The Why? Curve
A tax cut that’s good for Britain or a last-ditch hope for the Tory party?
Jeremy Hunt delivered his Autumn statement this week, with 110 policy measures. The most significant of those was a 2% cut in National Insurance contributions. Roger and Phil ask Simon French, Chief Economist and Head of Research at UK investment bank, Panmure Gordon, whether the main aim of the cuts was to bolster the chances of a win for the Conservatives at the next election? On this week’s podcast Simon says that, political cynicism aside, there is a need to boost growth in the economy, and administering cuts in tax through National Insurance ensures that it is the working population that benefits. But will it make that much difference, when those same people face higher tax contributions through the freezing of the income tax thresholds? A wide-ranging discussion that includes the need for more comprehensive tax reform, plus a snapshot on the economic wellbeing of Phil’s barber.
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89. A Matter of Life and Death. Who Decides?36:09Should we have the right to end our lives in the way we choose - with others allowed to help us? Euthanasia is back on the agenda after a number of celebrities pushing for a change in the law. But what about the risks - the sick and elderly feeling they are a burden to be dispensed with? The devaluing of life itself? Dr Sam Carr lecturer at the Department of Education and the Centre for Death and Society at Bath University talks to Phil and Roger about the issues surrounding assisted suicide
88. Is the world ready for Trump 2.0?45:25Donald Trump could be back in the White House this time next year. Politicians from London to Berlin to Canberra are scratching their heads about how to deal with another season of Trump World - he’s promised to end the Ukraine war in one day, threatened to leave NATO, do deals with authoritarian leaders in Beijing and Moscow. Can the familiar western democratic way of doing things survive when the most important country is led by a man who doesn’t respect those values? Dr Andrew Gawthorpe, a historian of the US at Leiden University, tells Phil and Roger what sort of storm could come from a new Trump presidency.
87. Rough Justice, No Justice43:35Many thousands of people are in prison for crimes they didn’t do, and their chances of getting their cases reopened are minimal at best. The Post Office scandal showed how hard it is to reverse a miscarriage of justice, even when the truth is obvious to all. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is slow and inefficient, as has been shown by recent headlines - cases decades old were finally resolved and innocent people were freed after years behind bars. So how can we make sure that the system works properly? How do we speed up the process so that people’s lives are not wasted as they are punished for something they didn’t do? Glyn Maddocks KC is a solicitor who has spent many years working to overturn miscarriages of justice. He tells Roger and Phil what needs to happen to ensure the innocent go free.
86. Broken Britain - Can it be Mended?38:02Unheated classrooms, cancelled trains, delayed operations, potholed roads - it’s hard to avoid the impression that the UK isn’t working properly, that our systems are failing, that something has gone badly wrong. Is this because we have failed to invest? Have we outsourced pubic services to companies that have no interest in maintenance? Or do we have to face up to not being able to afford the kind of country we expect to live in? George Monbiot, the writer and Guardian columnist, sets out for Roger and Phil the ways the UK could be mended, and what he thinks needs to happen to end broken Britain.
85. Red Sea Crisis - Choking The Global Economy36:32The UK and US launched air strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen after their missile-attacks on international shipping - could this all turn into a regional conflict? London and Washington tell Iran to stay out, but its backing for Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis suggests it’s already involved. So can this be stopped from exploding into something much bigger, with an even more devastating effect on global trade? Shahin Modarres of the International Team For the Study Of Security tells Phil and Roger about the risks for all of us from this regional crisis
84. Democracy in Crisis39:08It's the biggest year in the history of democracy - more than half of the people on earth have the chance to choose, through the ballot box, who governs them. So why is democracy - the system that gives the ultimate power to the people - in such deep trouble? Autocracies like China say their form of government works better. "Illiberal" democracies like Russia claim the countries where your vote actually counts, are weak and failing. And even beacons of democratic values like the US are caught up in threats of dictatorship and allegations of vote-rigging. Do those who say a system can't work if it's paralysed by instant popularity and short-term vote-winning, have a point? Is there something fundamentally wrong with western style of government? Natasha Lindstaet, Professor of Government at the University of Essex tells Phil and Roger why democracy is in trouble, and suggests some ways to fix it.
83. Rishi v Keir - What To Expect in 202435:03It's going to be a momentous year in British politics, with a Tory administration staggering towards what almost everyone thinks will be an electoral wipeout, and a Labour leadership desperate to avoid any mistakes on their path back to power. In Scotland the SNP are looking at the damage from a year of savage headlines, and, among the smaller parties, the LibDems and Reform are seeing the polls moving in their favour. So what can we expect from 2024? Tim Bale, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London takes Phil and Roger through the likely scenarios.
82. Choice Cuts - the Best of The Why Curve so far32:08A look back at the highlights of 2023 on WhyCurve.com . Phil and Roger covered everything from tax-cuts to racism, from AI to Rwanda, with experts and researchers. So here's a New Year gift - their pick of the best and most insightful discussions of the past year or so.Featuring:Michele Groppi of the Defence Studies Department at King’s College, London on Israel and GazaStefan Wolff, professor of International Security at the University of Birmingham on the endless war in UkraineTim Gardiner, senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation on ways of funding the NHSJoan Costa-i-Font, Professor of Health Economics at the London School of Economics on dealing with obesityDr Sam Power of the University of Sussex on the awarding of peeragesRobert Hazell, professor of government and the constitution at University College London on how we appoint Prime MinistersDavid Mead, professor of human rights law at the University of East Anglia on protest lawsThe FT's Martin Wolf on attracting foreign investment into the UKEconomist Francis Coppola on the benefits of government debt
81. Present Tense - The Changing Ways We Give32:41The last-minute dash to the shops, the frantic hunt for something just right for your cousin…. The giving season can be tough, but has buying online changed the way we think about gifts? Is it now intangibles - experiences, subscriptions, game credits - that dominate our presents? Are we buying less of the overpriced tat that used to fill our stockings? Claire McCamley, senior lecturer in marketing at the University of Huddersfield, guides Phil and Roger through the changing world of giving