UnHerd with Freddie Sayers Podcast

Freddie Sayers seeks out top scientists, writers, politicians and thinkers for in-depth interviews to try and help us work out what’s really going on. What started as an inquiry into the pandemic has broadened into a fascinating look at free speech, science, meaning and the ideas shaping our world.

01 Jun 2023
Ukrainian MP: Why Victory is the Only Option
Freddie Sayers talks to Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun about the road to victory in Ukraine and its potential costs.

30 May 2023
Kathleen Stock: Philosophical Knots
Freddie Sayers chats with Kathleen Stock at the UnHerd Club, ahead of her much-publicised Oxford Union address.

26 May 2023
Edward Blum: The Case Against Affirmative Action
UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets Edward Blum to discuss affirmative action and his career-long crusade against it.

22 May 2023
Gérard Araud: Ukraine Has Revealed a New World Order

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets Gérard Araud.

05 May 2023
Jaron Lanier: How humanity can defeat AI

Florence Read meets Jaron Lanier.

Read the full article here

04 May 2023
Coronation and power - These Times Ep #1

Freddie introduces UnHerd's brand new podcast, These Times.

These Times is the history of today’s politics with Tom McTague and Helen Thompson

Each week Tom and Helen explore the great forces and ideas that led us to where we are right now. It’s a politics podcast for those who want a deeper, historical understanding of the news, to understand what has really shaped our world and why.

Subscribe today searching 'These Times' in your preferred podcast app, or click here for a direct link to the show on all main podcast providers: https://unherd.com/these-times-with-tom-mctague-and-helen-thompson/

02 May 2023
Robert F Kennedy Jr: "We need a peaceful revolution"
Freddie Sayers meets Robert F Kennedy Jr.

28 Apr 2023
Iain McGilchrist: We are in a fully deluded world

From the left-brain right-brain divide to the metaphysics of magic, Dr Iain McGilchrist addresses the profound questions of living well. The esteemed thinker was in conversation with Freddie Sayers at the UnHerd Club on 20th April 2023.

Read the article here

25 Apr 2023
Anatol Lieven: The truth about Crimea

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets Anatol Lieven.

Read the Post here

18 Apr 2023
Martin Gurri: The Pentagon leak is only the beginning

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets former CIA Analyst Martin Gurri to discuss Jack Teixeira and the Pentagon leaks.

Read the Post here

07 Apr 2023
Nick Cave: Christ, the Devil and the duty to offend
Faith, Hope & Carnage: Join legendary musician and bestselling writer Nick Cave as he discusses his new book and beyond with UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers.

05 Apr 2023
Jacob Siegel: The great disinformation hoax

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets Jacob Siegel.

Read the Post here

31 Mar 2023
Former Trump advisor: China is the threat, not Russia
UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets Elbridge Colby, former advisor to President Trump and author of the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

30 Mar 2023
Quinn Slobodian on crack-up capitalism
UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets historian Quinn Slobodian to discuss capitalist extremism, states run by corporations and a future without democracy.

24 Mar 2023
Top Harvard astronomer: The evidence for extraterrestrial life

UnHerd's Flo Read meets Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb.

Read the article here:

18 Mar 2023
Philosopher Susan Neiman: The true Left is not woke

UnHerd's Flo Read meets philosopher Susan Neiman.

Read the article here

17 Mar 2023
Lionel Shriver: Insensitivity Reader - Live at the UnHerd Club

If offence is against the rules, what hope is there for radical writing? Join world-famous author Lionel Shriver to discuss the decline of in-your-face fiction and the sinister rise of sensitivity readers.

Read the article here

15 Mar 2023
Matt Stoller: The case against the SVB rescue

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets Matt Stoller.

Read the Post here

13 Mar 2023
Chris Miller: Get ready for the chip wars

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets Chris Miller, economic historian and author of Chip War.

Read the article

13 Mar 2023
David Sacks: Is the Silicon Valley Bank deal another bailout?

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers is joined by PayPal co-founder David Sacks to examine the fallout from the collapse of SVB Bank.

Read the Post here

10 Mar 2023
Mary Harrington: Feminism against progress

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers sits down with UnHerd contributor Mary Harrington to discuss her new book, Feminism Against Progress.

Read the Post here

08 Mar 2023
Isabel Oakeshott: The lesson of the Lockdown Files

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets journalist Isabel Oakeshott to discuss the Lockdown Files.

Read the Post here

03 Mar 2023
Marianne Williamson: America needs a philosopher king

Marianne Williamson, the bestselling self-help author and former Democratic primary candidate, is back in the race to become US President. She is due to announce officially tomorrow, which will make her the first Democrat to put their name in the ring for 2024, before even Joe Biden. In 2020, Williamson (a total political unknown at the time) vied for the progressive vote, but lost out to the better-known Senator Bernie Sanders. Yet since then she has grown a loyal following of young voters who call themselves the ‘Orb Gang’ in reference to her New Age spiritualism. Can a new generation of American voters take her to the White House? UnHerd's Flo Read spoke to her from the UnHerd studio to find out.

Read the Post here

21 Feb 2023
Fiona Hill: Absolute victory over Russia is not possible

Freddie Sayers meets Fiona Hill.

Read the full article here

15 Feb 2023
Jeffrey Sachs: Who really blew up the Nord Stream 2 pipeline?

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets Jeffrey Sachs to debate who really blew up the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Read the Post here

13 Feb 2023
Louis-Vincent Gave: China cancels lockdowns... where's the disaster?

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers and Louis-Vincent Gave discuss the current COVID situation in China.

Read the Post here

02 Feb 2023
Military analyst: Is the Ukraine war headed for stalemate?

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets Michael Kofman.

Michael Kofman is the Director of the Russia Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyses and a Fellow of the Center for a New American Security. He joined UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers to give an update on the situation on the ground in Ukraine and debate the risks and benefits of pursuing an ‘all-out’ victory against Russia.

The military analyst on the risks and rewards of Western intervention

30 Jan 2023
Peter Hitchens: The Covid censors are moving on to Ukraine

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers speaks to journalist Peter Hitchens about a disturbing new Big Brother Watch report into UK government spying and censorship.

Read the Post here

17 Jan 2023
Matthew B. Crawford: The perpetual state of emergency

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers chats with American philosopher Matthew B. Crawford in the UnHerd studio.

Check out Matthew's Substack here

Read the Post here

13 Jan 2023
The scientific case against facemasks

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets Dr. Margery Smelkinson and Dr. Leslie Bienen to discuss the efficacy of facemasks.

Read the full Post article here:

06 Jan 2023
David Sacks: The tech reset has only just begun

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers meets PayPal co-founder David Sacks.

Read the full post here

03 Jan 2023
Brett Scott: Beware a cashless society

UnHerd's Flo Read mets Brett Scott, author of Cloud Money.

Read the Post here

23 Dec 2022
UnHerd Christmas Special: Christmas is a time for chaos

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers and Flo Read sit down with founder of The Idler magazine, Tom Hodgkinson, to discuss the fraught history of the winter festival and the moral good in having a merry Christmas.

Read the Post here

16 Dec 2022
Jay Bhattacharya: What I discovered at Twitter HQ

Freddie Sayers catches up with Dr Jay Bhattacharya about his recent meeting with Elon Musk at Twitter HQ, and what he discovered about the Twitter Files.

Read the full article here

09 Dec 2022
Freddie deBoer: We should forgive Kanye West

UnHerd's Florence Read meets American author Freddie deBoer to discuss the curious case of Kanye West.

In the space of a few months Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, has gone from world-famous rapper to appearing on Alex Jones’s InfoWars praising Hitler. It’s not clear if he will ever recover reputationally from the stigma of this episode.

What lessons can we take from the public's treatment of the rapper?

Read the Post here

05 Dec 2022
Vivek Ramaswamy: Elon Musk won't save us
Freddie Sayers meets Vivek Ramaswamy

29 Nov 2022
John Mearsheimer: The West is playing Russian roulette

Freddie Sayers meets political scientist John Mearsheimer, the world-famous proponent of realism in international relations.

Read the full article here

23 Nov 2022
Ex-Ambassador speaks out: How Qatar funds extremism in the West

Qatar, a previously small and little-known country in the Middle East, has come to much wider public attention as the host of this year's World Cup. Its critics have focused on human rights abuses and the treatment of migrant workers in the construction of tournament stadiums. Less talked about, but something much closer to home, is Qatar’s hand in promoting Islamist ideas in Western countries. A new report by think tank Policy Exchange investigates this very issue, and has come to some quite extraordinary conclusions. The lead author of the study, Sir John Jenkins, a former ambassador with a 35-year diplomatic career in the Middle East, joined Freddie Sayers in the studio to explain.

Read the Post here

01 Nov 2022
David Sacks: Ukraine is turning into Woke War III

Freddie Sayers meets David Sacks.

When Elon Musk unveiled his notorious Ukraine peace proposal on Twitter last month, it caused quite the stir. For simply outlining the potential contours of a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia, the new Twitter CEO was derided as a dangerous Putin apologist (despite his company Starlink providing internet to Ukraine at a cost of $20 million a month). It happens that Musk is not the only Silicon Valley mogul who has come under fire for taking a realist line on the conflict.

In fact, a friend of Musk’s, David Sacks, wrote an article in which he alleged the West had entered into “Woke War III”. Over the course of the war, the woke Left and the neoconservative Right have been marching in lockstep, and using “woke cancellation tactics” to suppress any dissenting opinions.

Sacks, a multimillionaire venture capitalist and host of the hit podcast ‘All-In’ expands on his thinking in UnHerdTV’s latest interview, recorded 26th October 2022.

Read the Post here:

28 Oct 2022
John Gray Part II: Welcome to the era of tragic realism

Freddie Sayers meets John Gray in part two of a two-part interview.

Watch Part I: https://youtu.be/BvWczz1q0jU

Read the accompanying Part I article

26 Oct 2022
John Gray Part I: Revenge of the technocrats

Freddie Sayers meets philosopher John Gray.

John Gray was the prophet of the postliberal age, describing global capitalism as a false utopia as early as 1998. In his most recent writing, he has returned to geopolitics, and has described the populist moment, the pandemic, and the growing threat of superpower conflict as existential threats to the liberal, technocratic order.

Amid this chaos, Rishi Sunak — former Goldman Sachs banker — has become Britain’s new prime minister. Has the technocratic order of the 2010s returned? Or has the modern world moved beyond its reach?

Read the full article

22 Oct 2022
Ivar Arpi: Why did Sweden turn Right-wing?

Freddie Sayers meets Ivar Arpi.

Read the Post here

17 Oct 2022
Canada's euthanasia laws killed my brother

UnHerd's Flo Read meets Gary Nichols, whose brother, Alan Nichols, requested euthanasia and died by lethal injection in Canada in June 2019.

Read the article here

12 Oct 2022
Investigating the Florida vaccine study

Freddie Sayers meets Anders Hviid and Tracy Høeg.

Read the Post here

06 Oct 2022
Michael Gove: Do Conservatives have a philosophy?

Freddie Sayers live in Birmingham with Michael Gove.

Freddie Sayers sat down with Michael Gove in Birmingham during the Conservative Party Conference for a special UnHerd Live event, asking: What’s the big idea? …do Conservatives have a philosophy?

Read the Post here

30 Sep 2022
Jay Bhattacharya: The legal case against Anthony Fauci

Freddie Sayers discusses Jay Bhattacharya and Jenin Younes' lawsuit against the US federal government.

