The Briefing Room

David Aaronovitch looks at an important issue in the news.

Episodes

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2020082720200829 (R4)

David Aaronovitch and guests explore major news stories.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

20200924

David Aaronovitch and guests explore big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

20201001

David Aaronovitch and guests present in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

20201008

David Aaronovitch and guests explore major stories in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

04/05/201720170504

For the first time in over half a century, two insurgents, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, have broken through France's traditional two party system. This week, voters will decide between two utterly different visions of France, Europe and the world.

But how did France get here? What do we need to know about its state, its economy and its changing people? David Aaronovitch steps into the Briefing Room for an anatomy of France.

Contributors:

Jonathan Fenby: Author of The History of Modern France and Director of European Political Analysis at the TSL research company.

Catherine Guilyardi: Journalist for Radio France.

Jacques Reland: Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute at London Metropolitan University.

Producer: Xavier Zapata

A Ceasefire In Syria?20160922

Why is it so difficult to find peace in Syria, and what is getting in the way of a deal?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Can the deal between the United States and Russia lead to a sustained ceasefire in Syria?

Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Researcher: Alex Burton.

A Great Day At The White House?20170803

It's been a tumultuous week in Washington - but to what extent does the chaos in Trump's West Wing matter?

Anthony 'The Mooch' Scaramucci was gone in 900,000 seconds - but whoever replaces him will be President Trump's third communications director. His press secretary has resigned, he’s fired his acting attorney general, and he’s on his second chief of staff, John Kelly, a retired general who many hope will bring discipline to a leaky White House.

By the standards of almost all modern American politics this seems bizarre, if not catastrophic. But then by the standards of almost all modern American politics Donald Trump would not be president.

In this week's edition of The Briefing Room David Aaronovitch takes a step back, and tries to find out what the actual consequences of the dramas of Trump’s West Wing might be.

CONTRIBUTORS

Jonny Dymond, BBC Correspondent

Adam Gingrich, worked on Donald Trump's campaign in Pennsylvania

Stephan Halper, former foreign policy advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan and now Emeritus Senior Fellow of the Centre of International Studies

Leslie Vinjamuri, Associate Fellow of the Americas programme at Chatham House

Anthony Zurcher, BBC senior North America reporter

It's been a tumultuous week in DC, but how much does the chaos in the West Wing matter?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Anthony Zurcher, BBC senior North America reporter

A New Cold War?20180419

After the missile strikes by the US, France and Britain on Syria, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, condemned the attacks and warned that any more would bring chaos to world affairs.

With relations between Russia and the West at their lowest ebb for decades, are we about to see the start of a new Cold War? And if so, what should the 'rules of engagement' be?

David Aaronovitch is joined by:

Gabriel Gatehouse - BBC Correspondent

Alexander Baunov - senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center

Neil Buckley - Financial Times Eastern Europe editor and former Moscow bureau chief

Sir Lawrence Freedman - Emeritus Professor of War Studies at Kings College

Professor Angela Stent - Georgetown University and a former US State Department official.

Is the world about to see a new Cold War between Russia and the West?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

A New Political Direction For Brazil?20181011

Is Brazil embracing a more conservative political future?

In the wake of economic crisis, corruption scandals and rising levels of violent crime, Brazilians are shunning the left wing politicians who have run the country for the last two decades in favour of a right wing outsider: Jair Bolsonaro. In the first round of Brazil's presidential election, Bolsonaro won 46 per cent of the vote and appears on the cusp of victory in the second round on 28th October.

Having campaigned on an anti-gay, anti-migrant platform, Bolsonaro has built his base on his evangelical roots and clean public image. David Aaronovitch talks to guests about what a Bolsonaro presidency could bring and asks whether the left-leaning Worker's Party (PT) candidate, Fernando Haddad, could still win the second round.

CONTRIBUTORS

Dr Marukh Doctor - Reader in Political Economy at the Department of Politics at the University of Hull
Katy Watson - BBC South America Correspondent
Marieke Riethof - Lecturer in Latin American politics at the University of Liverpool
Richard Lapper - Associate Fellow at Chatham House and former Latin American editor at the Financial Times

Is Brazil taking a more conservative political direction?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

A World Without Antibiotics?20171026

Drug resistant infections cause 700,000 deaths a year and it's estimated that could rise to 10 million by 2050 unless major action is taken.

David Aaronovitch asks how can an antibiotic crisis can be averted?

Joining him in The Briefing Room are:

Clare Wilson, medical reporter with The New Scientist

Laura Piddock, professor of microbiology at Birmingham University

Jeremy Knox, head of policy on drug-resistant infections at health charity The Wellcome Trust

Drug resistant infections cause 700,000 deaths a year - how can this be averted?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Aleppo: After The Evacuation20170112

What happened after the buses left eastern Aleppo in December?

After four and a half years of siege, the residents of eastern Aleppo were evacuated before Christmas. But the evacuees didn't disappear when they left the city and the Syrian Civil war didn't end with the end of the siege.

Abdelkafi, an English teacher from Aleppo, relates his experience of leaving Aleppo by bus with his wife and young daughter. He describes days of hardship taking place under the eyes of the West.

And as international figures prepare for negotiations in Geneva, David Aaronovitch finds out what the fall of Aleppo means for its citizens, Syria and the Middle East.

Joining David in The Briefing Room are:
Marianne Gasser, Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Syria
Lina Khatib, Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House
Aron Lund, Fellow of the Century Foundation

Producer: Hannah Sander
Researchers: Serena Tarling and Kirsteen Knight.

What happened after the buses left eastern Aleppo? David Aaronovitch finds out.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

After four and a half years of siege, the residents of eastern Aleppo were evacuated before Christmas. But the evacuees didn't disappear when they left the city and the Syrian Civil war didn't end with the end of the siege.

Joining David in The Briefing Room are:

Marianne Gasser, Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Syria

Lina Khatib, Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House

Producer: Hannah Sander

Another Brexit Referendum?20180920

How could a new referendum on Britain's relationship with Europe work? As pressure mounts on Theresa May to seal an agreement on Brexit, there are growing calls for a further referendum on the issue. From across the political spectrum, MPs, trade unions and campaigners are demanding another vote on the terms of the deal, or lack of one. In the Briefing Room, David Aaronovitch examines the mechanics of this hypothetical proposition. What would the procedure be to trigger another referendum and how would it be organised? And is there enough time?
Guests:
Chris Morris, BBC Reality Check
Alan Renwick, deputy director of the Constitution Unit, University College London
Professor Catherine Barnard, Senior Fellow at the UK in a Changing Europe Initiative at King’s College London
Professor Matt Qvortrup of Coventry University
Katya Adler, BBC Europe Editor

If there were to be another referendum on Brexit, how and when could it happen?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Anti-semitism On The Left20160519

David Aaronovitch explores why the Left might have a problem with anti-Semitism.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Labour activists, councillors, an MP and a former Mayor of London have all been suspended for comments which many regard as anti-Jewish. But why might a left of centre, progressive, pro-minority party have a problem with Anti-Semitism?

Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room:

Professor David Hirsh - the founder of the 'Engage' campaign against anti-Semitism on the Left

Owen Jones - journalist and Labour party member

Kerry-Anne Mendoza - activist and editor of The Canary.

Editor: Innes Bowen, Producer: Joe Kent, Researcher: Kirsteen Knight, Production Coordinator: Brenda Brown

Belarus: the end of a dictatorship?2020082020200822 (R4)

Belarus is gripped by nationwide protests, triggered by what is seen as an unfair election, rigged in favour of the country’s authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko.

Violent clashes have led to the arrest of more than 6000 people, with many reporting beatings and torture at the hands of the police.

President Lukashenko has told protestors they would have to kill him before there was another election – but are the days numbered for the man described as Europe’s last dictator?

Contributors:

David Marples, professor of history, University of Alberta

Brian Klaas, associate professor in global politics, University College London

Olga Dryndova, editor of Belarus-Analysen, University of Bremen

Elena Korosteleva, professor of international politics, University of Kent

Team: Richard Fenton-Smith, Beth Sagar-Fenton, Kirsteen Knight
Studio Manager: James Beard
Editor: Jasper Corbett

What will come of the protests in Belarus and who will determine the country's future?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Belarus is gripped by nationwide protests, triggered by what is seen as an unfair election, rigged in favour of the country’s authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko.

Violent clashes have led to the arrest of more than 6000 people, with many reporting beatings and torture at the hands of the police.

President Lukashenko has told protestors they would have to kill him before there was another election – but are the days numbered for the man described as Europe’s last dictator?

Contributors:

David Marples, professor of history, University of Alberta

Brian Klaas, associate professor in global politics, University College London

Olga Dryndova, editor of Belarus-Analysen, University of Bremen

Elena Korosteleva, professor of international politics, University of Kent

Team: Richard Fenton-Smith, Beth Sagar-Fenton, Kirsteen Knight
Studio Manager: James Beard
Editor: Jasper Corbett

What will come of the protests in Belarus and who will determine the country's future?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch and guests explore big stories in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Black Lives Matter Uk20161013

What does Black Lives Matter stand for in the UK? David Aaronovitch finds out.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Black Lives Matter is a protest movement formed in reaction to the killing of black people by police in the United States. Now there are BLM chapters in Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester and London.

The British organisation's most high profile action so far has been a blockade of airports and major roads - but what does Black Lives Matter stand for in the UK?

Joining David Aaronovitch in this edition of The Briefing Room are:

Doton Adebayo, journalist and BBC 5 live presenter

Stephen Bush, special correspondent at The New Statesman

Kiri Kankhwende, political commentator for Media Diversified

Researcher: Alex Burton

Producer: Joe Kent.

Brexit - Where Next?20181213

Theresa May has been back in Brussels to attend a meeting of EU leaders, a day after surviving a leadership challenge at home. Her mission: to try to extract some form of concession from the other 27 EU member states that might persuade MPs in Westminster to support the withdrawal agreement the UK has concluded with the EU. Few commentators give her much chance of success. It still seems likely that when the deal is finally voted on by Parliament, it will be rejected. So what would happen then? Would the UK be heading for the EU exit door with no-deal? Might there be a vote of confidence that could lead to a general election? Could MPs from both main parties form a temporary government of national unity? Or might the Prime Minister accede to demands for a new referendum? With the historian Peter Hennessy, Jill Rutter of the Institute For Government, Agata Gostynska-Jakubowska of the Centre for European Reform and Meg Russell from University College London.

Theresa May has been back in Brussels to meet EU leaders. What's the future of Brexit now?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Brexit And Ireland: What's At Stake?20190124

What is at stake for Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic in terms of security, the economy and the politics, as Britain prepares to leave the EU.

David Aaronovitch and guests discuss.

GUESTS

Peter Taylor - BBC journalist who has covered Northern Ireland for nearly five decades.
John Campbell - BBC Northern Ireland’s Economics & Business Editor
Dr Katy Hayward - Political Sociologist at Queen's University, Belfast
Dr Margaret O'Callaghan - Political Analyst at Queen's University, Belfast
Dr Etain Tannam - Expert in Irish diplomacy and cross-border co-operation, Trinity College, Dublin

How might Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic be affected by Britain leaving the EU?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Brexit Decision Time20180705

What will Britain's relationship with the EU look like after Brexit? On Friday the cabinet meets in Chequers and the Prime Minister needs to unite her ministers to coalesce around a single approach to negotiations with the EU. What might that approach look like? Is the so-called Norway option back on the table? What would that mean and how might it work?

Contributors

Catherine Barnard - Professor of European Law at the University of Cambridge

Liv Monica Stubholt - partner at Norwegian Law firm Selmer, and an expert on Norway-EU relations

John Erik Fossum - Professor at the ARENA Centre for European Studies at the University of Oslo,

Peter Spiegel - News editor, Financial Times and former Brussels Bureau chief.

As Brexit looms what will future relations between the EU and Britain look like?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Brexit: A Pivotal Week?20191024

MPs voted in favour of the government's Brexit deal but then rejected the PM's plan to fast-track a bill through Parliament to implement it.

Opposition to the deal is still strong in some quarters.

Northern Ireland’s DUP withdrew its support for because it would lead to a customs border in the Irish Sea. The Scottish and Welsh governments believe it could undermine the powers of their devolved legislatures.

So what could this deal mean for the future of the United Kingdom? And what might it mean for the future relationship between the UK and the EU? And could Brexit still be derailed by groups which are implacably opposed to it?

David Aaronovitch is joined by:

Jill Rutter - Senior Research Fellow, UK in a Changing Europe
Rob Ford - Professor of Politics, University of Manchester
Sam Lowe - Senior research fellow, Centre for European Reform
Alison Young - Professor of Public Law, University of Cambridge
Sam McBride - Political editor at The Belfast News Letter

Producer: Serena Tarling
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Where have this week's events in Westminster left the UK's efforts to leave the EU?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Brexit: Where Next?20181213

Theresa May has been back in Brussels to attend a meeting of EU leaders, a day after surviving a leadership challenge at home. Her mission: to try to extract some form of concession from the other 27 EU member states that might persuade MPs in Westminster to support the withdrawal agreement the UK has concluded with the EU. Few commentators give her much chance of success. It still seems likely that when the deal is finally voted on by Parliament, it will be rejected. So what would happen then? Would the UK be heading for the EU exit door with no-deal? Might there be a vote of confidence that could lead to a general election? Could MPs from both main parties form a temporary government of national unity? Or might the Prime Minister accede to demands for a new referendum? With the historian Peter Hennessy, Jill Rutter of the Institute For Government, Agata Gostynska-Jakubowska of the Centre for European Reform and Meg Russell from University College London.

Theresa May has been back in Brussels to meet EU leaders. What's the future of Brexit now?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Britain, China And The New Silk Road20180201

Theresa May has been in Beijing this week at the head of a large British trade delegation. China is an important partner for Britain, especially given the UK's imminent departure from the EU. In particular, Beijing is keen for Britain to support its huge infrastructure project initially dubbed the New Silk Road, but now more generally known as the Belt and Road Initiative. China is spending unprecedented sums on building physical infrastructure; roads, railways, ports and even whole cities, not only in its own hinterland, but in many neighbouring countries. But to what end and what is the potential cost for these countries? Should Britain get involved? David Aaronovitch hears eye witness accounts of vast construction projects in Central Asia and Pakistan. And he invites the expert witnesses, Professor Steve Tsang from the School of Oriental and African Studies, Dr Yu Jie of the London School of Economics and James Kynge of the Financial Times to explore Britain's relationship with an increasingly powerful China.

David Aaronovitch asks what Britain has to gain from China's Belt and Road Initiative.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Britain's Broken Housing Market20170302

The government says the housing market is broken and that it's holding the country back. As prices have risen, fewer people are able to get on the housing ladder, and more are now renting privately later into their lives.

Many argue we're not building enough new homes. But is that the only problem? David Aaronovitch speaks to a panel of experts to find out and travels to Bristol to see what effect the housing crisis is having on the way people live there.

Contributors:

Dame Kate Barker, economist and author of a government review on housing supply

Lindsay Judge, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation

Emma Maier, Editor, Inside Housing

Councillor Paul Smith, Labour cabinet member for homes, Bristol City Council

Producer: Phil Kemp
Researcher: Sam Bright
Editor: Innes Bowen.

Is building more homes the only answer to fixing the housing market?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Britain's Car-making Future Under Threat20190207

The Japanese car maker Nissan has announced its next generation of SUVs will be made, not in Sunderland as planned, but in Japan. Jaguar Land Rover has announced big losses and Honda has announced job cuts at its plant in Swindon. David Aaronovitch and guest discuss why the car industry is facing such uncertain times and if it will ever recover.

Guests:

Professor David Bailey, Aston Business School
Dan Coffey, Leeds University Business School
Professor Matthias Holweg, Said Business School, Oxford University
Catherine Faiers, Operations Director, Autotrader
Peter Campbell, Global Motor Industry Correspondent, The Financial Times
Ian Henry, Managing Director, AutoAnalysis

Is car-making in the UK doomed? David Aaronovitch gets a briefing from industry experts.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Britain's Constitutional Dilemma - Who Now Runs The Country?20190926

The Supreme Court has ruled that Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, turning a page on the country’s constitution. The Supreme Court president Lady Hale said "the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme." The Prime Minister responded that he "strongly disagrees" with the ruling but will "respect" it. So is British democracy at a crossroads? In an extended edition of the Briefing Room, David Aaronovitch asks who is running Britain and is it now time to have a written constitution.

