The rise of the groupthink podcast

A long tradition in the Liddle household on a Saturday morning is to read aloud sections from the Guardian Weekend magazine and fall about laughing. It is of course the sole reason we buy the paper. Two regular features in particular create a quite enormous amount of merriment. The first, Blind Date, is where two of the paper’s readers are brought together to see if they fancy copping off with each other (they almost never do, for good reason). It’s not a bad idea, to be honest – but, oh, Christ help us… the people. Epicene smirking hipsters; growling diesel dykes; ingenuous gayers with multiple piercings; ugly, embittered, hummus-breathed third-sector

The death of David Amess and the narcissism of the discourse

The speed with which tragedy turns into farce these days is quite something. Within minutes of Sir David Amess’s death being announced, social media was filled with sizzling hot takes. The back-and-forth centred on whether the decline in ‘civility’ and the use of dehumanising language in politics was to blame for the murder of an MP. It recalled nothing so much as the recriminations after Jo Cox’s death, except that the teams here had, as it were, swapped shirts at half-time. Back then, the left more or less directly attributed Jo Cox’s murder to the language used by the partisans of Brexit: ‘traitors’, ‘saboteurs’ and so on. Back then, the

Political arguments are now over words, not things

There is a picture book, by the excellent David McKee, of which my youngest child was very fond. It’s called Two Monsters, and its protagonists are, as promised, two monsters. The blue one lives on the west side of a mountain, and the red one lives on the east side of the mountain. They communicate verbally but never see each other. It all kicks off when one evening the blue monster calls: ‘Can you see how beautiful it is? Day is departing.’ The red monster shouts back: ‘Day departing? You mean night arriving, you twit!’ Cantankerous words are exchanged before bedtime and both sleep badly. The following morning the blue

Racists will love it: National Theatre’s Death of England – Delroy reviewed

Death of England: Delroy is a companion piece to Death of England, which ran in February at the NT and examined the white working classes. Here the focus is on a successful black Briton, Delroy, who votes Tory and feels at home in multicultural society. The charismatic Michael Balogun plays him as a complex, shrewd and humane figure. He likes to mock white people who judge others according to superficialities like accent and pronunciation. And he recalls his horrified excitement when a white girl at school calmly placed her finger inside his boxer shorts. Delroy has plenty of white pals including his girlfriend, Carly, who is expecting their child. The

Labour MP attacks ‘debate’

Usually, MPs think debate is quite an important part of their job description – after all, the entire purpose of the House of Commons is to pit the opposition against the government of the day, to scrutinise their decisions, and in doing so make better policy.  That appears to have passed the Labour MP and Corbyn ally Nadia Whittome by though. Instead, debating some issues is bad, according to the Member of Parliament. Tweeting to promote a piece on trans rights in the Independent today, the new Labour MP said that debate acts as ‘a foot in the door for doubt and hatred’. Mr S understands that Labour has a zero-tolerance policy

It’s time to speak out against cancel culture

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favour of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in