In October 2020, the Great Barrington Declaration was published by three academics - Jay Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta and Martin Kulldorff - who appeared on UnHerd to break the story. It marked a watershed moment in the pandemic, but the authors found their criticisms of COVID policy were increasingly censored on social media. 

Now, Bhattacharya is taking his case to the courts to prove collusion between the Biden administration and Big Tech to silence skeptics like the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration. Talking to UnHerd's Freddie Sayers, he lays out the evidence that social media companies were instructed to quell scientific views which opposed government lockdown measures. Who was responsible for this infringement? According to the legal case, the conspiracy extends to the highest levels of power in Washington, and primarily at fault is the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, Anthony Fauci.

Read the Post here:

26 Sep 2022
Will the hard Right sweep Europe?

Freddie Sayers meets Ralph Schoellhammer.

The rise of the Christian, ultra-conservative candidate Giorgia Meloni in Italy marks a strange split in European politics. Post-Brexit Britain is now in the minority of countries that have not seen a recent Rightward populist uprising.

UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers sat down with Ralph Schoellhammer, Assistant Professor of Economics at Webster University, Vienna.

Read the Post here

22 Sep 2022
Cancelled for pro-peace street art

Florence Read meets cancelled street artist, Peter Seaton.

Earlier this month, a mural of two soldiers embracing, one Ukrainian and one Russian, appeared on the side of a building in Melbourne. It was the work of Peter Seaton, an Australian street artist known for large-scale graffiti. The title he gave the work was ‘Peace before Pieces’. He describes it as a ‘meditation on the dehumanisation of war’.

He joined UnHerd in the studio to answer the question: is pro-peace art the next victim of tribal thinking?

16 Sep 2022
The Charles III paradox: Anti-establishment King
Freddie Sayers in the studio with Ian Skelly

14 Sep 2022
Clint Ehrlich: What I got wrong about Ukraine
Freddie Sayers meets Clint Ehrlich

07 Sep 2022
The great excess deaths mystery

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers is joined by Stuart McDonald to discuss the curious case of the UK's excess deaths.

Read the Post here

01 Sep 2022
Thomas Fazi: Civil disobedience is coming

Freddie Sayers meets Thomas Fazi.

Faced with post-pandemic economic collapse, war in Ukraine and an unprecedented energy crisis, citizens of the UK and Europe are voicing their discontent. Via anti-government campaigns like ‘Don’t Pay’ and ‘Enough is Enough’, people previously unmotivated by radical politics are becoming more and more rebellious.

As a challenging winter approaches, is Europe about to see a mass movement of civil disobedience?

Writer and activist Thomas Fazi thinks so. He joined Freddie Sayers in the UnHerd studio to discuss citizen uprisings and how he would cure the West’s poly-crises.

Read the Post here

Read Thomas Fazi’s article on the rise in civil disobedience here

26 Aug 2022
Wolfgang Streeck: The end of the German empire

UnHerd's Freddie Sayers speaks to economic historian Prof. Wolfgang Streeck about the crisis in Germany and its implications for the future of Europe.

Read the Post here

22 Aug 2022
Lionel Shriver: We need to talk about Ezra Miller

Freddie Sayers meets Lionel Shriver.

When Lionel Shriver’s story of a troubled teenager, We Need to Talk About Kevin, was adapted for screen in 2011 it launched the career of young actor Ezra Miller.

In 2012 Miller came out as queer, saying “I don’t identify as a man, I don’t identify as a woman, I barely identify as a human.” And in the ensuing years, outlandish and expressive clothing came to typify the actor, who became somewhat of a standard bearer for queer identity.

But recently, Miller’s life has taken a strange turn. Throughout 2022 a string of bizarre allegations have hit the headlines, and last month the actor was arrested twice for assault and then only a few weeks ago for felony burglary. What went wrong for the promising young actor?

Miller’s troubles may just be another predictable story about the price of early fame, but it could also speak to something more troubling about contemporary culture. Shriver’s award winning novel asks how society and parenting shapes the minds of young people. It seems prescient now. Have our permissive mores and hyper-liberal culture driven young people to distraction?

Shriver joined Freddie Sayers to discuss these questions.

Read The Post here

08 Aug 2022
His wife's plea: The case for Julian Assange

Freddie Sayers meets Stella Moris, lawyer and wife of Julian Assange.

The case of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder who published huge troves of sensitive government documents and classified military logs, has been going on for over a decade. During that time Assange has been under house arrest, hidden from extradition inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London and since 2019 has been held in Belmarsh prison. During that time, he has married and had two children with a lawyer called Stella Moris. Moris first met Assange as a young lawyer working on his case, but is now a campaigner for his acquittal and an activist for press freedom.

Will Assange be remembered as a pioneer of the free internet or as one of its victims? With his extradition case looming, UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers met Stella Moris to hear her case for her husband, Julian Assange.

Read the Post here:

04 Aug 2022
Slavoj Žižek: We are addicted to chaos

Florence Read meets Slavoj Žižek.

In his new book 'Surplus Enjoyment: A Guide for the Non-Perplexed', psychoanalyst and Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek argues that Western decadence has reached a point of no return. When it comes to the simultaneous crises of climate change, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, he asserts, only a cooperative global effort will steer us away from catastrophe. But have the culture wars weakened the West too much to regain order in disordered times? Slavoj Žižek joined UnHerd's Florence Read, live from his home in Slovenia, to discuss the cure for chaos.

Read The Post here:

01 Aug 2022
David Fuller: What happened to Jordan Peterson?

Freddie Sayers meets David Fuller.

Followers of the clinical psychologist and now world-famous member of the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’, Jordan Peterson, have noted a radical change in his video style in recent weeks. For David Fuller, founder of Rebel Wisdom, these videos ‘signalled a watershed moment’ for Peterson, from truth-seeker and mediator between Left and Right to a blinkered tribalist. UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers sat down in the studio with Fuller to dig a little deeper into his reservations about Jordan Peterson and alternative media’s part in this story.

Read the Post here:

28 Jul 2022
Aella meets Louise Perry: Was the sexual revolution a mistake?
Was the sexual revolution a mistake? Did unfettered freedom help or harm women? Florence Read is joined by OnlyFans star Aella and the author of 'The Case Against the Sexual Revolution', Louise Perry, to find out.

22 Jul 2022
Lord Frost: Liz Truss is the change candidate
Boris Johnson's former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost has put his support behind Liz Truss. He sat down with Freddie Sayers to explain that decision, and whether today's Conservatives add up to a philosophy of government...

15 Jul 2022
Alex Jones documentary banned from social media
Florence Read meets with documentary filmmaker Alex Lee Moyer

11 Jul 2022
How the West brought economic disaster on itself

Freddie Sayers speaks to financial analyst Louis Gave about the West's self-made economic crisis.

Read the Post article here:

08 Jul 2022
What Boris Johnson's resignation really means

After the resignation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and with a leadership election looming, UnHerd convened some regular contributors for an emergency roundtable.

Has the populist experiment run its course in the UK, or is it only just beginning?

Joining Freddie Sayers to see beyond the Westminster speculation and get to grips with this historical moment were non-affiliated life peer of the House of Lords Baroness Claire Fox and UnHerd writers Will Lloyd and Aris Roussinos.

Read the Post here:

24 Jun 2022
Martin Kulldorff: Lessons from Sweden for the next pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic began and most of the world went into lockdown, Scandinavia bucked the status-quo by keeping their society almost completely open. At the time, there was a sense that Sweden, Denmark and Norway would pay a dire price for their decision. But looking back now, with all the data on Covid deaths at hand, it seems that their pandemic policy was a success. Why did rest of the world get it so wrong?

Freddie Sayers sat down with Swedish biostatistician and co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration Martin Kulldorff at the Frontline Club, to discuss the lessons the world should take from Sweden’s pandemic legacy.

Read the Post article here:

21 Jun 2022
Crypto CEO: My stand against woke workers

Freddie Sayers meets Jesse Powell.

Jesse Powell is the CEO of Kraken, one of the largest crypto currency exchanges in the world.

He has been in the headlines this week for publishing a decidedly libertarian memo about his company's working culture that challenged any workers claiming offence on topics such as pronoun policies or racial diversity targets to find work elsewhere.

Kraken's list of values includes the right to bear arms, bodily autonomy on vaccines and a moratorium on enquiring about or advertising gender pronouns in the workplace, amongst other 'anti-woke' measures.

He spoke exclusively to Freddie Sayers from San Francisco.

Read the Post here:

17 Jun 2022
Aris Roussinos: Inside the nationalist militia on Ukraine’s frontline

Freddie Sayers speaks to UnHerd’s Aris Roussinos, reporting from the frontline of the war in Ukraine.

Read the article here:

13 Jun 2022
Silkie Carlo: Chinese CCTV is watching you

Florence Read meets Silkie Carlo.

There are six million security cameras in use in the UK, one for every 11 people, and the majority are Chinese surveillance systems. London, where UnHerd has its offices, is the most surveilled city outside of China, and has more cameras per person than Beijing. So it has to be asked, are we being watched?

That is one claim made by a new report from Big Brother Watch on surveillance cameras made by Chinese companies. Silkie Carlo, one of the editors of the report, and the director of Big Brother Watch, joined Florence Read to investigate.

Read the post article

09 Jun 2022
Ilya Shapiro: Georgetown diversicrats forced me out of my job

Freddie Sayers meets Ilya Shapiro.

Ilya Shapiro was due to start his new job as senior lecturer and executive director of Georgetown's Law Centre for the Constitution. But this week, he quit. All because of a single Tweet.

Freddie Sayers invited Shapiro to the studio to understand how censorship under the guise of 'diversity and inclusion' at Georgetown had played a part in his resignation.

Read the Post article here:

06 Jun 2022
Bret Weinstein: I will be vindicated over Covid

Freddie Sayers sits down to discuss the pandemic response with Biologist, Bret Weinstein.

Before the pandemic, evolutionary biologist and former Evergreen professor Bret Weinstein was lauded by both sides of the political divide for his insights into the crisis on American campuses. As a member of the so-called 'intellectual dark web', Weinstein was expanding his audience and being profiled by legacy media like the New York Times.

Then the pandemic began and his heterodox perspective suddenly fell out of favour, even with many of his erstwhile allies.

Advocating for alternative treatments for Covid, questioning the efficacy of the global vaccine programme and challenging narratives of the pandemic came at a cost. Without warning, the Dark Horse podcast was demonetised on YouTube and Weinstein was forced to split from the views of his former friends and supporters.

So, how can we seek truth in such divided times? Freddie Sayers invited Bret into the UnHerd studio in London to try to understand what his views really are.

30 May 2022
Rejected from a London university for being Russian

UnHerd's Florence Read meets Elena Ledneva.

Elena Ledneva, a woman living with her husband and young child in the UK, applied for a Master's course in hospitality at the University of West London. Elena had years of experience in running events, including welcoming international delegates to the Sochi Winter Olympics, so on paper, she would seem to be the ideal candidate. But last week she was rejected due to 'the situation in Ukraine'. Was she really rejected for being Russian?

Elena joined Florence Read in the UnHerd studio to share her story.

Read the Post article here:

27 May 2022
WHO epidemiologist: The truth about monkeypox

Freddie Sayers meets David Heymann.

Will monkeypox be the next pandemic after COVID? To try to find an answer, Freddie Sayers invited Professor David Heymann to the UnHerd studio. Currently based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Professor Heymann is one of the world’s most senior infectious disease epidemiologists. For 22 years he worked at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, as chief of the AIDS research programme and Assistant Director for Health Security. Before that he was in Africa for 13 years investigating the spread of monkeypox.

