The Political Butterfly Effect

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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01Did a drunken headbutt cause Brexit?20190902

As the butterfly effect theory goes, a flap of an insect’s wings can set off a chain of events that causes a tornado on the other side of the world. But what of political weather? Where are the butterfly effects that led to major shifts in global politics, society, and our everyday lives?

The Guardian's Media Editor Jim Waterson explores how different the world would look were it not for the occasional, well-timed flap of a butterfly’s wings.

In episode one, Jim asks whether a Labour MP headbutting a fellow politician in the House of Commons led the UK to vote for Brexit. He traces the events that were set in motion by the fracas in 2012. Does the trail lead all the way to Britain’s exit from the EU?

Presenter: Jim Waterson
Producer: Robbie MacInnes
An SPG production for BBC Radio 4

Jim Waterson explores a single moment that inadvertently shaped modern history.

02Did The Black Panthers Change The Nra?20190903

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was created to defend black communities in California from excessive force by the police. The Guardian’s Media Editor Jim Waterson examines whether their armed shadowing of police officers inadvertently went on to change the USA in an unexpected way.

Presenter: Jim Waterson
Producer: Robbie MacInnes
An SPG production for BBC Radio 4

Jim Waterson explores a single moment that inadvertently shaped modern history.

03Did an engine failure fuel the climate crisis?20190904

When five-year-old Cuban Elián González arrived in the USA under tragic circumstances in 1999, he found himself at the centre of a political storm over whether he should be returned to his home nation.

The decision over his fate would reverberate at the highest levels of US politics and around the globe for decades to come - with inadvertent consequences shaping how the world reacted to climate change.

Presenter: Jim Waterson
Producer: Robbie MacInnes
An SPG production for BBC Radio 4

Jim Waterson explores a single moment that inadvertently shaped modern history.

04Did Bovril keep us out of the euro?20190905

When James Goldmsith bought the parent company of meaty drink Bovril in 1971 he finally hit the big time. He described the deal as 'the most important of his career' and it made him a small fortune - which he would then use to build the early Eurosceptic movement.

Jim Waterson takes us back to the start of James Goldsmith's singular career and follows a series of events that ends with New Labour ruling out the UK's membership of the single currency.

Presenter: Jim Waterson
Producer: Robbie MacInnes
An SPG production for BBC Radio 4

Jim Waterson explores a single moment that inadvertently shaped modern history.

05Did your holiday photos spread global chaos?20190906

The arrival of Facebook’s News Feed in 2016 didn't seem like much at first. Billed by Mark Zuckerberg simply as a way to make sure “you don’t miss the photo album of your friend’s trip to Nepal,” the News Feed went on to change the world in all sorts of ways.

Jim Waterson explores the libertarian philosophy underlying its introduction - and how Facebook’s quest for never-ending growth helped spread chaos throughout the world.

Presenter: Jim Waterson
Producer: Robbie MacInnes
An SPG production for BBC Radio 4

Jim Waterson explores a single moment that inadvertently shaped modern history.

05Did Your Holiday Photos Spread Global Chaos?20190906

The arrival of Facebook’s News Feed in 2016 didn't seem like much at first. Billed by Mark Zuckerberg simply as a way to make sure “you don’t miss the photo album of your friend’s trip to Nepal,” the News Feed went on to change the world in all sorts of ways.

Jim Waterson explores the libertarian philosophy underlying its introduction - and how Facebook’s quest for never-ending growth helped spread chaos throughout the world.

Presenter: Jim Waterson
Producer: Robbie MacInnes
An SPG production for BBC Radio 4

Jim Waterson explores a single moment that inadvertently shaped modern history.

05Did your holiday photos spread global chaos?20190906

The arrival of Facebook’s News Feed in 2016 didn't seem like much at first. Billed by Mark Zuckerberg simply as a way to make sure “you don’t miss the photo album of your friend’s trip to Nepal,” the News Feed went on to change the world in all sorts of ways.

Jim Waterson explores the libertarian philosophy underlying its introduction - and how Facebook’s quest for never-ending growth helped spread chaos throughout the world.

Presenter: Jim Waterson
Producer: Robbie MacInnes
An SPG production for BBC Radio 4

Jim Waterson explores a single moment that inadvertently shaped modern history.