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The Spectator podcast: May’s third way

23 February 2017

12:19 PM

23 February 2017

12:19 PM

On this week’s Spectator podcast, we discuss Theresa May’s Third Way, whether we could have an Uber for social care, and look at Mies van der Rohe’s unrealised plans for a Mansion House skyscraper.

On the cover of this week’s magazine, Theresa May plots a course through the twin perils of Scylla and Charybdis, as she creates a new centreground between nationalism and globalism. So says James Forsyth, who writes this week on the new binary that has emerged in international politics. James is joined to discuss this on the podcast by Spectator editor Fraser Nelson.

On the emergent dichotomy, James writes that:

“Forget left and right — the new divide in politics is between nationalists and globalists. Donald Trump’s team believe that he won because he was the America First candidate, defying the old rules of politics. His nationalist rhetoric on everything from trade to global security enabled him to flip traditionally Democratic, blue-collar states and so to defeat that personification of the post-war global order, Hillary Clinton.”


Fraser agrees, telling the podcast that:

“A couple of months ago, Harvard University academics came out with quite a good study, tracking political voting for the last two or three decades, and they found the left and right axis had diminished, almost to the point of being meaningless. James’s language – nationalist versus globalist – does kind of sum it up. You can plot a lot of people on this path.”

Next, we turn our attention to the crisis in social care which is falling on Britain’s elderly, just as increasing life expectancies swell that demographic. In the magazine this weekMary Dejevsky writes about the difficulties that she has had in finding affordable care for her husband, who has Parkinson’s, when she is called away from their home for more than a couple of days. She tells the podcast that:

“I have just experienced going through the care system to try and find some way that I could go away for a week and my husband could be monitored. And the result was a complete disaster – it’s a jungle out there of what’s available and what isn’t available. You’ve basically got two choices: to go entirely private or to go through the council.”

John Sutherland, author of The War on the Old which he recently discussed at length on the Spectator Books podcast, agrees strongly:

“The major cause of death nowadays is dementia, which is a very slow, incurable and highly expensive condition. I wish we could get away from the word ‘care’ and call it ‘responsibility’, because I think it’s not just the near and dear who have a responsibility to those who need care, but also the state and council… we’re actually using neglect as an instrument of social control.”

And finally, we turn our attention to Mansion House Square and what could have been. A new Riba exhibition compares the prospective design of legendary architect Mies van der Rohe with the post-modern masterpiece that was constructed in its place: James Stirling’s No 1 Poultry. Love them or hate them, these designs stir strong feelings, not least in our guests, Hugh Pearman and John Rentoul, who debate this pivotal moment in British construction design. As Hugh writes in the magazine:

“Where developers now jostle to build ever taller, fatter and odder-shaped City skyscrapers, this was a time when it took 34 years to get just one building built. An ambitious bronze tower and plaza by the German-American modernist pioneer Mies van der Rohe was finally rejected in favour of an utterly different post-modern corner block (with no plaza, but a roof garden) by Sir James Stirling.”

John Rentoul, however, is not convinced of any merit to the Mies design, saying:

“I was only dimly aware that we’d been saved from the absolute atrocity of the Mies van der Rohe box on stilts, which is utterly hideous and would’ve destroyed the City of London. So thank goodness it took so long and allowed people to come to their senses. I would’ve preferred to stick with the original Victorian buildings but actually the weird, sort-of stripey pastille boat thing is quite an interesting building and quite pleasant to walk around.”

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