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The Spectator Podcast: China’s new social scoring and the Brexit civil war

16 November 2018

3:05 PM

16 November 2018

3:05 PM

This podcast was recorded from the midst of the Brexit omni-shambles. Katy Balls talks to Tim Montgomerie, Sienna Rodgers, and James Forsyth on the latest. But first, something just as monumental is happening on the other side of the world. Watch this:


That was the announcement that technology journalist James O’Malley heard when he travelling on a high-speed rail train from Beijing to Shanghai earlier this year. It is just the tip of a social credit ice berg, James writes in this week’s cover piece. The Chinese government is working to create a system of scoring its citizens on their behaviours. James joins the podcast, together with me, Cindy Yu, in my capacity as a China commentator. James tells us about the carrot and stick system that it creates:

“If you jaywalk in Shenzhen, cameras will use facial recognition and display your image on an electronic screen in the street to publicly shame you.”

The big news this week is, of course, Brexit. When we recorded, Dominic Raab had sent Westminster into a frenzy with his resignation, Jacob Rees Mogg delivered his letter to Graham Brady in a move that is ‘totally not a coup’. Since then, news has come through that Gove, Leadsom, and Mordaunt will stay. The Prime Minister has been grilled by the public on LBC, but rumours are swirling that the 48 letters are all in. What will happen next? And how can Theresa May get her deal passed through parliament, if indeed, she is still around then? Katy Balls talks to Conservative commentator Tim Montgomerie, who, though a Brexiteer, declared himself a supporter of May’s deal earlier this week, Labour List’s Editor Sienna Rodgers, and James Forsyth, who writes in this week’s magazine that the parliamentary numbers simply don’t stack up. Sienna tells us that No. 10 has been trying to get Labour support, but is doing it wrong:

‘I was very surprised earlier this week when I found out that Lisa Nandy, for instance, who literally said she would consider backing the deal and judging it on its merits, hadn’t been approached by No 10 at all, which is incredibly naive of them. And instead they had a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, who has been very clear that he’s going to whip against the deal.’


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