When Sajid Javid resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer in February rather than accept Boris Johnson's reported demand that he dismiss his own team of special advisers and accept a new one drawn up in 10 Downing Street, many saw the episode as a crude attempt by the Prime Minister to wrest control of economic policy from the Treasury. But would such a reform necessarily be a bad thing?
Edward Stourton considers the case for economic policy being driven from the very top of government. If decision-making, in arguably the most important government department, took place on the prime minister's terms rather than having to be negotiated with a powerful colleague leading a vast bureaucracy, would that make for quicker and more streamlined decision-making that gave clearer direction to the government overall? And has in any case the time come to clip the wings of the Treasury which too often determines policy on narrowly financial grounds rather than properly allowing for the potential benefits of government spending - and which has recently signed off such alarmingly over-budget projects as HS2 and London's Crossrail?
In seeking answers to those questions, Edward speaks to the former Chancellors, Alistair Darling and Norman Lamont; to former Chief of Staff to Tony Blair in Downing Street, Jonathan Powell; to former Treasury minister, David Gauke; and and to ex-officials, including former top Treasury civil servant, Nic Macpherson.
Producer Simon Coates
The Roots of 'Woke' Culture
Barack Obama condemned it. Black American activists championed it. Meghan Markle brought it to the Royal Family. “Wokeness” has become a shorthand for one side of the culture wars, popularising concepts like “white privilege” and “trigger warnings” - and the idea that “language is violence”.
Journalist Helen Lewis is on a mission to uncover the roots of this social phenomenon. On her way she meets three authors who in 2017 hoaxed a series of academic journals with fake papers on dog rape, fat bodybuilding and feminist astrology. They claimed to have exposed the jargon-loving, post-modern absurdity of politically correct university departments - whose theories drive “woke” online political movements.
But is there really a link between the contemporary language of social justice warriors and the continental philosophy of the 1960s and 70s? And are critics of wokeness just reactionaries, left uneasy by a changing world?
Producer Craig Templeton Smith
Editor Jasper Corbett
Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies explores what the world of work can tells us about inequality and why some towns and cities feel left behind. He finds England is one of the most regionally unequal economies in the developed world.
He looks at the differences in wages and opportunities across the county and seeks to understand why this has created areas where people struggle to find well paid work.
This edition of the programme includes interviews with:
Professor Steve Machin - The Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics
Helen Barnard - Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Tom Forth - Open Data Institute Leeds
Henry Overman - Director, The What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth
James Bloodworth - Author "Hired - Six months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain"
Richard Hagan - MD, Crystal Doors
Tony Lloyd MP for Rochdale
Jade & Billy - workers
Producer - Smita Patel
Editor - Jasper Corbett
China's Captured "Princess"
If you want to understand the global reach of a rising China, visit Vancouver. Canada has been sucked in to an intractable dispute between the US and China after the arrest on an American warrant of Meng Wanzhou, an executive with the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Beijing’s furious response caught Canada off guard. Two Canadians have been detained in China – seemingly in response, precipitating an acute foreign policy crisis. Canadian journalist Neal Razzell examines what could be the first of many tests both for Canada and other nations, forced to choose between old allies like America and the new Asian economic giant.
It's Not Easy Being Green
If the future of politics must include tackling climate change, it holds that the future should be bright for the Greens. In parts of Europe, their influence is growing. In Germany the Green Party is enjoying unprecedented support. But in the UK there’s only ever been one Green MP and the party won just 2.7 per cent of the vote in last year's election. In this edition of Analysis, Rosie Campbell, Professor of Politics and Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at Kings College London, goes in search of the Green vote. Who are they? If the Parliamentary path is blocked due to the voting system, how do they make an impact? And can they persuade more people not only to vote Green but also to become “Greener”?
Producer: Jim Frank
Editor: Jasper Corbett