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The Spectator Podcast: 190th birthday

5 July 2018

3:53 PM

5 July 2018

3:53 PM


Happy birthday to the Spectator. This week, we’re celebrating our 190th birthday. Lara Prendergast takes a walk down memory lane with three editors of the Spectator, past and present. But before that, it’s the podcast as usual. This week, we’re asking – do anti-Trump protests achieve anything other than virtue signalling? And are driverless cars on a road to nowhere?

Donald Trump is soon to visit the UK, and after two false alarms, this time, it will actually happen. Next Friday, Trump will be welcomed by May in London and greeted with major protests. There is a carnival of resistance organised, with special guests such as Lily Allen and a giant inflatable blimp of Trump in a nappy. But Freddy Gray, our Deputy Editor, asks in this week’s magazine, is this anything more than counterproductive virtue signalling? Freddy joins the podcast, together with Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, lawyer and activist, and co-founder of the Women’s March against Trump. It’s safe to say that Freddy and Shola didn’t agree on much, and the debate got fiery. Shola said:

‘History has told us that when you sit on the fence, by your silence you are complicit.’

But Freddy retorted:

‘I think if you think these [anti-Trump] voices are silent, you are in cloud cuckoo land. I hear nothing but anti-Trump voices in the media. I know very well why people object to Donald Trump.’


Uber, Google, and Apple. The biggest tech firms throwing billions into developing driverless car technology. We’re told they’ll reduce congestion, make the roads safer and cut down on pollution; even the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, promised that driverless cars will be on our roads by 2021. But are we really so close to the autonomous future? Christian Wolmar, journalist and transport expert, bursts the bubble in this week’s magazine, writing that really, the technology is on a road to nowhere. Christian joins the podcast with the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat who, in his spare time, invests in disruptive, tech-based startups. Tom said:

‘I’m a believer in investing in individuals who are coming up with innovative ideas, but I have to say, I have yet to find anything in driverless technology that I’d invest in with any great confidence.’

And the main event – our birthday celebrations. In July 1828, journalist Robert Rintoul published the first issue of the Spectator. It was described at the time as “A new London Weekly paper”, and in that paper, Rintoul set out The Spectator’s ambition: to convey intelligence.

In the 190 years since, the Spectator has always been ahead of the times, whether it’s in opposing the death penalty or supporting gay rights long before legislation. This week, we’re donning our party hats and popping the champagne to celebrate this very special birthday, as the only magazine in Britain to reach such a ripe old age.

Fraser Nelson, editor since 2009, Dominic Lawson, editor from 1990 to 1995, who also writes this week’s diary, and Charles Moore, editor from 1984 to 1990, joined the podcast to talk about their happiest moments in the job, how the magazine has changed, and how it’s managed to stay on top of the game.

To subscribe to this podcast and many more, visit the iTunes store.


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