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The Spectator Podcast: Bluffers and Royals

16 August 2018

12:27 PM

16 August 2018

12:27 PM

We often complain that our politicians are all bluffers who know very little about a lot. But is the very structure of our political institutions at fault? And speaking of bluffers, Theresa May is so far successfully fudging her way through the Brexit negotiations, but can she survive after March 2019? And last, maybe all this politics has made you long for the good old days of monarchy. With Prince Charles’s art collection on exhibit, we talk about how it reflects Charles’s One Nation Toryism.

PPE – that notorious Oxford degree that ostensibly teaches its students Philosophy, Politics, and Economics – and apparently, how to govern a country. Or at least, how to sound like you’re governing. In this week’s cover story, James Ball and Andrew Greenway – both PPE graduates themselves – lift the lid on the bluffocracy that pervades British politics, media, and even the civil service. Are our institutions at fault for rewarding bluffers rather than experts? James and Andrew join the podcast, together with Ayesha Hazarika, stand-up comic and former Labour adviser. James confesses:

The bluffocracy is the habit of Britain to be run by, frankly, people like me and Andrew who can talk quite quickly, try and persuade you something, can usually get two or three sentences on any topic, you know? Sound like what we’re talking about. And then no depths, no actual expertise.’


And speaking of bluffers, Theresa May is still fudging her way through Brexit and miraculously, despite all that’s been thrown her way, she’s still the Prime Minister. But in this week’s political column, Katy Balls argues that Theresa May won’t survive after March 2019 – that as soon as Brexit is done, she’ll be turfed out by her own party. Katy joins the party with Will Tanner, Director of the Conservative think tank, Onward, and former adviser to Theresa May. Katy tells us about the whisperings (or just overt plots) that she hears:

‘Just calling around, people are particularly brutal. “It’s hard to justify the point of her existing after March.” And I think that’s something you’re hearing from a lot of people.’

Whatever happens in politics, at least the monarchy stays constant. But what will the monarchy be like when Prince Charles takes the throne? Ned Donovan visited Prince Charles’s personal collection at Buckingham Palace, and writes in this week’s magazine about what we can learn about the prince through his art. He joins the podcast with Roya Nikkhah, Royal Correspondent for the Sunday Times. Ned tells us about his theory that Prince Charles is a One Nation Tory:

‘Harold Macmillan sits on a wall right at the beginning of the show, with pretty much all members of the family… He was the last great old One Nation Tory prime minister, who believed that those in the highest element of society, those in the ruling class, had an obligation to the rest of society. It wasn’t the sort of conservatism that we see now.’

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