On this week’s edition of The Spectator Podcast, we tackle a number of the most contentious issues around: whether the young royals are becoming too open with the press, if wind power will ever be an effective source of energy, and the question of whether Arsène Wenger should stay or go.
First, in recent weeks, Princes William and Harry have both opened up to the world about their struggle to cope in the wake of their mother’s tragic death. But Freddy Gray, in his cover piece, finds this candour off-putting, urging them not to turn the monarchy into a reality TV show. He joins the podcast along with Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon, who conducted the first interview with Prince Harry where he spoke up about his issues with mental illness.
In his piece, Freddy contrasts the younger royals with their grandparents:
“The Queen knows that she is hugely popular precisely because she does not blather on about what is going on in her head. When Prince Philip stood down last week, the whole country saluted his contribution to British life. He is well-liked because he only opened his mouth when he had something massively inappropriate to say. Rather than make a parade of sensitivity, he made rude jokes to cover up the whole awkwardness of being royal.”
But Bryony has strong words for Freddy:
“I just don’t think they’ve made a foray into celebrity world…I thought your piece was a beautifully written, exquisitely written, piece of codswallop. It’s not codswallop, that’s unfair, because it is what a lot of people think. I especially get it, writing for the Telegraph, they think ‘Come on, stiff upper lip! Why are you boring us with your travails? We just got on with it.’… We’ve always all had mental health, don’t tell me that during the war people weren’t pretty miserable about what was going on.”
Next, we touch on the hotly-contested issue of wind power. Matt Ridley has been a long time critic of the technology, and in this week’s magazine he writes that it is simply not contributing to the world’s energy demand. He joins the podcast for a feisty debate with Leo Murray, director of strategy at climate change campaign group 10:10.
Matt is, thus far, unimpressed with wind power. As he writes:
“Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.”
But Leo is similarly underwhelmed with Matt’s analysis:
“Certainly there are some facts in Matt’s piece, but what he’s done here is he’s chosen a selective and partial set of facts to draw conclusions which are at odds with the conclusions, not just of academics, engineers and scientists, but a multi-billion dollar global industry. So that shouldn’t inspire confidence in the analysis amongst your readers.”
Finally, we turn our attention to the most bitter battle currently raging in Britain: should Arsène Wenger stay on at Arsenal, or end his tenure this summer? Damian Reilly, a reformed Manchester United fan, rails against the conduct of fans in this week’s magazine and he joins the podcast along with Oly Duff, editor of the i newspaper, to debate the Gunners’ head honcho’s future.
As Damian writes:
“The anger directed at Wenger is as idiotic as it is unfair and goes to the heart of a boorish culture that encourages people, men particularly, to tie up a large portion of their self-worth in the fortunes of a football team made up of people they’ve never met. In this respect, the rage at coming second is a form of self-hatred. It’s not enough any more to follow a team and to take an interest, to enjoy the ups and downs. Thanks to relentless marketing campaigns that have cynically persuaded us we must live and die by the fortunes of our team, we’re no longer mere spectators. Instead, we are our team.”
But Oly sees things differently:
“I love Arsène Wenger. You know, I’ve supported Arsenal for 24 years, I’ve defended him for the past 9 years, I’m not a social media monster here. He took the team I love from mediocrity, from mid-table, being boring, boring Arsenal, where half the squad were on booze or coke and some of the others were in prison, to being synonymous with glory and style. Although I think history will judge him magnificently, we’ve been stagnating for a decade and I just can’t take anymore.”
The Spectator Podcast will be appearing in its regular Thursday slot throughout the election campaign, but we’ll also be providing you with daily editions of Coffee House Shots, our political podcast, so do subscribe on iTunes to get our take on the latest twists and turns as soon as they happen.
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