A brand new series in which journalist Marcus Stead and veteran campaigner and blogger Greg Lance-Watkins discuss big issues affecting all our lives over a twenty minute period.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?
GREG Lance-Watkins recently celebrated his 75th birthday, and a few days afterwards he had his first Covid jab.
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.
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 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.
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.
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–Talk Podcasts
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.
Playlist: Talk Podcasts
Select an episode to play it in the audio player.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
THE ONGOING pandemic has resulted in millions more Britons working from home, and a recent report revealed that almost nine out of ten employees who worked from home during lockdown wish to continue doing so in some capacity.
The report, called ‘Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown’ said 88% of employees who worked from home during lockdown would like to continue doing so to some extent, with 47% wanting to do so ‘often’ or even all of the time.
In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins assess the revolution that is taking place in our working habits and ask, is this a good thing?
FROM THURSDAY, pubs, cafes and restaurants will have to close at 10pm each evening as part of a wider package of restrictions aimed at halting the spread of Covid-19 cases, which have risen sharply in recent weeks. We need to get real about this – ahead of us is a winter where there’ll be a significant amount of disruption to our lives.
In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss what’s gone wrong in recent months. Marcus argues strongly that the younger generations took the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme and the gradual reopening of the hospitality sector in July and August as a sign that the danger had passed, and that it was ‘party time’.
But what should happen now? Marcus and Greg agree that there is a lack of clarity over exactly what the rules are. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Tuesday evening was rambling and lacked clarity. Isn’t it time for clear, concise public information films on every advert break on every TV channel, as well as on YouTube and Spotify, to make it clear exactly what the rules are, in terms of how many people we should meet indoors, outdoors and how much distance we should keep? How many people actually know what the rules are?
Social media, especially Facebook, is awash with gross misinformation and conspiracy theories that play down the significance of the virus. What, if anything, can and should be done about it?
BRITISH society is now split into two groups: In the one group are people who are behaving in a sensible, cautious and responsible way to prevent the spread of Covid-19. In the other group are people who, if they ever cared to begin with, no longer do so, and are behaving in any way that suits themselves. Between 11-16 August, the United Kingdom recorded more than 1,000 new Covid-19 cases every day, the first time it had broken the thousand barrier since 26 June, and the first time we had seen six days in a row of more than 1,000 new cases since June 16-21.
In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the likelihood of the pandemic returning in a major way as we head into the autumn. What are we to make of the sharp rise in cases seen during the last week? Is it due to increased testing? Is it due to so many people not taking the danger seriously? And has people losing their inhibitions while under the influence of alcohol played its part? What does having the virus actually mean? On the one hand, a very large number of those diagnosed aren’t actually unwell, and the biggest danger appears to be to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. On the other hand, Derek Draper, husband of TV presenter Kate Garraway, has been seriously ill with the effects of Covid-19 for many months at the age of just 53. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was seriously ill with the virus at the age of just 55. And Charlton Athletic superfan Seb Lewis sadly died from the virus at only 38 years of age. So evidently, the risk to younger people shouldn’t be taken lightly. Marcus and Greg also assess the negative impact devolution is having on the management of the pandemic. The guidelines for the four constituent parts of the UK are muddled and confused. How many people really know who they can mix with outdoors, indoors, and how much distance they should keep? Devolution has led to mixed messages and confusion at a time when people require clarity and simplicity. The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app. Episode 44: Greg’s Pet Hates Part 1
