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


  • What's the future of nudge?

    20/11/2023 Duração: 28min

    The term nudge has become a byword for the application of behavioural science in public policy, changing how governments the world over create policies designed to encourage, or nudge, people to make choices that better benefit themselves and society as a whole. Over the last fifteen years much has been learned about what works, as well as what doesn’t, when it comes to this way of supporting us in making decisions about our health, our money and how we lead our lives. Magda Osman is Principal Research Associate at the Cambridge Judge Business School, The University of Cambridge, and Visiting Professor at Leeds University Business School. Through her work she has examined the problems, and the opportunities, with this way of creating policy. She talks to those working in the field of behavioural change and examines what has been discovered over the last fifteen years, what concerns remain around this way of doing things and what the future is for the behavioural change methods known as nudge. Presenter:

  • Can reading really improve your life?

    13/11/2023 Duração: 30min

    Most educational research now suggests that reading for pleasure is strongly linked to a child’s future outcome, educational success, and even wellbeing. But the latest studies also show that reading for pleasure is at its lowest level for twenty years. Why has this happened in a country that's produced more successful children's books than any other? From Paddington, to Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia to Alice in Wonderland, and of course, the Gruffalo, the list is vast. Is a lack of access to school and local libraries the problem, too few books at home or the rise of phones, tablets and game consoles? What can schools, government, the media and parents do to help foster a love of reading that could help children throughout their lives? Author and former Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson investigates. Presenter: Julia Donaldson Producer: Ravi Naik Editor: Clare Fordham Contributors: Frank Cottrell-Boyce, author and screenwriter Joseph Coelho, 2022-24 Children’s Laureate, author and poet

  • Can the UK afford a mental health crisis?

    06/11/2023 Duração: 28min

    A record 2.6 million people are off work due to long-term sickness, with mental health conditions the biggest single contributor. The problem is particularly acute among younger people, who are disproportionately likely to cite poor mental health as their reason for not working. Other surveys suggest that poor mental health and burnout are among the top reasons for young people to quit their job. But should young people develop more resilience and “soldier on”, as older generations may have done, or is being more open about mental health a good thing? And how well are employers adapting to the expectations of younger workers when it comes to mental health and wellbeing? Contributors: Tim Gibbs, Head of Public Service Analysis Team, Office for National Statistics Emma Codd, Global Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Deloitte Gabrielle Judge, Influencer and CEO, Anti Work Girlboss Joel Gujral, CEO and Founder, MYNDUP Dr Lucy Foulkes, Research Fellow in the Department of Experimental Psychology, Un

  • France: a constitutional crisis in the making

    30/10/2023 Duração: 29min

    The USA, the UK and France, which have led the democratic world, are all suffering problems with their constitutions. But the problem is most acute in France, where President Macron has lost his parliamentary majority, and forced his pension reforms through by decree. But worse is to come; Macron can only serve as President until 2027 and will leave a vacuum at the heart of French politics when he steps down. And unlike Charles de Gaulle, he doesn’t seem likely to leave an enduring movement or an obvious successor. He hoovered up centrist support when he swept to power, and his main rivals now are either far-left or far-right. They both are populists, anti-NATO and pro-Putin. Edward Stourton explores if France is heading towards a constitutional crisis and asks what political turmoil in our nearest neighbour might mean. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producer: Jonathan IAnson Editor: Clare Fordham

  • What on earth is the national interest?

    23/10/2023 Duração: 28min

    Should we be sceptical when politicians claim to act in "the national interest"? The phrase is frequently trotted out to elevate policy and actions as unimpeachably serving us all. But what does it actually mean? So far the Oxford English Dictionary has steered clear of pinning down this "slippery" term. Mark Damazer digs up its historical roots and talks to politicians, prime-ministerial speechwriters and policymakers to define a term that can obscure as much as it elucidates. Is its use just cynical high grounding or does it speak of a sincere effort to disentangle policy from personal or party interests? Is the national interest best served by a strong civic landscape where differing visions of “the national interest” are free to battle it out? Presenter: Mark Damazer Producer: David Reid Editor: Clare Fordham Contributors: Michael Gove, Minister for Levelling up, Housing and Communities Angela Rayner, shadow deputy prime minister and shadow levelling up secretary Phil Collins, former prime-ministeria

  • What makes a good school?