Read the Post article here:

20 May 2022
World expert Dr. Pavel Podvig: How likely is a nuclear war?

Freddie Sayers meets Pavel Podvig.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, the outcome that nobody has wanted to contemplate is that of Russian nuclear escalation. Threats that “mirror moves” would be made by the Kremlin if NATO expanded, as we heard in last week’s interview with UN representative for Russia Dmitry Polyanskiy, suggest that a strike might not be out of the question. With Finland and Sweden seeking to join NATO, is nuclear war more likely now that it was three months ago? By trying to push Vladimir Putin to the brink, is the West actually increasing the chance of a nuclear incident? What actually is the sequence of events that would lead to nuclear conflict?

To help us think through this difficult topic, UnHerd invited Dr. Pavel Podvig to the studio. Podvig is a senior researcher in the WMD programme at the Institute for Disarmament Research and a researcher with the programme on science and global security at Princeton University. He runs the world’s premier website dedicated to analysing Putin’s nuclear capability and edited the definitive encyclopedia of Russian nuclear forces. Dr. Podvig joined Freddie Sayers live from his office in Geneva.

Read the Post article:

16 May 2022
Prof. Michael Sandel: Why the elites don’t deserve their status

Freddie Sayers meets Michael Sandel.

Do we deserve what we have? Are the elites any better than the rest of us? Do the right people get to run the world?

One political philosopher who attempts to tackle these big questions is Professor Michael Sandel. A Harvard professor since the 1980s and world famous author of many bestselling books, including 'What Money Can't Buy', and most recently, 'The Tyranny of Merit', Sandel has made the case for overhauling Western neoliberalism. The alternative society Sandel suggests is more forgiving of failure and confers cultural status onto building community rather than capital.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Freddie Sayers, Sandel explores how elite institutions from the Ivy League to Wall Street have given us the wrong idea about who deserves power.

12 May 2022
Kremlin Spokesman: "There is no war in Ukraine"

Freddie Sayers meets Dmitriy Polyanskiy.

First Deputy Representative of Russia to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy joins Freddie Sayers to discuss the nuclear threat against NATO members and possible conclusions to the conflict in Ukraine.

Read the Post article here:

08 May 2022
Curtis Yarvin: Why America should become a monarchy

Former computer programmer and political theorist Curtis Yarvin is considered by many to be a dangerous thinker. He has been named in the New York Times and Vanity Fair as a founding member of the burgeoning 'New Right' and caused a stir on Tucker Carlson.

His theories of power seem to have made their way from the fringe blogosphere into the mainstream media. Now, people are trying to make sense of some of what Yarvin wants for the Western nations he criticises and where his thinking might go next.

One particularly bold claim made by Yarvin is that America would be better run as a monarchy, rather than a democracy.

To dig deeper into this esoteric political philosophy, Freddie Sayers invited Curtis Yarvin to the UnHerd studio.

03 May 2022
Danish professor: mRNA vaccine study sends 'danger signals'

Freddie Sayers meets Professor Christine Stabell Benn.

A new Danish study reveals disparities in all-cause mortality between mRNA and adenovirus vaccines. The results raise some difficult questions about the unexpected effects of the most popular COVID vaccines. Freddie Sayers speaks to the study's author Prof. Christine Stabell-Benn, from the University of Southern Denmark, to find out more.

Read the full Post article here:

25 Apr 2022
Douglas Murray: The gullible Right has fallen for Putin

Freddie Sayers discusses the backlash against Western values with Douglas Murray

When Douglas Murray was writing his new book The War on the West, Putin had not yet launched an actual war on the edge of Europe. Now, two months after the invasion of Ukraine, has the battle of ideas he writes about been put into perspective?

Freddie Sayers speaks to Douglas Murray about the factions of the Right who have been fooled by Putin’s ‘woke West’ propaganda and why the war in Ukraine is not the wake-up call we might have expected.

Thanks to Douglas for returning to the channel. His new book, The War on the West, is out now.

Read the post article here: https://unherd.com/thepost/douglas-murray-t…fallen-for-putin/

19 Apr 2022
Michael Tracey: When does anti-war become pro-Putin?

Freddie Sayers meets Michael Tracey.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Western media has been overwhelmed with support for Zelensky's resistance and condemnation of Putin's invasion. Intervention from the US and Europe has now extended to supplying arms and sanctioning Russia. Some are demanding this support goes even further, suggesting 'no fly zones' or boots on the ground in Ukraine.

Journalist, Substacker and Twitter provocateur Michael Tracey takes a very different view. Despite initially condemning the invasion in February, he has since committed his time to exposing what he calls the 'proxy warmongering’ of Western powers.

Michael Tracey joins Freddie Sayers in the UnHerd studio to discuss why he is so critical of Western intervention in Ukraine and why he refuses to be labelled a Putin apologist.

Read the Post article here:

11 Apr 2022
Sergej Sumlenny: "Get ready for the break up of Russia"

Freddie Sayers meets Sergej Sumlenny.

As the war in Ukraine has become more entrenched, there has been much discussion of the small Eastern European states which might be annexed into the Russian Federation.

One political scientist and journalist has taken a different view. Sergej Sumlenny is Russian-born, but lives in Berlin. On Twitter he predicted that rather than expanding, Russia was due to dramatically contract. Might he be right? In principle, Sumlenny argues, Russia's many ethnic states are perfectly poised for secession, some with long histories of agitation and others with a newfound resentment of Moscow in light of the war.

To understand how this split could play out in practice Freddie Sayers invited him to talk UnHerd through the end of the Russian Federation and asks - what happens next?

Read the Post article here:

07 Apr 2022
Inside China's Zero Covid Camp

The biggest city in China is in complete lockdown, with no end date in sight. Cases are rising and the 26 million residents of Shanghai are not permitted to leave their homes at all — not even to buy groceries or walk the dog. Footage has emerged of eerily deserted streets, but reliable information about what is really going on inside the strictest “Zero Covid” regime in the world is hard to come by, owing to the Chinese Communist Party’s control of the media.

Now for the first time, UnHerd can reveal the reality of life inside the vast mandatory quarantine facility in Shanghai, erected within the Expo conference centre, to which infected individuals are sent.

Jane Polubotko is a Ukrainian national who has lived in Shanghai for 9 years, working for a Chinese music technology company as a marketing manager. On March 26th she felt slightly unwell, so went for a Covid test — a routine occurrence as her office is currently testing every two days. The next day she was contacted to say that the results were “abnormal,” and an emergency health vehicle appeared at her block of flats to pick her up. There was no paperwork and she didn’t know where she was going.

05 Apr 2022
Yanis Varoufakis: It's mad to think Ukraine can win

Commentators on the war in Ukraine seem to have come to a consensus: public figures have a moral responsibility not to challenge anything other than the Russian narrative.

This rejection of balance in favour of propaganda poses a problem for political thinkers like Yanis Varoufakis, who has been accused of 'Westsplaining' and being a Putin apologist in the last week alone.

To give this controversial conversation a chance, Varoufakis joined Freddie Sayers for a wide-ranging discussion about Western pressure on Russia and finding a space for debate in what feels like a binary moment.

31 Mar 2022
Sajid Javid: Zero Covid has been a disaster

Health Secretary Sajid Javid came into the UnHerd studio to talk to Freddie Sayers and look back at lessons learned from the Covid era.

Read the full post here:

24 Mar 2022
Francis Fukuyama: Can Putin's war rescue liberalism?

Freddie Sayers meets Francis Fukuyama.

Francis Fukuyama is a political scientist and public intellectual, most famous for his 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man which has helped to define how we understand contemporary history. His new book is called Liberalism and its Discontents.

Freddie Sayers spoke to Dr. Fukuyama about the war in Ukraine, current trends in Western democracy, and how liberalism can better understand aspects of the human condition it has historically neglected.

Read the full article here:

21 Mar 2022
Bill Roggio: Who is really winning the war in Ukraine?

Getting an accurate picture of who is winning the war in Ukraine has become increasingly difficult in the information age. Log onto Twitter and there are images of burnt out Russian tanks being towed away by Ukrainian farmers and hostage-style videos featuring Russians POWs expressing regret over the invasion; meanwhile, Western news outlets are littered with tales of doughty Ukrainian protesters sending the Russian enemy into retreat and Kyivans discovering a newfound unity in the face of war.

But is this a fair depiction of what’s really occurring on the ground? Freddie Sayers sat down with Bill Roggio, a leading military analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, to discuss.

Read the Post article here:

17 Mar 2022
Samo Burja: Russia Sanctions Will Divide Civilisation

Freddie Sayers meets with Samo Burja.

With Western powers increasingly united against Russia, we seem to be witnessing the end of the unipolar world. Financially, culturally and spiritually we have never been so bifurcated. Could this be the end of civilisation as we know it?

To find a way through the big issues at stake, Freddie Sayers sat down with Samo Burja, a sociologist and the founder of Bismarck Analysis.

Read the post article here

15 Mar 2022
The truth about Neo-Nazis in Ukraine

When Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine it was under the guise of ‘denazifying’ the country. But are there really any Nazis in Ukraine? Or is this just a story spun by the Kremlin? Aris Roussinos joins Freddie Sayers to unpick this contentious topic and seek some insight into Ukraine’s far-Right factions.

Read the article here:

10 Mar 2022
Investigating Aleksandr Dugin and the "soul of Russia"

Freddie Sayers meets Marlene Laruelle.

Aleksandr Dugin, the ultra-nationalist Russian philosopher and erstwhile organiser of the National Bolshevik Party, has been referred to as ‘Putin’s brain’. Professor Marlene Laruelle, the world’s leading expert on Dugin, says his influence is no longer direct. Dugin stated mission is to preserve the "Russian soul" and expand the Eurasian empire in defiance of the West. Today, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increasingly isolated global position feels like some of these visions have become a dark reality. Freddie Sayers sat down with Laruelle to seek a deeper understanding of the oft-quoted concept of the "Russian soul", what Dugin wants and how Putin might be able to help him get it.

Read the Post article here:

08 Mar 2022
Leonid Ragozin: How I got Russia wrong

Freddie Sayers meets Leonid Ragozin.

Leonid Ragozin was reporting in Siberia when Putin began to send troops to the Ukrainian border at Belarus. Despite the menacing signs, he was quick to voice his skepticism about Russia’s intentions to invade. But when tanks rolled into Ukraine over a week ago, Ragozin was left, like many, wondering: why had he got it so wrong?

To try to answer this question Freddie Sayers met Ragozin to discuss Putin’s mysterious motivations and what the possible outcomes are for the war in Ukraine.

Read the Post here:

02 Mar 2022
Justin Bronk: Is the Russian war machine broken?

Freddie Sayers meets Justin Bronk.

It has been a week since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and one of many unanswered questions is why Russia has yet to launch the vast majority of its combat aircraft, despite having an advantage over the comparatively small Ukrainian air force. Could Putin be holding back the full might of his army for tactical or political reasons? Or is this failure to launch a symptom of poor planning by the Kremlin?

To seek out some technical expertise on this topic, Freddie Sayers spoke to Justin Bronk, Research Fellow for Military Airpower at the Royal United Services Institute.

Read the full article here:

01 Mar 2022
Andreas Umland: The real nuclear threat is not from weapons

Freddie Sayers meets Andreas Umland.

