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Coffee House The Spectator Podcast

The Spectator podcast: how toxic is May’s political legacy?

23 November 2018

3:41 PM

23 November 2018

3:41 PM

Theresa May heads to Brussels this weekend to finalise the Brexit negotiations – but is there any cause to celebrate, or has she left behind an irrevocably toxic legacy? Is Beto O’Rourke the saviour of the Democratic Party, or is he a sign that they are in a funk? And are middle-class parents too obsessed with their children’s education?

First, in what state will Theresa May, the seemingly unassailable Prime Minister, leave the Conservative Party? She might have just overcome a Tory rebellion, but the divisions she leaves will be felt for many years to come. James Forsyth argues in this week’s cover piece that she has exacerbated divisions between Scottish and English Tories, between Remainers and Brexiteers, and what’s more, she has not taken back sovereignty in her Brexit deal, ensuring that the issue of Europe will continue to tear the Conservatives apart. He is joined on the podcast by former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Michael Heseltine. James predicts that May’s deal will not allow the Tories to easily move on:


‘I think it is very difficult to heal these divisions. Because as long as the backstop is in operation there will be this constant choice to make, and that will fast become a new fault-line in British politics.’

Across the pond, the future of the Democratic Party looks to be in better shape than the Conservatives. Or does it? Many in the party have pinned their hopes on the Texan congressman Beto O’Rourke, who some have called a ‘white Obama’.  Freddy Gray writes in this week’s magazine that Beto is all talk, and little substance. What’s more, Beto’s popularity is symptomatic of a Democratic Party that is increasingly desperate in its search for someone to defeat Trump. Freddy is joined by Karin Robinson, former vice-chair of Democrats Abroad UK. Freddy argues that:

‘Where the Democrats are going wrong, is that they are always looking for the beautiful story when they don’t necessarily need one, and they’re looking for actually a beautiful person. It’s the 55th anniversary today of JFK dying. And since then the Democrats have always had this Camelot myth, the hero figure who can unite the country and heal the wounds of America… I just think it smacks of desperation.’

And lastly, Leah McLaren wonders in this week’s magazine why the British are so obsessed with their children’s education. In her area of North London, taking a blase attitude to your child’s school choice is seen as tantamount to child neglect. She is joined by James Delingpole, as they discuss this peculiarly British phenomenon. Leah argues that the origin of the middle-class obsession with education is really based on the social connections children make at elite schools:

‘In Britain, making your friends at a school age is incredibly important to people. People are really loyal – I’m talking about upper-middle class people – and so that decision around age 11 of where to send your child to secondary school becomes this really momental thing… If you go to one of those schools that’s it, that’s your gang.’


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