Moral Maze

In the last three and a half years, freedom has clashed with fraternity, families have fallen out and friends have become foes. What happens next is – the Prime Minister promises – “a moment of real national renewal”. Post-Brexit Britain is not yet a week old and there is much left to negotiate about its future relationship with the EU, but at last we have certainty on one thing: we’re out. Inevitably there are still die-hard remainers re-branding themselves as ‘rejoiners’ and continued shouts of “You lost, get over it!” from their victors, but the tired rhetoric of both sides is now being tempered by hopeful talk of “healing the nation.” What exactly does this mean? It must surely begin by identifying the sickness: poisonous politics, an inability to engage with opposing views, abuse directed towards MPs, women, minorities and religious groups? Then we should try to determine whether these symptoms are acute or chronic. Are we witnessing an hysterical spasm that will pass away in time or are we entering an historic period of irreconcilable cultural divisions? And what about the prescription? Is all the talk of ‘coming together’ and ‘common visions’ well-meaning waffle? Or is the language of healing crucial if we are to recover the art of compromise and civility? History tells us that it often takes a crisis to provoke a cure and that the deepest divisions can eventually be reconciled. But wounds can fester and usually leave scars. Can the past offer us hope for a more united future?

Guests: David Goodhart, Diarmaid Maccullough, Jane Robins and Jennifer Nadel.

Producer: Dan Tierney

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