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Do you understand public opinion as well as you think you do?

Matthew Taylor and Ian Leslie dissect new (and sometimes controversial) research on the divide between 'anarchists' and 'centrists'; the voters who live for drama; and the real reasons people share misleading news stories online. Plus, the similarities and differences between US and UK public opinion, as Matthew meets two of the top researchers from either side of the pond: director of the Pew Research Center, Michael Dimock; and director of the Policy Institute at King's College London,...


The Week Politics Jumped the Shark

The RSA's Matthew Taylor and the author of 'Born Liars' and 'Curious', Ian Leslie, look back on the week in which BBC Parliament had more plot twists than Line of Duty. Produced by James Shield. Brought to you by the RSA.


Hope vs Fear, Live from Wilderness Festival

Matthew Taylor is joined by a live Wilderness Festival audience and John Harris from The Guardian to explore the battle between the politics of hope and the politics of fear. Hope can be a great motivating force in politics. And so can fear. In January, the teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg told the grown-ups at Davos: “I don’t want your hope. I want you to panic. And then I want you to act.” But on climate change and many other issues, fear can turn into fatalism. So how can we...


The Four Deadly Sins of Modern Politics

Ian Leslie and Matthew Taylor analyse Theresa May’s final major speech as prime minister and Donald Trump’s latest racist statements, and try to predict what might happen in the first weeks of a new PM. Everything is unlikely, but something has to happen. So we grade some previous predictions and have a go at making some new ones. Plus, a new theory: the four paths to polarisation. Twitter: Matthew TaylorIan Leslie Produced by James Shield. Brought to you by the RSA.


Utopia and Reality

Just as our reality has seemed to take a dystopian turn, there’s been a resurgence of political imagination. Utopian dreams have returned to the forefront of our politics. How achievable are these utopias, especially when they collide with the realities of power and government? And what can we learn from past attempts to make dreams into reality? Guests: James Meadway Presented by Matthew Taylor. Produced by James Shield. Brought to you by the RSA.


Elections, Fatalism, and Twitter Storms

Matthew Taylor speaks to French political journalist Marie Le Conte about the European elections, French politics and being in the eye of a Twitter storm; and Paul Mason sets out the dual threats of fascism and fatalism. Share this episode Share on TwitterShare on Facebook Produced by James Shield. Brought to you by the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).


Extinction Rebellion: what next?

At long last, for a few weeks in April, climate breakdown finally seemed to be at the top of the political agenda. Extinction Rebellion shut down the streets. School children walked out of classes in protest at inaction from the grown-ups. Politicians – some of them, anyway – declared a climate emergency. Does this surge of interest mark a real shift in public opinion and political will? Can the energy behind it be harnessed? And can our politicians unite against climate change in time to...



Is religion still shaping our politics? And has its decline led to a wider search for meaning in public life? Matthew Taylor and Ian Leslie are joined by Elizabeth Oldfield, director of the think tank Theos. Plus, reflections on the one of the hardest questions in European politics right now: 'what's happening?' Links Americans lose their taste for going to churchTheos think tankWhat Europeans Really Want: Five Myths Debunked Produced by James Shield. Brought to you by the RSA (Royal...


How Change Happens

Insights from three of the world's leading thinkers on how political and societal change happens: presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, 'Nudge' author Cass Sunstein, and philosopher Roberto Unger. Plus, the story of how a bar fight in the House of Commons may have inadvertently changed the course of British political history… Presented by Matthew Taylor. Featuring: Doris Kearns GoodwinAuthor of Leadership: Lessons from the Presidents from Turbulent Times.Cass SunsteinNudge:...


Capitalism and Conservatism, with Iain Dale and Jacob Field

We’re living through the biggest backlash against neoliberalism for 40 years, and the biggest crisis over Britain’s relationship with Europe since the Second World War. Climate breakdown and new technologies present major threats to the way we live and work. So against that backdrop, where does the politics of conservatism – and its relationship with capitalism – go next? Presented by Matthew Taylor. Guests Jacob FieldIs Capitalism Working?Iain Dale Share this episode on Twitter Music...