Guests:
Alison Young, Professor of Public Law, University of Cambridge.
Philip Norton, Professor of Government, and Director of the Centre for Legislative Studies, University of Hull
David Allen Green, contributing editor to the Financial Times and lawyer at Preiskel & Co
Michael Keating, Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University and Professor of Politics, at the University of Aberdeen.
Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London, Senior Fellow at the UK in a Changing Europe
Murray Hunt, Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law

Producer: Neil Koenig
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Does Britain's constitution need an overhaul? Should it be written down?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Britain's Constitutional Dilemma: Who Now Runs The Country?20190926

The Supreme Court has ruled that Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, turning a page on the country’s constitution. The Supreme Court president Lady Hale said "the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme."

The Prime Minister responded that he "strongly disagrees" with the ruling but will "respect" it.

So is British democracy at a crossroads? In an extended edition of the Briefing Room, David Aaronovitch asks who is running Britain and is it now time to have a written constitution.

CONTRIBUTORS:

Alison Young, Professor of Public Law, University of Cambridge.

Philip Norton, Professor of Government, and Director of the Centre for Legislative Studies, University of Hull

David Allen Green, contributing editor to the Financial Times and lawyer at Preiskel & Co

Michael Keating, Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University and Professor of Politics, at the University of Aberdeen.

Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London, Senior Fellow at the UK in a Changing Europe

Murray Hunt, Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law

Producer: Neil Koenig
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Does the constitution need an overhaul - and is it time to have a written constitution?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Britain's Future20190328

With the route of the UK’s departure from the European Union still unclear, this week David Aaronovitch looks at Britain’s place in the world and assesses what lies ahead in the next stage of negotiations with the EU.

Joining David in the Briefing Room are: Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, Sam Lowe, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform, Meg Russell, Director of the Constitutional Unit at University College London and Stefanie Bolzen, London Correspondent of German newspaper, Welt.

Producer: Jim Frank
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Brexit or not, what does Britain's place in the world look like?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Britain's Housing Crisis20180830

The prime minister, Theresa May bemoaned the state of the housing sector in a speech earlier this year. She said the national housing crisis was one of the biggest barriers to social mobility in Britain today.

She acknowledged that property prices have put home ownership out of reach for millions of people. And she pointed the finger at the failure to build enough of the right homes, as she put it, in the right places. But is the failure to build at the core of the problem? Or are other factors at play?

Would excluding foreign ownership make a difference, or making more land available on which to build? And are we too obsessed with the idea of owning our own house?

This week in The Briefing Room we ask why we can't fix the housing crisis?

CONTRIBUTORS

Dan Tomlinson, research analyst at The Resolution Foundation think tank

Colin Peacock, Radio New Zealand

Christine Whitehead, Professor of Housing at the London School of Economics

Polly Neate, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter

Andrew Whitaker of the Home Builders Federation.

Is the failure to build at the core of the housing problem or are other factors at play?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Britain's Nuclear Dream20160804

The government has delayed a proposed nuclear power station. What choices lie ahead?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Can A New Political Party Win?20180913

The Tories are split, Labour is split and some people think it just can’t go on.

Once more there is serious talk about the formation of a new political party.

This has been tried before and recent history seems to say that the odds of success are not good.

But what about now? Have the prospects changed?

What might a new party look like this time? And what chance of success would it have?

CONTRIBUTORS

Sir Ivor Crewe, political scientist and Master of University College, Oxford

David Cowling, political opinion polling specialist and former editor of political research for the BBC

Steven Fielding, professor of political history and director of the Centre for British Politics at the University of Nottingham

Jane Green, professor of political science at Nuffield College, Oxford, and co-director of the British Election Study

The Tories are split, Labour is split and some people think it just can't go on.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Can Britain Avoid Mass-unemployment?20200625

Creating and protecting jobs in the time of the coronavirus.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts examine big issues in the news.

The Bank of England says unemployment could approach 10 per cent this year and as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is wound down, many economists are warning it could go even higher.

With more than a quarter of the UK workforce already on furlough, what can be done to make sure they have jobs to go back to?

David Aaronovitch examines the government’s options and hears who is most vulnerable.

Contributors:

Melanie Simms, Professor of Work and Employment at the University of Glasgow

Laura Gardiner, Research Director at The Resolution Foundation

Alan Manning, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics

Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies

Producers: Beth Sagar-Fenton, Kirsteen Knight and Joe Kent.
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

Can The Nhs Recover From Coronavirus?20200709

The pandemic will impact the way healthcare is delivered for years to come. At the same time as preparing for a possible second wave, the NHS also has to work its way through a backlog of delayed appointments and treatments. Waiting lists could top 10 million people this year.

David Aaronvicth asks the experts what Covid-19 has done to healthcare in the UK and how can it recover:

Journalist Chris Cook specialises in the public sector and is an editor and partner at Tortoise Media
Rachel Schraer is a health reporter for BBC News
Dr Jennifer Dixon is the chief executive of the Health Foundation
Professor Carol Propper is a health economist at Imperial College London and President of The Royal Economics Society
Nigel Edwards is chief executive of the Nuffield Trust an independent health think tank.

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Beth Sagar Fenton, Joe Kent
Studio manager: Neva Missirian
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

What has the pandemic done to healthcare in the UK and will it get back on track?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Can The Nhs Survive?20170406

What are the changes needed now to ensure the NHS is sustainable in the future?

The NHS is facing one of the biggest crises in its history. With an ageing population, the increasing cost of drugs and treatments, and lack of funding for social care, the service is under more pressure than ever and the cracks are already starting to show. So will the system be able to cope in future as the UK's population gets older - and can the NHS survive?

David Aaronovitch hears from expert witnesses including Dame Julie Moore, Chief Executive of University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and John Appleby, Chief Economist at the Nuffield Trust.

Producer: China Collins.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Can You Win A Trade War?20180405

According to US President Donald Trump "trade wars aren't so bad". Recently his government surprised the world by announcing unexpected big increases in import taxes - or tariffs - on steel and aluminium.

Mr Trump believes that this is one way to do something about America's huge trade deficit, which he says stems from the nation being "taken advantage of" by other countries for decades. The US also threatened tariff increases on a huge range of other products, including many from China. The Chinese government responded in kind, raising tariffs on American imports of everything from cars to ginseng.

The row has deeply worried many politicians and business leaders across the world: could this be the start of a new trade war?

But what exactly is a trade war - and is it possible to win one? And what are the implications for the UK if the dispute between the US and China escalates?

CONTRIBUTORS

Dr Marc-William Palen, historian at the University of Exeter and author of The 'Conspiracy' of Free Trade.

Chad Bown, Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC and former White House senior economist.

Dr Jue Wang is an expert on the Chinese economy based at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and an associate fellow on the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House.

Dr Meredith Crowley, lecturer at the University of Cambridge and research fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research

What exactly is a trade war and can you win one?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Capitalism In Crisis20171012

Is capitalism broken, and if so, what should replace it? David Aaronovitch examines whether the free market is failing, and asks how it could be reformed.

He speaks to a range of experts and leading economists including:

Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies

Gillian Tett, US Managing Editor of the Financial Times

Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University

Michael Jacobs, co-editor of Rethinking Capitalism.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Michael Jacobs, co-editor of Rethinking Capitalism.

He speaks to a range of experts and leading economists including Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Gillian Tett, US Managing Editor of the Financial Times, Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University and Michael Jacobs, co-editor of Rethinking Capitalism.

Chaos On The Railways20180802

In May, what was billed as the biggest ever overhaul of train timetables led to widespread rail disruption - why has this new timetable caused such rail chaos this summer?

Since then, passengers travelling on the services of two rail franchises - Govia Thameslink and Northern - have suffered weeks of cancellations and delays.
The overhaul was aimed at improving punctuality and boosting capacity, but what passengers got was hundreds of trains removed from service as the franchises struggled to cope with the planned changes.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has defended his handling of the situation and pointed the finger at the rail industry - but who is really responsible? And can long-suffering passengers trust that the disruption will finally be brought to an end - and not repeated?

David Aaronovitch assesses what led to such chaos on the railway and what the disruption says about the state of Britain's railways.

CONTRIBUTORS

Tony Miles, Modern Railways magazine

Dieter Helm CBE, Professor of Economic Policy at Oxford University.

Lord Adonis, former Transport Secretary and former Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission.

Why has there been such disruption on two rail franchises and can we avoid it in future?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

China And The Pandemic20200514

How have China's relations with other countries changed since the arrival of the virus?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts and insiders examine big issues in the news.

How have China's relations with other countries changed since the arrival of the virus? The US and China have been facing each other off for years, but increasingly other nations are questioning the benefits that China's growing dominance has brought. David Aaronovitch explores how that is being viewed within China itself. Has trust in the communist regime declined or are nationalistic attitudes strengthening? And what changes might this bring to global power dynamics in the future?
Contributors: Professor Niall Ferguson of Stanford University, Rafaello Pantucci from RUSI, Yu Jie from Chatham House, economist and author Dr Linda Yueh and Professor Steve Tsang from SOAS.
Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Sally Abrahams and Rosamund Jones.
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

Climate Change And Meat - What's The Beef?20191010

Would cutting back on meat consumption help tackle climate change?

What impact would this have on individuals, governments and businesses? Livestock farming accounts for at least 14.5% of all human emissions - with beef making up the highest proportion of this.

Meat free burgers are now available at fast food restaurants across the western world; veganism is on the rise, as is flexitarianism - a largely vegetable-based diet supplemented occasionally with meat. But how far can these eating trends help to reduce carbon emissions?

David Aaronovitch is joined by:

Dr Hannah Richie - Head of Research at Our world in data, University of Oxford
Tim Searchinger - Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute and Princeton University
Professor Louise Fresco - President of the Wageningen University
Laura Wellesley - Research fellow in the Energy, Environment and Resources Department at Chatham House
Toby Park - Head of Energy and Sustainability, Behavioural Insights Team

Producer: Serena Tarling
Editor: Jasper Corbett

What difference would it make to climate change if we reduce meat consumption?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Climate Change And Meat: What's The Beef?20191010
Climate Change: Is Time Running Out?20181220

In October, the IPCC, the UN body that reports on climate change, issued a stark warning. It said that if the world wanted to avoid catastrophic environmental damage, we needed to reduce carbon emissions by almost half in the next 12 years. So what needs to be done now if that target is to be reached? What's the position in China, the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide? And how important is the stated intention of President Trump to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions? We hear from, among others, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, the author of the seminal Stern Review in 2006.

After the Katowice summit where does the world now stand on climate change?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

Coronavirus And The Economy2020050720200509 (R4)

What are the pandemic and lockdown doing to the economy and and what could happen next?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts and insiders explore big issues in the news.

What damage are the pandemic and lockdown doing to the economy and what could happen next?

David Aaronovitch explores the economic impact of physical distancing on business, whether our fast expanding national debt is sustainable and the threat posed by declining consumer confidence on our economic recovery.

Does history offer a guide as to how and when people should return to work and government support be turned off?

And what will our economy look like when the lockdown is eased?

Contributors:

Faisal Islam, BBC Economics Editor

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality

Jeffrey Frankel, Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at Harvard University

Professor Jagjit Chadha, Director of The National Institute of Economic and Social Research

Stephanie Flanders, senior executive editor at Bloomberg and head of Bloomberg Economics

Producers: Luke Radcliff, Sally Abrahams and Rosamund Jones.
Editor: Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Coronavirus: The Return To School2020081320200815 (R4)

This week children start to return to school in Scotland, with the rest of the UK due to reopen schools in September.

For most students this is the first time they'll be setting foot inside a school since March - the longest interruption to schooling in living memory.

But with the number of coronavirus cases back on the rise, how should we balance the risks of reopening schools, against the risks of keeping them shut?

David Aaronovitch asks the experts:

Bobby Duffy is professor of public policy and director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London. He has been tracking public opinion throughout the pandemic

Jonas Ludviggson is a paediatrician, and professor in the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Russell Viner is president of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health and is a scientific adviser to the government as a member of SAGE

Anna Vignoles is a professor of education at the University of Cambridge and lead author on the Royal Society's report "Balancing the Risks of Pupils Returning to Schools"

Inès Hassan is also a lead author on that report, and is a researcher at the Global Health Governance Programme at the University of Edinburgh

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Beth Sagar-Fenton and Rosamund Jones
Studio manager: Neva Missirian
Editor: Hugh Levinson

How should we balance the risks when reopening schools?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations

Coronavirus: What Next?2020040220200404 (R4)

Why have some countries run mass-testing operations when others, including the UK, have not?

David Aaronovitch examines how South Korea and Germany have approached the coronavirus pandemic and what they have learned from the data they've gathered.

He also looks at how the hunt for a vaccine is progressing and who is in the race, as well as the role existing anti-viral drugs might play in reducing the threat posed by Covid-19.

Contributors:

Professor Devi Sridhar, Chair of Global Public Health, University of Edinburgh

Dr Jerome Kim, Director General of the International Vaccine Institute

Dr Philipp Zanger, Head of the Institute of Hygiene, Infection Control and Prevention at the Rhineland-Palatinate Agency for Consumer and Public
Protection

Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute

Professor Johan Neyts, virologist, University of Leuven, Belgium.

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Darin Graham & Rosamund Jones
Editor: Jasper Corbett

How close to a vaccine are we and just how important is mass testing?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Why have some countries run mass testing operations when others, including the UK, has not? David Aaronovitch examines how South Korea and Germany have approached the coronavirus pandemic and what they have learned from the data they've gathered. He also looks at how the hunt for a vaccine is progressing and who is in the race? And what role may existing anti-viral drugs play in reducing the threat posed by Covid-19?

Professor of Global Health Devi Sridhar from the University of Edinburgh,
Dr Jerome Kim, Director General of the International Vaccine Institute,
Dr Philipp Zanger, head of the Institute of Hygiene, Infection Control and Prevention at the Rhineland-Palatinate Agency for Consumer and Public Protection,
Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute
Professor Johan Neyts at the University of Leuven.

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Darin Graham and Rosamund Jones
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations

Could Italy Bring Down The European Union?20180524

Does the new Italian government really pose a danger for the Eurozone and the European Union?

There has been much to-ing and fro-ing in Rome this week as the two parties which finished up ahead in Italy's election in March have tried to persuade the president to approve their coalition government.

The parties are unlikely populist allies: the anti- establishment Five Star Movement and The League, which started life as a secessionist movement in the north of Italy.

Both parties reject economic austerity. They want to lower taxes and raise government debt further. This is causing alarm bells to ring in EU capitals. Were Italy to prove unable or unwilling to cut its budget deficit, the potential for a new crisis in the Eurozone looms. Italy, say some commentators, could drag other countries, such as Spain and Greece, down with it.

It is unprecedented in a country that was one of the founder members of the EEC, the EU's forerunner, to have Eurosceptic leaders at the helm.

CONTRIBUTORS

Professor John Foot, a historian specialising in Italy at the University of Bristol

Jacopo Iacoboni, author of L'Esperimento, a book about the Five Star Movement

Cristina Marconi, a journalist on the newspaper Il Messaggero

Ferdinando Giugliano, a columnist and leader writer on European economics for Bloomberg Opinion

Judy Dempsey, a former Brussels correspondent and now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Europe think tank.

Image: Italian lawyer Giuseppe Conte addresses journalists after a meeting with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella on May 23, 2018
Credit: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images.

Why Italy's new government has EU leaders worried.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Could Spain Split?20171005

Could the crisis over Catalonia lead to the break up of Spain? With political rhetoric from both Barcelona and Madrid intensifying, David Aaronovitch asks a range of experts whether an independent Catalan state is now a possibility.

He examines what lies behind the Catalan desire for independence and the impact that a split could have on Spain.

Joining David in The Briefing Room:

Miguel Murado, a Spanish journalist

Eduardo Mendoza, one of Spain's best-known authors

Dr Rebecca Richards, statehood expert and Professor of International Relations at Keele University.

Could the crisis over Catalonia lead to the breakup of Spain?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Dr Rebecca Richards, statehood expert and Professor of International Relations at Keele University.

Could The United States And Iran Go To War?20190516

The British Foreign Secretary has warned of the danger of Iran and the United States stumbling into a war by accident. And the signs are ominous: the US accelerated the deployment of an aircraft carrier and B52 bombers to the Persian Gulf and all non-essential staff are being withdrawn from the US Embassy in Baghdad. US National Security Adviser John Bolton said any attack by Iran on America or its allies would be met with what he called unrelenting force. So what's the risk of a war breaking out?

