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Coffee House The Spectator Podcast

The Edition podcast: have our prisons become finishing schools for terrorists?

7 February 2020

3:53 PM

7 February 2020

3:53 PM

How could a troubled teenager with a minor drug habit have become a knife-wielding terrorist within two years of his being jailed? Ian Acheson, a former prisons officer, blames our prison system. So how should the Conservatives, the supposed party of law and order, resolve the homegrown terrorist threat? James Forsyth writes that one suggestion on the table is to detain terrorists under the Mental Health Act. On the podcast, he tells Lara Prendergast:

‘As long as this person is a danger to themselves and to others – and if you wish to become a martyr you clearly are a danger to yourself and to others – they can keep you detained.’


But as well as this being a pretty sizeable step change in our liberal democracy – to allow the state to define insanciy – Haras Rafiq, CEO of the counter-extremism organisation Quilliam, also doesn’t think this will work. He tells Lara:

‘I think that there’ll be challenges to this in court and it would be very very embarrassing for the government if they lost.’

In this episode, we also take a look at exactly what happened in Iowa. After months of campaigning, this was meant to be the week that the Democratic primaries started. But instead, a technical glitch meant that the full results were not out until Thursday. What’s more, Trump was also acquitted in his impeachment trial on Tuesday. So how damaging has this week been for the Democratic party? Freddy Gray writes about it in this week’s magazine, and he joins the podcast with Karin Robinson, host of the ‘Primarily: 2020’ podcast and former vice-chair of Democrats Abroad UK. It’s fair to say they don’t see eye to eye on the question of Trump’s innocence.

And last, who doesn’t love Doris Day as Calamity Jane? But how much of Calamity’s rootin’ tootin’ persona is actually based in fact? It turns out – not much. In Calamity, a new book by historian Karen R Jones, the real Martha Jane Canary is revealed. Sam Leith reviews the book in this week’s issue, and on the podcast, I talk to Karen to find out more about the woman and the legend.


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