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A Tribute to James Brokenshire with Tony Horne

FOR THE last four years, Tony Horne, writer and broadcaster, has reflected on how tragic he finds the process when individuals pass away, from the speed with which their death is updated on Wikipedia to the paucity and inadequacy of the letters RIP being used on social media.

Tony also felt that many people who paid tribute perhaps might actually be grieving if they were the right person to be paying tribute at all. Therefore, for some time it has been rumbling inside Tony’s head that there might be another way – a regular obituaries-based podcast has been on his mind.

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Tony has lost many close friends in the last few years, from PC David Rathband to Lisa Shaw. At the back end of last week, former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire MP passed away. Tony and James had been friends since the late 1980s. It was James who enabled Tony to take his first steps in student radio.

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This sad moment has finally spurred Tony into action. Here are his reflections on his late friend.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the iTunes app.

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 61: Afghanistan – What’s It All About?

AFTER nearly twenty years, British and American military involvement in Afghanistan is finally at an end. But why was our military ever sent there in the first place?

Military intervention began on the pretext that the Taliban government in Afghanistan harboured the terrorists responsible for the attacks of 11 September 2001, but the facts do not back this up. Of the attackers, 15 were citizens of Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one was from Lebanon and one was from Egypt.

Osama Bin Laden boasted of his involvement, but there is no solid evidence linking him to the attacks. We loathe and despise the Taliban with good reason, but evidence that they were in any way responsible for the 9/11 atrocities is flimsy.

Two decades on, and the Taliban are back in control of Afghanistan, far more quickly than so-called ‘experts’ predicted as recently as a few weeks ago.

So what are we to make of it all? And on what terms should Britain, America and her allies engage with the Taliban in the future?

Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins try to make sense of a highly complex situation.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 60: Woke

THE WORD ‘woke’ seems to be everywhere nowadays. How did we get from a situation where unpleasant racial slurs were rightly made socially unacceptable, to what we have today, where a small minority of the population is constantly on the lookout for new things to be offended by?

With every year that passes, the sphere of opinions it’s considered socially acceptable to hold becomes narrower and narrower, and ever-greater limits are placed on free speech and freedom of expression.

In so many spheres of work, certain opinions are now compulsory, while others are impossible to express, particularly if you want to hold on to your job or gain promotion. Why has so much ground been conceded to performance offence takers?

In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins try to make sense of how British, and indeed Western society got into this mess, and what can be done to get us out of it.

At the heart of it is a long-running far-left culturally Marxist agenda to destabilise and undermine the pillars of society such as the traditional family unit, the police, the civil service, the media and the education system.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 59: Boris Johnson – Leader or Liability?

In this edition, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins focus on Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Serious mistakes have undoubtedly been made during his handling of the pandemic so far, but on the other hand, the speed and efficiency vaccine rollout has been an enormous success, and, with a few hiccups along the way, Mr Johnson has delivered the Brexit the British people entrusted him to deliver at the 2019 general election.

Could anyone else have handled the pandemic better than Mr Johnson? And if he is not the right person to lead the country through the tough challenges that lie ahead, then who is? With the Labour Party not looking like a credible opposition, and few stand-out personalities among the Conservative ranks, what does this mean for British parliamentary democracy?

Mr Johnson seems a different man to the one he was before his Covid health scare. His wife, Carrie Symonds, appears to have huge influence over him and over Government policy, particularly in relation to the ‘climate change’ agenda.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 58: Martin Bashir and the BBC

IT HAS now been two months since Lord Dyson’s damning report was published into the behaviour of Martin Bashir and the way in which he and the BBC obtained the exclusive interview with Princess Diana in 1995.

Dyson’s comments about Bashir’s ethics and the behaviour of future Director General Tony Hall portray both men in a poor light, but within days, the story died down and everything at the BBC appears to be carrying on as before.

Marcus Stead, who used to work for the BBC, along with Greg Lance-Watkins, who used to appear on the BBC as a guest, discuss the secretive and unaccountable culture of the corporation, along with the institutional bias. What do recent events mean for the BBC’s credibility with the British public?

In an age where most younger people consume their entertainment via streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, Marcus and Greg discuss whether the BBC licence fee model has a future, and if it does not, what does this mean for public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom?

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 57: A New Royal Yacht

THE GOVERNMENT has confirmed that a new royal yacht costing £200 million will be built and commissioned.

In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the merits of the project. They are both strongly in favour of it, arguing that the Blair government’s decision to scrap its predecessor, Royal Yacht Britannia in 1997 was a serious mistake that even Mr Blair himself went on to regret.

Events held on board Royal Yacht Britannia helped raise £3 billion for the Treasury between 1991 and 1995 alone. A new royal yacht would act as a status symbol and could be a tremendous asset in forming trade deals and bringing jobs to the United Kingdom.

