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The Spectator Podcast: War Games

12 April 2018

2:40 PM

12 April 2018

2:40 PM


In this week’s episode, we talk about the escalating situation in Syria and ask, would counter strikes actually help? We also look into ‘drill’ music, a genre of rap popular with the London youth most vulnerable to gang activity. Last, we talk Spice Girls and Beyoncé – what is modern ‘girl power’?

President Trump is facing a major foreign policy test in the Middle East. Reports came in over the weekend of a brutal chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria. The most likely suspect is President Assad, or as Trump likes to call him, ‘Animal Assad’. But, Paul Wood asks in this week’s cover, how certain can we be that it really is Assad’s doing, and what good will Western retaliation do? Paul is the BBC World Affairs correspondent, and he is joined by James Forsyth, our Political Editor, who writes in this week’s magazine that Britain must not underestimate its global role. Paul writes that Trump’s problems are ‘porn and poison gas’, saying:

‘We have a revival of the Clinton-era split-screen presidency, with sex and legal problems for the president on one half of the screen and a foreign war on the other half of the screen.’


Next, could there be a new culprit responsible for the rise of violent crime in London? Police cuts might have made prevention of crime more difficult but, Harriet Sergeant writes in this week’s magazine, young people are listening to music that glamourises violence between gangs. Harriet is joined by Jermaine Lawlor, who used to be in a gang, and is now a rapper and working to educate young people on the dangers of gang life. Harriet says:

‘You have young boys rapping about ‘stealing a knife from mummy’s kitchen’ and how to use bleach in order to get blood off a knife. And when you’re looking at these music videos, everything is made to make these boys look big and frightening. And when you look a bit closer, and get over these terrifying lyrics, and you see that these boys are mostly 14 and 15.’

Last, as news of a Spice Girls reunion breaks, Cosmo Landesman celebrates but asks – what happened to the spirit of the Spice Girls, who got ‘what they really, really want’? It seems that girls nowadays have forgotten the previous generation’s empowerment, and now buy into a victimhood narrative in which they are all too vulnerable to unwanted sexual advances. Cosmo is joined by Ayesha Hazarika, Evening Standard columnist and comedian, and Fraser Nelson, editor of this publication, who promised but failed to be a silent spectator. Fraser says:

‘It’s difficult to read too much sociological path into the lyrics of these pop songs. Beyoncé aside, because she is an incredibly articulate voice of social change in Britain and America.’

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