David Aaronovitch is joined by:
Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group
Kori Schake of the International Institute for Strategic Studies
Aniseh Barissi Tabrizi of the Royal United Services Institute
Robert Cooper, former EU diplomat.
Barbara Leaf, former US diplomat and State Department official

As tensions rise between Iran and the United States, is there a danger of armed conflict?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Covid-19 And The Care Sector20200430

Have the mounting deaths exposed cracks in the way we deliver care to the most vulnerable?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Have the mounting deaths exposed cracks in the way we deliver care to some of our most vulnerable people?

David Aaronovitch looks at how the system is structured and funded. and why it sometimes struggles to gain the political attention it needs.

This is a sector in which people have called for reform has for decades but very little has been delivered.

How have other countries care systems coped during the pandemic and what lessons could we learn?

Contributors:

Alison Holt, BBC Social Affairs Correspondent

William Laing, Chairman of Laing Buisson

Jill Manthorpe, Professor of Social Work at King's College London

Adelina Comas-Herrera, researcher at the London School of Economics

Natasha Curry, Acting Deputy Director of Policy, Nuffield Trust

Producers: Luke Radcliff, Sally Abrahams and Rosamund Jones
Editor: Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts and insiders explore big issues in the news.

Covid-19: Six Months On20200917

It's been six months since the coronavirus-induced lockdown was introduced across the UK - what have we learned about Covid-19 in that time?

David Aaronovitch explores what we now know about the science of the virus, the symptoms it produces, and the policies which have been developed to tackle its spread.

Contributors:

Ravi Gupta, Professor of Clinical Microbiology, University of Cambridge

Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology. King's College London

Thomas Hale, Associate Professor in Global Public Policy, University of Oxford

Keith Neal, Emeritus Professor in the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, University of Nottingham

Team: Richard Fenton-Smith, Kirsteen Knight and Julie Ball.
Studio Manager: Rod Farquhar
Editor: Jasper Corbett

It's been six months since lockdown was introduced - what have we learned about Covid-19?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations

Deal Or No Deal?20181129

Theresa May is urging her MPs to accept the deal she has struck with Brussels on the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The trouble is that few in Westminster believe this is a vote she can win and Brussels has said no further negotiations are possible. With the vote due on December the 11th the Prime Minister has less than two weeks to get MPs to change their minds. If Parliament does reject the deal, does that mean a no-deal in March next year? If not, how can no-deal be avoided.

Contributors:

Tim Durrant, Senior Researcher at The Institute for Government
Alex Barker, Brussels Bureau Chief of The Financial Times
Patrick Smyth, Europe Editor of The Irish Times
Professor Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London

If Parliament rejects Theresa May's Brexit deal does that mean a no-deal Brexit?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Does Is Need A State?20170223

What will happen if the Islamic State loses its state?

The so-called Islamic State is rapidly losing territory, money and fighters in both Iraq and Syria. Iraqi government troops, supported by US and British special forces, have launched an offensive to take back the city of Mosul and an assault on the group's de facto capital city - Raqqa in Syria - is expected by the end of the year.

Can the group continue to attract jihadi fighters from around the world and inspire attacks in its name, or will it be permanently weakened by the loss of its 'caliphate'?

If so, could other terrorist organisations benefit from the vacuum it leaves behind?

David Aaronovitch speaks to a range of experts and asks - can Islamic State be defeated and if so, what happens next?

Guests include:

Columb Strack, Senior Analyst, Middle East & North Africa at IHS Consulting

Charlie Winter, Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR)

Hassan Hassan, Senior Fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and co-author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror

Dr Elisabeth Kendall, Senior Research Fellow in Arabic at the University of Oxford

Clint Watts, Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Program on the Middle East and former FBI Special Agent

Producer: China Collins
Research: Serena Tarling.

What will happen if the Islamic State loses its state? David Aaronovitch investigates.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Does The Uk Have An Opioid Problem?20190502

Prescriptions for opioid painkillers have increased by 60 per cent in the UK during the last decade, and the number of codeine-related deaths in England and Wales has more than doubled.

The government is now planning to put prominent warnings about the dangers of addiction on the packaging of opioid medicines, to protect people from 'the darker side of painkillers' - as Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock put it.

This is an effort to avoid the situation in the United States where 130 people die every day from opioid-related drug overdoses, which has prompted President Donald Trump to declare a national health emergency.

But are we really on the precipice of our own epidemic?

David Aaronovitch asks how the situation got so out of control in the USA and whether the UK should do more to regulate painkillers containing opioids.

CONTRIBUTORS

Sam Quinones, journalist and author of 'Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic'.

Dr Raeford Brown, former chair of the FDA's Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee

Dr Luke Mordecai, consultant anaesthetist at University College Hospital, with research focus on opiate use and complex pain

Professor Leslie Colvin, chair of pain medicine, University of Dundee

Dr Emily Finch, consultant addiction psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust

Producers: Serena Tarling & Richard Fenton-Smith
Researcher: Kirsteen Knight

Details of organisations offering information and support with addiction are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 155 947.

Opioid prescriptions have rocketed in the UK in recent years - how worried should we be?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Drugs In West Yorkshire20170119

How did British-Pakistani gangs come to dominate the drugs trade in Yorkshire?

Earlier this month, police shot dead 28-year-old Mohammed Yasser Yaqub on a motorway slip road near Huddersfield. Their target was apparently armed and dangerous – a big time drug dealer, allegedly with a record of using violence to get his way.

Yasser Yaqub’s death was followed by protests on the streets of Bradford and in nearby Huddersfield, hundreds turned up to a mosque for his funeral.

The drugs business in West Yorkshire is largely controlled by gangs of Pakistani-Muslim heritage, who use their community contacts to aid their criminal operations - but how does such a religiously conservative community contain within it such a dangerous criminal element?

David Aaronovitch heads to Dewsbury to find out.

CONTRIBUTORS

Tony Saggers, Head of Drugs Threat & Intelligence at the National Crime Agency

Danny Lockwood, editor of The Dewsbury Press

Mo Ali Qasim, who has spent four years doing academic research into Pakistani-origin drug dealers in West Yorkshire

Researcher: Samuel Bright
Editor: Innes Bowen

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Easing The Lockdown2020042320200425 (R4)

Some countries have opened schools and non-food shops. Can the lockdown be eased safely?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts and insiders explore big issues in the news.

Some countries have opened schools, hairdressers and small non-food shops. David Aaronovitch asks what has guided those tentative first steps and whether the lockdown can be eased safely.

What have we learnt about the behaviour and epidemiology of the virus and how might that inform decisions in the UK?

He also quizzes experts about how long it could take to end the lockdown fully, and whether some form of social distancing could be in place for many months to come.

Contributors:

Dr Nathalie MacDermott, Imperial College London

Dr Michael Tildesley, Warwick University

Prof Hans Joern Kolmos, University of Southern Denmark

Prof Martin McKee, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Ngaire Woods, Blavatnik School of Government and Professor of Global Economic Governance at Oxford University

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Darin Graham and Rosamund Jones
Editor: Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Europe's Illiberal Democracies20161006

Right-wing ideas once found on the political fringes are becoming increasingly mainstream

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban believes in nation states that govern in the interests of their indigenous populations, unencumbered by concepts like human rights, civil liberties and internationalism. He is one of Europe's popular new illiberal democrats.

Join David Aaronovitch and experts in The Briefing Room to find out about the rise of illiberal democracy in Europe.

Producer: Joe Kent

Researcher: Kirsteen Knight

Editor: Innes Bowen.

Fethullah Gulen And Turkey's Failed Coup20160721

Turkey's president says the Gulen movement was behind a recent coup attempt - what is it?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Football And The Pandemic20200903

Like many other areas of life the pandemic has hit football where it hurts: revenues are down and there’s a danger that some clubs will go out of business.

But if that were to happen, does it really matter?

The Premier League has become a great British export and it generates billions pounds for the British economy.

Beyond its monetary value, it is also something which millions of people enjoy watching and playing - but how important is it in the current crisis?

Contributors:

Kieran Maguire, Accountancy and finance Lecturer from the University of Liverpool.

Alex Culvin, Senior Lecturer in Sports Business from Salford University.

Stephan Uesrfeld, Germany correspondent from sports channel ESPN.

David Goldblatt , Sociologist and Author.

Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy, Cambridge University.

Presenter: David Aaronovitch

Producers: Jim Frank and Ben Carter.

Editor: Jasper Corbett

Coronavirus might put some football clubs out of business, but how important are they?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Football's Finances20200903

Like many other areas of life the pandemic has hit football where it hurts: revenues are down and there’s a danger that some clubs will go out of business. But if that were to happen, does it really matter? The Premier League has become a great British export, the matches are watched by huge global audiences and it generates billions pounds for the British economy. But beyond its monetary value it’s something which millions of men and women; boys and girls, enjoy watching and playing. But why should we care about a game?

In the Briefing Room this week are:

Kieran Maguire, Accountancy and finance Lecturer from the University of Liverpool.
Alex Culvin, Senior Lecturer in Sports Business from Salford University.
Stephan Uesrfeld, Germany correspondent from sports channel ESPN.
David Goldblatt , Sociologist and Author.
Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy, Cambridge University.

Presenter: David Aaronovitch

Producers: Jim Frank and Ben Carter.

Editor: Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch examines the state of the football industry.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch and guests explore major news stories.

General Election Promises: Tax And Spend?20191128

Politicians are busy making big electoral promises. Some of them are to be funded by taxing wealthier people. But will the next chancellor be able to get the money they need from high earners, or will they need to find new ways of funding their ambitions?

David Aaronovitch discovers, with his guests, what wealth consists of and who today has the means to contribute more to the UK tax kitty and how they could pay it. How many are there of them? And, importantly, are they the people we think they are? Might we be surprised to discover who qualifies as wealthy?

CONTRIBUTORS:

Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, an independent think-tank that focuses on the living standards of those people on low and middle incomes.

John Whiting, CBE, former tax director of the Office of Tax Simplification

Pat Thane, Visiting Professor in History at Birkbeck, University of London and an expert on ageing, the welfare state and pensions

Merryn Somerset Webb, editor-in-chief of the personal finance magazine, MoneyWeek, and a columnist for the money section of FT Weekend.

Producer Simon Coates
Editor Jasper Corbett

Who are the people who are going to pay for the politicians' promises?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

Gone Fishing?20200220

The UK fishing industry will be central to EU trade negotiations, starting soon. David Aaronovitch explores why a sector, which contributes very little to the overall economy, has gained such political and cultural importance. He asks why there is such a mismatch between the kind of fish we catch and the kind of fish we eat. When did cod become so central to our diets? With his guests, he also traces the industry's relationship with the EU down the decades. To what extent did the imposition of EU quotas reduce the amount of fish UK boats catch? And should fishing now expect a 'Brexit bounce'?

Contributors: Hazel Curtis, Nick Fisher, John Lichfield, Jill Wakefield and Bryce Stewart.

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Jordan Dunbar and Rosamund Jones.
Editor: Penny Murphy.

The UK fishing industry will be central to EU trade negotiations, starting soon. Why?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Grammar Schools20160818

Grammar schools, social mobility and the Tory party's love of educational selection.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch looks at important issues in the news.

Has Narendra Modi Changed India?20190523

It's the world's biggest organised event: 900 million eligible voters across India have been to the polls in the last six weeks after five years of Narendra Modi's BJP government.

Narendra Modi's ambition was to project India as a global economic power, clamping down on corruption and burnishing its national security credentials. How far has he achieved this? And to what extent should India's non-Hindus be concerned about Narendra Modi's brand of Hindu nationalism?

David Aaronovitch speaks to experts to find out.

GUESTS:

Dr S Y Quraishi - Former Chief Election Commissioner
Soutik Biswas - India correspondent for BBC news online
Kunal Sen - Director, Professor of Development Economics, University of Manchester
Ambassador Nirupama Rao - India’s foreign secretary 2009-11; former ambassador to the US, China and Sri Lanka
James Crabtree - India expert at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore and author of The Billionaire Raj

How has Narendra Modi changed India economically, politically and as a global power?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

How has India changed under prime minister Narendra Modi?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

How Bad Is The Air We Breathe?20181004

Air pollution is creating big problems. Scientists say it is a leading cause of climate change, which will be the subject of a major report to be released next week by the IPCC, a UN body that is studying the issue.

Another problem is damage to health. Scientists believe that air pollution harms the quality of our lives, and shortens them too. So how bad is the air in the UK? And what can be done to improve matters?

CONTRIBUTORS
Andrew Grieve, Air Quality Analyst at the Environmental Research Group at King's College London
Fiona Godlee, Editor, The BMJ
Audrey de Nazelle, Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Environmental policy, Imperial College
Gavin Shaddick, Professor of Data Science and Statistics, University of Exeter

Scientists say air pollution harms the quality of our lives, and shortens them too.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

How Dangerous Is The Coronavirus?20200123

What lessons do previous pandemics provide about how we should treat the new coronavirus? David Aaronovitch tracks the disease's origins in China, explores its spread. He considers how dangerous this virus is and asks how prepared we are for an outbreak in the UK.

Contributors:

Howard Zhang, editor of the BBC’s China service

Dr Nathalie McDermott, Imperial College, London

John Oxford, Professor of Virology, Queen Mary’s College, London

Dr Josie Golding, Epidemic Preparedness and Response Programme at The Wellcome Trust.

Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight and Jordan Dunbar
Editor: Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

What lessons do previous pandemics provide about how we should treat the new coronavirus? David Aaronovitch tracks the disease's origins in China, explores its spread. He considers how dangerous this virus is and asks how prepared we are for an outbreak in the UK.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

How Divided Are We?20190404

As the Brexit negotiations rumble on Britain appears more divided than ever. This week David Aaronovitch and his guests ask how deep is that division and what it would take to unify the country?

Contributors:
Professor Sara Hobolt, London School of Economics
Professor Sir John Curtice, University of Strathclyde
Margaret MacMillan, emeritus Professor of International History at Oxford University
Deborah Mattinson, Founder, BritainThinks
Paula Surridge, Senior Lecturer, University of Bristol

How has Brexit divided Britain, and what might unify the country?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

How Do We Get Brexit Done?20191219

'Get Brexit Done' was the slogan that helped lead the Tories to an election victory - but how will that be achieved?

It's the pressing task now facing government, but what might Brexit actually look like and how long could it take?

David Aaronovitch considers the political and economic pros and cons of the different kinds of trading arrangements the UK and EU might end up with.

Are the UK and EU both clear about their priorities and what might cause them to shift? And if we do sort out a trade deal, will Brexit be done or is there more to come?

Contributors:

Jill Rutter, UK in a Changing Europe

Mujtaba Rahman, Eurasia Group

David Henig, UK Trade Policy Project

Katya Adler, BBC Europe Editor

Peter Foster, Europe Editor of the Daily Telegraph

Producer: Rosamund Jones
Editor: Jasper Corbett

'Get Brexit Done' led the Tories to election victory - but how will that be achieved?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

How Do We Pay For The Uk?20170511

David Aaronovitch presents the need-to-know facts on where taxes come from and how they're spent.

This edition is a politician-free zone, with non-partisan analysis on how we pay for the UK and the prospects for public services in the future.

CONTRIBUTORS:

Emily Andrews, senior researcher at the Institute for Government

Helen Miller, associate director, Institute for Fiscal Studies

Ben Page, director, IPSOS-Mori

Producer: Neal Razzell
Research: Sarah Shebbeare.

The need-to-know facts on where taxes come from and how they're spent

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

An election guide to tax and spending.

This edition is a politician-free zone, with need-to-know facts and non-partisan analysis of where taxes come from, how they're spent, and the prospects for public services in the future.

Guests:
Emily Andrews, senior researcher at the Institute for Government
Helen Miller, associate director, Institute for Fiscal Studies
Ben Page, director, IPSOS-Mori

Producer: Neal Razzell
Research: Sarah Shebbeare.

How Does France Work?20170504

For the first time in over half a century, two insurgents, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, have broken through France's traditional two party system. This week, voters will decide between two utterly different visions of France, Europe and the world.

But how did France get here? What do we need to know about its state, its economy and its changing people? David Aaronovitch steps into the Briefing Room for an anatomy of France.

Contributors:

Jonathan Fenby: Author of The History of Modern France and Director of European Political Analysis at the TSL research company.

Catherine Guilyardi: Journalist for Radio France.

Jacques Reland: Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute at London Metropolitan University.