This week we are being inundated with information about what is going on in Ukraine. And the challenge just to get above the noise and find out what exactly is going on and where it might go next. To dig into some of these questions, Freddie Sayers sat down with Dr. Andreas Umland, an analyst for the Stockholm Centre for Eastern European studies and expert in contemporary Russian and Ukrainian politics.

Read the full article here:

25 Feb 2022
San Francisco parents: How we took back control of our schools

Flo Read meets Siva, Autumn, and Ann.

Public schools in San Francisco sent their students home for 18 months during the COVID pandemic, the longest school closure in the country. While children were falling behind at home, the city’s elected school board was tasked with handling the re-opening. But, it seemed, they were too busy trying to pander to progressive demands to get children back in the classroom. A group of parents, angry with the extended shutdown and dithering meetings, launched a campaign to recall three members of the school board. Last week, they won. Florence Read sat down with three parents involved in the recall, Autumn, Siva and Ann, to discuss why COVID has been such a disaster for San Francisco's schools.

Read the Post piece here:

24 Feb 2022
Konstantin Kisin: Has the media got Ukraine wrong?

Freddie Sayers meets Konstantin Kisin.

Following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, pundits from mainstream and alternative media platforms across the political spectrum have been left eating humble pie. Predictions of Russia’s next move as troops built up on the border have ranged from blaming hawkish Americans for hyping up a non-existent threat, to claims that Putin was using the standoff to make himself an international talking point. Now that it is clear that Putin is done with talking and intends to take action, we are left wondering: who can we trust on Ukraine? To puzzle out this question, Freddie Sayers sat down for an emergency episode with Konstantin Kisin, host of the Triggernometry podcast and YouTube channel.

Read the Post article here:

15 Feb 2022
What the Moderna share price reveals about vaccines

Freddie Sayers meets Louis-Vincent Gave.

Since the end of November 2021, Moderna's share price has been falling dramatically, from $368 to $147 at the time of writing.

Why might this be? And what does it tell us about the vaccines more generally?

Freddie Sayers sat down with Louis Gave, a financial analyst and co-founder of Gavekal, a financial services firm based in Hong Kong. Gave noted that the markets had been ahead of politicians and even epidemiologists on the Omicron variant in terms of its lethality, but also evidently they had determined that vaccines were not the ‘silver bullet’ solution they were initially sold as. What may be taboo to say in political circles is more bluntly put when people are betting their money on the outcome.

Read The Post here.

14 Feb 2022
Glenn Loury: Reject race politics and embrace humanity

Freddie Sayers meets Glenn Loury.

To get a handle on some of the race related news stories coming out of America, from Biden’s Supreme Court nomination to Joe Rogan’s cancellation, Freddie Sayers spoke to Glenn Loury, an economist and cultural critic. Loury was the first African American tenured professor of economics in the history of Harvard University and has set himself apart from his contemporaries by taking a sceptical view of the racialised rhetoric of American academia. In this wide-ranging conversation he discusses model minorities, Black Lives Matter and Whoopi Goldberg's alleged anti-semitism.

Read the full article here.

03 Feb 2022
UnHerd Live: Where does feminism go next?

Featuring: Mary Harrington, Julie Bindel, Hadley Freeman and Sally Chatterton.

It wasn’t long ago that feminism was a united movement resisting the patriarchal systems of old. Now, disputes between factions of feminists take up as much time as the fight for women’s liberation.

To dig a little deeper into the points of schism and solidarity in fourth wave feminism, UnHerd invited activist and author Julie Bindel and columnists Hadley Freeman and Mary Harrington to an evening at the Art Workers’ Guild.

The panel, chaired by UnHerd Editor Sally Chatterton, discussed their alliances and conflicts on the subjects of gender identity, sex work, surrogacy, motherhood and sexuality.

In our divided times, where does feminism go next?

Read The Post article here.

31 Jan 2022
Denmark's state modeller: Why we've ended ALL Covid laws

Freddie Sayers meets Dr Camilla Holten-Møller, chair of the Expert Group for Mathematical Modelling at Denmark’s public health agency ‘Statens Serum Institut’.

Holten-Møller was in charge of producing the models before Christmas that informed Danish policy, and her group’s updated advice in January led to the cancellation of all Danish Covid restrictions (even as case numbers continue to climb to all-time highs). She joins UnHerd to discuss Denmark's radical new policy, data modelling and why Omicron might be the end of the pandemic.

Read the Post article here.

26 Jan 2022
Kate Clanchy: "My life's work has been taken away"

Freddie Sayers meets Kate Clanchy.

Kate Clanchy is a writer, teacher, and editor. She has been a qualified and practicing teacher since she was 22. Her writing includes three prize-winning collections of poetry, the Costa First Novel Prize-shortlisted Meeting the English, and the Orwell Prize-winning memoir Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me.

Last summer her work came under sustained criticism for its purportedly insensitive depictions of her students. Picador, her publisher until last week, did not come to her defence. Instead her students, who feature in her memoir, and in collections of their wiring like England Poem from A School, that Clanchy edited, supported her alone.

Last September, at least 20 of them wrote an open letter to The Bookseller defending her. They said their personal experiences of Clanchy were of “unequivocal care and support for us… as poets and as people”. They said they wanted to push back against suggestions that they “may be victims in some capacity.” They said Clanchy’s support gave them confidence as poets.

The furore around Clanchy made headlines across the UK last summer. She came to the UnHerd studio to discuss her experiences — of teaching, writing, and cancel culture — for the first time with Freddie Sayers.

For more read The Post from UnHerd.

18 Jan 2022
Israeli vaccine advisor: "We have made mistakes"

In a wide-ranging and forthright interview with Freddie Sayers, Professor Cyrille Cohen, head of Immunology at Bar Ilan University and a member of the advisory committee for vaccines for the Israeli Government said:

- The Green Pass / vaccine passport concept was no longer relevant in the Omicron era and should be phased out (he expected it to be in short order in Israel)

- He and his colleagues were surprised and disappointed that the vaccines did not prevent transmission, as they had originally hoped

- The biggest mistake of the pandemic in Israel was closing schools and education – he apologised for that

- Widespread infection is now an inevitable part of future immunity — otherwise known as herd immunity

- Omicron has accelerated the pandemic into the endemic phase, in which Covid will be “like flu”

For more read The Post from UnHerd.

12 Jan 2022
Dr Steve James: I’m willing to lose my job over vaccine mandates

Steve James is a critical care consultant at King’s College Hospital in London. When Health Secretary Sajid Javid visited last Friday, he asked the NHS staff about what they thought of the forthcoming mandates that will make Covid vaccination a condition of deployment for NHS staff. Dr James spoke out, saying why he was against the mandate and why he hadn’t taken the vaccine himself.

It made headlines across the UK media, in particular coming from a Cambridge-educated NHS frontline doctor. Dr James came in to the UnHerd studio to explain his position in more detail to Freddie Sayers.

While he does not think of himself as ‘anti-vax’ (he dislikes the label), he argues that there’s nothing wrong with individuals preferring not to take vaccines if they so choose. Nevertheless, he accepts that vaccines have had an important effect on Covid hospitalisation rates. “Undoubtedly the vaccines have made a big difference,” he says.

But he objects to the simplistic messaging around vaccination, saying that because Covid is so much more dangerous to older people and vulnerable groups, the insistence on universal vaccination (including making examples of people who refuse) is inappropriate.

Dr James has had Covid (he doesn’t know when, but tests positive for antibodies). But he admits he hadn’t taken the vaccine even for the period of months before he tested for antibodies, because he preferred to wait a period to fully understand the extent of any side effects.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

31 Dec 2021
2021: Year in Review with Freddie Sayers, Aris Roussinos and Mary Harrington

UnHerd's contributors look back at a tumultuous year.

The year began with riots in Capitol Hill in Washington and the removal of Donald Trump from social media; in March Meghan and Harry gave their interview to Oprah from a Los Angeles mansion, and in April Prince Phillip passed away; Western troops departed Afghanistan, leaving chaotic scenes in the capital Kabul; Maya Forstater was judged by the courts to be legally entitled to her gender critical viewpoints — and Kathleen Stock was forced out of Sussex University; bitcoin became formal tender in its first nation state; and Covid dominated public policy for the second year running.

Freddie Sayers is joined by Aris Roussinos and Mary Harrington to look back on a tumultuous and consequential year.

For the full story check out The Post from UnHerd.

22 Dec 2021
Brian Pottinger: Why South Africans are refusing the vaccine

As new data about the Omicron variant is interpreted (and perhaps predictably, misinterpreted) by experts worldwide, South Africa has become a coronavirus case-study under global surveillance. Last week, UnHerd spoke to Pieter Streicher about the data coming out of Gauteng, but we now wanted to look at the bigger picture in that country.

To get a snapshot into the cultural and political reality on the ground, Freddie Sayers sat down with Brian Pottinger, former Editor of the South African Sunday Times. He joined UnHerd from his home on the KwaZulu Natal North Coast.

For the full story check out The Post from UnHerd

15 Dec 2021
South Africa data: Could Omicron be the end of the pandemic?

Since its discovery in the Gauteng province of South Africa in November, a new Covid variant has set off a spiral of harsh restrictions, travel bans and questions about the efficacy of the existing two-dose vaccines. Dr Angelique Coetzee, the scientist who first raised the alarm in Gauteng, has repeatedly assured the public that early observation of symptoms suggests that Omicron could be milder than the Delta variant. Despite some reassuring signs on the ground, reaction to the new variant has been dramatic, with Boris Johnson warning of a ‘tidal wave’ of cases in the UK and Joe Biden predicting an ‘explosion’ of cases in the US...

For the full story check out The Post from UnHerd.

02 Dec 2021
Inside Australia’s Covid internment camp

Hayley Hodgson, 26, moved to Darwin from Melbourne to escape the never-ending lockdowns — only to find herself locked up in a Covid Internment Camp without even having the virus.

She’s just returned from a 14-day detention at Howard Springs, the 2000-capacity Covid camp outside Darwin to which regional Covid cases are transported by the authorities. In an exclusive interview with Freddie Sayers, she recounted her experiences.

It all began when a friend of hers tested positive. She recounts how investigators came to her home shortly afterwards, having run the numberplate of her scooter to identify her as a ‘close contact’. They asked if she had done a Covid test, and in the moment she lied and said she had, when she in fact had not yet. This set in train an extraordinary series of events.

“So then the police officers blocked my driveway,” she says. “I walked out and I said, “what’s going on, are you guys testing me for COVID? What’s happening?” They said, “no, you’re getting taken away. And you have no choice. You’re going to Howard Springs. You either come with us now, and we’ll put you in the back of the divvy van. Or you can have a choice to get a ‘COVID cab’… I just said, “I don’t consent to this. I don’t understand why I can’t just self-isolate at home, like a lot of other people are doing.” And they just said, “we’ve just been told from higher up where to take you. And that’s all that there is.”

She was ordered to pack a bag and was told that she could be released once she tested negative. Collected in the back of a rented van, she was then transported to Howard Springs. On arrival, she was told that she would have to stay there for the full 14 days.

For the full story check out The Post from UnHerd.

30 Nov 2021
Paul Kingsnorth: why I changed sides in the vaccine wars

Paul Kingsnorth sees the vaccine wars as symptomatic of a bigger division between two fundamentally different world views: he calls them “thesis” and “antithesis.” When it comes to Covid, “thesis” is the establishment viewpoint: that lockdowns are needed to contain the virus, masks work, vaccines are safe, and people who question them are wrongheaded or worse. When Covid-19 first struck, Kingsnorth took the “thesis” viewpoint.