    16/10/2023 Duração: 29min

    How should we evaluate schools? Is it about delivering a wide range of subjects, or extra activities and pastoral care that make a “good” school? Who gets to decide what is a good school and what does that mean to different people? Many people are influenced by the four Ofsted grades and Ofsted reports so what does research tell us about how consistent those judgements are? Would you choose a school with a good local reputation but a lower inspection grade. The programme talks to Sonia Exley, an associate professor at the London School of Economics, Professor Christian Bokhove at the University of Southampton, Natalie Perera, chief executive of the Education Policy Institute, Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills at the OECD, George Leckie, Professor of Social Statistics at the University of Bristol,Dr Ellen Gleaves, a postdoctoral researcher. Presenter: Branwen Jeffreys Producer: Bob Howard Editor: Clare Fordham

  • How can we grow the UK economy?

    09/10/2023 Duração: 28min

    The cost of living crisis followed a decade in which people’s wages and incomes barely grew. The idea that each generation does at least as well as the one before, has for the moment ended. We’ll only start getting better off again if we can get the economy growing – as it used to in the decades preceding the financial crisis. So, what levers can governments pull to get growth back into the system? Why don't governments do the things that nearly every expert thinks might work? Should we be looking to governments at all? Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies explores the challenges facing the UK economy and asks: how can any government get the UK economy growing? Presenter: Paul Johnson Producer: Farhana Haider Editor: Claire Fordham Contributors: Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. Jagjit Chadha, Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute Richard Davies, Di

  • The Democratic Brain

    02/10/2023 Duração: 28min

    Our brain is a wonderful machine, but it can also short-circuit. What happens to us when emotions and politics intersect, when the democratic, listening brain is cut off, or when we succumb to ‘hate speech’? Research using the latest brain scanners shows that the older part of the brain called the amygdala is ‘triggered’ by emotional responses out of proportion to the impacting stimulus. So, perhaps are we after wolves in human clothing? Not necessarily; we have also developed the frontal cortex which the scans show is stimulated by rational argument. What can scanning the brain reveal about our political affiliations? Can the field of neuro-politics improve political discourse or leave us open to manipulation? Presenter: Matt Qvortrup Producer: Bob Howard Editor: Clare Fordham Contributors: Barbara Sahakian, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge Dr Darren Schreiber, Senior Lecturer at Exeter University Skyler Cranmer, Associate Professor at Ohio State University Dahlia Sch

  • How far should reparative justice go?

    01/08/2023 Duração: 29min

    Amid mounting claims for reparations for slavery and colonialism, historian Zoe Strimpel asks how far reparative justice should go. Should we limit reparations to the living survivors of state atrocities, such as the Holocaust, or should we re-write the rulebook to include the ancestors of victims who suffered historical injustices centuries ago? Alongside testimony from a Holocaust survivor and interviews with lawyers, historians and reparations advocates, Zoe hears about the long shadow cast by slavery - lumbering Caribbean states and societies with a legacy that they are still struggling with today. Are demands for slavery reparations just another front in the culture war designed to leverage white guilt? Will they inevitably validate countless other claims to rectify historical grievances? Or are they a necessary step for diverse societies to draw in the extremes of a polarised debate so we can write a common history that we can all live with? Presenter: Zoe Strimpel Producer: David Reid Editor: C

  • Is there a new elite?

    17/07/2023 Duração: 28min

    People have always fought back against “The elite”, and until recently they were easily recognisable: rich, privileged and often born into money. Old Etonians, billionaires, oil barons, media tycoons ruled the roost, but there are claims things are changing, and the rise of a new elite is challenging the status quo. Author Matthew Goodwin calls them a group of “radical woke middle-class liberals completely out of step with the public”. University graduates working in creative industries, media and universities, who have an heavy influence over the national conversation about things like immigration, trans rights and sex education, but critics say they don’t represent “ordinary folk”, and as a result communities are feeling unrepresented and left behind. So who is in charge, or is there an unlikely, and unknowing, coalition between the two – the new elite dominating social discourse and cultural discussion, whilst the traditional elite pull the strings of politics and economics? This is the next chapter of th

  • Why are so many workers on strike?

