Charlotte Gill’s Podcast Review 9) Liam Halligan with David Frost, Brendan O’Neill with Carl Heneghan

19 Jan

Every fortnight, ConservativeHome will compile a handful of podcast recommendations – content that has been published in the weeks preceding – for its readers. Although these will mainly focus on podcasts for conservative listeners, we will try to include other options – should they be particularly interesting. Sometimes this feature will contain other types of media.

Title: Planet Normal
Host: Liam Halligan (who co-hosts Planet Normal with Allison Pearson. This segment has been extracted for Youtube)
Episode: ‘Stop this Covid theatre’: Former Cabinet minister Lord Frost speaks to the Planet Normal podcast

Duration: 37:56 minutes
Published: January 13

What’s it about?

What does Lord Frost think about Dominic Cummings, the Government’s Net Zero ambitions and the Northern Ireland Protocol, as well as pretty much every political issue of the day? Wonder no more; Liam Halligan manages to get a huge amount out of the UK’s lead Brexit negotiator, in this interview. Frost doesn’t hold back in his criticisms of government policy, and what it will take to better improve the machinery of Whitehall.

Some teaser quotes:
  • “I think, honestly, people are going to look back at the last couple of years, globally, and see lockdown as a pretty serious public policy mistake.”
  • “The teams managing Covid – not just in Number 10 – the fact that they were in the office and seeing people meant that you tended to forget what life was like for everyone else, because to you it seemed a bit normal. And I do think that meant we were more ready to reach for lockdown and coercive things than we might have been in other circumstances.”
  • “History shows that the best way of producing prosperity is free markets and free individuals pursuing their own lives.”
Verdict:

Refreshing to hear a conservative talk like a conservative.

Title: Desperately Seeking Wisdom
Host: Craig Oliver
Episode: Ruth Davidson

Duration: 54:28 minutes
Published: January 17
Link: Here

What’s it about?

This podcast recently attracted many headlines, due to how many revelations Ruth Davidson makes during the course of it. It is part of a new show, hosted by Craig Oliver, the former Director of Politics and Communications for David Cameron, that explores how people, mainly in media and politics, have achieved a better work/life balance. Davidson opens up about a number of areas, such as her battle with depression and her dismay at being described as a lesbian kickboxer during the 2011 Scottish Conservatives leadership election, while other candidates were referred to by their job titles.

Some teaser quotes:
  • “I’ll tell you why it annoyed me… One, because I’d stopped kickboxing years before, so it wasn’t even true. And two because it was so reductive, and it was reductive to try and make a point.”
  • “I didn’t want a sudden headline screaming that, you know, Tory leader’s a maddy, that should be locked up or something like that.”
  • “I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed myself more than the period that I had in the Territorial Army. There was something amazing about the physical tiredness that you get after a day of carrying, or however many tonne pack, and you know, yomping around fields and, and feeling like you’re learning and that you’re contributing, and you’re stretching yourself.”
Verdict:

A fun and light-hearted exchange.

Title: The Brendan O’Neill Show
Host: Brendan O’Neill
Episode: Why I spoke out against lockdown

 

 

Duration: 1 hour, 12 minutes
Published: January 13

What’s it about?

Though Carl Heneghan’s official titles include Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at the Department of Primary Care Services at the University of Oxford and Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Healthcare, among other things, he has become most famous for questioning the Government’s approach to Coronavirus. A modern day heretic, you might say. In this interview with Brendan O’Neill he comprehensively explains why he thinks the UK approach hasn’t been right, and who has been most hurt by it.

Some teaser quotes:
  • “The concept of academic freedom has gone out of the window… People will lose their jobs in the NHS or universities for speaking out…. what does that say about our society?”
  • “We can’t keep having this Doomsday prediction and assuming society can go forward.”
  • “The question is, why has the NHS not grasped this nettle and said we need a flexible health service that increases capacity by about 20 per cent” (around winter peaks).
Verdict:

A fascinating discussion, which will further the argument that lockdowns are a blunt instrument.

Charlotte Gill’s Podcast Review 8) Matt Chorley with Andrew Gimson, Nick Robinson with Ed Balls

5 Jan

Every fortnight, ConservativeHome will compile a handful of podcast recommendations – content that has been published in the weeks preceding – for its readers. Although these will mainly focus on podcasts for conservative listeners, we will try to include other options – should they be particularly interesting. Sometimes this feature will contain other types of media.