But over the last few months, his perspective changed. As he writes in today’s UnHerd, the crystallising moment arrived when he woke up to the news that the Austrian government had ‘interned an entire third of the population’. This move, he writes, sent a ‘chill down my spine’.

The “antithesis” view can be summed up as: lockdowns are not needed, masks do not work, the safety and efficacy of the vaccines are being oversold, vaccine passports will not only fail but further segregate society, and in the near future we can expect Giradian scapegoating of the unvaccinated. In other words, we are positioned on the precipice of a slippery slope that leads towards increasingly draconian biopolitical control measures, the grip of which is unlikely to release even once the pandemic is over.

In a conversation with Freddie Sayers on this week’s UnHerdTV, he explains this division and the bigger epistemological divides it reveals. “People are arguing about vaccines,” he says, “but they’re really under the surface arguing about what kind of person you are if you have taken these things, whether you’re a good or a bad person, or clean or unclean one”.

In Kingsnorth’s view, each of us has a line that cannot be crossed. And his has now been reached.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

17 Nov 2021
Freddie Sayers investigates Austria's lockdown of the unvaccinated

Freddie visits the Austrian capital Vienna on the day that the world's first lockdown for the unvaccinated was introduced, looking for answers. How do ordinary people feel about a third of their population being put in partial house arrest? How does it feel for the people stuck at home? And how did a liberal democracy come to this in 2021?

For more, read the Post from UnHerd.

11 Nov 2021
Asra Nomani: Mothers fight back against Critical Race Theory in schools

Florence Read talks to Asra Nomani.

Education policy rarely tips the electoral scales. But following Glenn Youngkin's shock win in the Virginia governor's race, where education was the top priority for 35% of his supporters, focus has turned towards the American curriculum as a new political battleground.

A group of parents, or 'Mama and Papa Bears', have been particularly vocal in protesting the changes they have witnessed in Virginia schools since the start of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. Critical Race Theory, according to these concerned parents, is infiltrating the state system and being taught as fact to children as young as seven. To bring us closer to the views on the ground in Virginia, Florence Read spoke to Wall Street Journal reporter turned anti-CRT activist Asra Nomani.

In today's UnHerdTV, Asra describes the development of the parents' movement in Virginia, why she was dubbed a 'domestic terrorist' and her hopes for the future of American politics.

You can read The Post here.

08 Nov 2021
Covid doctor: No UK lockdown this Christmas

As we approach Winter, murmurs of another lockdown have slowly been entering the national conversation. Just yesterday Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted that it was a “national mission” to get jabbed so that we “can get through Winter and enjoy Christmas” while Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Vam-Tam last week threatened Plan B if people acted “like Covid was over”.

But is all this pessimism really warranted? After all, Covid infection rates in the UK have been falling for over two weeks and, compared to the rest of Europe (where cases are rising), it does not look in bad shape. To get a more balanced picture, Freddie Sayers spoke to Dr. Raghib Ali, a clinical epidemiologist from the University of Cambridge and a frontline doctor. Last month, he gained nationwide attention when he published ‘The Lockdown Myths that need challenging’, arguing (among other things) that it was incorrect to say that the UK’s high death rate was attributable to locking down late or that lives would have been saved if we lockdown earlier. In today’s UnHerdTV, he expanded on his thinking and explained why he didn’t think restrictions would be coming in before Christmas:

Most of the modellers think that cases, hospitalisations and deaths will fall over the coming months because of the very high levels of population immunity thanks to a combination of vaccination and natural immunity. And therefore it’s very unlikely — unless there is some new variant which we have seen before — that there will be a situation like last winter. Because of that, I don’t think we’re going to have any new restrictions between now and Christmas

For more read The Post from UnHerd

03 Nov 2021
Kathleen Stock: I won't be silenced

Kathleen Stock chats to UnHerd's Julie Bindel.

Kathleen Stock was forced to resign from Sussex University after an aggressive campaign of targeted harassment over her gender critical views.

The campaign to push Prof Stock out of Sussex began when she self-published a number blog posts critical of extreme transgender ideology. She was concerned that the majority of academics, including philosophers such as herself, were reluctant to criticise campaigns to introduce self-identification for transgender people.

Although Kathleen is understandably upset by the conduct of the small number of abusive students, she is adamant that many of them are taking a cue from the influential adults around them. “I don’t think they’ve actually read what I think. There’s a lot of enabling, or inciting, of individuals in this story,” she says.

Read the full article from Julie Bindel's here

02 Nov 2021
Bjorn Lomborg: Climate change is NOT the end of the world

As the COP26 summit meets over the next couple of weeks in Glasgow, we can all expect to be bombarded with disaster scenarios, replete with stories about our species’ imminent demise. Over the last couple of days, we have had Boris Johnson warning that it is “one minute to midnight” and Prince Charles claiming that this is “literally our last chance saloon”. And of course, Greta Thunberg has already made a few appearances of her own, accusing politicians of “pretending to take our future seriously” and saying that COP26 will “lead us nowhere”.

Bjorn Lomborg takes a different view. His latest book, ‘False Alarm: how climate change panic costs us trillions, hurts the poor, and fails to fix the planet’ sets out his argument that, although climate change is a real problem and is mostly man-made, the panic and alarmism is counter-productive. 

For more read The Post from UnHerd

28 Oct 2021
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: wokeness is a gift to Islamism
Freddie Sayers speaks with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

27 Oct 2021
Steven Pinker: How rational are YOU?

Do we live in a rational world? For all the advances humanity has made over the years and centuries, it is difficult to escape the feeling that we live in irrational times. Or so leading psychologist Steven Pinker argues in his new book ‘Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters’. From cancel culture to online conspiracy theories, the Harvard Professor argues that we are forgetting how to reason and think clearly — two vital tools for the flourishing of mankind.

But is being irrational necessarily a bad thing? Are there certain scenarios in which it might be permissible? Speaking at the Art Workers’ Guild in London, Prof Pinker joined Freddie Sayers to discuss rationality and its possible limits. Our thanks to Professor Pinker for an enlightening discussion.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

26 Oct 2021
Ash Sarkar: Left and Right must unite against Big Tech censorship

Earlier today, a YouTube channel with 167,000 subscribers and over 40 million view vanished. It was not a fringe channel that platforms cranks, conspiracists and extremists, but one of the UK’s leading Left-wing political website, which according to the outlet is ‘among the top 50 most watched news and politics channels in the UK’.

The channel was Novara Media, which was mysteriously reinstated by YouTube two hours later.

According to Novara’s senior editor Ash Sarkar, Novara had received no prior warning and one ‘strike’ (YouTube operates a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy) before the channel was removed.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

08 Oct 2021
The retreat of the West is a disaster - Bernard-Henri Lévy

Freddie Sayers speaks to Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Few have made the case for liberal interventionism more consistently than Bernard-Henri Lévy. Despite setbacks in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, the French public intellectual’s worldview has remained largely unchanged.

But with the Taliban now in control of Afghanistan — and signs of resistance dwindling — is he still convinced the West was right to be there at all?

He joined Freddie Sayers in our London studio to discuss his new book, The Will to See.

Read more at unherd.com

06 Oct 2021
Debate: are Conservatives doomed?

Are Conservatives doomed? Following a General Election that resulted in an 80-seat majority for the Conservative Party after 11 years of uninterrupted rule, this might seem like a rather strange question to ask.

But firstly, there may be long term challenges to the Tory coalition. By 2030, typically Left-leaning groups that tend to vote Labour — the young, renters, the childless, and the more urban people are not only growing in numbers but becoming increasingly liberal too.

More importantly, are the Tories even a Conservative party? Even if the British Tories have a talent for remaining in power, where does that leave true Conservatism?

At this week’s Conservative Party conference in Manchester, UnHerd gathered together some of the country’s most optimistic — and doomerist — conservative voices to get to the bottom of this question. In the pessimist corner sat writer Ed West who recently published a book ‘Small Men on the Wrong side of History’ and columnist Peter Hitchens, who has been calling for the destruction of the Conservative Party since 2010.

In the more optimistic corner: Miriam Cates, a Conservative who was elected as MP for Penistone and Stockbridge as part of the feted ‘Red Wall’ intake in 2019; and Matthew Goodwin, a contributor at UnHerd and professor of politics at Kent.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

26 Sep 2021
Louise Leach: my journey from secular to Orthodox

Over the last year, two big Netflix series have featured women in Orthodox Jewish communities. ‘Unorthodox’ told the fictional story of a young woman from a Hasidic community in Brooklyn, outside New York, who escapes to Europe to join her mother and pursue a career in music. ‘My Orthodox Life’, tracks a real life fashion entrepreneur who begins her life in the orthodox community but decides, rather like the heroine of Unorthodox, to leave the community behind.

In each case, the communities are presented as somewhat sexist, conformist, stifling — and the happy ending consists of the women leaving them behind and being liberated to pursue their dreams in the secular world outside.

But what about the opposite journey? It may not be featured in Netflix shows, but what about people who begin life in the secular modern world and choose to move into an orthodox community?

On this week’s UnHerdTV, Freddie Sayers meets Louise Leach, a former singer and star of the talent competition ‘Pop Stars’ who decided to join the Orthodox Jewish community after years of living what she describes as ‘the high life’. 

She tells Freddie about her journey, what her commitments mean to her, and her hopes and fears for her five children growing up in the fast-paced, ultra secular city of London.

Thanks to Louise and we hope you enjoy.

23 Sep 2021
Anders Tegnell: Sweden won the argument on Covid

Of all the celebrities that have been created during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, Swedish State Epidemiologist is perhaps the most surprising. A softly-spoken official within the Swedish Health Agency, he has quietly been going about his work monitoring infectious diseases for years.

But his decision, when Covid hit, to stick to his long-established plan and not recommend mandatory lockdowns, not close the schools, turned him into a lightning rod for competing views on the pandemic. Endless articles have been written about him in media across the world and some Swedes are known to have had tattoos made of him.

UnHerd spoke to him back in July 2020, when he defended the lack of mask mandates and was hopeful that widespread immunity would protect the Swedes from a bad winter wave — a hope that turned out to be overly optimistic. “Judge me in a year,” he said.

Just over a year later, on the eve of Sweden releasing almost all of its remaining Covid restrictions on September 29th, Freddie Sayers spoke to him again. His message? On the big questions — whether Covid was something we had to live with, whether schools should be shut — he believes he has been vindicated.

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

17 Sep 2021
Bari Weiss: Covid has exposed the hypocrisy of the elites

Fighting — or even participating in — a culture war is a dangerous business. It is especially so when that war is being fought behind enemy lines. So when Bari Weiss was hired by The New York Times as an opinion editor after Donald Trump’s election victory in 2016, it was a risky move.

A self-described classical liberal, Weiss was hired to bring more conservative and centrist voices to the paper, but she quickly found herself at odds with its hyper-progressive staff. Tensions reached a breaking point when NYT writers complained about Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed calling for the troops to be sent in during the BLM protest — something Weiss had helped to commission and edit.

Weiss subsequently left the paper to launch her own Substack, but her experience at one of liberal America’s most hallowed institutions exposed her to the inner workings of the paper and its gilded readership. In a conversation with Freddie Sayers, Weiss suggests that the illiberal direction legacy publications like the NYT have moved towards is emblematic of a broader chasm between the “haves and have-nots” in America, as highlighted by this week’s MET Gala event.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

02 Sep 2021
'Nudge' author: is the Government manipulating us?

Despite its humble-sounding name, ‘Nudge’ may well be the most significant economic book of the the past thirty years. It has informed the thinking and policymaking of governments around the world, from David Cameron’s special ‘nudge unit’ in No. 10 to the WHO’s recently formed behavioural insight team, focusing on vaccines and masks.