Producer: Xavier Zapata

David Aaronovitch examines the state, economy and changing people of France

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

How To Beat Obesity2020073020200801 (R4)

The government says “tackling obesity is one of the greatest long-term health challenges this country faces” and has published a plan to help people in England lose weight. What’s in it, what’s not, and what more could be done?

David Aaronovitch asks the experts:

David Buck is a senior fellow at the health think tank The Kings Fund and used to work for The Department of Health
Smitha Mundas is a doctor turned journalist and a health reporter for the BBC
Susan Jebb is Professor of Diet and Population Health at the University of Oxford, and a member of the Public Health England Obesity Programme.
Professor Corinna Hawkes is Director of the Centre for Food Policy at City University and Vice Chair of the London Child Obesity Task force.

Producers: Ben Crighton, Kirsteen Knight and Joe Kent
Studio Manager: James Beard
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

What's in the government's plan to help people lose weight and what more could be done?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations

How To Do A Trade Deal20200130

For the first time in decades the UK will now negotiate its own trade deals. David Aaronovitch explores our options and likely outcomes.

Free trade deals can take years and require hundreds of highly skilled staff in what are described as the biggest games of poker you can play.

Former US trade negotiators reveal a world of bluffs, plays and tapped phone calls.

How should the UK should play its hand with the US, EU and rest of the world as we exit the European Union?

There are losers in every trade deal, how prepared is the UK to cope with that?

Contributors:

Soumaya Keynes, trade and globalisation editor, The Economist

Charles Grant, Centre for European Reform

Ron Sorini, Sorini, Samet and Associates

Wendy Cutler, Asia Society Policy Institute

Roderick Abbot, former senior trade official with the European Commission and trade negotiator

Produced by Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight and Jordan Dunbar
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Bluffs, plays and tariff peaks, the UK enters the free trade world.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

For the first time in decades the UK will now negotiate it's own trade deals. David Aaronovitch explores our options and likely outcomes.

How should the UK should play it's hand with the US, EU and rest of the world as we exit the European Union?

Contributors;
Soumaya Keynes - the Economist
Ron Sorini - Sorini, Samet and Associates
Wendy Cutler -Asia Society Policy Institute
Roderick Abbot - Centre for Europe Reform
Charles Grant -Centre for European Reform

Produced by Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight and Jordan Dunbar
Editor - Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Immigration: Why Did It Rise?20160630

What are the political decisions and trends which led to record immigration to the UK?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Unprecedented levels of immigration motivated many Leave voters in the EU referendum vote - but what are the political decisions and global trends which have driven immigration over the last 20 years?

In this week's The Briefing Room David Aaronovitch charts a short history of immigration over the past two decades, exploring claims that the Labour party wanted to increase immigration to build support, through to the causes of the asylum spike in the early 2000s, and the impact of an expanding European Union.

Joining David is a panel of experts bringing unique insight into the issue:

ED OWEN Former Special Advisor to Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw

MADELEINE SUMPTION Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford

DAVID GOODHART Journalist and commentator, former director of the thinktank Demos

TONY SMITH former Director General of the UK Border Force

Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

Researcher: Kirsteen Knight.

Imran Khan And Pakistan: What's Going To Change?20180726

Imran Khan has claimed victory in Pakistan's election - but what will he be able to change?

Khan is better known internationally for his exploits on the cricket field than in the political arena.

On the surface his ascent to power represents significant change. Politics in Pakistan has been dominated for decades by two families: one, of Nawaz Sharif, the last man to be elected prime minister, the other, of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter, Benazir. Khan has ties to neither dynasty so appears to break the mould.

But there is another constant in Pakistani politics: the army. Most observers agree that Khan owes his success to military support, and many believe he will be able to govern only with military approval.

David Aaronovitch assesses the significance of his remarkable result.

CONTRIBUTORS

Ayesha Jalal, professor of history at Tufts University, Massachusetts

Shahzeb Jillani, senior executive editor, Dunya TV

Husain Haqqani, former Pakistan ambassador to the United States

Prof Katharine Adeney, director of the Asia Research Institute at the University of Nottingham

Producer: Tim Mansel.

Imran Khan has claimed victory in Pakistan's election. But what will he be able to change?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

India's Bonfire Of The Bank Notes20170126

Why did India's prime minister ban the use of the country's most widely used bank notes?

On 8 November, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a stunning announcement. As of midnight that day, all 500 and 1000 rupee notes would no longer be legal tender. The announcement came as a shock not only to the Indian public, but also to businesses, banks and some of Mr Modi's closest advisors.

Large queues formed at banks across the country as people tried to exchange their old notes for new ones and businesses came to a grinding halt. Agriculture was one of the sectors that was hardest hit. It was sowing season for India's farmers, many of whom had no means to buy the seeds, so reliant are they on cash transactions.

So what was Modi trying to achieve through this shock and awe tactic? Is this a stroke of economic genius or a highly damaging political move? And did the move have the desired effect?

David Aaronovitch speaks to a panel of experts to find out.

CONTRIBUTORS:

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of a biography about Narendra Modi, Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times

Ila Patnaik, former economic advisor to the Modi government and a professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy

Douglas Busvine, Reuters bureau chief in New Delhi

Justin Rowlatt, BBC South Asia Correspondent

Producer: Phil Kemp
Research: Serena Tarling and Kirsteen Knight
Editor: Innes Bowen.

Why did India's prime minister ban the country's most widely-used bank notes?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

On 8 November, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a stunning announcement. As of midnight that day, all 500 and 1000 rupee notes would no longer be legal tender. The announcement came as a shock not only to the Indian public, but also to businesses, banks and some of Mr Modi's closest advisors. Large queues formed at banks across the country as people tried to exchange their old notes for new ones and businesses came to a grinding halt. Agriculture was one of the sectors that was hardest hit. It was sewing season for India's farmers, many of whom had no means to buy the seeds, so reliant are they on cash transactions.

So what was Modi trying to achieve through this shock and awe tactic? Is this a stroke of economic genius or a highly damaging political move? And did the move have the desired effect?

Guests:

Producer: Phil Kemp

Research: Serena Tarling and Kirsteen Knight

Infrastructure: The Roads To Recovery?20161020

Is building roads and bridges the best way to solve our economic woes?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Theresa May has promised new trains, faster broadband and improved infrastructure. Critics accused her of adopting Labour Party politics. But is it left-wing to invest in infrastructure?

During the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes encouraged governments to dig holes until the economy was restored. The explosion of building in 1930s America is often seen as Keynes' words in action - but the New Deal was not as straightforward as we may think. The Economist's Soumaya Keynes finds out what really happened.

After the 2008 crisis, politicians turned to Keynes' ideas once again. First Ed Miliband, then George Osborne and now Theresa May have pledged to build us out of trouble. How has this idea moved across the political spectrum - and could traffic lights and bridges really solve our economic woes?

Joining David Aaronovitch in the Briefing Room are:

Sir John Armitt, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers

Michelle Baddeley, Professor of Economics and Finance at University College London

Tim Worstall, Senior Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute

Researcher: Jordan Dunbar

Producer: Hannah Sander.

Iran's Revenge20200109

The killing of General Soleimani by the United States has led to uproar in Iran. Massive crowds have accompanied his coffin through the streets and he is now hailed as a martyr. Retaliation has started with a missile attack against US airbases in Iraq, led by The Revolutionary Guard (IRGC).

David Aaronovitch examines the history and political clout of one of the most feared military organisations in the world. The IRGC's sphere of influence spreads deep into Iranian society and abroad too. What role will it play in what happens next and what impact will recent events have on US and Iranian foreign policy?

Contributors:

Ambassador Barbara Leaf, former US ambassador to the UAE and senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, research fellow at The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)

Ali Alfoneh, senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute, Washington DC

Azadeh Moaveni, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group

Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Director of the School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech.

Producers: Rosamund Jones, Jordan Dunbar and Kirsteen Knight
Editor: Jasper Corbett

What power does Iran's Revolutionary Guard wield and what will they do now?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch examines the history and political clout of one of the most feared military organisations in the world. The IRGC's sphere of influence spreads deep into Iranian society and abroad too. What role will it play in what happens next and what impact will recent events have on US and Iranian foreign policy?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

Is Big Tech Out Of Control?20170928

Are big technology companies out of control, as their rapid growth and influence has made them too big to fail?

David Aaronovitch asks if companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon can be reined in and explores a range of issues including innovation, data, privacy, competition and security.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said his company will hand over to US investigators more than 3,000 advertisements bought by groups with links to Russia – and the Washington Post reported that President Obama had previously warned Mr Zuckerberg about the threat of fake news and political disinformation.

On this side of the Atlantic, another tech company - Uber – is now in big trouble with Transport For London over its license to operate in the capital, claiming the company was not “fit and proper ?, citing major concerns about its approach to reporting criminal offences and carrying out background checks on drivers.

Both cases, and a plethora of others, have raised questions about the way big technology firms operate, and while they arguably bring immeasurable benefits to us in our everyday lives, governments have struggled to keep up with what they’re up to.

CONTRIBUTORS

Jamie Bartlett, technology writer and author of Radicals: Outsiders Changing the World

Jonathan Taplin, author of Move Fast and Break Things

Eileen Burbidge, Chair of Tech City UK

Rana Foroohar, Financial Times columnist and author of Makers and Takers

Are big technology companies out of control and now too big to fail?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Are big technology companies out of control and too big to fail? David Aaronovitch asks if companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon can be reined in. He explores a range of issues including innovation, data, privacy, competition and security.

Guests include Jamie Bartlett, technology writer, Jonathan Taplin, author of Move Fast and Break Things, Eileen Burbidge, Chair of Tech City UK and Rana Foroohar, Financial Times columnist and author of Makers and Takers.

Rana Foroohar, Financial Times columnist and author of Makers and Takers

Is Britain's Political System Broken?20190117

There is little or no consensus in Westminster about what kind of Brexit, if any, MPs want. The government's plan was defeated by a whopping 232 votes. And Labour's vote of confidence in the government was then defeated.

Brexit has stretched the British parliamentary system to its limits. David Aaronovitch and guests examine Britain's constitutional crisis and ask if the current political system is irretrievably broken.

GUESTS
Katy Balls - Deputy Political Editor of The Spectator
Sam McBride - Political Editor of The Belfast Newsletter
Alison Young - Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge
Robert Hazell - Professor of Government and the Constitution at University College, London

Brexit has stretched the parliamentary system to its limits - is it irretrievably broken?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Has Brexit broken Britain's political system?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Is Greece Out Of The Woods?20180823

Greece exited its bailout programme last week. It's the culmination of nine years of reliance on huge loans from international finance bodies and stringent budget cuts. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, heralded it as a day of liberation.

In the course of the country's economic crisis, youth unemployment rose to nearly 50 per cent and 40 per cent of the working age population was left at risk of poverty. Pensions were frozen and public sector salaries slashed.

David Aaronovitch speaks to guests about what successive governments have had to do to turn things round and what impact years of austerity have had on the day-to-day life of the Greek people. And although the economic indicators have improved somewhat, how confident can the Greek government be in its future and in its ability to stimulate longer term growth?

CONTRIBUTORS

Michele Kambas, Athens bureau chief at Thomson Reuters

Roman Gerodimos, founder of the Greek Politics Specialist Group

Chloe Hadjimatheou, BBC journalist

Professor Kevin Featherstone, Director of the Hellenic Observatory at the London School of Economics

Producer: Tim Mansel.

Greece has exited its bailout programme. What does the future hold?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Is Isis Still A Threat?20180215

The capture of two Londoners accused of brutal crimes in Syria has again raised questions about the viability of so-called Islamic State. The two men - El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - face an uncertain future. Britain has stripped them of their citizenship and has said it doesn't want them to come back to the UK to face trial and so it's unclear what will happen to them.

Many countries are now grappling with the issue of what to do with the young men and women who return home from Syria. In fact, data shows that relatively few terror attacks that have taken place around the world in recent years have been conducted by returnees from Syria - although the devastating series of attacks in Paris in November 2015 were perpetrated by people who'd been to Syria.

Given the defeat of IS on the battlefield, its loss of territory in the Middle East and the loss of the cities of Mosul and Raqqa we assess the continuing threat IS poses.

CONTRIBUTORS

Fiona de Londras, Professor of Global Legal Studies at Birmingham Law School

Richard Barrett, former head of counter-terrorism at the British foreign intelligence service MI6

Dr Elisabeth Kendall, Senior Research Fellow in Arabic, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

Charlie Winter, Senior Research Fellow, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), King's College, London

Does so-called Islamic State still pose a threat to Syria and around the world?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Is It Time To Renationalise The Railways?20170216

Bringing Britain's railways back into public ownership is a popular idea with passengers - but would it really make any improvements to service?

Renationalisation of the railways is official Labour party policy. Polls suggest a majority of voters favour it too - and that was the case before the recent problems with Southern Rail.

With the help of the Conservative former transport minister Michael Portillo, David Aaronovitch explores the history of British railway ownership, asks whether it's possible to make the privatised system work and finds out how a future government might go about bringing the railways back into public ownership.

Contributors:

Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside and Chair, Transport Select Committee

Laurie Macfarlane, Economist, New Economics Foundation

Michael Portillo, former Conservative Minister of State for Transport

Michael Schabas, railways consultant

Christian Wolmar, railways historian and journalist

Producer: Phil Kemp
Research: Sam Bright.

Public ownership is a popular idea with voters, but would it improve Britain's railways?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Renationalisation of the railways is official Labour party policy. Polls suggest a majority of voters favour it too - and that was the case before the recent problems with Southern Rail.

Michael Portillo, former Conservative Minister of State for Transport

Producer: Phil Kemp

Is The Home Office A Problem Department?20180503

Why do we get through so many Home Secretaries?

It may be one of the great offices of state, but many British politicians regard the job of Home Secretary with dread.

As one former holder of the post put it "there grew a view that the Home Office was a graveyard for politicians".

After the resignation of its latest incumbent, Amber Rudd, what is it about the Home Office that makes it such a challenging government department to lead?

For this week's programme David Aaronovitch is joined by:

Michael Cockerell, political documentary maker

Erica Consterdine, research fellow at the University of Sussex

Professor Nick Pearce, director of the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath

Jill Rutter, programme director at the Institute for Government

Sue Cameron, writer and broadcaster who covers Whitehall.

Why do so many politicians dread the job of Home Secretary?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Is The Student Finance System Working?20180809

This month exam results are published, and millions of young people will be hoping that they will do well enough to get into their chosen university. But students don't only need good grades to succeed - they also need money.

Ever since the expansion of higher education in the late 20th century, the way we pay for universities and their students has been through many changes. But now, the system is broken, critics say: tuition fees and student loans are too expensive, and the whole system is too opaque. This week, the head of one elite university group called for the return of maintenance grants. So what's wrong with student finance, and how can it be made to work better? David Aaronovitch and his guests discuss.

What's wrong with student finance - and how could the system be made to work better?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Is Turkey Imploding?20180816

This week Turkey's currency plummeted to its lowest level ever against the US dollar. The lira's steady descent this year was accelerated by the imposition of increased tariffs on steel and aluminium by the United States.

President Trump, it seems, is personally angered by the continued detention in Turkey of an American pastor, who's been held for nearly two years on suspicion of spying.

The currency crisis has focussed attention on Turkey more broadly: on economic difficulties with deep roots, on the leadership of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has accumulated unprecedented power, and on Turkey's troubled relationships with many of its traditional allies.

Mr Erdogan says he may now need to look for new friends - a potentially troubling prospect for other NATO members.

David Aaronovitch asks how deep is the Turkish crisis?

CONTRIBUTORS

Soner Çağaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of The New Sultan - a biography of President Erdogan.

Dr Mina Toksoz, an emerging markets and country risk consultant at the foreign affairs think tank Chatham House

Dr. Amanda Sloat, Brookings Institution, Washington DC and former deputy assistant secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs at the US State Department

Dr Ziya Meral, a specialist on Turkey and a fellow at the British Army’s Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research

The collapse of the Turkish lira has exposed deeper problems. How bad is the situation?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Is Venezuela On The Brink Of Collapse?20170810

How did the oil rich state of Venezuela see such a rapid economic decline? Poverty is rife, inflation is running at more than 700 per cent and protests are widespread. President Nicolás Maduro is tightening his hold on power following the appointment of a new national assembly, charged with writing a new constitution.

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks whether former president Hugo Chavez and president Maduro played a role in compounding the crisis and asks if Venezuela might become a failed state.

CONTRIBUTORS
Dany Bahar, The Brookings Institution

Andrea Murta, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center of the Atlantic Council

Miguel Tinker-Salas, Pomona College, California

Katy Watson, BBC

Vladimir Hernandez, BBC.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Vladimir Hernandez, BBC.

