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ELECTION - The Cambridge Politics Podcast

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This is ELECTION, the weekly Cambridge politics podcast, which tackles the biggest questions from new angles. Last season it asked the questions no-one else did in the run up to the UK's General Election: in Season II, it's going international. From January until April, ELECTION will look at the US Presidential election and other elections around the world, exploring the current state of democracy and the many challenges it faces in 2016. It will continue to take the temperature of British politics, after last year's remarkable election and the even more remarkable events that followed. Can Corbyn hold the Labour Party together? Will Britain be leaving the EU? Where is opposition to the government going to come from? With David Runciman, Helen Thompson, Finbarr Livesey and Chris Brooke, plus new voices and a new series of guests, ELECTION promises insights from the worlds of science, history, philosophy and beyond. A new episode every Thursday morning: please join us for the most interesting politics conversation out there. More information at http://www.cam.ac.uk/election




The Mystery of Germany

We talk with historian Chris Clark and Helen Thompson about whether German politics is as stable as it seems. With the federal election coming up in a few days, and Angela Merkel seemingly on course for another comfortable victory, we ask what could happen next. Why would a Jamaican coalition be bad for France? What's going on in Bavaria? And is East vs West still the central division in German politics? Plus we catch up with the other general election taking place this weekend - in New...

Duration: 00:42:04

Pax Technica

John Naughton talks to Philip Howard of the Oxford Internet Institute about whether the digital revolution has been good or bad for democracy. Will the Internet of Things usher in an era of universal peace or universal surveillance? What happened to the hopes of tech liberation that came with the Arab Spring? Is there anything we can do about fake news? A fascinating conversation between two recovering utopians about the past, present and future of the internet age.

Duration: 00:44:06

Trump and Religion

We're joined this week by historian Andrew Preston to talk about how Trump fits into America's religious traditions - and how he doesn't. Why is his support so strong among evangelicals? What makes his foreign policy different from American crusades in the past? Can Trump be saved? Plus we catch up with the latest news from Korea - not good. With Aaron Rapport.

Duration: 00:42:39

The Year Ahead

As the summer winds down, David and Helen talk about what the coming political year might have in store. Is talk of a new UK political party just hot air? What does Angela Merkel’s likely success in the German elections mean for European politics? Will Trump’s presidency ever lose its power to shock? Plus, we discuss who else might be on our political radars in twelve months time.

Duration: 00:42:16

Summer Reading 3

With a long weekend approaching, Helen Thompson, Glen Rangwala and Chris Brooke talk about what's been on their summer reading lists. It's a surprising smorgasbord featuring: blogs on the economy; the literature of the Middle East ; novels about Vikings and academic books on the Conservative party. (We even squeeze in a dash of Verdi.) Enjoy!

Duration: 00:20:57

Macron and History

Two of Britain's leading historians of France, Robert Tombs and John Keiger, discuss the wider significance of Macron's presidency. What does it mean for the French state? What does it mean for the future of Europe? And what are the French really thinking about Brexit? As the new film about Dunkirk does the rounds on both sides of the Channel, can Britain be accused of abandoning France to its fate all over again?

Duration: 00:28:44

America, Russia, Venezuela, France

We reconvene in the dog days of summer to talk about what's been on our minds. Helen wants to know how the US Congress managed to agree a tough sanctions regime against Russia when it can't agree on anything else. What does this mean for Trump and for Europe? David wants to know why Jeremy Corbyn is so little damaged by his past support for the current Venezuelan regime. When does ideology catch up with domestic politics? Chris Bickerton wants to know whether Macron is coming down to earth...

Duration: 00:44:29

What a Year!

A mash-up of some of the best bits from the last year.. as we look back on an unbelievable period of politics. With clips from TP guests: Mary Beard, Yuval Noah Harari, Pankaj Mishra, Thomas Piketty, Jill Lepore, and Michael Gove.. and of course featuring David Runciman and some of the panel. It ends with Judith Butler and one of our favourite ever moments on the podcast.

Duration: 00:08:25

The Nine Dots Winner

This week we talk to James Williams, winner of the inaugural Nine Dots Prize, which offered $100,000 for the best answer to the question: 'Are digital technologies making politics impossible?' James used to work at Google and he channeled his experiences for his prize-winning entry. He tells us what he learned there and what it means to live in the attention economy. Plus we discuss how Trump has managed to monopolise the attention of the entire world. Along with the money, James now has...

