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BBC Radio 4 - Analysis

Analysis

Programme examining the ideas and forces which shape public policy in Britain and abroad, presented by distinguished writers, journalists and academics

Analysis

  • The Invisible Hand of Donald Trump
    Donald Trump's surprise elevation to the office of president last November stunned the world and electrified the financial markets. Promises to cut red tape, bring huge infrastructure projects to life, and sort out the byzantine American tax system propelled Wall Street to record highs. It's called the Trump Bump. Yet Trump's protectionist rhetoric simultaneously created fears of a global trade war. Martin Wolf, Chief Economic Commentator of the Financial Times, reflects on what Trump has accomplished in economic terms in the year since the election heard round the world. Financial systems are recovering from the calamities of the last decade, but that improvement was well under way before Trump took the helm of the world's largest economy. New proposals from the administration are stalled for lack of clarity, infirmity of purpose and political disarray. This doesn't mean that President Trump's decisions on everything from trade tariffs to the Federal Reserve will not send ripples around the globe in the years ahead. He's vowed to deliver tax reform, build a wall, bring jobs home and tear up trade treaties. Will these promises still be delivered? If they are, what might follow? Producer: Sandra Kanthal.

  • Offence, Power and Progress
    In 2017 it's easier than ever to express offence. The angry face icon on Facebook, a sarcasm-loaded tweet or a (comparatively) old-fashioned blog post allow us to highlight the insensitivities of others and how they make us feel - in a matter of moments. Increasingly, offence has consequences: people are told what they can and cannot wear, comedy characters are put to bed. Earlier this year, a white artist was condemned for her depiction of the body of a murdered black teenager. Those who were offended demanded that the painting be destroyed because 'white creative freedoms have been founded on the constraint of others'. It's easy to scoff. Detractors refer to those asking for a new level of cultural sensitivity as "snowflakes" and insist the offence they feel is self-indulgent. But history teaches that fringe discussions often graduate to mainstream norms. So are these new idealists setting a fresh standard for cultural sensitivity? A standard that society will eventually come to observe? Mobeen Azhar puts aside familiar critiques about the threat to free speech. Instead, he tries to understand the challenging arguments put forward by those who are pushing for new norms, and who believe that being offended will create a more culturally aware, progressive society. Featuring contributions from X-Factor star Honey G, black lesbian punk rockers Big Joanie and RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Charlie Hides Producer: Tim Mansel.

  • Authenticity
    These days when we talk about politicians we are more likely to discuss whether they are authentic than whether they are great orators or statesmen or women. Few of us take the time to listen to a speech or read a manifesto and when we judge politicians we more often focus on whether they seem sincere, warm or passionately committed to a cause rather than weighing up their policy programmes . We're turned off by spin and cynical about many politicians' motivations and we seek reassurance that they can really be trusted. Professor Rosie Campbell asks how we can make judgements about a politician's authenticity. Are politicians more trustworthy if they stick to their principles without compromise? Or is authenticity about revealing our true character, warts and all? And what is better for democracy? Authentic leaders who are straight talking and stick rigidly to their ideals or leaders who are willing to negotiate behind the scenes? Producer: Ben Carter.

  • Primate Politics
    Professor James Tilley finds out what we can learn about politics from the power struggles within chimpanzee groups and how our evolutionary past may affect the political decisions that we make today. Interviewing primatologists, evolutionary psychologists and political scientists, he explores the parallels between our political world and that of other primates. These include the way politicians form coalitions, how people choose leaders, loyalties to parties and even how, and when, we go to war. These similarities to other primates reflect our evolutionary heritage and the way in which stone-age human groups settled disputes internally and externally. Producer: Bob Howard.

  • Courting Trouble
    When does flirting go too far? In a changing world, can we agree on what is acceptable behaviour? Sexual harassment is much in the news, new laws and codes are in place. Legal definitions are one thing, but real life situations can be a lot messier and more uncertain. Mixing expert analysis of the issues with discussion of everyday scenarios, Jo Fidgen asks: what are the new rules of relationships? Producer: Chris Bowlby.