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Coffee House The Spectator Podcast

The Spectator Podcast: Riot chic

3 August 2017

3:12 PM

3 August 2017

3:12 PM

On this week’s episode, we talk about “riot chic”, the problem with electric cars, and how women’s sport won our hearts.

Is rioting becoming fashionable? That’s what Cosmo Landesman thinks, in the week after Dalston was rocked by unrest. He believes that the middle classes are swarming to these disturbances to express some apolitical anger – so is he right? Cosmo joins the podcast along with Tom Gash, author of Criminal: The Truth About Why People Do Bad Things. As Cosmo writes:

“The riot chic crowd seek the euphoric rush that comes from combining violence with the feeling that you’re being virtuous. After all, you’re barbecuing someone’s car or throwing a bottle in the name of social justice! If you get clobbered by a police truncheon, well, nothing says you care about inequality like a fat lip from the old bill. Even if you don’t want to be involved in the violence, you can have the pleasure of being near the action, and of filming it on your phone to share on social media.”

The government has just announced that, by 2040, gas guzzling cars must be off the roads and replaced by their eco-friendly electric siblings. In the magazine this week, Ross Clark despairs for the state of the electric car industry, which is dogged by battery range issues. He sat down with noted electric car driver, Isabel Hardman, to discuss. As Ross writes:

“Technology could change dramatically in 23 years. By then we might be able to drive 700 miles and then recharge in minutes. Or, like nuclear fusion, which has spent the past 50 years being just around the corner, electric vehicles may turn out to be the great hope which never quite materialises. We just don’t know. Given that, wouldn’t it have been a better idea to keep the abolition of petrol and diesel cars as an aspiration rather than to pre-announce a ban? The ban is an example of a novel form of policy-making which began with the Climate Change Act in 2008 — where government makes laws to take effect at some point in the future on the assumption that some uninvented technology becomes invented.”


Finally, England’s women’s football team are currently destroying the competition at the European Championships in the Netherlands. They are the top ranked team left in the tournament: a far cry from times gone by where the country couldn’t get behind the female counterparts to our overpaid, over-laurelled men. Simon Barnes champions the Lionesses in the magazine, and to discuss the subject on the podcast, we’re joined by our sports columnist Roger Alton and football writer Carrie Dunn, from the Netherlands. As Simon writes:

“There’s a lot more women’s sport about. It gets on TV more often. More people go to watch it. More people accept it. It’s an increasing part of modern life… demonstrating three ineluctable and irrefragable truths: that women are different from men in some ways; that women are the same as men in some ways; and that the times they are a-changing, as they always have done and always will do. Not really worth getting your jockstrap in a twist about, is it?”


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