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How did the oil rich state of Venezuela see such a rapid economic decline? Poverty is rife, inflation is running at more than 700 per cent and protests are widespread. President Nicolás Maduro is tightening his hold on power following the appointment of a new national assembly, charged with writing a new constitution.

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks whether former president Hugo Chavez and president Maduro played a role in compounding the crisis and asks if Venezuela might become a failed state.

Is Your Local Council Going Bust?20180208

Child services in Northampton are under pressure - and it's partly due to where long-distance lorry drivers choose to take a pee.

In fact, Northampton County Council as a whole is under huge financial pressure and earlier this week seven MPs from the county called for government commissioners to take over after the council announced that it would not be able to balance its budget by the end of the financial year - leading it to put a block on any new expenditure.

In this programme, David Aaronovitch explores the causes of financial pressures on local authorities (including what lorry drivers have to do with it) and how widespread the financial crisis is throughout England.

Where have councils had money cut? Which areas have received increased funding? And what does this ultimately mean for the future of local services?

CONTRIBUTORS

Sam Read, Politics Reporter for BBC Radio Northampton

Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy

Jennifer Glover of the Local Government Information Unit - a think tank paid for by local authorities

Colin Copus, Professor of Local Government at De Montfort University

How serious is the financial crisis in England's town halls?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Jesse Morton: The Jihadi Who Changed His Mind20160901

A former radical jihadi changed his mind and is now speaking out against extremism.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch looks at important issues in the news.

John Worboys: Understanding The Parole Board20180118

How does the Parole Board decide whether to release offenders on licence? Should it be more open, especially since the decision to release serial sex offender John Worboys?

Nick Hardwick, the Chair of the Parole Board for England and Wales wants its workings to be more transparent in order to boost public confidence. And he thinks we can learn from Canada.

David Aaronovitch is joined by a panel of experts to discuss the Parole Board amid public anger over the release of a prominent sex offender. He'll hear, among others, from a former inmate and a current Chair of a Parole Board panel, and will ask whether lifting the lid on the organisation's workings might appease its critics.

CONTRIBUTORS

Danny Shaw, BBC Home Affairs Correspondent

Ben Gunn, former prison inmate

Lucy Gampell, independent member, Parole Board for England and Wales

Mary Campbell, retired Director General, Corrections & Criminal Justice, Department of Public Safety Canada.

Professor Nicky Padfield , Director, Cambridge Centre for Criminal Justice.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Labour's Election Result: A Successful Failure?20170615

The election was supposed to be a disaster for Jeremy Corbyn - but wasn't. How did Labour turn around its fortunes?

Despite coming second and falling 64 seats short of an overall majority, the Labour party increased its share of the vote by nearly ten per cent. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are in crisis and the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister is now being seriously contemplated by people who described him as un-electable just eight weeks ago.

David Aaronovitch speaks to leading experts in political history, psephology (the study of elections) and media analysis to understand who voted Labour and why.

They explore the influence of changing voter demographics, party leadership, Brexit and social media and asks whether we should view Labour's performance as a success or a failure?

The election was supposed to be a disaster for Jeremy Corbyn - but wasn't. Why?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Les Gilets Jaunes20181206

In France a wave of protests has brought the country to a standstill in recent weeks. The original cause of the anger - the government's plan to raise the rate of tax on diesel - has now disappeared. President Macron responded this week to the mood in the country by withdrawing the tax, due to be introduced next year. The question now is whether that will temper the anger of the Gilets Jaunes, the protesters who take their name from the hi-viz vest that every French driver must carry with them in their vehicle. The protesters form an amorphous movement without leaders and their demands are many and various. President Macron is being criticised as much for his style and tactics as his policy. Where does France go from here? With Sophie Pedder of The Economist, the geographer Christophe Guilluy, the pollster Bruno Jeanbart, the writer Jane Weston-Vauclair and Professor Philippe Marliere of University College London.

As Paris braces for another weekend of demonstrations, we ask what's going on in France.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Liberalism Under Attack20161222
Liberalism's Horrible Year20161222

What is Liberalism? And did it die in 2016 as both left and right wing media claim?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Macron: One Year On20180517

One year into his presidency, can Emmanuel Macron succeed in reforming France where his predecessors have failed?

The Briefing Room visits Paris to find out what President Macron stands for and whether his reforms are likely to take root. Does En Marche - the political movement which helped President Macron get elected - have what it takes to change the face of French politics.

David Aaronovitch is joined by:

Pierre Briançon, Chief Economics Correspondent at Politico Europe

Adam Plowright, France correspondent at AFP and author of 'The French Exception'

Delphine O, LREM MP at the French National Assembly

Sophie Pedder, Paris Bureau Chief at The Economist and author of forthcoming biography 'Revolution Française'

Bruno Jeanbart, Deputy Managing Director of OpinionWay

Alexander Bregman, CEO, Invitly

Charlotte Muller, CEO, LeService.

One year into his presidency, can France's Emmanuel Macron succeed where others failed?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Malta: Shady People In A Sunny Place20191205

The island of Malta is the European Union's smallest state. Yet it is giving Brussels one of its biggest headaches.

After the very public blowing up in her car of an investigative journalist in 2017, the slow investigation into her death took a dramatic turn earlier this week with the sudden resignation of the prime minister. Some of his closest associates have also gone.

But what are the reasons for this development? Why has Malta become the centre of such attention and scrutiny after centuries of relative obscurity? What do its travails tell us about modern European economies and the rule of law? And why does the European Union seem to struggle at ensuring political accountability among its member states?

David Aaronovitch invites us into The Briefing Room to discover the answers.

Editor Jasper Corbett

Why has the premier of the EU's smallest state, and a former British colony, resigned?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

May's Brexit Dilemma20171207

The different factions piling Brexit pressure on Theresa May.

Following the failure to reach a deal on the first stage of Brexit earlier this week, David Aaronovitch asks experts why Theresa May seems to have fallen foul of her own side.

He'll examine the Brexit demands of different groups in Westminster, Brussels, Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin and ask which of them has the most influence.

Joining the discussion are:

Katy Balls, Political Correspondent for The Spectator

Adam Fleming, BBC Brussels Correspondent

Mark Devenport, BBC Northern Ireland Political Editor

Sarah Smith, BBC Scotland Editor

Why Theresa May seems to have fallen foul of her own side in Brexit negotiations.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Middle East Youthquake20191212

A wave of protests are sweeping through Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. Retribution in Iraq and Iran has been swift and savage, and hundreds of young people have been killed - but what lies behind the unrest?

David Aaronovitch explores the common themes - unemployment, crony sectarianism, corruption and hopelessness. These were the issues that led countless thousands onto the streets in many middle eastern countries during the Arab Spring ten years ago.

What lessons have governments and protesters learnt since then? The young people are hoping for sustained political and economic change this time. What chance is there of that happening?

CONTRIBUTORS:

Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East Editor

Dr Lena Khatib, Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House

Michael Safi, International Correspondent, The Guardian

Pesha Magid, Journalist

Lizzie Porter, Journalist

Producer: Rosamund Jones
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Protests have swept through Iran, Iraq and Lebanon - what lies behind the unrest?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Milo Yiannopoulos And The Alt-right20160825

David Aaronovitch speaks to Milo Yiannopoulos about Donald Trump's new political base

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch hears from top experts and key players about an important issue of the day.

Nationalisation - How Would It Work?20180927

At its annual conference in Liverpool this week, the Labour party set out plans to nationalise a large range of industries that previous governments had sold off. The industries it wants to bring back into public ownership include water, rail, energy and the Royal Mail. But how would Labour’s ideas work? And what would the process be for implementing them? David Aaronovitch and his guests discuss.

Contributors:
Chris Curtis, senior political researcher, YouGov
Dieter Helm, Professor of Energy Policy and a Fellow in Economics at the University of Oxford
Dan Neidle, Partner, Clifford Chance
Dr Sarah Hendry, Senior Lecturer in law at University of Dundee
Karma Loveday, Editor, The Water Report

Producer: Neil Koenig

Labour's plans for nationalisation - how would they work?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Powering Up The North20200116

The government wants an infrastructure revolution in the north of England. David Aaronovitch looks at whether improving transport networks could reduce economic differences between the north and south. He talks to experts about how the Treasury judges whether a project value for money. And he considers which projects might be the best ones to pursue and whether we have the necessary skills to deliver them.

Contributors

Geraldine Scott, The Yorkshire Post

Alasdair Reisner, Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)

Dr Marianne Sensier, University of Manchester

Tom Forth, Open Data Institute, Leeds

Paul Swinney, The Centre for Cities

Producers: Rosamund Jones, Jordan Dunbar, Kirsteen Knight
Editor: Jasper Corbett

The government wants an infrastructure revolution in the north. How will it do that?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The government wants an infrastructure revolution in the north of England. David Aaronovitch looks at whether improving transport networks could reduce economic differences between the north and south. He talks to experts about how the Treasury judges whether a project value for money. And he considers which projects might be the best ones to pursue and whether we have the necessary skills to deliver them.
Contributors : Geraldine Scott from The Yorkshire Post, Alasdair Reisner from CECA, Dr Marianne Sensier from the University of Manchester, Tom Forth from Open Data in Leeds and Paul Swinney from the Centre for Cities.
Producers: Rosamund Jones, Jordan Dunbar, Kirsteen Knight
Editor: Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

President Trump's End Of Year Report20171221

Has President Trump delivered on the promises he made on the campaign trail?

This programme cuts through the White House soap opera which has dominated headlines and asks what has the President actually achieved?

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts look back at some of the pre-election pledges made on a broad range of issues such as tax cuts, the economy, immigration, foreign policy and justice to reveal where the president has made progress - and where and why his plans have stalled.

CONTRIBUTORS

Donald Marron, director of economic policy initiatives at the Urban Institute in Washington DC

Joseph Gagnon, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Leslie Vinjamuri, associate fellow with the US and the Americas Programme at Chatham House

Marie Price, professor of geography and international affairs at George Washington University and President of the American Geographical Society

Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (retired).

Has President Trump delivered on his campaign promises?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

President Xi And The Chinese Dream20171019

President Xi Jinping is said to be China's most powerful leader since Chairman Mao Zedong - so what does he want to do with this power?

The Chinese Communist Party started its congress this week, held every five years, unveiling a new generation of political leaders.

It is also expected that President Xi Jinping will be accorded the rare honour of seeing his own doctrine - Xi Jinping Thought - being enshrined in China's constitution.

Where will that Thought take him and his huge, strategically essential country - and how might this affect the rest of the world?

Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are:

Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia and president of the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI)

Yanmei Xie, a writer on Chinese politics

Lord Jim O'Neill, former UK Treasury Minister and chairman of Goldman Sachs

Is President Xi Jinping China's most powerful leader since Chairman Mao?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Many China watchers believe the country's president, Xi Jinping, is now the most powerful leader the country has had since Mao Zedong. If so what does President Xi want to do with that power and what will it mean for the rest of the world?

David is joined by guests including:

Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia.
Yanmei Xie, a writer on Chinese politics,
Lord O'Neill, former Treasury Minister and Chairman of Goldman Sachs.

Quantitative Easing20160929

Why has the Bank of England started creating new money to buy government debt again?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Current affairs combining original insights into major news with topical investigations.

Saudi Arabia's Radical Crown Prince20171130

Can Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince radically change the kingdom?

Mohammed bin Salman is an ambitious new leader who wants to reshape his country's politics, economy and society. But he faces strong opposition both at home and abroad.

David Aaronovitch examines his plans and asks whether they'll work.

Joining the discussion this week:

Nicolas Pelham, Middle East correspondent for The Economist and author of 'Holy Lands, A New Muslim Order'

Rasha Qandeel, presenter of BBC Arabic Newsnight

Safa al-Ahmad, an award-winning Saudi Arabian journalist.

Can Saudi Arabia's crown prince radically change the kingdom?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Scottish Independence: Hope And Fear2020080620200808 (R4)

Recent polls suggest a growing majority of people in Scotland now favour independence, so what’s behind the change since the 2014 referendum when 55% of voters chose to remain in the Union? How likely is another vote considering Boris Johnson has said it’s not going to happen and what issues are likely to dominate campaigning if it does?

David Aaronovitch asks the experts:

Allan Little reported widely on devolution and the questions around Scottish independence as a BBC special correspondent.
Sir John Curtice is a Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, and Chief Commentator on the What UK Thinks
Jess Sargeant is a Senior Researcher at The Institute for Government where she focusses on devolution.
Lynsey Bews, is a Political Correspondent for BBC Scotland
Alistair Grant is a Political Correspondent for The Herald newspaper.

Producers: Kirtseen Knight, Beth Sagar-Fenton and Joe Kent
Studio manager: Neva Missirian
Editor: Richard Vadon

What is behind rising support for independence and how could another referendum happen?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations

Should Vaccinations Be Compulsory?20190509

With measles infections on the rise in the UK, should vaccinations be made compulsory?

Measles is an ‘entirely preventable’ disease, says the UN – and for a while the UK and other developed countries had prevented it.

But during the first three months of this year, the World Health Organisation reported 112,000 cases of measles. Over the same time last year it was 28,000

In the UK we once again have outbreaks of measles and a falling vaccination rate.

David Aaronovitch asks how much this matters and whether, as the Health Secretary has said recently, we should rule nothing out, even including compulsory vaccination.

CONTRIBUTORS

Gareth Williams, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Bristol and author of Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox

Professor Heidi Larson, director of The Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Hugh Whittall, director of The Nuffield Council on Bioethics

Dr Stephen John, Hatton Lecturer in the Philosophy of Public Health at the University of Cambridge

Producers: Richard Fenton-Smith & Serena Tarling
Researcher: Kirsteen Knight
Editor: Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Should We Scrap Gcses?20190214

The Conservative chairman of the Education Select Committee called GCSEs 'pointless' and said they should be abolished. David Aaronovitch asks if it is time for the exam system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be completely overhauled.

GUESTS

Sandra Leaton Gray Associate Professor in Education at University College London’s Institute of Education
Laura McInerney, former editor of Schools Week and education writer
Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Sir Mike Tomlinson, former Chief Inspector for Ofsted
Lord Baker, former Education Secretary who brought in GCSEs
Peter Mandler, cultural historian at Cambridge University

A senior Tory MP says GCSEs are pointless and they should be abolished. Is he right?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Should We Worry About Huawei?20190221

The boss of Chinese telecoms giant, Huawei, says his company would never spy on behalf of the Chinese state. But some experts think it would be a mistake for Britain to involve the company in the development of the 5G network. What's the relationship between Huawei and the government in Beijing, is the company a reliable partner and what should Britain do?

David Aaronovitch is joined by:

Dr Linda Yueh, Economist at the University of Oxford and author of 'The Great Economists'.
Wanyuan Song, BBC Journalist
Jan-Peter Kleinhans, Project Director IoT-Security at Stiftung Neue Verantwortung
Professor Steve Tsang, Director of the China Institute, the School of Oriental and African Studies
Charlie Parton, Senior Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute
Emily Taylor, Editor, Chatham House's Journal of Cyber Policy
Dr Tim Stevens, Lecturer in Global Security, King's College London

Does Chinese telecoms giant Huawei present a threat to national security?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Should We Worry About Turkey?20170413

What does Turkey's referendum mean for the UK's foreign policy?

The UK has long seen Turkey as a bastion of stability in the Middle East: a Muslim-majority democracy, a NATO member and ally against so-called Islamic State; a physical and ideological bridge between east and west; and a fascinating and pleasant place to take our families on holiday.

That stability is increasingly in doubt. A series of bloody terror attacks has made many holidaymakers think twice about Turkey. More fundamentally, Turks are in the midst of a bitter referendum campaign that could change how they're ruled. On the face of it, they should be united about Sunday's constitutional referendum.

Most agree the current constitution, drafted by on the orders of the military following a coup in 1980, needs change. Yet the two sides have literally been throwing punches.

Leading campaigners have been physically attacked; there's been a brawl in parliament. The Yes camp, led by the government, has painted its opponents as terrorists. The No camp say it's a power grab by the increasingly authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

"The wrong choices have the potential to deliver catastrophe well beyond Turkey's borders," a UK parliamentary report found recently. "Turkey's democracy and democratic culture are under severe pressure."