IT’S AUGUST, and perhaps it’s time for some ‘silly season’ light relief. In this edition, Marcus Stead interviews Greg Lance-Watkins about his pet hates. There may well be further podcasts along these lines in the future, but in this edition, Greg picks music in movies, dramas and TV programmes, and so-called ‘experts’ on TV programmes who don’t know what they’re talking about. Greg isn’t a fan of the Sound of Music, or an orchestra piping up in an open field. He doesn’t like dramatic music during car chases in action movies, nor does he like soft music in romantic scenes. Does Greg have a point, or is he a miserable git who struggles with the suspension of reality? Marcus and Greg do agree that the music is often too loud in documentaries, to the point where we cannot hear what the narrator is saying. The discussion then moves on to so-called ‘experts’ appearing on TV programmes who don’t know what they’re talking about. How often have you tuned in to the Sky News paper review to see that the guest is some 25-year-old middle class recent graduate working for an obscure think tank who is going to tell you all about the world? The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app. Episode 43: The Covid Conundrum
AS WE come towards the end of July, how bad is the COVID-19 situation, in Britain and overseas? How much credibility should we place on official figures? And what about masks – their use wasn’t compulsory when the virus was at its most prevalent in Britain during March and April, but now it is. What are we to make of the Government’s U-turn? Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins assess the situation. The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and the TuneIn app. Episode 42: China Crisis
IN CHINA, at least one million Uighur Muslims have been taken from their homes and put in what the Chinese government calls ‘correction facilities’, which are in reality concentration camps, where brutal human rights abuses are taking place. Harrowing details of those human rights abuses are detailed during the podcast. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the Chinese government has introduced harsh measures that severely erode free speech, freedom of expression and freedom of association. In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins ask – where is Britain’s moral compass? Where is the West’s moral compass? Where is the world’s moral compass? What should be done, and perhaps more to the point, what can be done, to curtail China’s growing influence as a global superpower? And what will the long-term consequences be for ourselves, and for the generations that follow us, if we live in a world dominated by Chinese economic and political influence? The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, SoundCloud and the TuneIn app. Episode 41: Don’t Google It!
HAVE YOU noticed the way in which online adverts are targeted at you based on private conversations you’ve had with other members of your family in your living room? Do your household smart devices know far more about you than you think? Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the enormous influence a small number of technology companies now have over our lives, from what information we receive, and which consumer products we buy. Journalist Peter Hitchens recently conducted an interview with a popular and widely-viewed YouTube channel. He discovered that while YouTube hadn’t taken down the video, somebody, somewhere had messed around with the algorithms to make it much more difficult to find. YouTube, which is owned by Google, has long held a policy of censoring pornography and extremist material, but in recent times, this has been extended to removing the content of people like documentary maker Michael Moore, who dared to challenge the orthodoxy on the man-made climate change agenda. YouTube and Twitter censors have powers equivalent to, and arguably greater than the courts. Anybody can find themselves subject to a kangaroo court run by Twitter or YouTube staff, and there is nothing they can do about it. Should we be concerned about the sheer level of influence these tech giants have, and should we be much more cautious as to what information we freely give them about our lives, or lifestyles and our shopping habits? The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, SoundCloud and the TuneIn app. Episode 40: Rewriting History
“THE PAST is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” So reads the opening line of L.P. Hartley’s novel ‘The Go-Between’, published in 1953. Last weekend saw ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters in Bristol tear down a statue of Edward Colston, a philanthropist who supported and endowed schools, hospitals and churches, especially in Bristol and London, in an era when the state couldn’t be bothered with such things. However, much of his wealth was as a result of the slave trade, and protesters took the law into their own hands by toppling the statue and throwing it into the harbour. Is it right to judge people’s actions in centuries past by the standards of today? Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the weekend’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests and the tearing down of statues. Has mob rule and police inaction replaced law and order? Why were mass gatherings even tolerated at a time when we are under clear instructions to socially distance for the sake of not spreading the COVID-19 virus? What does this all mean for the future of statues of other controversial figures, including Horatio Nelson, Sir Thomas Picton, Sir Cecil Rhodes and even Sir Winston Churchill? While George Floyd’s funeral was taking place, ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters gathered around the statue of Nelson Mandela in London. But as Mandela himself openly admitted, his own track record was far from perfect. Should statues of Gandhi (a racist in earlier life), Desmond Tutu (an anti-Semite), and Muhammad Ali (who held unpleasant views until he embraced moderate Sunni Islam in the mid-late 1970s) be torn down? Do the protesters have a point, or is this just the latest attempt by the woke brigade to posture and virtue signal, even if it means endangering public health by causing a second wave of COVID-19 infections? The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, SoundCloud and the TuneIn app. Episode 39: The New Normal
