Episodes

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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.

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

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

20190110
20190124
20190131

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

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

20190207
20190404

Combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations.

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

20190411
20190418
20190425
20190502
20190509
20190516

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

20190523

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

20190905

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

Brexit: Where Next?20181213
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

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

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

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

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

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 India changed under prime minister Narendra Modi?

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

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

Has Brexit broken Britain's political system?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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