A post-Covid world in the moral maze

On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, the 30th birthday of the show and the last in the current series, we discussed morality in a post-Covid world (if there is ever to be such a world..!) To mark the occasion, the show used a novel format. Instead of having one proposition for debate, each of us four panellists proposed a moral principle or something else we had learned from the pandemic crisis that we thought was important for the future of our society. Tim Stanley said we needed to be…

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nbh Audio 

The future of the city in the moral maze

On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, we discussed whether there was a moral duty to rescue the city from the blight that has descended upon it as a result of the pandemic. Is the city the jewel in the crown of a civilisation, or would it be better to live in smaller towns and villages? Does a city bring us together, with high density living forcing us to get along with each other and broadening our minds by making us encounter people from different backgrounds and cultures, or does…

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appearance Audio Culture wars 

Groupthink in the moral maze

On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, we discussed “groupthink”, the term for opinions enforced by condign social pressure towards conformity. Those who don’t subscribe to this coerced consensus are being subjected to public denunciation, ostracism and dismissal from their jobs. As the Maze website puts it: “Those accused of this kind of ‘groupthink’ reject that criticism and believe that all public figures should be held accountable for their views. Once made public, they argue, those views can have a direct and adverse impact on people’s lives, so they become…

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Sky Audio Britain 

On Boulton show: Boris’s lost mojo, Covid confusion

I took part in a podcast hosted by Adam Boulton on his Sky TV show, All Out Politics, with the editor of Ian Dunt and Sky’s political correspondent, Kate McCann. We discussed why the government seemed to be veering all over the place, changing its mind over one policy after another, producing confused messages over Covid-19 and with ministers making absurd gaffes. We also discussed the controversial merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, a move criticised by three former Prime Ministers, and whether Boris…

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Audio Britain 

Systemic racism in the moral maze

On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, the first show in the new series, we discussed systemic racism in the light of the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations. We asked whether Britain really was a society characterised by systemic racism, as campaigners allege, and whether “white privilege” exists, or whether these claims have been exaggerated out of all proportion and used to defame a country which has bent over backwards to lessen discrimination. On the panel with me were Matthew Taylor, Nazir Afzal and Nesrine Malik. Our witnesses were Jude…

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Coronavirus Audio Britain Coronavirus 

How the government and NHS abandoned people to die from Covid-19

I took part in a podcast on Sky News for Adam Boulton’s All Out Politics. I was with the editor of, Ian Dunt, with whom I had appeared earlier that morning on Sky’s review of the newspaper opinion pages, and Sky’s people in politics correspondent, Nick Martin. You can listen to the podcast either by clicking here or below. We were discussing the political aspects of the Covid-19 crisis and the blame game now under way over the dreadful death rate in care homes. Nick Martin, who has been…

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lockdown Audio Coronavirus Culture wars 

Lockdown, liberals and literature: NZ podcast

While under lockdown in Jerusalem, I took part in a podcast with New Zealand broadcaster Leighton Smith. We discussed my personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, of which he was kind enough to say :”It leaps off the page with an immediacy and relevance that few books achieve”. We discussed Israel’s measures against Covid-19, and how its use of data technology in this effort wouldn’t be tolerated in Britain even though the evidence is that it has helped Israel achieve far greater success in saving lives from the effects of…

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Sky Audio 

On Sky: antisemitism, Keir Starmer and lockdown dilemmas

On Adam Boulton’s All Out Politics on Sky News this week, I took part in a podcast with Ian Dunt, the editor of and Tamara Cohen, Sky’s political correspondent. We discussed – of course – how the British government is handling the virus emergency and the appalling choices it is being forced to make over when and how to emerge from the lockdown. I talked about Israel’s (so far) more successful approach which would not be acceptable in Britain because of its use of mobile phone data to track…

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Coronavirus Audio Global conflict USA Videos 

Moral responsibility in the time of pandemic

I was very struck by observations about the coronavirus pandemic made this week by the former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, on both BBC Radio’s Moral Maze and BBC TV’s Newsnight. What was so arresting was his optimism about the long-term effects of this global emergency on people’s behaviour. He repeated more than once that the crisis was encouraging the best out of people, that it was bringing us together, that it was eliciting innumerable acts of kindness which would continue to multiply, and that when it was all over we…

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appearance Audio Culture wars 

Islamophobia in the moral maze

This week on BBC Radio’s Moral Maze we discussed Islamophobia. The anti-racism campaigner and former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission Trevor Phillips, whose own inquiry first cemented the use of the word Islamophobia into British public life, has now himself been accused of this thought-crime. On the Maze, we didn’t discuss his particular case so much as the issue of the word itself. Does it actually describe a real prejudice, or is it used to silence legitimate debate about the Islamic world? Does it seek to prevent…

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