WHAT IS ‘the new normal’? It’s a phrase we hear a lot on TV news bulletins and read a lot in the papers, but what does it actually mean? As the lockdown begins to ease, and economic activity picks up, what restrictions on working life and on recreation are we going to have to learn to live with well into the future? Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss whether restaurants, theatres and other places of recreation have a future, if social distancing means they will have to operate at massively reduced levels of capacity. The discussion then turns to the wider issue of tax revenue. Around 60% of tax yield comes from VAT and National Insurance. With places of entertainment and recreation operating in a much-reduced way, this, in turn, means a much-reduced tax revenue. What does this mean for the future of public services and public sector workers? Finally, the discussion turns to new ways of working. The pandemic has proven that it is possible for many office jobs to be done from home, most of the time. Businesses will increasingly question whether they need so much office space. But will the trend spread to other sectors? The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and the TuneIn app. Episode 38: The Devolution Disaster
IN A SPECIAL ‘double dose’ edition of Twenty Minute Topic, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins assess the impact of devolution in Wales 20 years after its inception, and at a time when the institution has recently changed its name to the ‘Welsh Parliament’. Greg played an important role in the ‘No’ campaign leading up to the referendum of 1997, in which the ‘Yes’ side won by the narrowest of margins. Greg makes some shocking allegations of foul play, both during the campaign of 1997 and at crucial counts on the night. The term ‘crachach’ is discussed extensively during the podcast. It is a term that refers to the Welsh-speaking middle class elite, often sympathetic to Welsh nationalism, nepotistic in character, that has huge influence across the Welsh arts, media, civil service and higher education sectors. Veteran left-leaning journalist Paul Starling observed in his Welsh Daily Mirror column on 26 April 2002 that ‘our country is run by no more than 50 extended families or individuals’.
Indeed, far from being a swivel-eyed conspiracy, the crachach was thought to be very real by former First Minister Rhodri Morgan, who saw their elitist control of so many tenets of Welsh civic life as a real threat to the success of devolution. He said: ““As well as horizontal devolution – spreading power and responsibility more widely – we have to have vertical devolution as well. I have sometimes tried to sum up this dimension by describing our devolution settlement as a shift from crachach to gwerin, from government by a self-replicating élite to a new engagement with a far wider and more representative group of people, women and men, people from north and south Wales, Welsh speakers and not, black people as well as white, and so on.” Marcus and Greg agree that Rhodri Morgan’s words were not heeded, and far from creating a more diverse and inclusive civic sector in Wales, devolution has led to a consolidation and intensification of crachach power and influence. Leighton Andrews, a former Education Minister in Wales, also spoke out against Crachach influence in the Welsh higher education sector. The podcast begins with a brief history of devolution, beginning with the referendum of 1979, in which the Welsh electorate categorically rejected the proposal for an Assembly. The discussion moves on to the ‘quango culture’ of the 1980s and 90s, the impact of the Welsh Language Act of 1993, through to the referendum on giving the Assembly primary law-making powers in 2011. There is discussion on the broken promises of 2011. The people of Wales were told it was a ‘tidying up exercise’ and the ‘end game’ for devolution, but in the years since, income tax powers have been devolved, and the institution’s name has been changed to the ‘Welsh Parliament’. The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts Spotify, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and the TuneIn app. Episode 37: Coronavirus – How Worried Should We Be?
AS OF 2 March 2020, more than 3,000 people have been killed by the coronavirus, including 50 in Iran and more than 30 in Italy. Globally, there have been almost 90,000 confirmed cases, with the numbers outside China now growing faster than inside China. In this podcast, journalist Marcus Stead and veteran campaigner and blogger Greg Lance-Watkins tackle some key questions:
- How concerned should we be?
- Why is the coronavirus more serious than conventional strains of flu?
- Is it time to follow the example of other countries by closing schools and banning mass gatherings at sporting events and theatres etc?
- What can we all do to minimise the risk?