Title: Red Box Politics Podcast
Host: Matt Chorley
Episode: Gimson’s PMs: Thatcher to Johnson

Duration: 1 hour, 1 minute
Published: December 12
Link: Here

What’s it about?

In this fun exchange with Matt Chorley, Andrew Gimson, Contributing Editor to ConservativeHome, author and historian, takes Matt Chorley on a passage through time of Britain’s Prime Ministers, starting with Margaret Thatcher and ending with Boris Johnson. The episode, recorded towards the end of last year, marks 300 years since Britain got its first Prime Minister, in the shape of Robert Walpole, in 1721. It’s packed with insights, as well as comparisons between leaders; find out who Gimson thinks Johnson most closely resembles towards the end.

Some teaser quotes:
  • “Blair knew how to talk to everyone, from a duchess to a cleaning lady. He could adopt the right tone and he had a genius, I’m afraid, for annoying his own party and thereby convincing Middle England that he must be a sound-enough chap and he was really a bit of a Tory.”
  • On Gordon Brown: “Who knows, perhaps he would have been a very great Prime Minister if he’d come in ’97, but he’d waited for 10 years, pretending to be satisfied with the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer”.
  • On David Cameron: “He was a very Anglican figure in some ways; he very much believed in good behaviour and compromise, but – as far as doctrine was concerned – he was fairly flexible about that.”
Verdict:

Very informative, and the hour goes by fast.

Title: Political Thinking with Nick Robinson
Host: Nick Robinson
Episode: The Ed Balls Christmas Special One

Duration: 37 minutes
Published: December 27
Link: Here

What’s it about?

Recorded before Christmas, in this interview Nick Robinson sits down with Ed Balls, former Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, to discuss a huge amount, from his life outside of politics, from his love of cooking, to teaching at King’s College London, to the 10 years he has spent learning the piano. Perhaps the most interesting part of the discussion is when Balls discusses his interest in understanding people with whom he disagrees; it makes a nice change from some of the name-calling that Conservatives and/ or Brexiteers have got used to, from the Opposition benches, in recent years.

Some teaser quotes:
  • On a career in politics – “It’s not a conventional career, where you can rise up and you can see your future stretching before you… In politics, it’s totally not predictable, and there’s so much luck, whether you happen to be in the right place and the moment opens up, but when you get the opportunity, it’s brilliant, hard, such a responsibility, such an honour.”
  • “Genuinely, I thought I’m in danger of having a midlife crisis – so therefore I should plan it.”
  • “One of the key things you have to do in politics is you have to be reaching out to people who need to be persuaded. And if you’re going to take the current situation, there are people who voted Conservative in 2019, who voted Labour in 2015 or 2010… Labour’s not going to win unless it persuades those people to come back. And if it sometimes sounds as if Labour is saying ‘you voted for the evil guys’… I mean, how bad, how reprehensible.”
Verdict:

An interesting exchange – indicating a man who has yet to tire of the limelight.

Title: The Brendan O’Neill Show
Host: Brendan O’Neill
Episode: David Starkey: Lockdown is the revenge of the elites

Duration: 58:29 minutes
Published: December 24

What’s it about?

In this jam-packed episode, David Starkey leaves you under no illusions around what he thinks of Boris Johnson – clue: it ain’t pretty – his government and lockdowns. What’s especially interesting, is that, despite vehemently opposing the Government’s pandemic measures, Starkey has a fairly no-nonsense approach to the vaccine hesitant – taking listeners through the reasons why he thinks libertarian arguments have failed here.

Some teaser quotes:
  • On Boris Johnson: “He doesn’t seem really to believe in anything very much… he lurches from one position to another; and…, as very often happens to people in power who don’t have strong views, he has been captured.”
  • “We’ve got a government that thinks it knows better than those who elected it, because it’s powered by a civil service, it’s powered by a judiciary, it’s powered by… various kinds of medical elites”.
  • “All the time we hear ‘the science says’. Science doesn’t say; science isn’t a device for manipulating popular opinion; science is speculative; science is hesitant; science debates. Instead it’s being turned into a weapon of propaganda and manipulation, and above all a gigantic alibi for incompetence.”
Verdict:

As with Gimson’s interview, you get your money’s worth – in terms of a large amount of insight packed into one episode. Starkey challenges stereotypical notions of what a conservative should support in terms of Covid measures.