On this week’s Spectator Podcast, we ask whether Theresa May can be absolved by her party and the public. We’ll also be looking at the controversial practice of trail hunting, and considering how we might enjoy better lunches at our desks.
First up, since blowing her party’s majority with an unnecessary snap election, Theresa May has appeared to be on borrowed time. But with tricky Brexit negotiations ongoing, could she offer the stability the Tories so desperately crave? And can her colleagues forgive her for a calamitous campaign? Isabel Hardman asks these questions in the magazine this week, and she joins the podcast along with Fraser Nelson. As Isabel writes:
“Refreshed from walking in the Alps, the Prime Minister has returned to declare that she is “in it for the long term” and might even fight the next general election. We can expect to hear a lot more on this theme. She has a number of speeches to deliver later this month about Europe and domestic reform, speeches she will also use as part of her campaign to persuade MPs to forgive and forget. As they all know, much is at stake. The Tories can’t agree on anyone to replace her, which is why she’s staying – and saying that she’s no caretaker. If they enfeeble their own leader, out of revenge or anger, they’ll look criminally incompetent and might never be forgiven by voters who (as the last general election demonstrated) are very close to choosing Jeremy Corbyn.”
Next, we turn our attention to trail hunting, a replacement for fox hunting after it was banned, where a scent is laid for hounds to pursue. The practice, however, has come in for criticism, especially as it is often carried out on National Trust properties. Camilla Swift dissects the furore in the magazine this week, and she joins the podcast along with Jim Barrington. As Camilla writes:
“There is an online petition running at the moment calling on the Trust to ‘revoke land use for “trail” hunts’. It has at the time of writing been signed 136,028 times, but according to the data provided by the petition’s website only 67,887 of those supporters are in the United Kingdom. So who are they all? Do they even exist? No one at the Trust checks to make sure the signatories are all actual people and not part of some co-ordinated campaign. If the signatories don’t even live in the UK, should anyone take their ‘vote’ seriously? In August, various animal rights groups organised a march through London which protested against a number of issues, including the badger cull, grouse shooting and fox hunting. Promoted by that prolific activist Chris Packham, it gained traction on social media and was billed as ‘Britain’s largest ever wildlife protection march’. In the event, only about 1,000 people actually turned up. That was not much reported. Clicks on social media do not mean feet on the ground.”
And finally, the modern office worker is cursed with stodgy sandwiches, eaten at desks to avoid switching off. But can we do better? Is there a way to have one’s sandwich and eat it? Laura Freeman advocates for a change of culture in the magazine, and she joins the podcast along with sandwich connoisseur Thomas Marks. As Laura writes:
“Since we are not rich in sumptuous little bistros serving steak-frites for a sou, we must make the best of our desk lunches. The most popular office lunch in this country, according to a 2015 survey, is the cheese sandwich, followed by the ham sandwich, followed by the chicken sandwich, then some sort of salad, and in fifth place, ‘other sandwich’. Must try harder. Swap a sandwich for slices of quiche Lorraine; pork pies with red-onion chutney and cherry tomatoes; cold roast chicken with piccalilli and new potatoes saved from Sunday’s lunch; Scotch eggs and pink radishes; quarters of egg frittata with feta, courgettes, peas, spring onions.”