The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and the TuneIn app. Episode 36: Flooding Fiasco
DURING RECENT weeks, large areas of Britain have experienced flooding, resulting in millions of pounds in damage to homes and businesses. Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the causes of the flooding – they dismiss claims it a consequence of man-made climate change, and condemn the lazy narrative being peddled by the mainstream media. As former TV weatherman John Kettley said on LBC radio last week, the heavy rain that led to the floods was a result of ‘weather’ not ‘climate’ and was comparable to the rainfall he experienced growing up in Yorkshire more than 60 years ago. Instead, Marcus and Greg pin the blame for the flooding on absurd planning applications that have seen housing estates built on flood-planes, and EU regulations that prevented the dredging of rivers. The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and the TuneIn app. Episode 35: Caroline Flack
ON SATURDAY evening, we learnt that television presenter Caroline Flack had taken her own life at the age of just 40. Caroline was a popular and talented entertainer, yet she had a deeply troubled personal life. In this week’s podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the sort of society we live in, and to what extent the media, and indeed social media, is to blame for Caroline’s death. At the start of the podcast, we take a few minutes to listen to some words by broadcaster Alex Belfield, which he recorded very shortly after Caroline’s death was announced on Saturday, for which he received a great deal of criticism on social media, but which Marcus found fitting and poignant. The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and the TuneIn app. Episode 34: Streatham Terror Attack
ON SUNDAY 2 February, Sudesh Amman injured three people in a terror attack on the Streatham High Road, less than two weeks after being released from prison for possessing and distributing terrorist material. In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss what can be done to minimise the threat from Islamic terrorists living in Britain. The evidence clearly points to ‘lone wolf’ attackers usually being radicalised by viewing extremist material on the internet, rather than in the mosques. A very large number appear to be heavy users of cannabis, a mind-altering drug that has dangerous, unpredictable and often-permanent effects on the brains of some who use it. The Muslim population of Britain has more than trebled since 1990. Marcus and Greg ask whether the Islamic community is doing enough to deal with extremism. We read stories from prisons of people converting to Islam and joining Muslim extremist gangs for their own protection. What can be done about that? And should those who pose a threat ever be released from prison? The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn app. Episode 33: UK Independence Day TO CELEBRATE the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins bring you a ‘triple dose’ of Twenty Minute Topic. Marcus and Greg reflect on the moment last Friday night at 11pm when the UK left the EU and became an independent country again after 47 years. They assess what this means for the UK, what happens next, and what being free from the shackles of the EU will mean for the country. Later in the podcast, they discuss the latest developments with the coronavirus outbreak, as a follow-up to the special podcast recorded in the middle of last week. Finally, they discuss the absurd sacking of veteran newscaster Alastair Stewart for quoting Shakespeare, and why this, along with Katie Hopkins’s censorship by Twitter, are extremely disturbing developments for lovers of free speech. The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn app. Episode 32: The Great Brexiteers THE UNITED Kingdom will finally leave the European Union this coming Friday at 11pm, and in this special edition of Twenty Minute Topic, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins pay tribute to those eurosceptics who campaigned for Brexit, but sadly did not live long enough to see it delivered. Among those Marcus and Greg pay tribute to are Norris McWhirter, perhaps best known for his role on long-running children’s TV programme Record Breakers, Labour politicians Peter Shore and Tony Benn, as well as Greg’s friend Christopher Booker, the campaigning journalist who died last year.
