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Coffee House The Spectator Podcast

The Spectator Podcast: can the Independent Group ‘short-circuit’ first past the post?

22 February 2019

5:32 PM

22 February 2019

5:32 PM

This week has been a relief from the usual Brexit conversations. The long talked about rumours of a centrist party have finally materialised, as eight Labour MPs and three Tory MPs defected from their former loyalties. Already, polls are in claiming that the Independent Group is more popular than the Lib Dems. But just how promising is its future? James Forsyth argues in this week’s cover article that even if they don’t get electoral success, they can still alter the face of British politics, just like the SDP and Ukip. On the podcast, Katy Balls talks to James and pollster Joe Twyman, Director at Deltapoll, as well as former Labour MP Gavin Shuker – one of this week’s splitters – about the group’s potential. Gavin sets his sights higher than James does, even arguing that the group can ‘short-circuit’ the British party system to become a major electoral force. Listen here:


Later in the podcast, we also discuss the merits and setbacks of artificial intelligence. Sure, we might be decades (centuries?) away from killer robots that think themselves cleverer than us, but the AI that we do have today is no less impressive than the stuff of science fiction. According to Chris Duffey, creative technologist at Adobe, in the not-so-distant future, AI can eradicate dengue fever, reduce traffic accidents, and solve climate change. Chris coauthors his feature for the magazine this week with Aimé, his AI assistant (who guest stars on the podcast!), but Jamie Bartlett isn’t so sure we should embrace AI unthinkingly. For instance, what happens to our notion of fake news when AI text generators become utterly indistinguishable from articles written by humans? Jamie and Chris chew these problems over in the podcast with Lara Prendergast.

And last, we empathise with Laura Freeman‘s decision not to hold a hen party in the run up to her wedding. With ever inflating price tags and a never-ending series of lewd, hysterical, and drunken activities, hen parties just aren’t for everyone. On the podcast, we hear from Sophia Money-Coutts, veteran hen and Telegraph columnist, and Dan Harley, whose company ‘Butlers with Bums‘ offers the services of buff young men for hens on their special evenings, about just how out of control the tradition has become.


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