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An unmissable podcast

I am sure the Samizdatistas and the Samizdata commentariat alike are familiar with Brendan O’Neill of Spiked Online, as well as the brilliant and rather naughty David Starkey. Starkey appears as a guest on O’Neill’s most recent podcast. Put aside an hour and listen to their conversation – you will be very glad you did. It contains enough SQOTDs to last a year.

Update: the Starkey interview may be in the process of going viral. When I first stumbled across it, it had clocked up a not-insubstantial 25,000 views or so. Fast forward a few hours to now and it’s almost at 40,000. Excellent, and may that number continue to rise sharply. It deserves wide dissemination.

13 comments to An unmissable podcast

  • Duncan S

    I stumbled across it yesterday and am glad that I did: he addresses the history of parliamentary democracy (and parliament v democracy), the issue of whether MPs are delegates or representatives, and the way that the “advisory” referendum changed it’s status after Cameron stood up and said “what you decide we will do”, whilst hitting the mark with some very acerbic one-liners.

    Coincidentally, just before I found the podcast, I had been discussing the issue of floor-crossing MPs (and the by-elections that should morally result, but legally don’t) with some of my confused lefty friends. I’m hoping they will act on my recommendation to listen to the podcast.

  • Mary Contrary

    Ha, I am listening to it right now, half-way through as I saw your post.

    Starkey is fascinating and well worth anyone’s time.

    That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says. One thing that particularly disappoints me is that when talking about “representative democracy” he buys into the Burkean claim to unlimited discretion, and he thinks in a modern democracy MPs should be delegates.

    This mistake is because there aren’t just two options, delegates and representatives, there are three, and MPs are currently acting like the third.

    A delegate has no discretion. If MPs were delegates, all they could do is ask for instructions on every vote they take. In my view a representative, properly understood, takes his instructions as to objectives, but has discretion as to the details of implementation.

    That means a representative who stands for the “Lower taxes” party has no business participating in a general rise in taxes. A representative from the “Keep the NHS a nationalised industry” party has no business colluding in outsourcing, PPI and privatising the bits nobody has ever heard of. A representative for the “Let’s leave the EU by 29th March” party has no right to support further delay, second referendums or any other device to frustrate.

    An MP who acts in this way, who demands the right to an unfettered discretion on what he thinks is right, regardless of the opinion of those who elected him is claiming the right not to represent, but to rule. The MPs who now trot out references to Burke’s Letter to the Electors of Bristol believe themselves little kings, and this is their version of Divine Right.

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    I’ll second the OP. First, O’Neill is one of my very favourite columnists and podcasters. Yes, there is a bit too much of the collectivist class-champion left over from his old Living Marxism days, but he is sound on many things as well as being an excellent and lucid writer and speaker.

    Second, Starkey is very good on the difference between legal and political principles, as well as constitutional theory and parliamentary history. Well worth a second or even a third listen.

  • Yes, very interesting, even if these are not exactly ‘my people’.

  • Roué le Jour

    If MPs were actually doing what they think best, they would often find themselves a lonely voice in the wilderness, but in practice what they think best is also what a large number of their parliamentary colleagues think best.

    It’s as though MPs had two parties, the one they truly represent and one whose rosette they are currently wearing.

  • Flubber

    I liked the Anglo Saxon – “Dominic Greive is a shit”

    Succinct and long overdue.

  • James Strong

    I agree with what Mary Contrary said, and I like the illustrative examples she uses.

    A couple of weeks ago I wrote to my MP to ask him to do what he can to bring about a law that leaving the party whose candidate an MP was would trigger an immediate by-election.

    I do not foresee such a Bill being put forward, and were it to be put forward I think it would struggle to become an Act.

    My contempt for people like Chuka Ummuna, Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen, Sam Gyimah, the woman whose name I forget who talked about people who are funny ‘tinged’, my contempt for them is only matched by my anger at their actions.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “A couple of weeks ago I wrote to my MP to ask him to do what he can to bring about a law that leaving the party whose candidate an MP was would trigger an immediate by-election.”

    How about a law that breaking a manifesto promise triggers a general election? How about a law against lying in politics? We could call it “false advertising” or “breach of contract”.

    The problem is, it would then be very hard not to extend that to the entire population. And that might be a tad less poppular.

  • Katy Hibbert

    My favourite Starkeyism was his description of Dominic Grieve:

    He is a shit – a lying deceiving shit from start to finish. And an oiled shit – look at that awful, greasy hairdo. We really have to start calling things by their proper names.

  • James Strong (September 17, 2019 at 6:21 am), an actual law requiring a bye-election after an MP “crosses the floor” will not happen before the next election is called (soon, let us all hope) and will not compete with the outcome of that election. If floor-crossing MPs fall in droves (again, let us hope) then a message will be received. (If they do not, another message will be received.)

    I suggest we take the initiative into our own hands and ask all MP candidates, “Are you an honest MP who will stay in the party you present as today or else hold a bye-election (like the honest Douglas Carswell), or will you discard all respect for us as soon as you have our votes and spend the next 5 years in whichever party(ies) suit you (like INSERT NAME OF MOST EMBARRASSING EXAMPLE FOR WHOEVER YOU ARE ASKING)?” Publicising these questions – and the answers or lack of same in each constituency – might serve us better, and is certainly more doable.

    As Hannah Arendt put it,

    In a conflict between mere law and power, it is seldom law will emerge the victor.

    and, quoting (and expanding on) Montesquieu,

    “Only power arrests power” – without putting impotence in its place.

    Restoring the ability of the PM to call snap elections – and/or stressing the monarch’s ability to do so unadvised whenever MPs start defecting in numbers – would be more useful right now, and might be a better long-term safeguard than a law, which can be interpreted, evaded or delayed – or ruled inapplicable by the Scottish Supreme Court if the change is to a more woke party. 🙂

  • And it was picked up by Instapundit which may help account for the fact that it is now over 80k view

  • Itellyounothing

    Starkey for Prime Minister!!!

  • Paul Marks

    Very good.