Duration: 00:30:47


Regular panellists John Naughton and Aaron Rapport share their summer reading recommendations this week, joined by the podcast's intern Colby Smith. The list includes blogs and baseball. Listen out for an appearance from Maha Rafi Atal at the end, who helps Aaron brush up on his English history.

Duration: 00:18:31

Ha-Joon Chang

With arguments about austerity and public spending back at the heart of British politics, we ask economist Ha-Joon Chang to help us make sense of it all. Why is tax always described as a 'burden'? Are the Tories trapped in their austerity narrative? Where should the government invest for the best return? Plus we discuss why it's so hard to solve Britain's productivity problem: it goes back a hundred years. Ha-Joon Chang is the author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism (2010)...

Duration: 00:37:59


With thoughts turning to the idea of some kind of break over the summer, members of the panel pause to share what they'll be reading over the next few weeks - for work and for fun. In this episode, David Runciman, Maha Rafi Atal and Chris Bickerton also make recommendations about the things they've read over the last rollercoaster of a year. Listen to the end for a special pop-up appearance by Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina, who visited Cambridge recently.

Duration: 00:27:33

Zafar Ansari

We gear up for summer with a conversation about cricket, politics and life. Zafar Ansari studied at Cambridge, played cricket for England and now, at the age of 25, has retired from professional sport to take up other challenges. We talk to Zafar about what prompted his decision and what his cricket career taught him about things other than cricket. He tells us about the politics of the dressing room and the role of race and class in sport. He also tells us what it was like to discover...

Duration: 00:36:59


While we've been obsessing about the UK election, the world has been turning - this week we broaden our horizons to discuss the latest developments in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and Syria. What do recent changes in Saudi politics mean for the stability of the region? Is the Trump administration making a bad situation worse? Plus we ask the WWI question: are there fault-lines here that remind us of 1914 and a world on the brink of war? We also talk to Helen about her new book: Oil and the...

Duration: 00:43:45

Crisis, What Crisis?

The PM lurches from crisis to crisis, but her government looks more secure than it did a week ago. What gives? We try to make sense of where British politics now stands, after the terrible Grenfell tower fire, further terrorist attacks, and the start of the Brexit negotiations. We also ask why there is such a disconnect between political turmoil and serenity in the financial markets: why aren't they more spooked? Plus we talk with John Naughton about the role of social media in Corbyn's...

Duration: 00:44:40

Turning Left

Less than a week on from the election result almost no one saw coming, we take stock. What does Labour's unexpected success mean for the prospect of other parties of the left? Can they learn from Corbyn or is British politics now following its own path? Plus we discuss the rise and rise of Macron in France. Will his new version of technocracy square the circle of elites doing democratic politics? With a full house of Helen Thompson, Chris Brooke, Chris Bickerton and our very own...

Duration: 00:43:22

Another Shock!

We reconvene on little sleep to pick over the bones of another extraordinary election. Where did it go wrong for Mrs May? How did Labour win back UKIP supporters? How will anyone meet the expectations of all the young people who came out to vote? We recorded shortly before the Conservatives announced their intention to govern with 'friends in the DUP'. We ask how long any arrangement can last. With Helen Thompson, Finbarr Livesey and Glen Rangwala.

Duration: 00:35:08

Decision Day

After a tumultuous campaign decision day is finally here: we explore what could happen next. We talk through the different scenarios suggested by the chaotic polling, from a hung parliament to a Tory landslide, and ask what each one would mean for British politics. We also talk about what's surprised us most over the last six weeks. What happened to the Lib Dems? When did Mrs May lose her nerve? Where is the economy? Then we'll reconvene for another episode when it's done to find out what...

Duration: 00:48:21

The Corbyn Surge?

With a week to go, and the polls tightening, we ask what Corbyn is doing right and what May is doing wrong. Is Corbyn riding a wave like the one that got Bernie Sanders close to the White House? Or are May's troubles more about Tory weaknesses? Plus we discuss the missing international dimension to the campaign. After Merkel declared that Europe could no longer rely on a Trump-led United States, why is our Brexit election still so focussed on domestic issues? With Aaron Rapport, Maha Rafi...

Duration: 00:40:59

Tim O'Reilly and the WTF Economy

We speak to Silicon Valley publisher, entrepreneur and guru Tim O'Reilly about what technology means for the future of politics and society. A short conversation about the biggest questions: How do we get from a world of jobs to a world of meaningful work? How can politics keep up with technological innovation? How can we re-set our basic social arrangements without a war? Recorded at the Computer Labs in Cambridge.

Duration: 00:24:29

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