    10/07/2023 Duração: 28min

    Will 2023 be known as the summer of discontent? This year, nearly every corner of the country has been affected by some kind of industrial action, and more is coming. Teachers, doctors, nurses, railway workers, airport security, civil servants are among the many professions which have called strikes to protest against, amongst other things, future pay packets during a cost of living crisis. But do labour union tactics really deliver for their members, or does the strong bargaining position of the government come out on top in the end? In this edition of Analysis, Faisal Islam hears from three top union leaders, along with industrial relations experts, about the challenges of calling and maintaining strike actions and the tolls it can take on members and the public. Where lies the balance of power between a workforce banding together to demand a better deal and the public which has to work around disappearing services? You can learn more about this topic by watching the BBC 2 documentary Strike: Inside th

  • Does work have to be miserable?

    03/07/2023 Duração: 28min

    How can employers in all sectors of the UK economy get the best out of their workers, retain experienced staff, improve productivity and increase profits at the same time? The principles of "Job Design" seem to promise all of these benefits. It's a process of work innovation which focuses on people, their skills, their knowledge and how they interact with each other and technology, in every workplace, in every sector of the economy. Proponents claim it gives workers a voice in their workplace, allows them to balance their work and home lives, stops burnout and could get more of the economically inactive back in employment. But what evidence is there that it works - and how difficult would it be to implement changes in the workplace? Presenter: Pauline Mason Producer: Ravi Naik Editor: Clare Fordham Contributors: Patricia Findlay, Professor of Work and Employment Relations, University of Strathclyde and Director of the Scottish Centre for Employment Research. Kate Bennett, Labour ward coordinator at Liv

  • Do single people get a raw deal?

    26/06/2023 Duração: 28min

    Single people make up a large proportion of the population in Britain. People are marrying later and less, getting divorced more often, and living longer. Although not all people who live alone are single, the growth of one-person households now outstrips the rise in the UK population - and is projected to continue. And yet life in Britain often seems ill-suited to their needs. Being single is expensive and modern dating can be brutal. The idea that being in a couple provides greater happiness and fulfillment still has a tight grip on our collective psyche. So is it right to say that singles get discriminated against? And are there ways we might re-imagine life in Britain so that singles get a fairer deal? Producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Clare Fordham Sound Engineer: Kelly Young Production Coordinators: Maria Ogundele and Sabine Schereck Contributors: Amy Key - Poet and Author of Arrangements in Blue: Notes of Love and Making a Life Sarah Harper - Professor of Gerontology at the University of Oxford Emma

  • What’s changing about childbirth?

    19/06/2023 Duração: 29min

    The past decade has seen important shifts in when women become mothers, with 31 years now being the average age for this to occur. This has implications for fertility, pregnancy and birth experiences. Maternal age is related to ‘medical risk’ and almost one in three births now involve a Caesarean section. But how well are maternity services in the UK keeping up with these changes? Professor of Sociology, Tina Miller examines each stage of becoming a mother – from conception to antenatal preparation, labour and birth, and the postnatal period – to find out how maternity care and other services should respond to these changes. Presenter: Tina Miller Producer: Dan Hardoon Editor: Clare Fordham Production Coordinator: Maria Ogundele Zeynep Gurtin, Lecturer in Women's Health at the Institute for Women's Health, UCL Marcia Inhorn, Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, Yale University Noreen Hart, antenatal educator Pat O'Brien, consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, UCL Katherine Hales

  • What are companies for?

    12/06/2023 Duração: 27min

    Ruth Sunderland, the group business editor of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, asks industry leaders and thinkers about the purpose of companies. Should they be organisations designed to generate profits for the benefit of shareholders, or do they have a bigger role to play in society? What part do they play in environmental policy? Ruth investigates ESG investments, which claim to promote environmental, social and corporate governance best practice, and have become a trillion pound industry. Why has ESG become a flashpoint in the US political culture wars and could the same happen in the UK? Presenter: Ruth Sunderland Producer: Farhana Haider Editor: Clare Fordham Sound Engineer: Nicky Edwards Production Coordinator: Maria Ogundele Contributors: Mark Goyder Founder, Tomorrows Company Euan Munro, Chief Executive, Newton Investment Management Merryn Somerset Webb, Senior Columnist at Bloomberg. Philip Gill, small Investor Giulia Chierchia, Executive Vice President for Strategy, Sustainability, and Ventu

  • Do Boycotts Work?