Marcus and Greg could not possibly pay tribute to everyone who did their bit, but this podcast gives a brief insight into just some of the great characters who helped make Brexit happen. The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and via the TuneIn app. Episode 31: Tackling Homelessness
IN THIS week’s edition, Marcus Stead talks to Greg Lance-Watkins about an idea Greg has for tackling homelessness. Greg’s idea is a remarkably simple, yet effective way of bringing dignity and safety to the homeless. Marcus asks Greg a series of questions about potential problems and pitfalls, all of which Greg addresses convincingly. There doesn’t appear to be any obvious downside to Greg’s proposals, so why won’t local councils go ahead and implement it? The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and the TuneIn app. Episode 30: Harry and Meghan THE DUKE and Duchess of Sussex, or ‘Harry and Meghan’ as they are more commonly known, released a bombshell statement in which they announced they were stepping back from Royal duties to pursue their own paths. In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins reflect on the appalling way in which they went about announcing this, without consulting the Queen or senior members of the Royal Family. With ‘crisis talks’ set to take place during the next few days, they also assess what could and should happen from here. Was Meghan Markle naive about what a life of Royal duty and service would mean, or is she calculating and scheming? And how do Harry and Meghan’s ‘woke’ credentials contrast with the example set by the Queen over more than 60 years? The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn app. Episode 29: Iran – Are We Heading For War?
THE ASSASSINATION of major general Qasam Soleimani marked a major escalation of tensions with Iran, and what happens next is highly unpredictable. In this week’s podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins put the events of early 2020 into a wider historical context, and assess what may happen in the days and weeks ahead. What motivated President Trump to carry out this reckless action? Are we heading for a major conflict for Iran, and could this turn into a much larger war? Episode 28: Review of 2019
AS 2019 draws to a close, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins reflect on how the year will be remembered in the history books. They also debate whether the Labour Party can recover from its current dire state, and assess whether the time has come for decent, patriotic Labour supporters to break away from the party and set up an alternative opposition movement. The podcast is also available on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn app. Episode 27: Brexit is Happening! Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins reflect on a week that saw the EU Withdrawal Bill pass through the House of Commons with ease. They discuss what’ll happen next, how the EU is likely to react, and the challenges Boris Johnson’s Government will face in handling the next phase of negotiations during the early months of 2020. Marcus and Greg also discuss the serious problems facing the Labour Party, and a lack of a credible opposition in Britain at the moment. The podcast is also available on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn app. Episode 26: The Boris Breakthrough The election is over, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has won with a majority of 80, exactly as Marcus Stead has been predicting on Twenty Minute Topic for many weeks! In this week’s podcast, Marcus and Greg Lance-Watkins assess how quickly Brexit can now be implemented, now that the United Kingdom has a stable Government with a large majority. They also discuss what went wrong for Labour, and conclude that the party’s sneering contempt for its heartlands is what led to the catastrophic defeat. Labour has spent the last few years telling them they were wrong about Brexit and didn’t know what they were doing when they voted Leave. They have patronised their voters, ignored their concerns and obsessed about niche ‘woke’ issues that only really resonate with the London bubble and middle class students. The election result is a clear rejection of Jeremy Corbyn’s Marxist or close-to-Marxist agenda, and a rejection of the stench of toxic anti-Semitism that surrounds the Labour Party. They discuss the extraordinary arrogance of Corbyn-supporting media pundits, who as the results came in decided NOT to reflect on where Labour went wrong, but chose to attack Labour heartland voters and give them a telling off for daring to vote for another party! Is the Labour Party beyond saving? Is it now a party made up of hardline Marxists, and middle class students and academics, totally out of touch with working people? Does the country have a credible opposition that looks like a government in waiting? If not, where do we go from here, in the interests of democracy? Have Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party done damage in this election by denying the Conservatives seats in constituencies where they split the anti-EU vote? The presence of a Brexit Party candidate also almost certainly cost honourable Labour MP Caroline Flint her seat. And what about social media’s role in this election? It’s now beyond doubt that the Twitter mobs and the echo chambers bear absolutely no resemblance to how most people think and behave. The podcast is available on the Talk Podcasts website, as well as on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and the TuneIn app. Episode 25: Decision Time
With less than a week to go until polling day, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins take stock of the situation. The polls consistently show a consistent and substantial lead for the Conservative Party, but Marcus and Greg interpret the data in slightly different ways, and have reached different conclusions as to how the votes will translate into seats. Is it the case that people are massively unimpressed with the entire election campaign, and that faced with the inevitability that either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn will be Prime Minister, people will vote for the ‘least worst’ option? What should habitual Labour voters who feel uncomfortable with the direction in which Jeremy Corbyn has taken the party do on Thursday, especially those who can’t bring themselves to vote Conservative? Marcus and Greg reflect on the appalling slurs from the once-respectable Channel 4 News during the election campaign, and the decline in trust in other media outlets, including the BBC. They also discuss the gradual decline of proper investigative journalism in both the print and broadcast media over the course of the last 25 years. Episode 24: London Bridge terror attack – How should we respond? On Friday, Usman Khan, an already-convicted terrorist out on licence, killed two innocent people on London Bridge. In this week’s podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins pay tribute to the extraordinarily brave people who helped disarm the terrorist, and discuss what steps can be taken to prevent similar attacks in the future. Marcus and Greg also assess what effect the terror attack has had on the election, which is now less than two weeks away. The podcast is also available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and the TuneIn app. Episode 23: What’s in the manifestos?