In this edition, David Aaronovich hears from:

Chris Morris, the BBC's long-time Turkey watcher

Ziya Meral, Resident Fellow, the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research

Firdevs Robinson, Turkish journalist and broadcaster

Gulnur Aybet, senior advisor to President Erdogan

Producer: Neal Razzell.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Sinn Fein's Rise20200213

Sinn Féin's historic result in the Irish election has the potential to change the face of Irish politics - dominated for the past hundred years by the two main parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

So what lies behind the rise of Sinn Féin? And to what extent has it put its past association with violent republicanism behind it?

David Aaronovitch is joined by guests including:

Naomi O'Leary correspondent at Politico Europe
Brian Feeney, historian and author
Professor Roy Foster, professor of history at Oxford University.
Dr Margaret O'Callaghan, political analyst at Queens University, Belfast
Dr Theresa Reidy, political scientist at University College Cork

Producer: Jordan Dunbar
Editor: Jasper Corbett
-

Sinn F\u00e9in recorded a historic result in the Irish election. Why?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Snap General Election20170420

What are the political tribes which divide British voters today and how will June's general election shape Britain?

Britain voted last year on the question of the EU - and following Theresa May's surprise announcement, we vote again on who should take us out.

The nature of the result could define British political life for decades to come - so how will voters decide? And what might the impact of the campaign be on Britain's future outside the European Union?

David Aaronovitch speaks to political experts to assess the upcoming campaign and its potential to shape the country Britain becomes.

CONTRIBUTORS

Lord Peter Hennessy, Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary University of London

Peter Kellner, political commentator and veteran pollster

Rosie Campbell, Professor of Politics, Birkbeck College, University of London

David Runciman, Professor of Politics, University of Cambridge and host of the Talking Politics podcast

Producer: China Collins.

What defines British voters today, and how will the vote in June shape Britain?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Producer: China Collins.

Series looking at important issues in the news. Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Syria: Who Wants What From The Conflict?20180125

As Turkey launches a new offensive over the border into north-east Syria, David Aaronovitch and guests examine what Turkey, Russia, Iran and the US want from the war in Syria. Which country stands to gain the most? And what is President Bashar al-Assad's calculation?

Guests include:
Suat Kiniklioglu from the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm.
Anna Borschchevskaya from the Washington Institute
Seyed Ali Alavi from the London School of Oriental and African Studies
Steven Heydemann from Smith College in Massachussetts
Lina Khatib from Chatham House.

David Aaronovitch asks what Turkey, Russia, Iran and the US want from the war in Syria.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The Ai Revolution20170824

How will Artificial Intelligence shape our lives, and what should we do now to prepare for it?

AI is all around us in our everyday lives. It's used to make decisions about employment, loans, credit cards and even what we read and listen to. So what are the implications of this revolutionary technology?

David Aaronovitch hears from experts in the field including:

David Baker, contributing editor to Wired magazine

Cathy O'Neil, former data scientist

Pippa Malmgren, founder of H Robotics

Regina Barzilay, computer scientist at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory

How will artificial intelligence shape our lives and what should we do to prepare for it?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch hears from experts in the field including David Baker, contributing editor to Wired magazine, Cathy O'Neil, a former data scientist, Pippa Malmgren, founder of H Robotics and Regina Barzilay, a computer scientist at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory.

The Battle For Britain20190912

It’s been another extraordinary week of politics. Parliament is closed, but a general election is on the horizon.

What strategy should the party leaders follow to come out victorious? David Aaronovitch slips into character to seek advice as to how Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson, Nigel Farage and Nicola Sturgeon should play the coming weeks and months.

Guests:
David Cowling, political analyst and expert in voting patterns
Rosie Campbell, Professor of Politics at King’s College London
Rob Ford, Professor of Political Science at Manchester University

What strategy should the party leaders follow now?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The Chilcot Report: The Source Who Lied20160707

The story of the intelligence source who lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The Cost Of Abandoning Austerity20170706

The chancellor is facing widespread calls for more spending. Should he listen, or stick to his deficit reduction plan?

Senior Conservatives are calling for more public spending on things like public sector pay - but Philip Hammond is committed to what he himself calls 'the long slog of austerity'.

David Aaronovitch invites a range of experts into The Briefing Room to help him understand the arguments around public spending, and asks if the UK should ditch austerity?

Guests include Paul Johnson from the IFS and economists Ann Pettifor and Tim Besley.

David Aaronovitch explores the arguments for and against raising public spending

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Guests include Paul Johnson from the IFS and economists Ann Pettifor and Tim Besley.

The Crisis In Conservatism20170720

Are Tory divisions temporary or symptomatic of deeper problems?

Parliament has broken up for the summer, and the last week has seen Conservative cabinet ministers engaging in open warfare. But are the divisions a temporary crisis, or are they symptomatic of deeper problems in the party? David Aaronovitch speaks to a range of experts and goes beyond the future leadership jostling to see what's really causing the current political climate.

He hears from a former adviser to David Cameron who says the Tories are facing an existential threat if they can't win over the under 40s. He then hears from a panel of experts on what policies are needed to lure in younger voters.

CONTRIBUTORS

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London

Lord Andrew Cooper, former director of strategy to David Cameron

Laura Gardiner, senior research and policy analyst at the think tank The Resolution Foundation

David Skelton, director of Renewal – a campaign group to broaden the appeal of the Conservative party to working-class and ethnic minority voters

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Skelton, director of Renewal – a campaign group to broaden the appeal of the Conservative party to working-class and ethnic minority voters

Guests include Tim Bale, Lord Cooper, Laura Gardiner and David Skelton.

The Far Right In America20170817

What do the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, tell us about the strength of the far-right in America? What should the government do to combat domestic extremism?

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks if there is a white nationalist revival in the United States and what that means for the country's politics.

CONTRIBUTORS:
J.M. Berger, author, analyst and consultant on extremism.
Sandy Hausman, WVTF radio.
Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who is now an anti-extremism campaigner.
Leonard Zeskind, a researcher of the American far-right and director of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights
Asha Rangappa, former special agent, FBI and now lecturer at Yale Law School.

What do the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, tell us about the far-right in America?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

CONTRIBUTORS:
J.M. Berger, author, analyst and consultant on extremism.
Sandy Hausman, WVTF radio.
Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who is now an anti-extremism campaigner.
Leonard Zeskind, a researcher of the American far-right and director of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights
Asha Rangappa, former special agent, FBI and now lecturer at Yale Law School.

The Inequalities Of Lockdown2020040920200411 (R4)

What effect is the lockdown having across the country and population? David Aaronovitch examines which jobs have been lost, whose health is more at risk and whose education is most likely to suffer. Is the lockdown likely to increase inequality? And if it does, how might a government reverse that trend once normal life is resumed?

Contributors: Professor Angus Deaton from Princeton University, Professor Simon Burgess from Bristol University, Xiaowei Xu from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Paul Swinney from the Centre for Cities and Miatta Fahnbulleh from the New Economics Foundation.

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Darin Graham and Rosamund Jones.
Editor: Jasper Corbett

What do we know about the impact of the lockdown on different people and places?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

The Investigatory Powers Act A.k.a The Snoopers' Charter20161201

What powers does the so-called 'Snoopers' Charter' give to the intelligence services?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The Leicester Lockdown20200702

In Germany fences have gone up to keep people in their homes and stop the spread of Coronavirus, while some people in Melbourne are being threatened with fines or imprisonment for travelling to other states. Could that happen in the UK?

The new lockdown in Leicester is likely to be the first of many, so how should local lockdowns work and when should they be introduced? David Aaronovitch asks the experts:

Amy Orton – local democracy reporter at the Leicester Mercury/ Leicestershire Online
Dr Nathalie MacDermott – Kings College London
Damien McGuinness – the BBC’s Berlin correspondent
Alex Thomas – Programme director, The Institute for Government
Greg Fell - The Association of Directors of Public Health/ Sheffield City Council Director of Public Health
Dr Jilly Gibson-Miller – health psychologist at the University of Sheffield

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Beth Sagar-Fenton, Joe Kent
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

How local lockdowns will work, Leicester's is likely to be the first of many.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts examine big issues in the news.

The Mueller Indictment20180222

Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel appointed to investigate possible Russian links to the Trump campaign in 2016, last week issued formal charges against three companies and thirteen named individuals. They are all Russian.

The 37-page indictment provides a wealth of detail on the scale and ambition of the operation, in which ordinary Americans were manipulated into not only promoting their messages online but even organising political rallies.

President Trump responded to the indictment by repeating his assertion that he had never colluded with the Russians.

It's not clear that those indicted will ever appear in an American courtroom, but if the allegations are true, they represent unprecedented interference in the American political system and raise questions about future vulnerability.

CONTRIBUTORS

Gordon Corera, BBC security correspondent

Molly McKew, expert in information warfare specialising in US-Russia relations, New Media Frontier

Andrei Soshnikov, BBC Moscow

Asha Rangappa, senior lecturer at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University and former FBI special agent, counterintelligence division.

What the Mueller indictment tells us about Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The New Ira20160526

Who are the New IRA - the dissident republicans who pose a substantial threat to Britain?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The North Korean Missile Threat20170831

Do the United States and its allies really have the technology to stop incoming missiles from North Korea?

In the week North Korea tested another ballistic missile - this time it flew over northern Japan - David Aaronovich asks what threat does North Korea's missile programme pose?

And beyond North Korea, what are the capabilities of ICBMs? And how effective are missile defence systems?

Contributors:

Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at Kings College London

Joseph Cirincione author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late

Dr Patricia Lewis, a former UN official who specialised in non-proliferation

Dr Laura Grego from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Do the United States and its allies have the technology to stop incoming missiles?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Dr Laura Grego from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Perfect Storm: The United Kingdom, Brexit And Its History20190905

In a momentous week for British politics, David Aaronovitch presents a special hour-long edition of The Briefing Room in which he asks whether the United Kingdom's history might help us to understand better the political storms buffeting the country. What has the debate over Brexit done to Britain’s political parties and its parliamentary system, what does Brexit mean for the future of the union, what does it tell us about Britain’s place in the world and what has it revealed about the state of the country and the public’s faith in government as its provider and protector?

Joining David Aaronovitch are:
Margaret MacMillan, Professor of History at Oxford University
Anne Deighton, Emeritus Professor of History at Wolfson College
Mary Daly, Emiritus Professor of Modern Irish History at University College Dublin
Lord Lexden, the official historian of the Conservative Party
Professor Ian McLean, Senior Research Fellow in Politics at Nuffield College Oxford
Alwyn Turner, social historian.

Producer Neil Koenig
Editor Jasper Corbett

Can history help us make better sense of the political turmoil we are living through?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The Prison Problem20161208

What are the policies and political decisions which led to the current crisis in prisons?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Prison life isn't meant to be easy but it is supposed to be safe and secure. Drugs, violence, self-harm and suicide are increasing problems - but what are the policies and political decisions which led to this current crisis?

David Aaronovitch examines what's gone wrong and hears stories from inside the prison system. He explores what over-crowding and under-staffing means for prisoners and officers alike who live with it day in, day out.

The programme also looks beyond the budget and staff cuts to explore the impact of sentencing changes, institutional leadership, and political opposition to more liberal policies which might ease the pressure in an overcrowded system. And we also discuss the current impact of drugs in prison and ask what role corrupt prison staff might play in the smuggling of contraband.

What would it take to bring prisons under control and longer term, how can we stop the next prison crisis and get the system working properly again?

CONTRIBUTORS

Charles - a former inmate at a London prison, now working with the rehabilitation and education charity Key4Life

John Podmore - former Governor of HMP Brixton and HMP Belmarsh; author of Out of Sight Out of Mind: Why Britain's Prisons Are Failing

Helen Arnold - Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Suffolk and Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University

Julian McCrae - Deputy Director of the Institute for Government and former Deputy Director of the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit (2009)

Producer: Matt Bardo

Research: Kirsteen Knight and Beth Sagar-Fenton.

The Problem Of North Korea20170427

The US and North Korea have been flexing their military muscles in recent weeks, testing and deploying new missiles.

President Trump has said North Korea is "a big big problem" that he will deal with "strongly". This week he took the extraordinary step of briefing the entire US Senate on American options to deal with the North's nuclear programme, as American troops conducted live-fire exercises near the North Korean border. Senators said the briefing was "sobering".

Here, David Aaronovich gets his own briefing, from one of America's top former diplomats in the region and from experts in Beijing and Seoul.

CONTRIBUTORS:

Daniel Russel: President Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, now Diplomat-in-Residence at the Asia Society Policy Institute

Yanmei Xie: Chinese foreign policy analyst, formerly with the International Crisis Group, now with Gavekal Dragonomics.

Jenny Lee: Opened the first western news bureau in North Korea, now with the Wilson Centre in Seoul

Producer: Neal Razzell
Research: Sarah Shebbeare

David Aaronovich explores what to do about a nuclear North Korea.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The US and North Korea have been flexing their military muscles in recent weeks, testing and deploying new missiles. President Trump has said North Korea is "a big big problem" that he will deal with "strongly". This week he took the extraordinary step of briefing the entire US Senate on American options to deal with the North's nuclear programme, as American troops conducted live-fire exercises near the North Korean border. Senators said the briefing was "sobering". Here, David Aaronovich gets his own briefing, from one of America's top former diplomats in the region and from experts in Beijing and Seoul.

Contributors:

Daniel Russel: President Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, now Diplomat-in-Residence at the Asia Society Policy Institute
Yanmei Xie: Chinese foreign policy analyst, formerly with the International Crisis Group, now with Gavekal Dragonomics.
Jenny Lee: Opened the first western news bureau in North Korea, now with the Wilson Centre in Seoul

Producer: Neal Razzell
Research: Sarah Shebbeare.

The Psychological Impact Of The Coronavirus Pandemic2020041620200418 (R4)

What mental hardship are we enduring and, when normality returns, how changed might we be?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

What do we know about how we are coping with the pandemic crisis? David Aaronovitch looks at the impact the three month lockdown has had on people in China and asks how different groups in the UK - just three weeks in - are faring. What are the particular difficulties faced by the most vulnerable and those who have been advised to self isolate, maybe for many months, during the pandemic? He asks what strategies can be put in place to reduce mental hardship now and in the coming weeks. And when normality resumes, how changed might we be?
Contributors: Dr George Hu from the Shanghai United Family Pudong Hospital, Helen Westerman from Childline, Professor Bobby Duffy from King's College London, Professor Stephen Reicher from the University of St Andrews and Professor Neil Greenberg from King's College London.
Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Darin Graham and Rosamund Jones.
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts and insiders explore major news stories.

What do we know about how we are coping with the pandemic crisis?

David Aaronovitch looks at the impact the three month lockdown has had on people in China and asks how different groups in the UK - just three weeks in - are faring.

What are the particular difficulties faced by the most vulnerable and those who have been advised to self isolate, maybe for many months, during the pandemic?

He asks what strategies can be put in place to reduce mental hardship now and in the coming weeks. And when normality resumes, how changed might we be?

Contributors:

Dr George Hu, Shanghai United Family Pudong Hospital

Helen Westerman, Childline

Prof Bobby Duffy, King's College London

Prof Stephen Reicher, University of St Andrews

Prof Neil Greenberg, King's College London.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The Remainers20160721

David Aaronovitch looks at important issues in the news.

The Truth About Bhs20160512

BHS was once one of the biggest names on the high street, so why did it go bust?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

BHS was once one of the biggest names on the high street, but after falling into administration now it faces an uncertain future.

In this, the first edition of The Briefing Room, presenter David Aaronovitch finds out whether it could have survived.

Much of the focus has been on Sir Philip Green who sold the firm a little over a year ago to a little-known group called Retail Acquisitions. BHS - once a fixture on the British high street - went through a period of high growth during the first part of Green's 15 years of ownership. But its subsequent decline was accelerated by the economic crisis of 2008, and in recent years it racked up huge losses.

Many accuse Green of trying to offload the company to duck its growing pension liabilities - one MP even called him the unacceptable face of capitalism. But there have also been suggestions that he's being unfairly tried in the court of public opinion.

Green and the owners of Retail Acquisitions will face questions in front of a parliamentary select committee next month. Meanwhile the administrators are entertaining offers for BHS assets. Hanging in the balance are the company's 11,000 employees and more than 20,000 members of the company pension scheme. So what happened to the retailer, and who's responsible for its decline?

Join us in The Briefing Room to find out.

Producer/Reporter: Michael Wendling

Researcher: Alex Burton.

The Uk's Place In The World20200723

How can the UK shape its foreign policy in response to threats posed by the likes of Russia and China? And how does that fit with the government’s vision of ‘Global Britain'?