    05/06/2023 Duração: 28min

    Boycotts are big at the moment. On a global scale, many countries are boycotting Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. There are campaigns to boycott products produced in Turkey, Israel or China. Sporting boycotts are used by countries across the world to express their displeasure with their international rivals. And there are plenty of boycotts going on against companies, over working practices, supply chains and political stances. But international boycotts can be easily circumvented, and we can choose alternative products if we don't like a particular manufacturer. So is this low risk activism, or is it an effective way for ordinary people to hold businesses and nations to account? Do boycotts ever lead to permanent change? Above all, do they work? Journalist and writer David Baker investigates. Presenter: David Baker Producer: Ravi Naik Editor: Clare Fordham Sound Engineer: Nicky Edwards Production Coordinator: Maria Ogundele Contributors: Caroline Heldman Associate Professor of politics at

  • We know how to stop knife crime, so why don’t we do it?

    29/05/2023 Duração: 27min

    In the last five years in the UK, more than 100 children have died from knife wounds. But violence isn't inevitable and evidence shows that we need more mentoring, therapy, family support and police in the areas where violence is high. So why don't we do what works? Jon Yates from the Youth Endowment Fund looks at the schemes that have successfully reduced knife crime. He investigates why the lessons they've taught us haven’t been scaled up. And why we’re spending money on other things like knife awareness campaigns without any evidence they work. Presenter: Jon Yates Producer: Rob Walker Editor: Clare Fordham Sound Engineer: Richard Hannaford Production Coordinator: Maria Ogundele Contributors: Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive, Community Justice Scotland Karen Timoney, Director, KDT Wellness Graeme Armstrong, author of The Young Team Laura Knight, Toolkit and Evidence Engagement Lead, Youth Endowment Fund Gavin Stephens, Chair, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lawrence Sherman, Chief Scientifi

  • Lessons from the vaccine task force

    03/04/2023 Duração: 29min

    In May 2020 a group of experts came together, at speed, to form the UK’s Vaccine Task Force. Born in the teeth of a crisis, its efforts were responsible for allowing Britain to be among the first countries in the world to roll out vaccines against Covid-19. But as memories of the pandemic fade, the urgency it brought to its work has subsided as well. In this edition of Analysis, Sandra Kanthal asks what lessons have been learned from the success of the Vaccine Task Force and if we should be prepared to allocate the time, energy and expense required to be permanently prepared for the next global health emergency. Presenter: Sandra Kanthal Producer: Sandra Kanthal Editor: Clare Fordham

  • Can the Met police change?

    27/03/2023 Duração: 29min

    How difficult is it for a police force to change? A review of the Metropolitan police by Baroness Louise Casey says racism, misogyny, and homophobia are at the heart of the force. The Met's commissioner Sir Mark Rowley admits 'we have let Londoners down'. Everyone agrees change must happen – but where to start? Margaret Heffernan meets experts on police reform and former senior officers to explore the organisational challenge that faces any force which wants to transform itself and re-establish public trust. She hears from those involved in establishing the Police Service of Northern Ireland, following the Good Friday Agreement. What were the political and organisational challenges that faced the PSNI in terms of recruitment from two different communities? What lessons might that process offer to the transformation that is needed across other forces? And how would organisational psychologists suggest tackling and turning round long established cultures? Presenter: Margaret Heffernan Producer: Philip Reevel

  • Is Britain exceptional?

    20/03/2023 Duração: 28min

    Is Britain Exceptional? Historian, author and Sunday Telegraph columnist Zoe Strimpel believes so, and sifts through the layers of Britain’s culture, politics and religious history to find the roots for the nation’s scientific, intellectual and cultural dynamism and the germ for today’s culture wars. With the help of leading historians, political activists and scientists, Zoe examines whether Britain's obsession with the glories of 'our finest hour': WWII determined a version of history that eclipsed inconvenient truths that contradict our national myths and identity. She asks whether Britain's 'long island story' has really been as unruptured and stable as commonly believed, revealing a much more compelling Britishness forged out of military conflict abroad and religious and political turmoil at home. Does the secret to Britain's historical dynamism in scientific discovery, philosophy and culture reside in dissent from religious and political orthodoxy, rather than unstinting allegiance? Has the hidden hist

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