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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nbh Audio 

In the moral maze with coronavirus

On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, we discussed the moral dilemmas potentially involved in dealing with the coronavirus. We are already seeing, in Britain and around the world, restrictions on activity of varying degrees of severity and with knock-on effects already becoming apparent in cancelled airline flights, conferences and sporting events. If a pandemic develops, what is the right balance to be struck between the necessity of saving lives and the need to protect our way of life? Should we accept martial law, the isolation of towns and cities,…

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podcast Audio Britain Culture wars 

The cultural chasm over Britain’s place in the world

I took part in a “Brexit breakdown” podcast discussion with Ian Dunt, editor of Politics.co.uk, and Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s college, London and director of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative. Chaired by podcaster James Millar, our discussion quickly developed from the eponymous issue of Brexit which so divides us. After we talked about what it meant to us and how we saw it developing, we moved into wider and deeper cultural issues. These opened up before us as an unbridgeable chasm.…

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BBC Audio Britain 

The moral maze that is the BBC

On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, we discussed the moral purpose of the BBC. Does it even have one? With the government boycotting Radio Four’s Today programme in protest at its perceived bias, and now threatening to destroy it altogether through a fundamental change to its funding structure, we asked whether the Beeb’s original aim of uniting the nation has now become impossible in such an era of technological and cultural fragmentation. Can it or should it compete with Netflix, or does it still have a unique role to…

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Sky Audio Videos 

Sky papers review and podcast

I took part today with Ian Dunt in our regular newspaper review discussion on Adam Boulton’s Sky show All Out Politics. We ended up talking about just one topic: the issue in the UK’s general election of the antisemitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party. Our narrow focus was caused by this week’s dramatic Jewish Chronicle front page. Under a huge headline reading to “To all our fellow British citizens”, it declares: “This front page is addressed not to our usual readers – but to those who would not normally read…

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nbh Audio 

Tolerating the intolerant in the moral maze

On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, we tackled the issue behind the controversy in Birmingham where mainly Muslim parents have been picketing a primary school in protest at its policy of teaching children about gay families. The city council has now applied for a permanent ban on protests at the school gates. The parents have been accused of bigotry and intolerance towards gay people; the school has been accused of bigotry and intolerance towards people with traditional religious attitudes. The row illustrates a sharp dilemma for a liberal society:…

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appearance Audio 

Anger in the moral maze

I appeared on the first of the new series of BBC Radio’s Moral Maze to discuss the morality of anger. With outrage and concern over over the language being used in today’s acrimonious political debates, we discussed whether anger can ever be of value or whether it invariably leads to bad consequences. It can be constructive if it’s harnessed to redress an injustice, but what if this objective is actually fuelled by the destructive desire for revenge? Is there a moral distinction between anger expressed in solidarity with the oppressed…

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The View Audio Videos 

My appearance on Sky’s The View, plus podcast

I appeared with Ian Dunt on The View, the daily review of the papers’ opinion pages on Adam Boulton’s Sky TV show. Our main topics for discussion were Boris Johnson’s proposal to the EU for solving the Brexit impasse over the Irish border, and Prince Harry’s bitter remarks about the media treatment of his wife. You can watch this below. Ian and I later took part in a podcast on these and other topics with Adam and Sam Coates, Sky’s deputy political editor. You can listen to the podcast here

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nbh Audio 

Antisemitism in the moral maze

On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, we discussed antisemitism. With the Equality and Human Rights Commission now investigating the Labour party for racism over the hundreds of examples of antisemitism by its members and the party’s apparent refusal to deal with these properly, the programme asked the more fundamental questions. What exactly is antisemitism? Can it be differentiated from anti-Zionism? Is antisemitism just one of many forms of racism or is it a uniquely pernicious prejudice? I discussed this with my fellow-panellists Matthew Taylor, Mona Siddiqui and Tim Stanley.…

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