable to a head-spinning array of disasters. Emergency preparedness is supposed to help protect us and the UK has been pioneering in its approach. But does it actually work? In this edition of Analysis, Simon Maybin interrogates official predictions past and present, hearing from the advisers and the advised. Are we any good at anticipating catastrophic events? Should we have been better prepared for the one we’ve been living through? And - now that coronavirus has shown us the worst really can happen - what else should we be worrying about? Presenter/producer: Simon Maybin Editor: Jasper Corbett

  • Is the Internet Broken?

    28/09/2020 Duration: 28min

    The internet is a cornerstone of our society. It is vital to our economy, to our global communications, and to many of our personal and professional lives. But have the processes that govern how the internet works kept pace with its rapid evolution? James Ball, author of 'The System - Who Owns the Internet, and How It Owns Us', examines whether the infrastructure of the internet is up to scratch. If it's not, then what does that mean for us? Producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Jasper Corbett

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