Marcus and Greg argue that arguments against it are based on class snobbery, a foolish myth that it is only used for members of the Royal Family to take holidays on,  and fails to take into account that the £200 million cost will be rapidly recouped in terms of the trade deals and jobs the yacht’s activities will generate.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

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Twenty Minute Topic Episode 56: Prince Philip Remembered

Following the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins reflect on his extraordinary life of duty and service in this special ‘double dose’ edition of Twenty Minute Topic.

He was born in 1921 in Corfu, but the family was forced to flee Greece following a military coup.

His education at Gordonstoun school proved to be character-forming, and he went on to have a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, where he was mentioned in dispatches for his service during the battle of Cape Matapan.

Following his marriage to Princess Elizabeth in 1947, Prince Philip dedicated himself to a life of duty and service, and following the death of King George VI in 1952, he was forced to abandon his promising naval career to dedicate himself full-time to being the Queen’s consort.

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The podcast also discusses his many passions – British industry, animal conservation, bringing the best out of young people and carriage driving.

Other aspects of his life discussed during the podcast include his role as a great moderniser of the Royal household, and the support he gave to the Queen and to the rest of the family.

Greg tells of the occasion where he met Prince Philip in the 1960s. To those he met, he was very well-informed, had a wicked sense of humour, but had a gruff, no-nonsense manner and didn’t suffer fools.

Towards the end of the podcast, Marcus and Greg discuss how the Queen will adapt to life without her husband of more than 73 years.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 55: Harry and Meghan – The Oprah Interview

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AS THE dust settles following the broadcast of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle earlier in the week, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the fall-out. Are they victims, or self-centred narcissists?

It appears as though Meghan married into the Royal Family believing they would adapt to ‘Project Meghan’, and, as someone who is used to getting her own way, she did not appear to understand she was committing to a life of duty and service.

During the interview, much was made by Meghan about the restrictions placed on her personal freedom, yet did she attempt to work around that with other members of the Royal Family and the staff to reach an understanding?

One of the most controversial aspects of the interview were Meghan’s claims that inappropriate comments were made by somebody connected to them when speculating about the colour of baby Archie’s skin. Yet not much has been said about the context of the comments – were they a case of them saying ‘will the baby look more like its mother, or its father?’ (a commonplace comment among families expecting a baby, especially when the parents have different racial backgrounds), or were there more sinister connotations? There are almost certainly two sides to this story.

Much has been made of Meghan’s claims that she wasn’t given the support she needed when experiencing mental health difficulties. Yet she is by no means the first member of the Royal Family to go through such problems. Her husband, Prince Harry, has received therapy and support for his own mental health struggles. Could he not have picked up the phone and contacted his therapist and arranged appropriate support for his wife?

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.  

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 54: Having the Covid Vaccine

GREG Lance-Watkins recently celebrated his 75th birthday, and a few days afterwards he had his first Covid jab.

Greg Lance-Watkins
Greg Lance-Watkins

The aim of this podcast is to put your mind at rest if you’re nervous or feeling anxious about having the vaccine. In conversation with Marcus Stead, Greg details the process from beginning to end, and having been there and done that, he explains that it’s well-organised, painless, and that you probably won’t have any side effects at all, though if you do, they’ll be short-term and very mild.

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As a survivor of cancer and a heart attack, Greg explains that the vaccine has given him a huge amount of protection from Covid-19, and urges everyone to have the jab.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 53: EU Cannot be Serious!

THE ROLLOUT of the Covid vaccine has been an enormous success story. The United Kingdom now leads the world in terms of the speed and efficiency in which the population is being vaccinated.

Boris Johnson’s Government decided not to join the EU vaccine procurement programme last year, and the decision was widely vilified at the time, yet the events of the last few days have shown that the decision not to join was absolutely the right one.

Less than a month into the new Brexit deal and it’s clear that not being part of the EU is quite literally saving lives in the United Kingdom.

In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the extraordinary spat between AstraZeneca and the EU. They assess the reckless language and behaviour from Brussels bureaucrats in relation to the vaccine and with regards to Northern Ireland.

With Greg due to receive his vaccine in the days ahead, they discuss the importance of having the vaccine, though they question whether it will, in itself, lead to the return of normality.

Towards the end of the podcast, Marcus and Greg discuss the dangers of misinformation on the internet, and the urgent need for new legislation to regulate social media.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 52: The Brexit Deal

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ONE WEEK into 2021, and ‘Project Fear’ has been utterly discredited: World War III has not broken out, Western civilization has not come to an end, there has been no Emergency Budget, the FTSE has not collapsed, the pound has not collapsed, and there are no queues of lorries on the motorways of Kent.

In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins assess the Brexit deal announced on Christmas Eve, which both are giving a cautious ‘thumbs up’ though there are some down sides.

The podcast is available via the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 51: The Covid Christmas

CHRISTMAS is nearly here, and it’s going to be very different for all of us this year. Much of the country is already living under severe restrictions, and from Boxing Day, 24 million people in England alone will be in Tier Four.