Devised by Nobel Prize winner Richard H Thaler along with Cass Sunstein in their 2009 book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness’, the theory aims to influence the behaviour and decision-making of groups or individuals in subtle or discreet ways that do not involve outright coercion or legislation. Through “choice architecture” governments and businesses can achieve outcomes without overtly mandating them. The pair have now published an updated version of the book, replete with their own experiences in government as well as new research.

To its critics, nudge has become a byword for manipulation — a form of soft coercion that pushes people into making decisions they’d prefer to make for themselves.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

24 Aug 2021
Prof. Jay Battacharya: I stand by the Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Jay Bhattacharya is one of the famous voices to have emerged out of the pandemic. A vocal critic of lockdowns, his name became synonymous with the controversial Great Barrington Declaration, which called for an “alternative approach to the pandemic” that would entail no lockdowns. Along with co-signatories Sunetra Gupta and Martin Kulldforff, the trio argued that public health strategies should instead centre on the ‘focused protection’ of at-risk groups while keeping society as open as possible so the healthy parts of the population could build herd immunity.

The declaration triggered a huge global debate, with critics arguing that many more lives would have been lost on account of the difficulty of shielding all those who were vulnerable. During this week’s interview, Freddie Sayers challenged Prof Bhattacharya on what would have happened if his strategy was adopted, whether he has changed his mind in retrospect, and how his ‘focused protection’ have would worked with waning immunity and new variants?

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

18 Aug 2021
Clarissa Ward in Kabul: what the Taliban are really like

Clarissa Ward is the Chief International Correspondent at CNN – used to reporting from the front lines of conflict zones and global events. But in the past few days she found herself, more unusually, at the centre of a culture war. In a clip from one of her broadcasts, some Taliban fighters on a Kabul street were chanting ‘Death to America’ but she observed that “they seemed friendly enough at the same time. It’s utterly bizarre.”

Politicians right up to Senator Ted Cruz jumped on to social media to condemn her remarks as another example of CNN being unpatriotic and out of touch. “Is there an enemy of America for whom @CNN WON’T cheerlead?” he asked.

Freddie Sayers caught up with her earlier today from her compound in Kabul. It was an extraordinary conversation — we had no fewer than three powercuts during our 20 minute discussion — but she gave a vivid behind the scenes account of what is going on in the Afghan capital right now. Definitely not one to miss.

For more, read The Post from UnHerd.

13 Aug 2021
David Shor: College liberals have hijacked the Democratic party

David Shor is not afraid to say the unsayable. As a Democrat party strategist, this trait has at times got him into trouble; last year, he was fired from his job at a progressive think tank for tweeting out a study that showed that nonviolent demonstrations were more effective than riots at pushing voter behaviour in a Leftward direction in 1968.

But this has not stopped him from trying to deliver home truths to Democrats. For the past two years, he has made the case that the Party has lost touch with its working class base, and its relentless focus on identity issues has alienated moderate support. This is a near-heretical position to take in today’s Democratic circles, particularly from a self-described Leftist.

In his interview with UnHerd, Shor goes further, arguing that the Democrat Party has become hijacked by white liberal college-educated activists whose interests and beliefs represent a tiny fraction of the country as a whole.

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

29 Jul 2021
Winston Marshall: fightback in the Arts?

Do we currently enjoy free speech in the arts? In recent years the worlds of publishing, fine art, and music, have been engulfed in controversies over speech and manners. Several high-profile artists have been cancelled — removed from their positions for failing to go along with prevailing political orthodoxies.

At a live UnHerd members event this week, Freddie Sayers was joined by musician Winston Marshall, artists Jess de Wahls, and writer Sarah Ditum to ask: what is the state of free speech in the arts? Is there the beginnings of a return of freedom of thought? Each of them has experienced their own version of cancellation, and they shared their experiences and thoughts before a small audience at the Sekforde Arms in Clerkenwell.

Don’t miss this highlights video — and make sure to join UnHerd to be invited to our next event!

For more read The Post from UnHerd

23 Jul 2021
Trump Insider: Chances of 2024 run just went up to 2/3

Few people can claim to have as close access to “Trumpworld” — the circle of advisors around ex-President Trump — as Jason Miller. In fact, he spoke to Trump himself just yesterday.

Originally the chief campaign spokesman for the 2016 campaign, Miller was drafted back for the final months of the re-election campaign, in June 2020. He co-presented a podcast, The War Room, with Steve Bannon, which was removed from YouTube following the Capitol Hill violence on January 6th and is currently CEO of a new social media platform, Gettr.

My first question: how likely is it that Donald Trump will run for President again in 2024?

“You know, if you'd asked me when President Trump first left office, what the odds were of him running again in in 2024, I probably would have said 50-50. But I think in recent weeks, seeing him back out on the campaign trail, it's kind of the inverse effect, where the more that the media is attacking him and saying that he's politically finished, I think the more that he wants to go and run for office. I'd probably put it at two to one odds that that he does go and run in 2024. So that's making it more likely, in my estimation that he's going to run in 2024.”

Given Miller’s ringside seat on the final months of the Trump Presidency, I asked him about some of the key moments on the inside. As a key advisor to the campaign – why did he lose? When did it all go wrong?

#Trump2024 #censorship #USPolitics

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

14 Jul 2021
Wikipedia co-founder: I no longer trust the website I created

Chances are, if you’ve ever been on the internet, you’ve visited Wikipedia. It is the world’s fifth largest website, pulling in an estimated 6.1 billion followers per month and serves as a cheat sheet for almost any topic in the world. So great is the online encyclopaedia’s influence is so great that it is the biggest and “most read reference work in history”, with as many as 56 million editions. 

But the truth about this supposedly neutral purveyor of information is a little more complex. Historically, Wikipedia has been written and monitored by a community of volunteers who collaborated and contested competing claims with one another. In the words of Wikipedia’s co-founder, Larry Sanger who spoke to Freddie Sayers on LockdownTV, these volunteers would “battle it out”. 

This battle of ideas on Wikipedia’s platform formed a crucial part of the encyclopaedia’s commitment to neutrality, which according to Sanger, was abandoned after 2009. In the years since, on issues ranging from Covid to Joe Biden, it has become increasingly partisan, primarily espousing an establishment viewpoint that increasingly represents “propaganda”. This, says Sanger, is why he left the site in 2007, describing it as “broken beyond repair”.

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

06 Jul 2021
Rupert Sheldrake: Science does not tolerate dissent

The concept of scientism, the quasi-religious belief in science and scientists, has risen in prominence over the past year. It has been a theme in many UnHerd interviews, ranging from Matthew Crawford, who detailed the ways in which science has evolved from a mode of inquiry into a source of authority, to Richard Dawkins, who dismissed scientism as a “dirty word”. 

To author and biologist Rupert Sheldrake, it means something different: “It is the idea that science can solve all the problems of the world,” he tells Freddie Sayers in today’s LockdownTV. “Where science becomes a religion and that it’s humanity’s salvation. The scientists are the saviours of the world.”

The religious fervour with which phrases like ‘following the science’ and ‘trust the experts’ have been uttered and adhered to over the course of the pandemic would seem to underscore Sheldrake’s point. But according to Sheldrake, who has spent his entire career researching controversial or ‘fringe’ areas of science, the phenomenon is “nothing new”. As he himself has experienced, the scientific community does not like entertaining radical or dissent opinion, and goes out of its way to snuff it out...

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

01 Jul 2021
Dr Mike Tildesley: what our Covid forecasts got wrong

SPI-M (the “Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling) is the government committee in charge of producing forecasts for the future direction of the pandemic in different circumstances. It was their report in early June, combining mathematical models from Imperial, Warwick and LSHTM, than persuaded Boris Johnson to delay the planned re-opening of society on 21st June to its current scheduled date of 19th July.

In the weeks since that report, two things have become clear: the raw case numbers have been rising very rapidly, but the hospital admissions have been much lower than predicted when the PM made his decision. As of today, 1st July, just over 250 people per day are being admitted into hospital with Covid, compared to over 600 by now as forecast by SPI-M.

Freddie Sayers spoke to Dr Mike Tildesley, an infectious disease modeller from the University of Warwick who sits on the committee and works on the models himself, about how his forecasts have performed against reality, and whether, knowing what we know now, the PM made the right decision.

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

28 Jun 2021
Kemi Badenoch: Britain is the best place in the world to be black

Is Britain a racist country? This is a question that sharply divides most Brits, but for one Government minister, the answer is an emphatic ‘no’. In an interview with UnHerd’s LockdownTV, Kemi Badenoch, exchequer secretary for the treasury and an Equalities Minister, tells Freddie Sayers that Britain is the “best place in the world to be black” and that an excessive focus on race alone can end up obscuring the debate.

Her comments follow on from an education report that came out last week which found that white working-class pupils had been failed by decades of neglect in England’s education system. It is examples like these, argues Badenoch, that highlight how phrases like ‘white privilege’ are not only divisive, but inaccurate too.

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

25 Jun 2021
UnHerd event: has lockdown changed us forever?

It is difficult to capture just how transformative an impact lockdown has had on us as individuals and as a society. For 15 months, we have been unable to gather in large groups, walk into a shop without a mask or even go to your local pub without having to scan a code from your phone. On a societal level, it is the first time in living memory that a western nations have locked down their populations and managed to do so with very little resistance. So as we go forth into our brave new world, what does this all mean? With less than a month to go until all restrictions are lifted (in theory), how has lockdown changed us — if at all? At UnHerd’s inaugural in-person event of the year, Freddie Sayers spoke to a panel of UnHerd contributors, who shared their thoughts.

For more, read The Post from UnHerd here

Make sure to join UnHerd to be invited to our next event!

23 Jun 2021
Jess de Wahls: Cancelled (and un-cancelled) by the Royal Academy

It all started with an Instagram post. Over the weekend, the Royal Academy thanked those “for bringing an item in the RA shop by an artist [Jess de Wahls] expressing transphobic views to our attention.” The item in question? A collection of floral embroidered patches that can be attached to clothing. Her crime? Writing a blog in 2019 in which she stated that “humans cannot change sex”.

Shortly thereafter came the now-familiar cycle of organisations bowing to social media pressure and seeking forgiveness. On the basis of eight complaints, RA decided to remove all of Jess’s work from its shop without prior warning to the artist. But then came something less predictable: just a few hours ago, the RA took an unprecedented step and apologised to de Wahls for “the way we have treated her”. The institution said that it had betrayed “our most important core value”, namely freedom of speech, and would re-open discussions about re-stocking her work. Shortly before this apology, we spoke to Jess about what it was like to be in the eye of the social media storm.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

18 Jun 2021
Richard Dawkins: 'Scientism' is a dirty word

We were really delighted that Richard Dawkins agreed to come on LockdownTV to discuss “Scientism” and his new anthology of writing about science literature, Books do furnish a Life.

It turns out that Mr Dawkins’ view of “Scientism” is that it is a “dirty word used by people who are critical of scientists” — so that was a relatively brief part of the conversation.

On Covid, he is not especially worried about the boundaries of politics and science becoming blurred, but feels that “science is the way to discover the right answer to anything about the real world — and that, of course, includes how to deal with a serious epidemic.” Vaccination and mask-wearing is “not a matter of a set of self interest” it is a “moral responsibility.”