David Aaronovitch asks the experts:
James Landale: BBC Diplomatic Correspondent
Lord Ricketts: former diplomat, ambassador and national security advisor
Dr Leslie Vinjamuri: director of the the US & Americas programme at Chatham House
Christopher Hill: Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Cambridge University and author of 'The Future of British Foreign Policy: Security and Diplomacy in a World After Brexit'
Dr Victoria Honeyman: politics lecturer and specialist in British foreign policy at the University of Leeds.

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Simon Coates and Joe Kent.
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

How can the UK shape foreign policy in response to the threats posed by Russia and China?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The United Kingdom, Brexit And Its History20190905
Treating Terror20200206

In recent months convicted terrorists just released from prison have launched knife attacks which have maimed and killed - the latest one on Streatham High Street in South London. Both attackers were shot dead by police officers.

David Aaronovitch asks why events like these are happening, and whether we are releasing convicted terrorists too early. The government is promising swift action, but will the proposed changes make us safer?

He asks what we know about the success of de-radicalisation programmes in our prisons and whether there are lessons we should be learning from other countries.

Contributors:

Nazir Afzal, former Chief Prosecutor

Andrew Silke, Professor of Terrorism, Risk and Resilience at the Cranfield Forensic Institute

Lord David Anderson QC, former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation in the United Kingdom

Dominic Casciani, BBC Home Affairs Correspondent

Producers: Rosamund Jones, Kirsteen Knight, Jordan Dunbar and Tom Wright
Editor: Jasper Corbett

What can be done to stop another convicted terrorist attacking again?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Trotsky, Trotskyism And Trotskyites20160908

Are revolutionary socialists trying to take control of the Labour Party?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch looks at important issues in the news.

Trump And Putin20160915

Why is Donald Trump accused of being Vladimir Putin's man?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

It's one of the strangest developments in a very strange election campaign. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, says Donald Trump is colourful and talented.

For his part, the Republican nominee says Putin is very much a leader... far more than our president has been a leader.

More than flattering words, on specific policy points - such as the civil war in Syria, the influence of NATO in Eastern Europe, and sanctions against Russia imposed over the conflict in Ukraine - Trump and his advisors seem sympathetic if not outright supportive of Putin's foreign policy objectives.

Donald Trump's policies are a startling departure from the normally hawkish Republican Party establishment, and Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have wasted no time in painting Trump's Russia links as a threat to national security.

Meanwhile, according to reports in the American press, Russian intelligence agencies are actively looking to disrupt the election. The hack of Democratic National Committee emails, whose contents were released in July, is just one noteworthy example.

In this edition of the Briefing Room, David Aaronovitch asks is Donald Trump Russia's man, or just anxious to rebuild half-burned bridges?

Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room this week will be:

Gabriel Gatehouse, BBC International Investigations Correspondent

Anne Applebaum, columnist for The Washington Post and director of The Transitions Forum, The Legatum Institute

Franklin Foer, fellow at the New America think tank and a contributing editor to Slate.com

Producer: Michael Wendling

Researcher: Kirsteen Knight

Editor: Innes Bowen.

Trump And The Economy20170202

Will President Trump's plan to put 'America first' make the USA richer?

He's promised a raft of radical economic reforms including a huge cut in tax on businesses, an income tax cut, a massive reduction in regulation, and investment in America's infrastructure.

His goal is to get America's economy growing at roughly double its current rate. He also wants to create 25 million new jobs, and put 'America first' in every policy decision.

But are these goals achievable and are the measures he's proposing likely to work?

David Aaronovitch explores what 'Trumponomics' might mean in practice and asks a range of experts whether his plans for the economy will lead to boom or bust.

CONTRIBUTORS

Jim Tankersley, Policy and Politics Editor, Vox

Arthur Laffer, former advisor to President Ronald Reagan

John Kay, visiting Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and fellow of St John's College, Oxford

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and formerly worked on Donald Trump’s campaign and transition team

Researcher: Samuel Bright
Producer: China Collins

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Trump And Trade20170209

Can President Trump deliver on his pre-election promise to bring back outsourced manufacturing jobs, and end the 'bad deals' that have outsourced labour to countries like Mexico?

This message was particularly powerful in America's Midwest - often referred to as the rust belt - where voters supported him in droves and helped him secure his narrow victory.

But how can he deliver on his promise, and what does putting 'America First' mean for the rest of the world - including Britain?

In the second part of The Briefing Room's two-part series on Trump's economy, David Aaronovitch explores what the President's trade policies might mean in practice.

CONTRIBUTORS

David Smith, economics editor for The Sunday Times

Arthur Laffer, economist and former advisor to President Ronald Reagan

Diane Furchgott-Roth, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and previously worked on Donald Trump’s campaign and transition team

Prof Ted Malloch, Henley Business School of the University of Reading

Monique Ebell, economist at the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, London

Researcher: Samuel Bright
Producer: China Collins

Can President Trump deliver on his promise to bring back outsourced manufacturing jobs?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Trump Vs Nato20180712

Should NATO plan for a future without the United States?

President Trump has long complained that some European members of the organisation have been getting a free ride from the USA after failing to meet their commitment to spend two per cent of their national income on defence.

At the NATO meeting on Wednesday he raised the ante, saying he wanted the two per cent to be raised to four per cent. The rhetoric from the White House has raised fears that the Trump administration might consider withdrawing from NATO altogether.

David Aaronovitch asks to what extent are European NATO members getting a free ride and could they defend themselves without US support?

He assesses the current threat to NATO and asks how the military alliance strengthens its European members and how the United States benefits from membership.

CONTRIBUTORS

Elisabeth Braw, expert on European security at the consultancy Control Risks

Nick Childs, senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies

Filippo Costa Buranelli, School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews

Tomas Valasek, former Slovakian permanent representative to NATO

Heather Conley, served in the US State Department during the George W. Bush administration

Producers: Tim Mansel, Serena Tarling and Olivia Beazley

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Trump, Russia And The Fbi20170518

There's a compelling story unfolding in Washington. Last week, President Trump fired the director of the FBI, James Comey. It was a contentious move: Comey was investigating ties between Donald Trump's election campaign and Russia. Some are now asking whether the President's job could be at risk.

On this week's Briefing Room, David Aaronovitch unpicks the relationship between Trump and the FBI, and asks where the investigation goes from here. If Trump is determined to make the investigation disappear, could he?

With the help of a former FBI Special Agent and expert on national security law and a veteran watcher of Capitol Hill, David Aaronovitch steps into the Briefing Room to make sense of the Trump affair.

Guests:
Paul Wood, BBC World Affairs Correspondent
Asha Rangappa, former FBI Special Agent and current Associate Dean at Yale Law School.
Niall Stanage, Associate Editor of the American political newspaper, The Hill.

Producer: Neal Razzell
Research: Sarah Shebbeare.

What to make of the mounting investigations into Donald Trump's campaign.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Producer: Neal Razzell
Research: Sarah Shebbeare.

Trump, Ukraine And Impeachment20191003

What's the Trump impeachment inquiry about? The White House is in damage limitation mode following a whistleblower complaint that revealed details about a phone call between President Trump and Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The whistleblower expressed an 'urgent concern' that Mr Trump had used his office to pressure a foreign power to damage a political rival and leading Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden.

Now the Democrats have launched a formal impeachment inquiry into what went on. Where might this end up and what does it mean for American politics?

David Aaronovitch is briefed on the wider context to this story and how the case will likely be built both for and against Donald Trump. He also asks how significant this moment is likely to be in US history?

GUESTS:

Josh Gerstein, Senior Legal Affairs Contributor, Politico
Jonah Fisher, BBC correspondent in Kiev
Leslie Vinjamuri, Head of US and Americas programme at Chatham House
Elaine Kamarck, Senior Fellow in the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution
Amy Jeffress, former federal prosecutor and partner at Arnold and Porter law firm

Producer: Serena Tarling
Editor: Jasper Corbett

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Trump's Economy20170202

President Trump says he'll make America richer. He's promised a raft of radical economic reforms including a huge cut in tax on businesses, an income tax cut, a massive reduction in regulation, and investment in America's infrastructure.

His goal is to get America's economy growing at roughly double its current rate. He also wants to create 25 million new jobs, and put 'America first' in every policy decision.

But are these goals achievable and are the measures he's proposing likely to work?

David Aaronovitch explores what 'Trumponomics' might mean in practice and asks a range of experts whether his plans for the economy will lead to boom or bust.

Guests include Arthur Laffer, Professor John Kay, Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Jim Tankersley.

Researcher: Samuel Bright

Producer: China Collins.

Trump's Economy: Trade20170209

Donald Trump put trade at the heart of his campaign to become President.

He has promised to take America out of what he sees as bad deals that outsource cheap labour to countries like Mexico. He has promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to America.

This message was particularly powerful in America's Midwest - often referred to as the rust belt - where voters supported him in droves and helped him secure his narrow victory.

But can he now deliver on his promise to bring back jobs, and what does 'America First' mean for the rest of the world - including Britain?

In the second part of The Briefing Room's two-part series on Trump's economy, David Aaronovitch explores what the President's trade policies might mean in practice.

Guests include Arthur Laffer, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Professor Ted Malloch and Monique Ebell.

Researcher: Samuel Bright

Producer: China Collins.

Trump's Shock Troops20160804

Why has Donald Trump clinched the Republican Party nomination despite angering a long list of key groups of American voters? Part of his success can be explained by an element of his political base, the alt-right. It's a mostly young, disparate movement which organises and congregates online, and its supporters have little in common with traditional Republicans. They are tribal and mostly sceptical about religion. They yearn for a strong leader and they loathe political correctness with a passion. Some are leading figures in the white supremacist movement, a development that frightens many mainstream Republicans who promised a more inclusive party after Mitt Romney's defeat four years ago. And in an interesting twist, some of the leading voices in the movement come from Britain.

In this episode, David Aaronovitch finds out more about the alt-right - who are they, what do they believe, and for the next four months what role will they play in the Trump campaign and American politics at large?

Trump's Shock Troops: The 'alt-right'20160811

Why has Donald Trump clinched the Republican Party nomination despite angering a long list of key groups of American voters? Part of his success can be explained by an element of his political base, the alt-right. It's a mostly young, disparate movement which organises and congregates online, and its supporters have little in common with traditional Republicans. They are tribal and mostly sceptical about religion. They yearn for a strong leader and they loathe political correctness with a passion. Some are leading figures in the white supremacist movement, a development that frightens many mainstream Republicans who promised a more inclusive party after Mitt Romney's defeat four years ago. And in an interesting twist, some of the leading voices in the movement come from Britain.

In this episode, David Aaronovitch finds out more about the alt-right - who are they, what do they believe, and for the next four months what role will they play in the Trump campaign and American politics at large?

Guests:

Milo Yiannopoulos, technology editor, Breitbart News

Cathy Young, columnist, Newsday

Reporter: Mike Wendling.

Turkey, Syria And The Kurds20191017

Donald Trump’s recent announcement that he was withdrawing the remaining US troops in northern Syria sent shockwaves across the security establishment, and caught allies in the region off guard.

Turkey moved swiftly to launch an offensive against Kurdish forces across the border. What does President Erdogan want to achieve? And where does this leave the political map of the region and the fight against the Islamic State group?

David Aaronovitch speaks to guests about the phone call that started it off and what could happen next.

GUESTS

Eric Schmitt - senior writer covering terrorism and national security issues for The New York Times and co-author of Counterstrike
Dr Amanda Sloat - senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs at the State Department
Charles Lister - senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and author of The Syrian Jihad: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency
Lina Khatib - Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House
Seth Frantzman - Middle East affairs analyst for the Jerusalem Post and the author of After Isis: America, Iran and the struggle for the Middle East (September 2019).

Producer: Serena Tarling
Editor: Jasper Corbett

How the US withdrawal from northern Syria could reshape the political map of the region.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Uk Fishing And Brexit20200220

The UK fishing industry will be central to EU trade negotiations, starting soon. David Aaronovitch explores why a sector, which contributes very little to the overall economy, has gained such political and cultural importance.

He asks why there is such a mismatch between the kind of fish we catch and the kind of fish we eat. When did cod become so central to our diets?

With his guests, he also traces the industry's relationship with the EU down the decades.

To what extent did the imposition of EU quotas reduce the amount of fish UK boats catch? And should fishing now expect a 'Brexit bounce'?

Contributors:

Hazel Curtis, director of Seafish

Nick Fisher, fisherman and author

John Lichfield, journalist

Dr Jill Wakefield, University of Warwick.

Dr Bryce Stewart, University of York

Producers: Kirsteen Knight, Jordan Dunbar and Rosamund Jones.
Editor: Penny Murphy.

The UK fishing industry will be central to EU trade negotiations, starting soon. Why?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Universal Credit: What's Gone Wrong And Can It Be Fixed?20190110

Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd, this week announced that the next stage of the Universal Credit roll-out is to be scaled back amid concerns about the controversial new benefits system.

So what were the origins of the Universal Credit policy and can its flaws be fixed?

CONTRIBUTORS

Roy Sainsbury - Professor of Social Policy at the University of York

Baroness Philippa Stroud - former government advisor and CEO of the Legatum Institute

Kayley Hignell - Head of Policy for Family, Welfare and Work at Citizens Advice

Fran Bennett - Senior Research Fellow at the Department for Social Policy and Intervention at Oxford University

Torsten Bell - Director of the Resolution Foundation

Deven Ghelani - Founder of Policy in Practice

How did universal credit come about, and why has its roll-out been delayed?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Violent Crime20180412

London's murder rate overtook that of New York in February and March this year, and the violent crime rate seems to be rising in other parts of the UK too.

There's much debate about the causes, with suggestions that austerity, gang culture, social media, drugs and family breakdown are all to blame.

But what is the reality behind the headlines? David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests to discuss why violent crime is rising and look at possible remedies.

CONTRIBUTORS

Professor Susan McVie - Statistical Criminologist at Edinburgh University

Dr Victor Olisa - former Chief Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police

Karyn McCluskey - Chief Executive of Community Justice Scotland.

Mark Easton - BBC Home Editor

Phil Mackie - BBC Midlands Correspondent.

Why does violent crime seem to be on the rise in some parts of the UK?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Vip Sex Abuse Allegations20161124

How did police investigations into VIP sex abuse go astray?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

An independent review of police investigations into VIP sex abuse has found 43 police failings.

The Henriques Review looked into the police investigations of public figures, including former Home Secretary Lord Brittan, retired army chief Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor, a former Conservative MP. Justice Henriques criticises the police for choosing to believe uncorroborated accusations rather than approaching the investigations with an open mind.

Reporter Alistair Jackson digs deeper into Operation Midland and Operation Vincente: police investigations that spanned several years, cost millions in tax-payers' money, and drew in large numbers of police officers. He speaks to people closely involved and finds out why the Metropolitan Police has now issued apologies.

David Aaronovitch asks how historical sex abuse investigations should be handled and whether the police preoccupation with historic cases is hampering their ability to investigate more recent crimes.

Researcher: Kirsteen Knight

Producer: Hannah Sander.

What Are The Consequences Of Lifting The Public Sector Pay Cap?20170914

The public sector pay cap is being scrapped after five years - what will it mean for public finances?

Prison and police officers will be the first to benefit, but unions have condemned the pay rises - which are less than inflation - as "pathetic".

But could this extra money in the pocket of public servants help recruitment and retention in the public sector?

To explore these issues David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including:

Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies

Dr Amy Ludlow, a prisons expert at Cambridge University

Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police

Jerry Cope, Chair of the NHS Pay Review Body.

The public sector pay cap is scrapped - what will it mean for public finances?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Jerry Cope, Chair of the NHS Pay Review Body.

The public sector pay cap is being scrapped after five years. Prison and police officers will be the first to benefit. But unions have condemned the pay rises - which are less than inflation - as "pathetic". Will this money help recruitment and retention in the public sector? What will it mean for the public finances?

David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including, Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Dr Amy Ludlow, a prisons expert at Cambridge University, Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and Jerry Cope, Chair of the NHS Pay Review Body.

What Are The Risks Of Vaping?20190919

Seven recent deaths in America have been linked to the use of electronic cigarettes. The federal government and some states have made moves to ban the use of the products - other countries, such as India, are following.

But some experts believe that vaping has a useful role to play in helping people to give up smoking.

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks why have e-cigarettes become so popular, and what are the risks of using them?

CONTRIBUTORS

Tom Novotny, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, San Diego State University

Hannah Kuchler, US Pharma and Biotech Correspondent, The Financial Times

Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, the University of Edinburgh

Lion Shahab, Associate Professor in Health Psychology, University College London.