In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss how worried we should be about the new variants of Covid, and how best to strike a balance between enjoying the festive season, and keeping ourselves and our families safe.

The podcast is available via the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Twenty Minute Topic Episode 50: The Covid Vaccine

THE COVID-19 vaccine has arrived, and the logistically-complex process of rolling it out to the British population will get underway in a matter of days.

In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss whether all of us should have the vaccine, the measures that have been taken to ensure it’s safe, and the level of immunity it will give us.

They also discuss the dangers of conspiracy theorists, online and in the traditional media.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Antisemitism: Labour and Beyond

 
THE RECENT report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into antisemitism in the Labour Party delivered a damning verdict on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

In this special podcast, Marcus Stead talks to Graham Perry, a Labour supporter and an antisemitism awareness trainer about the findings of the EHRC’s report and the events that followed it, including Jeremy Corbyn’s statement which led to him having the Labour whip withdrawn.

The EHRC found Labour breached the Equality Act in two cases when its agents were engaged in “committing unlawful harassment”, including using “antisemitic tropes and suggesting that complaints of antisemitism were fake or smears”. The first referred to former Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, and the second concerned Pam Bromley, a Labour councillor in Rossendale, Lancashire.

A further “18 more borderline harassment cases” were identified in the sample of 70 studied by the EHRC, and the watchdog also indicated relations with Labour were not always smooth during the investigation.

The discussion then turns to the wider problem of antisemitism in British politics and in wider society. Plaid Cymru was co-founded by playwright Saunders Lewis, whose work and letters contain many examples of antisemitism. Lewis is still widely revered by the Welsh nationalist community, and the party was recently engulfed in controversy after activist Sahar Al-Faifi, who has a long track record of antisemitism, was readmitted to the party and will stand as a candidate in next year’s elections to the Welsh Parliament.

Beyond politics, how prevalent is antisemitism in wider society? Marcus and Graham discuss the issue of antisemitism in institutions such as golf clubs. In this age where roads and concert venues named after slave traders are being renamed, is it right that prominent antisemites such as Roald Dahl are honoured with public monuments bearing their name? Roald Dahl Plass is less than a minute’s walk from the Welsh Parliament building.

What is the difference between blatant antisemitism and subconscious antisemitism? And is antisemitism all too often regarded as ‘the lesser racism’?

Graham Perry graduated from Churchill College Cambridge with degrees in History and Economics in 1968.

He qualified as a Solicitor and became a Partner in Clinton-Davis & Co in Hackney, East London and focused on representing clients in the Magistrates Courts of North-East London.

He made a career switch in 1979 when he joined the family firm, London Export Corporation, set up in 1953 by Jack Perry to focus on Trade with China.

Graham made his final career change when he became an independent commercial arbitrator resolving disputes between companies involved in the trans-national shipment of food, feeding stuffs and oils – which work he continues to undertake.

Graham was a Justice of the Peace from 1986 to 2002 and an Immigration Judge from 2002 to 2015.

He has made 100+ visits to China on business, with political groups and most recently with former Lord Chief Justice Woolf whom Graham arranged to give Lectures in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on the Rule of Law.

Graham writes and lectures on two main topics – China and Anti-Semitism and honed his presentational skills with LBC radio, where he was a regular overnight cover presenter in the 1990s, before focusing exclusively on his arbitration work.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

 
 

Twenty Minute Topic

Episode 49: President Biden

 

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JOE BIDEN will become the 46th President of the United States. It’s been an extraordinary week – Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins return to assess the situation.

Biden won the most votes of any presidential candidate in US history. Donald Trump won seven million more votes than he got in 2016, and four million more than Hillary Clinton got, but still lost.

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Marcus and Greg discuss just how divided and polarised the United States is. How can bridges be built? And is this the sign of a hegemonic power in decline?

There are good reasons NOT to like Joe Biden – are those who despise Donald Trump getting a little over-excited?

Joe Biden’s cognitive abilities are a real cause for concern. Is he mentally fit to be president, and is his presidency likely to be a short one before he hands over to Kamala Harris?

What does a Biden presidency mean for Brexit? Biden doesn’t have a close relationship with Boris Johnson’s administration, and his priority is likely to be the EU and the Republic of Ireland.

The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.

Episode 48: Free Speech

WE’RE ALL familiar with the quote from Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s biography of Voltaire, which says: “I don’t agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Freedom of speech is under attack in Britain and across the Western world, with the rise of ‘safe zones’ in universities, and the ‘woke’ movement. With every year that passes, the limitations on what it’s permissible to say become narrower and narrower. Saying the wrong thing in the wrong place won’t land you in prison, (not yet, anyway,) but it can certainly have a detrimental effect on your career.

Marcus Stead
Marcus Stead
In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins ask: What are the limitations on free speech? What constitutes ‘hate speech’? And who or what is behind the agenda to put ever-increasing limitations on what we can say? The podcast is available via the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app.