Our thanks to Richard Dawkins for sharing his thoughts.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

14 Jun 2021
SAGE Prof Susan Michie: should we wear masks forever?

Professor Susan Michie, a behavioural psychologist who sits on the all-important Sage committee, made headlines last week by appearing to suggest that social distancing and wearing facemasks should remain in place “forever”.

The Professor of Health Psychology has been an outspoken advocate of strict lockdown measures, both serving on Sage’s Scientific Pandemic Insights group on Behaviour (SPI-B) and advising the World Health Organisation on Covid-19.

She spoke to UnHerd about whether lockdown will ever be lifted, why people are no longer obeying the restrictions, and she addresses criticism of her Communist politics.

Read the full article from UnHerd here

12 Jun 2021
Chris Bickerton: Welcome to the Technopopulist future

The pandemic has thrown traditional ideas about politics upside down. In a sense, it has been the ultimate triumph of the technocrats, with phrases like “following the science” and “trusting the experts” becoming commonplace; but notions like shutting national borders and moving governments onto a 'war footing' are more typically associated with the populist Right — it was Donald Trump who first shut the US borders, Modi in India implemented a swingeing lockdown early, and Boris Johnson's government is, at least in theory, a populist one. 

Chris Bickerton, reader in Modern European Politics at Queen's College Cambridge and sometime star of the Talking Politics podcast, has a book out which sees a pattern in this fusion of technocracy and populism: it's called technopopulism. In this fascinating discussion tells Freddie Sayers all about it.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

10 Jun 2021
Maya Forstater: Today's judgment on trans is a landmark

When Maya Forstater first started expressing “gender critical” views in late 2018 (ie that biological sex is real and important), she was a researcher at a progressive think tank called the Centre for Global Development. Her views caught the attention of the bosses in Washington DC — and one dismissal, one tribunal verdict and an appeal judgement later, she now finds herself part of the history of gender laws in this country.

Today’s successful appeal establishes Ms Forstater’s views in law as a “philosophical belief” that must be protected from discrimination. This means that corporations, schools, government agencies or any other organisation cannot discriminate against people holding the mainstream view that men and women are different but equal, and that your sex doesn’t change even if you identify differently. 

She joined Freddie Sayers on the latest episode of LockdownTV to tell us about her experience and what it means.

For more read The Post from UnHerd

04 Jun 2021
Ex press head: the UK media was not racist towards Meghan

When 49.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the Harry and Meghan interview on Oprah, the drama that unfolded left many victims — not all famous or royal — in their wake. One such casualty was Ian Murray, the head of the Society of Editors, who came out to defend the British press against the claim made by the Duke of Sussex that the industry was racist. According to a statement put out by Murray, such an “attack” was “not acceptable” without any evidence. Following the statement came a now-infamous interview with Victoria Derbyshire, in which Murray got into a heated row with the interviewer over whether certain headlines could be construed as racist.

In spite of a second statement issued by the Society of Editors, the damage was already done: over 160 journalists of colour and the editors of the Guardian, Financial Times and HuffPost wrote an open letter describing the SoE’s initial statement as “laughable” proof of “an institution and an industry in denial”. This left Murray in the strange predicament of being attacked by the people he was trying to defend. Meanwhile, an ITV presenter and editor of the Yorkshire Post both pulled out of the Society of Editors awards. 

Effectively, the executive director was left with no choice but to resign from the organisation he helped to found some 22 years prior. In an exclusive interview with UnHerd, Murray finally speaks out and give his version of events: does he regret the statement? Is the British press racist? And what does it feel like when the mob comes for you? He discusses all this and more in today’s LockdownTV:

On why needed to leave:

When the mob turns, they need a target and it’s vicious — the phone calls, the hate, the threats of violence and worse, actually reaching me and my family in my home with phone calls and all kinds of things. I calculated that if I was going to save the Society of Editors, I needed to walk away. 


Why did his statement cause such a furore:

One, it’s the Meghan and Harry ‘sparkledust’ coming down from Hollywood. Secondly, I was following in the wake of Piers Morgan, who had resigned a little earlier before I did… Thirdly, it was a classic witch trial, whereby someone stands up to defend someone who’s been accused of being a witch, must therefore be a witch.  


On the show trial that followed:

What happens at the end of a show trial is when you’ve got your admission and your culprits, you must shame them publicly. You must make sure that everyone gets the message that “if you don’t agree with what we say, if you push back against anything that we say — then this is what we will do to you: we’ll come for your family, we’ll come for your career, your friends, anyone that associates with you. So don’t question. Don’t question”.  


Does he stand by his statement?

Absolutely…It was a strong statement, but that was to counterbalance the fact there is no proof or no evidence that there is a general theme of racism or bigotry in the British media or that large sections of the media have got a racist agenda. 


Why did the press turn on Meghan?

We [the British people] don’t like being preached to, by members of royalty in particular, especially when they appear hypocritical and do something completely different…They also made it plain that they didn’t particularly like the press. And, if you’re going to say, “look, we don’t like you”, parts of the media, we’re going to say, “well, we don’t like you either”. 


On the health of the free press:

I think it is in a very worrying place. I can be annoyed with the Left of the media, who traduced and damaged me… But I’m not going to say that they should be silenced. I’m not going to say that they shouldn’t have a voice. Now that would be hugely hypocritical of me after all these years. I want them to continue to have a voice. 


How does he feel?

Am I bitter and twisted about it? Yeah, I can be. I can be pretty annoyed about it. In the first stage, you’re obviously in shock from doing it. But you take an awful lot of comfort from the outpouring of support from people I know and people I’ve never met at all….But there is also disappointment with some others that I thought were friends or associates who ran for the hills. And it quickly dawns on you, that your reputation has been shredded in some ways, that it’s been tarnished. 


02 Jun 2021
Peter Singer: Despite everything, I’m still a cosmopolitan

Any decent list of the most influential living philosophers will include Peter Singer. For nearly 50 years, the Australian ethicist has been at the forefront of progressive politics — his ideas about animal rights and effective altruism have shaped those debates ever since the 80s and his brand of utilitarian progressive thought continues to dominate.

More controversially, his writing against the sanctity of life and in favour of the morality of ending the lives of highly disabled infants have angered the Conservative Right as much as the disability lobby on the Left. He has been “cancelled” before the term even existed, with invitations to speak retracted multiple times over the years.

Now he is co-Editor of a new “Journal of Controversial Ideas” which seeks to provide anonymity and safe publication for philosophical essays that touch on topics that might otherwise get the authors “cancelled.”

I wanted to know whether the brand of ultra-utilitarian, universalist, progressive thought of which he is such a famous proponent has somehow got out of hand and come back to haunt him? Does he feel that defining virtue by our ability to overrule the natural order of things and care as much for faraway people as we do our loved ones in any way led to the populist backlash of 2016? Now that he is founding publications to protect against cancel culture, is he running from a monster that he helped create?

I put these questions to him, and and more (including a discussion about his new book ‘The Golden Ass‘), in a highly enjoyable conversation. Many thanks to Peter for sparing the time.

On the contemporary Left:

They see themselves as defending people who are underprivileged, marginalised, disadvantaged. They want to extend that defence, not just to improving their social and economic position and preventing discrimination against them, but also making sure that they’re not offended by remarks that are made. And that brings it into conflict with ideas of freedom of speech because if merely the fact that you might offend somebody is a grounds for preventing you speaking, there’s not a lot of freedom of speech left.


Does he feel hoisted on his own petard?

No, I don’t think that because I’ve always been an advocate of freedom of speech. And in fact I think freedom of speech has been something that the Left traditionally has championed.  


On identity politics:

The idea that if you’re a white male, that somehow this discredits you… doesn’t seem to me at all a defensible view. I think we should look at what people say in terms of how well argued is this? Do the ideas hold up to critical scrutiny? Not in terms of what’s the race or ethnicity or sex of the person who was saying it? 


On critical race theory:

People who describe themselves as proponents of critical race theory make racism just so all-encompassing as an explanation and don’t really recognise the genuine and helpful efforts that have been made to make society less racist and to provide more opportunities for people, irrespective of their race. 


On open borders:

I’ve never been an advocate of open borders. Although in theory, I think a world with open borders would be great. But as a matter of political pragmatism, I’ve never thought we were ready for that.  


Is the failure to accept open borders a moral shortcoming or a fact of human nature?

It is both the fact of human nature and a moral shortcoming. I think it’s a fact of human nature that we should not celebrate, because it shows that we have an element of xenophobia: fear or hatred of strangers in our nature. And I accept that it’s part of our biological nature, I don’t deny that. And reason and ethical argument is not always powerful enough to overcome some of these facts of our nature.  


On pragmatic idealism:

In a democracy, you can’t get too far ahead of where people are, you have to bring people along with you. Sometimes people and political leaders should do more than they are doing to bring people along with them. 


On why he started the Journal of Controversial ideas:

We were worried about the fact that people, particularly more junior untenured, academics, would be intimidated against publishing something controversial, for fear that this could do harm to their career, or personally that they would get such abuse that they would not be able to handle it. 


On his new book, ‘The Golden Ass’:

It’s a Roman novel…which was written in the second century of the Common Era. Apuleius was born in the reign of the Emperor Hadrian and died probably in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. So it’s about a man who gets turned into a donkey because he dabbles in magic rather foolishly and has a bit of bad luck, and becomes a donkey and can’t get out of it for some time.

Apuleius had enough empathy with a donkey to describe various forms of cruel treatment that donkeys were enduring in the Roman Empire…There’s a lot of empathy with animals. And that was certainly what first attracted me to it.


28 May 2021
Parent: Why I pulled my daughter out of antiracist school

Few books have had as great an impact on western society in the 21st century as Ibram X. Kendi’s ‘How to be an Antiracist‘. Published in 2019, the book argued that it was not enough to be neutral on racism: you had to be actively fighting it, otherwise you were on the side of the racists. Moderation meant complicity and silence equalled violence. Anyone who dared to challenge this mantra would be immediately cast as a racist.

Fast forward a year and now children as young as four-years-old are being conscripted into the fight. As part of the antiracist curriculum spreading through America’s schools, kindergarteners are being taught to draw their own skin tone correctly so that they are not labelled racist while others are taught to not hold the door open for disabled people because it could constitute a microaggression. These examples may sound so ridiculous as to borderline on fantasy, but the reality is all too real for parents like Andrew Gutmann, who recently pulled his daughter out of a prestigious $54,000 a year New York private school over its obsession with “woke” antiracist teaching.

Writing an open letter to the school, Mr Gutmann attacked the school for “insisting on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution”. In an interview with Freddie Sayers on LockdownTV, he explains why he was left with no choice but to take the “extreme” option and take his daughter out of school. 

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

24 May 2021
Sohrab Ahmari: Why conservatives need to fight
Sohrab Ahmari's new book makes a strong case for tradition — but ignores material reality, read the full review by Niall Gooch here on UnHerd: https://unherd.com/2021/05/what-conservatives-can-learn-from-marx/

20 May 2021
Nicholas Wade: the case for the Covid lab-leak theory

The so-called lab-leak hypothesis has been gaining more and more traction in recent months. Once dismissed as a crankish fringe theory, it has slowly been entering into mainstream scientific discussion ever since. Just this week, America’s CDC Director said that it was ‘possible’ that Covid could have leaked from a lab as ‘significant circumstantial evidence’ emerges. 

One writer who has made a significant contribution to the debate is Nicholas Wade, a former reporter at the New York Times, who recently self-published a piece detailing how the lab-leak theory isn’t just a possibility, it’s the most likely explanation. Though there is no definitive evidence for either theory, Wade argues that the key details are easier to explain within the context of a lab leak origin.