In the week the Conservative and Labour parties launched their manifestos, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins take a look at what’s inside them. Are Boris Johnson’s plans for a huge wave of investment in infrastructure, apprenticeships and nursing realistic? As for Labour, there are big elements of it that have not been widely reported in the mainstream media. There are lots of things in there that will appeal to the politically correct, virtue signalling ‘woke’ agenda, including ‘putting LGBT+ equality at the heart of government, ensuring our public services are LGBT+ inclusive and delivering on the national LGBT Action Plan’ along with a pledge to ‘conduct an audit of the impact of Britain’s colonial legacy to understand our contribution to the dynamics of violence and insecurity across regions previously under British colonial rule.’ Marcus and Greg ask: Is this REALLY a vote winner in Labour’s heartlands? The podcast is also available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and the TuneIn app. Episode 22: Election 2019 – One Month To Go
Events have taken over the election campaign in the last week, with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn responding in very different ways to the terrible floods in Yorkshire. With less than a month to go until polling day, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins ask: How could Boris Johnson have handled the terrible situation with the floods in Yorkshire without attracting criticism? Something profound is happening in Labour’s heartlands. Support for the party has halved in 2019 alone, but polls show that no single party is benefiting from the collapse. The percentage points that Labour has lost are fragmented among several parties. That makes predicting the outcome of the election extremely difficult. Could it be that under the ‘first past the post’ electoral system, Conservative candidates may ‘come through the middle’ in some of the Labour heartlands. And it’s nearly the time of year when an old man with a white beard hands out free gifts – no, we’re not talking about Father Christmas, but Jeremy Corbyn, whose manifesto pledges sound incredibly far-fetched. We ask how is it all going to be paid for, or more specifically, who is going to pay for it? Episode 21: Poll Position Something extraordinary is happening with the opinion polls. They are consistently showing that in the Labour heartlands, support for the party has halved in 2019 alone. Across the country, support for the Conservatives has fallen a little, but not to anything like the extent as Labour. There is no single beneficiary of the collapse in support for Labour. Some of those percentage points have gone to the Brexit Party, others to the Liberal Democrats, and the smaller parties have benefited to an extent as well. Under the ‘first past the post’ system, this makes the outcome very difficult to predict in many seats. In this week’s podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins try to make sense of the polls. Episode 20: Nigel Farage – Asset or Liability?
