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Coffee House The Spectator Podcasts

The Spectator Podcast: plots, politics, and the pains of leadership

14 September 2018

3:56 PM

14 September 2018

3:56 PM

This week, Tory in-fighting comes to the fore, but could the party be even more divided than we thought? Meanwhile, across the Pond, Donald Trump continues to cause backlash. Is he to blame for an ideological shift to the left in the country? Thankfully, our own Head of State isn’t on Twitter, though that doesn’t stop people speculating about her Majesty’s personal opinions. Is the Queen a Eurosceptic?

First, the Conservative Party is taking up arms against each other. This week, back room plotting came to the fore with the Brexiteer group the ERG openly discussing Mrs May’s demise and Boris Johnson dominating headlines. But James Forsyth reveals in this week’s cover piece that there are more fractures in the party than merely a Chequers/Brexiteer divide. He joins the podcast with Paul Goodman, former Tory MP and editor of Conservative Home. James tells us that the ERG plotting hasn’t done the group any favours:

‘I think if you were No 10 you might be tempted to pop a champagne cork upon hearing this news, because it’s the worst kind of plotting. And interestingly, Steve Baker, who’s one of the cannier organisers, tried to stop this kind of chat in the meeting.’


It’s Tory civil war over here, but across the Pond, the Blue Wave is rising. The Democrats are surfing joyously off the back of Trump and his tweets. At least, that’s what Republican political strategist Rick Wilson argues in this week’s magazine. His new book, ‘Everything Trump Touches Dies’, argues that Republicans are handing power over to the Democrats with such a divisive President. Rick joins the podcast together with Malin Baker, spokesperson for Republicans Overseas. For Rick, Trump’s divisive language on race has had an undeniable impact:

‘African-American support for Donald Trump and the Republican Party is at an all time low. We’ve seen voter performance in 2017 and 2018 special elections among those groups that has scared the hell out of the Republican leadership, which is why you’ve even got seats like Texas in competition.’

From one head of state to another, in this week’s magazine, Robert Hardman takes a look at the British sovereign. Unlike Trump, there is an aura of respect and dignity that hangs around the Queen, not least because she has always maintained neutrality in politically divisive times. Brexit is one such time, and so was our accession to the EU in 1972. In his piece, Robert tells the story about how the monarchy dealt with a Europhilic Foreign Office while joining the EU was still a controversial issue, back home. Robert joins the podcast with Hannah Furness, Royal Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. On the subject of the Queen’s relationship with successive prime ministers, Robert tells us that she can often be a counsellor to them:

‘There’s just this great repository of wisdom. And I have spoken to one or two prime ministers who just said, you can run a particular worry or concern and she’ll go, “oh yes, well I remember when, you know, Harold MacMillan had a similar problem…”. And I think it does give you a certain comfort.’

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