Denialism, with Caroline Lucas MP & Keith Kahn-Harris

From climate change to vaccines, there’s a worrying tendency in our culture to bury our heads in the sand, and for a growing number of people to turn their backs on the truth. At its most dangerous, denialism can shade into extremism. Denialism is fundamentally a rejection of reality, but what drives it? What does it say about our psychology that sometimes we need to protect ourselves from what’s really going on? And what should we do about the malign online forces that are driving more...


Is the centre ground dead?

Commentators say the financial crisis and its aftermath sounded the death knell for centrist parties. Is the centre ground of British politics really dead, or could it make a comeback? And what does the ‘centre’ even mean these days? This week, Ian Leslie and Matthew Taylor discuss the Independent Group, before talking to the political sociologist Paula Surridge from the University of Bristol about public opinion and the centre. Plus: what is Tom Watson up to? Links Which values clan do...


Responsible Parties

Has the opening up of political parties been a vital force for change, or bad for democracy as a whole? How can politicians represent both their party members and the voters? Is it game over for the old party politics of left vs right, and for the old party establishment? This week Matthew Taylor and Ian Leslie are putting political parties in the spotlight. Guests: Ian ShapiroResponsible Parties: Saving Democracy from ItselfIsra AllisonBrand New CongressNasim ThompsonJustice Democrats...


Talking to the Enemy, with Michael Sandel & Maria Exner

This week Ian Leslie and Matthew Taylor are asking: what's the best way to talk to people we disagree with? If we want to understand the other side – to bridge divides, or even persuade people we disagree with to think differently – what’s the best way to do that? With Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, and Maria Exner, deputy editor of German news website Zeit Online. Share this episode on Twitter Produced by James Shield. Brought to you by the RSA (Royal Society for the...


Could a citizens' jury help break the Brexit deadlock?

Two days after the biggest government defeat in the history of the British parliament, Matthew Taylor makes the case for another form of democracy that might help sort out the mess. With James Fishkin and David Runciman. Share this episode on Twitter Links The RSA's campaign for deliberative democracyJames Fishkin's talk at the RSADemocracy When the People Are Thinking: Revitalizing Our Politics Through Public DeliberationDavid Runciman's talk at the RSATalking Politics podcast Produced...


Identity, with Francis Fukuyama

The phrase ‘identity politics’ has come to be used as a sort of political insult. It’s a short way of accusing someone of pandering to voters – based on race, religion or gender. From white nationalists and Donald Trump, to the politics of liberation and demands for equal rights, it feels like everyone is playing identity politics these days. Conflicts between identity groups now dominate our politics. How did we get here? Is the rise of identity politics really that big a problem? And if it...


The psychology of tribalism, with Jonathan Haidt

Is tribalism an indelible part of human nature? And if it is, can we overcome it? Matthew Taylor speaks to moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind and The Coddling of the American Mind. Plus, Ian and Matthew discuss the recent protests in France, and we ask why the British people have claimed responsibility for 55% of all world history… Share this episode on Twitter Links The top 10 reasons American politics are so brokenThe Coddling of the American MindYouTube:...


Stories, Myths and Belonging

It's been a turbulent week in UK politics. What could possibly happen next? Matthew Taylor and Ian Leslie talk Brexit predictions, and whether constant news updates are doing us any good. That brings us on to a discussion about the stories we tell ourselves – fake news, and the importance of myths – before Matthew tests out his new 'theory of everything', and we ask whether all of our society's problems stem from a yearning for solidarity and belonging. Links Ian Leslie on fake newsThe...


Is democracy failing?

Is democracy falling apart? How worried should we be? And how can we fix it? With Niheer Dasandi, author of 'Is Democracy Failing?' (part of the Big Idea series from Thames & Hudson), and Eliane Glaser, author of 'Anti-Politics: On the Demonisation of Ideology, Authority and the State'. Links Matthew Taylor's blog: Could politics ever be a source of wisdom rather than anxiety?Is Democracy Failing? by Niheer DasandiAnti-Politics: On the Demonisation of Ideology, Authority and the StateWhy...


Nervous States, with Will Davies

Have feelings taken over the world? Have we lost our collective grip on rationality? And what can a panic about nothing at Oxford Circus last year tell us about our relationship with the truth? With author of 'Nervous States', William Davies. Plus a recommendation for another podcast (because we're generous like that) about social network theory. Links Nervous States - Penguin BooksHow feelings took over the world | Culture | The GuardianDastardly Cleverness episode featuring Mirta...