Nigel Farage launched the Brexit Party’s election campaign on Friday of last week. He stated that if Boris Johnson didn’t ditch the deal he negotiated with the EU, the Brexit Party could stand in every seat in the country. Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins both had dealings with Nigel Farage during his days as a senior figure in UKIP. Marcus and Greg explain why Mr Farage’s actions last week risk splitting the pro-Brexit vote, thereby allowing anti-Brexit candidates to win seats, and they also explain how this is by no means the first time Mr Farage has put his own ego before the national interest. The podcast is also available on iTunes, Spotify, the TuneIn app and Google Podcasts. Episode 19: Brexit – The Farce Continues Boris Johnson has been granted the Brexit extension he didn’t want, and Jeremy Corbyn turned down the chance to trigger the general election he’s been calling for all year. But come Tuesday evening, we could be in election mode! Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins try to make sense of it all, and address issues that were raised during Monday’s debate in Parliament: Should 16-year-olds be allowed to vote? Should university students be allowed to vote in the city where they’re studying, even though they only live in the area part-time and are likely to leave once they graduate? And should the Brexit Party enter into electoral pacts with pro-Brexit candidates in an upcoming election? All our podcasts are available via the Talk Podcasts website, on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn App. Episode 18: The Brexit Betrayal The Brexit 17.4 million people voted for in June 2016 has still not been delivered. On Saturday, the House of Commons put yet more obstacles in the way of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union. Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins take stock of the situation. Have we now reached the stage where it’s ‘Parliament versus the people’? Episode 17: Brexit- Are we nearly there yet? At the start of what is certain to be one of the most dramatic weeks in British political history, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins take stock of the situation as it currently stands. Marcus and Greg both believe that it is likely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union at the end of October. They argue that an extension to Article 50 will force Labour to back a general election, which would be fraught with risk, and could well result in a sizeable majority for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, which would in turn give him a strong mandate to pull the UK out of the EU, with or without a deal. Episode 16: The Royal Family
Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the future of the Royal Family. Will Britain still have a Royal Family in 20 years’ time? How has the recent behaviour of Harry and Meghan undermined the institution? And what do we make of the Queen being dragged into the Brexit process? All podcasts are also available via iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn app. Episode 15: The Supreme Court – A Dangerous Precedent?
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful. In this podcast, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins argue that the Supreme Court’s ruling has set a dangerous precedent that gravely undermines British Parliamentary democracy. All our podcasts are now also available on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and the TuneIn app. Episode 14: Bias in the Classroom
Rising numbers of children are being treated for ‘eco anxiety’ because they’re being fed terrifying propaganda by their schoolteachers on the theory of man-made climate change. Before and since the EU referendum of 2016, there were media reports of teachers indoctrinating children with pro-EU propaganda, and telling them that Brexiteers were bad, nasty people. Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins assess bias within the teaching profession, and deliver a scathing verdict on teachers who are brainwashing and frightening innocent children. Marcus and Greg also discuss what can be done to redress the balance and bring integrity back into the teaching profession. Episode 13: Why do you support Brexit?
Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins are committed Brexiteers, but how did their journeys begin? Marcus, 35, became a eurosceptic while at secondary school in the mid-late 1990s, partly inspired by the late Sir James Goldsmith and the Referendum Party he led into the 1997 general election. Greg, who is in his 70s, has been opposed to the entire EU project since the 1960s, when it was known as the European Economic Community (EEC). In this podcast, Marcus and Greg tell their stories about how they became eurosceptics, and why they believe the United Kingdom would be better off leaving the European Union. Episode 12: Bercow, Boris and Brexit
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, there were hugely controversial scenes in the House of Commons as the prorogation ceremony got underway, with Speaker John Bercow becoming the centre of attention. Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins deliver a damning verdict on Speaker Bercow’s behaviour, and assess where the Brexit process goes from here. Episode 11: The Decline of the Mainstream Media BBC News has seen a 56% decline in viewing figures since 2014 and a 19% drop in the last year alone. Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the decline in quality and trust of traditional news outlets and look into how more and more people are getting their news from alternative sources. Episode 10: Man-Made Climate Change Debunked
This week, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins debunk the theory of man-made climate change. Climate change in itself is undeniable, it’s been going on for as long as the earth has existed, but to say mankind is responsible is to rely on VERY wobbly science. The reality is that the green lobby and the oil giants are on the same side – this is a multi-billion dollar industry!
They also discuss how vulnerable teenager Greta Thunberg is being exploited and manipulated by people to further this toxic agenda. Episode 9: Groupthink The term ‘Groupthink’ has its origins in George Orwell’s 1984, but it has gained new prominence with the advent of social media.
Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss ‘groupthink’ and the impact of social media. Far from encouraging healthy debate and exposing people to new ideas, social media appears to be encouraging people to engage with echo chambers, namely people who share the same views as them. This, in turn, insulates people from hearing viewpoints that go against theirs, and leaves them dangerously unaware of the views of wider society. Episode 8: Neville Chamberlain – National Hero?
Few moments in British history have been looked back on as more humiliating than when, in September 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew back from Munich having supposedly been duped by Hitler into thinking that he had secured ‘peace for our time’. Conventional wisdom has regarded Chamberlain’s act as one of foolish appeasement. But we should look again. Marcus Stead is joined by Greg Lance-Watkins, who tells a story about how, as a 19-year-old soldier, he had a chance meeting with former Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas Home on a train. They discussed Chamberlain and the Munich Agreement. Sir Alec revealed to Greg that far from being an act of appeasement, Chamberlain knew war was coming. However, by pretending to have been duped by Hitler, he had bought Britain vital time to rearm and prepare for war. Sir Alec left Greg in no doubt that Chamberlain had handled the situation brilliantly, and that history has judged him harshly. Episode 7: Personal Responsibility (Part 2) Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins address some tough issues with regards to personal responsibility and welfare dependency. Is the welfare state in its current form sustainable? Will people have to make their own provisions for old age? Are those who cover their bodies in hideous tattoos to blame for making themselves unemployable? And do we need to ‘press the reset button’ to redefine where the state’s role ends and the individual/family’s role begins? Episode 6: Will Boris Johnson Deliver Brexit?
Boris Johnson is the UK’s new Prime Minister. Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins assess the likelihood of Brexit being delivered by the October 31 deadline. Can a new deal be negotiated with the EU? Can Parliament block a ‘no deal’ Brexit? And how likely is a General Election before the Brexit deadline? Episode 5: Personal Responsibility
Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss the subject of personal responsibility. At what point does it become the responsibility of the individual and the family, rather than the welfare state, to provide for our needs? The discussion then turns to the subject of gambling, both in the high street and online, which often has a devastating impact on people living in socially deprived areas. A second podcast on personal responsibility will be released in two weeks’ time, where Marcus and Greg will look into how the welfare state in its current form is unsustainable. Episode 4: Can the NHS Survive? Marcus Stead is joined by veteran campaigner and blogger Greg Lance-Watkins as they debate whether the NHS has a future. If so, what form it will take? What changes need to be made if it is to survive and provide world-class healthcare in the decades ahead? Episode 3: Remembering Christopher Booker
On Wednesday 3 July 2019, Christopher Booker, one of Britain’s very best journalists, died at the age of 81. Greg Lance-Watkins knew Christopher for more than 50 years. He reflects on Christopher’s remarkable life with Marcus Stead. Christopher led an extraordinary life – he was an integral part of the satire boom of the 1960s, as part of David Frost’s team on That Was The Week That Was, and he was the first editor of the magazine Private Eye. Christopher wrote about a broad range of topics, from jazz to cricket, but he was perhaps best-known for his investigative work, and for his deep understanding of the inner-workings of the European Union. Christopher’s final column in the Sunday Telegraph on 29 March was a masterpiece, where he reflected on his eventful life and provided a sad, but all-too-accurate analysis of the state Britain is currently in. It was republished with permission on Greg’s blog here. Episode 2: Shaping the economy and equipping young people for the future Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins address some big, often uncomfortable questions about the future of the British economy and workplace. Does the minimum wage have a future? Do we live in a corporatist, rather than a capitalist society? The ‘elephant in the room’ – why has Britain got such a large productivity problem? Is it time to industrialise? Is the long period of uncertainty over Brexit doing more harm than anything else to British business? Is it time to de-industrialise? Is a ‘climate change’ policy based on wobbly science doing immense, unnecessary damage to the economy? And how can young people build a career in the modern world? Episode 1: The Modern Workplace Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins discuss how workplaces will be transformed by technology in the next five to ten years. Issued raised include: Are university degrees still worth it? Are the millennial generation equipped for the workplace? Is the UK education system fit for purpose? Does manufacturing in the UK have a future? How will 5G technology transform all our lives?