On this week’s episode, we look at whether Hollywood is hijacking feminism, ask if Theresa May can avoid her government collapsing over the customs union, and question why Vladimir Putin is so invested in Syria.
First up, much has been made of the Time's Up campaign and celebrities wearing black outfits to the Golden Globes, but is this a case of style over substance? While glamorous actresses are embracing the feminist cause on the red carpet, Jenny McCartney asks if anything is being done to change an industry that depends on the fostering of female insecurity. As she argues in this week's magazine:
'The question, surely, is whether celebrity feminism is ready to engage with wider issues than a vague agreement that some men behave badly towards women at work, and that it should stop. Out in the world of social media, for example, feminist discussion is rapidly becoming less of a warm bath with fellow members of the sisterhood than a shark-infested bay.'
Joanna Williams, columnist for Spiked and author of 'Women Vs Feminism', and film journalist Helen O'Hara join Isabel Hardman to discuss whether Hollywood is taking feminism seriously.
Secondly, the government is in trouble over an upcoming vote that could see its Brexit negotiating strategy undone in a heartbeat. With the Labour party now backing the idea of a customs union with the EU and several Tory MPs prepared to break ranks and vote with the opposition, Theresa May finds herself between a rock and a hard place. Will militant MPs on both sides of the party risk bringing down the government over Brexit. As James Forsyth writes in this week's issue:
'No. 10 believes it will need the votes of pretty much every Tory MP to pass a Brexit deal. Jeremy Corbyn’s tactical positioning on the customs union has reinforced the sense that Labour will ultimately take any opportunity to defeat the government. Thus every group of Tory MPs believes it is worth trying to bend the government to their will.'
He and Katy Balls outline the Prime Minister's precarious situation.
And finally, what it is that Vladimir Putin really wants out of Russian intervention in Syria? As the country's forces start to get bogged down in the fighting having incurred costs of at least $2.5 billion, Paul Wood, the former World Affairs correspondent for the BBC, and Conservative MP and Afghanistan veteran Johnny Mercer discuss Putin's endgame in the region. As Wood writes this week:
'Why should the Kremlin think supporting Assad is worth so much? Dr Christopher Phillips, who has written a book about international rivalry in Syria, says Putin has tied Russia’s prestige to Assad’s survival. ‘The basic geopolitical point is that Assad is an ally and they don’t want to lose him, certainly not to a pro-western force.’ Syria was ‘an opportunity to parade Russia as an alternative to western power in the Levant, if not the wider Middle East. Putin has shown the West what direct intervention can achieve.'