Producer Neil Koenig
Editor Jasper Corbett

Recent deaths in the USA have been linked to e-cigarette use, leading to calls for a ban.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

What Do Remainers Feel Now?20160728

More than 16m people voted Remain. How do they feel now that they have lost?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

There was jubilation among many who were on the winning side of last month's EU referendum. But the vote, more than any in recent memory, laid bare the UK's divisions - not only in demographics but also social attitudes. Many of the 16m people who voted Remain expressed shock, sadness and even grief after the result. Two weeks ago The Briefing Room visited Wakefield in West Yorkshire to find out about those who voted Leave. In this programme, David Aaronovitch takes the opposite tack and visits Lambeth, the south London borough that stretches from the banks of the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament to the Capital's suburban fringes. He talks to long-standing residents and relative newcomers to find out what Remainers feel now. In in area where nearly four-fifths of those who voted backed Remain, is there a still a sense of upset over the result? And having been outvoted in one of the UK's biggest democratic experiments, what do they plan to do now?

Interviewees in Lambeth include: Devon Thomas chair of the Brixton Neighbourhood Forum, local Green Party candidate Rashid Nix, Labour Party volunteer Gareth Rees, Rosamund Urwin of the London Evening Standard, Tom Shahkli general manager of the Brixton Pound project, and Rui Reis, vice chair of the Portuguese cultural and football club in Stockwell.

Studio guests: Cordelia Hay of Britain Thinks and Stian Westlake of NESTA.

Producer: Mike Wendling

Researcher: Kirsteen Knight.

What Does The Eu Want From Brexit?20170907

As negotiations between the UK and the EU hit choppy waters, the Briefing Room asks what does the EU want from Brexit and what would be its bottom line?

David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including:

Pascal Lamy, former EU Trade Commissioner and Director General of the World Trade Organisation

Daniela Schwarzer, Head of the German Council on Foreign Relations

Jacek Rostowski, former Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of Poland

What does the EU want from Brexit, and what would be its bottom line?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Jacek Rostowski, former Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of Poland

David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including:

David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including, Pascal Lamy, a former EU Trade Commissioner and Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Daniela Schwarzer, Head of the German Council on Foreign Relations and Jacek Rostowski, who was Poland's finance minister from 2007 - 2013.

What Does The Uk Want From The Eu?20180719

Dominic Raab, the recently appointed Brexit Secretary has been in Brussels this week - his first visit since replacing David Davis, who resigned after the cabinet had apparently agreed on a document that represented a UK proposal for its future relationship with Brussels.

The Chequers document was the basis for the White Paper presented by the government last week, but the White Paper was undermined almost immediately by two days of dramatic interventions in parliament.

So is what was agreed at Chequers really the basis of the UK's negotiating position?

David Aaronovitch discusses this week's political and technical developments.

CONTRIBUTORS

Adrian Wooldridge, political editor of The Economist and author of the Bagehot column

Jill Rutter, former Treasury and Number 10 civil servant and now programme director at the Institute of Government

Patrick Smith, Europe editor of the Irish Times

The Brexit secretary has been in Brussels - what kind of deal does the UK now want?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

What Drives Religious Intolerance?20190425

Is religious intolerance on the rise, and if so, what is behind it?

In Sri Lanka this week, people claiming to be acting out of religious belief killed more than 350 people, mostly of a different faith – in this case Christians.

Religious intolerance is a theme which has surfaced in the news with some frequency in recent years – be it the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Yazidis in Iraq, the Uighurs in China or numerous blasphemy trials in Pakistan.

On this week's programme, David Aaronovitch asks whether religious intolerance – be it intolerance of religions, or by religions - is actually on the rise.

If so, who is leading this – governments? Nationalist political movements? Or the faithful themselves?

CONTRIBUTORS:

Alan Keenan, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group

Alan Cooperman, Director of Religion research, Pew Research Centre

Karen Armstrong, author of The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts

Oliver McTernan, founder of the conflict resolution organisation, Forward Thinking

Robin Gill, Emeritus Professor of Applied Theology at the University of Kent

Is religious intolerance on the rise, and if so, what's behind it?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

What Is Happening To The Uighurs In China?20200716

The Chinese Communist Party is accused of locking up hundreds of thousands of Uighurs in internment camps. In the Uighurs' homeland in Xinjiang, the state operates a system of mass-surveillance and is accused of human rights abuses against the mainly Muslim minority including forced labour and compulsory birth control.

China says the camps are not prisons but schools for ‘thought transformation’ and it continues to deny the abuse of human rights.

David Aaronovitch asks leading experts what’s going on in Xinjiang and how is the rest of the world responding:

Rian Thum, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham
Dr Jo Smith Finley, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Newcastle University
Josh Chin deputy China Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal
Charles Parton Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI

Producers: Kirtseen Knight, Beth Sagar Fenton, Joe Kent
Studio manger: James Beard
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

China's treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang, and how the world is responding.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch and guests present in-depth explainers on major news stories.

What Is The Problem With Plastic?20180426

Some 8 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year, where it can be lethal to marine life. Governments and businesses have vowed to take action to curb it. But Just how serious is the problem of plastic waste, and what can be done to tackle it?

David Aaronovitch is joined by:

Susan Freinkel, author of 'Plastic: A Toxic Love Story'

Jan Piotrowski, environment correspondent for the Economist

Rob Opsomer, researcher, Ellen Macarthur Foundation

Chris Cheeseman, Professor of Materials Resource Engineering, Imperial College, London

Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Plymouth.

How serious is the problem of plastic waste, and how should it be tackled?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

What Next For Europe?20190411

David Aaronovich examines the likely lasting impact of the UK's decision to quit the European Union - not on Britain but on mainland Europe. The European Union is struggling to reconcile competing views of the economy, of national identity and of ideology. As populist political parties play an increasing role in the governance of member states, some expert Euro-watchers give their views of the divisions and the chances of them being reconciled. Might the EU "widen" its reach to new countries? Or deepen" the binds between member countries? Or is it time to concede that voters across the Continent prefer sovereignty to be exercised within national states.

Presenter: David Aaronovich
Producer: Sally Abrahams
Researcher: Kirsteen Knight
Editor: Andrew Smith

As Britain prepares for departure, what does the future hold for the rest of the EU?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

What Next For The Democrats?20171228

A year on from their shock defeat in the US presidential elections, David Aaronovitch asks how the US Democratic party is responding to Donald Trump's Presidency and assesses some of the challenges which lie ahead.

What new policies is the party developing? Who are the potential presidential candidates waiting in the wings? And can the college-educated elite which dominate the party win back support from America's white working class who gravitated towards Donald Trump in such significant numbers?

CONTRIBUTORS

Jon Sopel, the BBC's North America Editor

Dr Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia

Joan C Williams, author of the White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America

Has the Democratic Party found a new direction since losing the election to Donald Trump?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

What's At Stake In The Us Midterm Elections?20180906

November's midterm elections in the US are the first chance for voters across the country to pass judgement on President Trump's administration since the 2016 election.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs and a third of the Senate. If the Democrats win control of the House, they would not only be in a position to halt President's Trump's legislative agenda; they would also be able, should they wish, to start impeachment proceedings.

On The Briefing Room this week David Aaronovitch asks what's at stake in these elections and how the outcome will reshape the American political landscape two years before the next Presidential election in 2020.

CONTRIBUTORS

Ken Goldstein, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco

Elena Schneider, campaign reporter for Politico

Elaine Kamarck, senior fellow in the governance studies programme at the Brookings Institution

Jeff Lazarus, associate professor of political science at Georgia State University

Larry Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics

Why do November's US midterm elections matter?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

What's In The Mueller Report - And What Are The Implications For Us Politics?20190418

The investigation has taken nearly two years, cost tens of millions of dollars, and led to dozens of criminal charges. Now, a redacted version of Robert Mueller’s report into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 US Presidential election is going to be delivered to Congress.

This week David Aaronovitch and his guests in the Briefing Room examine what’s in the report, and what does it all mean - especially for Donald Trump and his prospects for winning a second presidential term next year.

Contributors:
Katie Benner, Justice Department reporter, New York Times
Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Head of the US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House
Shira Scheindlin, former United States District Judge
Larry Sabato, Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia

What's in the Mueller report - and what are the implications for US politics?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

What's In The Mueller Report?20190418

The investigation has taken nearly two years, cost tens of millions of dollars, and led to dozens of criminal charges. Now, a redacted version of Robert Mueller’s report into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 US Presidential election is going to be delivered to Congress.

This week David Aaronovitch and his guests in the Briefing Room examine what’s in the report, and what does it all mean - especially for Donald Trump and his prospects for winning a second presidential term next year.

Contributors:
Katie Benner, Justice Department reporter, New York Times
Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Head of the US and the Americas Programme, Chatham House
Shira Scheindlin, former United States District Judge
Larry Sabato, Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia

What's in the Mueller report - and what are the implications for US politics?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

What's Russia Up To?20171214

What do we really know about Russian 'meddling' in Western democracy?

David Aaronovitch asks experts on Russia what the Kremlin is trying to achieve by hacking emails and spreading fake news.

Guests include the Gordon Corera, the BBC's Security Correspondent, Kimberly Marten, Director of the Program on U.S.-Russia Relations at Columbia University, Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist and Anna Nemtsova, Moscow correspondent for The Daily Beast.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Where Does Labour Stand On Brexit?20170713

Labour will play a crucial role in shaping Britain's exit from the EU now the Conservative government has lost its overall majority.

The vast majority of Labour MPs backed Remain ahead of the referendum - but most followed party orders to allow Article 50 to be invoked (the mechanism for leaving the EU).

On the day the government publishes the Repeal Bill and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn meets the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, David Aaronovitch asks a range of political experts what Labour wants.

He'll look back into the party's history to see if that helps explain today's divisions and he'll be briefed on whether Labour's Brexit wishlist is realistic.

CONTRIBUTORS

Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at The University of Nottingham

Catherine Barnard, Professor of European Union Law, The University of Cambridge

Deborah Mattinson, former advisor to Gordon Brown and founder of think tank Britain Thinks

Producers: Phoebe Keane and Beth Sagar-Fenton

Labour has crucial role in shaping Brexit since the Tories lost their overall majority

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Producers: Phoebe Keane and Beth Sagar-Fenton

Who Are The Protesters In Iran And What Do They Want?20180104

Twenty people have been killed and hundreds arrested after a series of protests in Iran this week - but what's behind these demonstrations?

Iran is a strategically important country and so when protests happen, the world takes notice - but who are the protesters and what do they want? And how will the Iranian government and the outside world respond?

CONTRIBUTORS

Roham Alvandi, Associate Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science

Behrang Tajdin and Jiyar Gol, reporters for the BBC Persian Service

Hassan Hakimian, Director of the Middle East Centre at SOAS, University of London.

Azedor Moaveni, Iranian writer

Producer: Jim Frank

How can we best understand the protests in Iran and how will Tehran respond?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Who Are The Special Forces?20160811

How have British Special Forces developed and what are they doing in Syria and Libya now?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Why Are Myanmar's Rohingya Persecuted?20170921

Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, says she wants to know why 400,000 Muslim Rohingyas have fled into Bangladesh. The UN says what's going on seems "a textbook case of ethnic cleansing".

But why are the Rohingyas facing persecution in the first place and why aren't regional powers in Southeast Asia willing to do more to condemn it and stop it?

And ultimately, could this violence develop into something bigger and more dangerous? To discuss these issues David Aaronovitch is joined by expert guests including:

Professor Penny Green, Director of the International State Crime Initiative

Richard Horsey, a Myanmar Analyst who advises the International Crisis Group

Dr Champa Patel, Head of Asia Programme at Chatham House

Dr Lee Jones from Queen Mary University.

Why are Myanmar's Rohingya persecuted, and who is willing to come to their aid?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Dr Lee Jones from Queen Mary University.

Why Are So Many People Sleeping Rough In Britain?20190131

New figures show a slight decline in people sleeping rough in England. But since 2010 the trend has been upwards. Why? And what can be done about it?

David Aaronovitch talks to guests about the drivers that lead people to sleep rough, and how the UK is dealing with the problem now.
GUESTS

Risha Lancaster - Co-Founder of Coffee4Craig in Manchester and a volunteer at a night shelter
Michael Buchanan - BBC Social Affairs Correspondent
Louise Casey - Head of the government's Rough Sleepers Unit from 1999 - 2003
Nicholas Pleace - Director of Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York
Jon Sparks - CEO of homeless charity, Crisis

Why are so many people sleeping rough in Britain, and what can be done about it?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

David Aaronovitch present in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news

Why Are The British Armed Forces Short Of Personnel?20180531

How well equipped is Britain today to defend itself both at home and overseas?

Britain's armed forces are struggling to maintain numbers. According to the National Audit Office there is a shortfall of more than 8,000 among military personnel and there is a significant shortage of personnel with skills in critical areas.

The Army is at its lowest level since the days it was preparing to confront Napoleon, unable to meet even the reduced requirement of 82,000 regulars.

Several reasons are cited: the lack of a current war to act as a recruiting sergeant, a recruitment process that's not working well, discontent within the ranks and a higher number of people leaving the forces than normal.

We examine these causes and ask what effect the shortages have both on the battlefield and strategically.

Contributors:

Mike Martin, former captain in the Royal Yeomanry and author of 'Why We Fight'

Anthony King, chair in War Studies at Warwick University and former civilian adviser to General Sir Nick Carter

Ben Barry, a former British infantry officer and now senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London

Mandy Hickson, former RAF pilot

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Why Did People Vote Leave?20160714

Leave voters in Wakefield tell David Aaronovitch why they want to quit the EU.

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Why Is There Still A Migrant Crisis In Europe?20170727

This year almost 100,000 people have arrived in Italy by boat - and more than 2,000 have died trying.

The Italians say they can’t cope, but it's a problem which has now been going on for years - so why has nobody solved it?

In this week's programme David Aaronovitch asks who are the migrants, where are they coming from, how do they get to Europe and what needs to be done to stop more people dying.

CONTRIBUTORS

Joel Millman, UN's International Organisation for Migration

Tuesday Reitano, Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime

Mattia Toaldo, European Council on Foreign Relations

Elizabeth Collett, Migration Policy Institute Europe

This year almost 100,000 people have arrived in Italy by boat and 2,000 have died trying

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Elizabeth Collett, Migration Policy Institute Europe

Will The Us Election Be Free And Fair?20200910

Allegations of potential postal voting fraud and voter suppression have raised questions about the fairness of November's US presidential election, but what evidence is there to suggest these fears will be realised and influence the vote?

David Aaronovitch explores the prevalence of electoral fraud in America, and in a year when the polls suggest a tight race in several states, he asks what will happen if the election result is contested?

Contributors:

Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Elaine Kamarck, director of the Center for Effective Public Management, Brookings Institution.

Professor Carol Anderson, Emory University, Atlanta

Professor Jamal Greene, Columbia University, New York

Team: Richard Fenton-Smith, Julie Ball and Kirsteen Knight
Studio Manager: James Beard
Editor: Jasper Corbett

Could fraud and voter suppression affect this year's presidential election?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Would You Pay More For The Nhs?20180111

In its 70th year the NHS is in a winter crisis again. Many people working in the NHS argue successive governments have failed to address what is arguably the biggest problem: funding.

David Aaronovitch asks if the public would pay more for the NHS. Is there now a case for a hypothecated tax? Can public support for the NHS withstand a tax rise?

CONTRIBUTORS:

Dan Wellings, Senior Policy Fellow, The King's Fund
Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation
Sally Gainsbury, Senior Policy Advisor, The Nuffield Trust
Sir Julian Le Grand, Professor of Public Policy at the London School of Economics

Producer: Serena Tarling.

In its 70th year the NHS is in a winter crisis again. What will it take to fix it?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Yemen: A Global Conflict20161215

What are the causes of Yemen's civil war and who is fighting?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

Youthquake20191212

A wave of protests are sweeping through Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. Retribution in Iraq and Iran has been swift and savage; hundreds of young people have been killed. What lies behind the unrest? David Aaronovitch explores the common themes - unemployment, crony sectarianism, corruption and hopelessness. These were the issues that led countless thousands onto the streets in many middle eastern countries during the Arab Spring ten years ago. What lessons have governments and protestors learnt since then? The young people are hoping for sustained political and economic change this time. What chance is there of that happening?

Producer: Rosamund Jones

Protests have swept through Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. What lies behind the unrest?

David Aaronovitch presents in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.