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

18 May 2021
Fired Apple employee: a reckoning is underway

Last week, tech giant Apple made headlines for the summary dismissal of one of its employees. Following a petition signed by over 2,000 Apple employees, the company decided to fire Antonio García Martínez, a senior ads engineer who had only just started, over comments he made in his 2016 book Chaos Monkeys. According to the petitioners, García Martínez had a “history of publishing overtly racist and sexist remarks” which “directly oppose Apple’s commitment to Inclusion & Diversity”.

The quote from the book that is regularly cited as proof of García Martínez's apparent sexism is below:

"Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit. They have their self-regarding entitlement feminism, and ceaselessly vaunt their independence, but the reality is, come the epidemic plague or foreign invasion, they’d become precisely the sort of useless baggage you’d trade for a box of shotgun shells or a jerry can of diesel."

But this quote has been taken out of context, which is crucial to understanding the deliberately over-the-top style of the passage. In the memoir, García Martínez writes about meeting a six foot tall British trader who is “an imposing, broad-shouldered presence, six feet tall in bare feet, and towering over me in heels,' who he compares favourably to other women in the Bay Area. But it is also a comparison with himself — a geeky tech engineer — which is why he was attracted to the strong British trader:

"British Trader, on the other hand, was the sort of woman who would end up a useful ally in that postapocalypse, doing whatever work—be it carpentry, animal husbandry, or a shotgun blast to someone’s back—required doing." In an interview with UnHerd, what García Martínez tells us what he finds so strange about his dismissal from Apple and why he believes that a reckoning is underway in Silicon Valley.

For more, read The Post from UnHerd

14 May 2021
Douglas Murray and Yanis Varoufakis: The EU is broken

As we approached the five year anniversary of the UK’s momentous vote to leave the European Union, UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers was joined by Yanis Varoufakis and Douglas Murray to assess whether the EU has done enough to deserve to survive. For more read The Post.

Our thanks to both Yanis and Douglas for a fascinating discussion. You can sign up HERE to make sure to attend the next members event.

13 May 2021
Amy Chua: Americans are now fearful of Asians

As the country’s ‘model-minority’, Asian-Americans have experienced different forms of discrimination compared to other ethnic groups, but the recent spate of Asian-American violence and rise in anti-China rhetoric has thrown this tension into sharper focus.

There is perhaps no public intellectual better equipped to give an insight into these issues than Amy Chua, a Law Professor at Yale and author of five books, including the famous book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’, which advocated strict Chinese-style parenting. Chua is the child of two ethnically Chinese parents, who emigrated from the Philippines to the US when she was a baby. She has written extensively about her Confuscian upbringing at home (respect for elders, deference to authority) as well as her schooling in America, both of which gave her a deeper understanding of the values that underpin those two countries.

10 May 2021
Tory Mayor Ben Houchen: Red wall voters aren't nostalgic

Freddie Sayers meets Teesside's newly re-elected Conservative mayor, Ben Houchen.

There's a stereotype of England's North-Eastern cities as left-behind, backward-facing, clinging to a long-gone industrial past. Some Labour politicians have even tried to play up to this image too, but it could not, says Teeside's newly re-elected mayor Ben Houchen, be further from the truth. According to Houchen, who won 73% of the Teeside vote in last week's by-election, voters in Hartlepool and Teesside aren't nostalgic, they are looking to the future. He plans to turn Teesside into the Silicon Valley of the UK.

#RedWall #BorisJohnson #Conservatives

30 Apr 2021
Matthew B Crawford: science has become corrupted

Freddie Sayers meets Matthew B. Crawford.

‘Following the science’ is a phrase that we have heard a lot of this year, but what does it actually mean? Over the past year, science has shifted from a mode of inquiry to a form of authority that you are not allowed to question in fear of being labelled ‘anti-science’. To understand how and why this has occurred, we spoke to philosopher and writer Matthew B. Crawford, who has a full-length piece in UnHerd on this very subject.

26 Apr 2021
John McWhorter: white people should stand up to antiracist ideologues

When John McWhorter, professor of Linguistics and American Studies at Columbia, described antiracism as America’s ‘new flawed religion’ in 2015, few could have imagined just how prescient that description would prove to be. Just this week, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi thanked George Floyd for “sacrificing his life for justice” while CEOs, celebrities, and other politicians all made versions of the same promise: the work was not done.

McWhorter, author of the upcoming book ‘Nine Nasty Words’ does not count himself as a follower of this new religion. does not count himself as a follower of this new religion. In fact, the professor has become one of its fiercest critics, tirelessly deconstructing the latest example of ‘woke craziness’ to illustrate its incoherence. With that in mind, we thought it was essential to get John’s opinion on the Derek Chauvin verdict and his thoughts on race relations in America more generally. We really enjoyed speaking to John and thank him for his time.

On the Derek Chauvin conviction: 'There is a sense in America that what this verdict was about was black people being killed by the cops. I see it as a victory about people being killed by the cops. And if it has to be a black case that galvanises change under that misconception, well, life isn’t perfect. But I am very happy about what happened to that man. And I’m very sad about what happened to George Floyd. But I’m equally sad about what happened to Tony Timpa, which was very similar, and Tony Timpa was very white, and it was only four years ago, and no one heard about it.' 

Did he get a fair trial?: 'If fairness requires a certain fear of the streets erupting — that’s not the way I would choreograph it — but maybe sometimes you have to break some eggs to make an omelette. The cop problem is real partly for a human, not race, reason….I think it’s a misperception that the cops are uniquely against black people, and that is the main obstacle to getting past race in the United States.' 

Is antiracism a religion?: 'It’s a religion — any martial anthropologist would recognise it as such. One of the oddest things is to see mathematicians and philosophers who’ve made their way through Plato, Kant and Kierkegaard, and then all of a sudden when they’re reasoning about Black Lives Matter, they exhibit the reasoning power of roughly an orangutan. Suddenly that’s considered sophisticated.' 

Giving up on the true believers: 'You can’t engage people like that… There is nothing you can do to talk somebody out of a religion. There’s no conversation to be had, it’s worthless. Some of them will say they want to have a conversation with you. But what they want is for you to learn from them. If there’s anything that they have to learn from you, it’s that they want to learn what your mental barriers are to understanding their truth.' 

His advice to white people: 'A lot of people need to have a little bit more of a backbone, and understand that this person who’s sitting there looking over their copy of “How To Be An Anti-Racist” and telling you that you’re a racist, let them. And then walk on because the world will keep spinning and you will keep existing. I think some white people need to have the courage of their convictions even about this thing called the race thing. And just say, “No, I’m not a racist. Maybe you are. And let’s now talk about football”. That we need more of.'  

On the elitism of antiracism: 'If you’re somebody who is more familiar with struggle or you have a kid in a bad school or you know what it’s like to live in a bad neighbourhood. In a way, this sort of thinking [antiracism] is going to be less congenial. And many people would say, “Well, it’s because you’re a racist”. No, it’s it’s not that. It’s that there is a certain luxury in thinking of black people in these abstractions.' 

On Ta-Nehisi Coates: 'There is a certain kind of person who builds their sense of significance in society on a victim role. A person can do that of any colour. It’s a personality type. With black Americans, one way that you do that is to focus on your victimhood or your people’s victimhood, at the hands of whites. It’s not that there isn’t racism. But the idea that what makes you special is your victimhood status in comparison to whites, that can become who you are. Coates is a good writer, but Coates is that kind of person.' 

On the n-word: 'I feel that it casts black people as hothouse flowers to a degree that I find condescending. And that’s not to say that people are supposed to run around using the word. But I think America had it about right as recently as about 1995. And since then, we’ve started to treat it in a way that I’m not sure was very productive. But that’s just me.' 

20 Apr 2021
Church leaders: vaccine passports are un-Christian

Over the weekend, over 1,200 church leaders from a range of denominations sent an open letter to the Prime Minister. It warned that vaccine passports raised serious ethical concerns and risked creating a ‘surveillance state’ that would ‘bring about the end of liberal democracy as we know it’. 

Earlier today, we spoke to two of the original signatories Dr. William Philip, of the Tron church in Glasgow, and Dr. Jamie Franklin, who is curator of St. George in the meadow in Nottingham. Both offered a scathing assessment of the vaccine passport plan and explained why they could not support it:

'When you say that there is a possibility that the government may try and force us to exclude people from churches on the basis of whether or not they’ve had a certain medical treatment, that crosses a line for lots and lots of sincere people.' - JAMIE FRANKLIN

'It’s impossible theologically for the Christian church to close its doors to those who have been branded by society as socially undesirable. It is absolutely anathema to the Christian gospel. It would be like the Lord Jesus Christ standing up and saying, ‘Well come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden, except those of you who are sick, blind, tax collectors and sinners — you’ve got to produce your passport’' - WILLIAM PHILIP

On the failures of the church:

'Many of us have been frustrated, both in the church and in society, with what we see is a considerable lack of Christian Leadership over the last 12 months. We feel that senior church leaders across all denominations have given an imprimatur to the dictates of the government and of the secular, unelected technocrats who appear to be running things at the moment. People are extremely frustrated with this.I’m a curate at the bottom of the food chain. I’ve only been ordained for less than two years. But there’s such a dearth of leadership that I felt like it was necessary for me to do something' - JAMIE FRANKLIN

'A Christian would never argue that physical health and protection is the ultimate thing. A Christian must say that eternal health is infinitely more important…And this is the problem: the message of the church collapsed into one of merely health and safety in a temporal way. It has entirely omitted speaking about hope and salvation. That is a catastrophic failure of the institutional church' - WILLIAM PHILIP

On the church’s hypocrisy:

'The Church of England bishops had absolutely no problem with denouncing Brexit in a very enthusiastic manner. So there is a justification for this, but it’s just an inconsistent justification…we’re not a thermometer simply telling the temperature of the culture but we’re a thermostat. We’re supposed to have an influence on the culture, not simply to follow the culture' - JAMIE FRANKLIN

On unvaccinated churchgoers:

'The crucial issue as far as Christian churches are concerned is: am I supposed to say no to somebody who doesn’t want a vaccine? Someone who is in obedience to their conscience? And, as they see it, in obedience to the commander, Jesus Christ? Am I to say to them, ‘Well, then you cannot come into the church of Jesus Christ, your obedience to Jesus prevents you from coming into worship?' - WILLIAM PHILIP

'As ministers of the gospel, our message is to not stay at home and stay safe. It is that the only salvation is Christ — he’s the only one who can save us from death. So if people want to take a vaccine because it will protect them and they feel it’s right for them, that’s great. But as ministers of the gospel, our message is that ultimately Jesus is our Saviour, and not a vaccine or indeed any medical treatment' - JAMIE FRANKLIN 

20 Apr 2021
Jesse Singal on the American obsession with fad psychology

Hear Jesse Singal discuss his latest book with Freddie Sayers

Further reading: The empty promise of pop psychology

16 Apr 2021
Did Sweden get Covid wrong?

This time a year ago, something extraordinary happened. Johan Giesecke, advisor to the Director General of the WHO, former Chief Scientist of the EU Centre for Disease Control, and former state epidemiologist of Sweden came out forcefully against lockdowns. The world was shutting down and he was the first voice to speak out so bluntly early in the pandemic.

He contended that the difference in infection and death rates between countries would “come out in the wash”, regardless of their lockdown policies and promised to return in a year’s time to review the evidence.

With typical Swedish punctuality, he returns to UnHerd — a day early. He is similarly gruff, but notably more cautious this time around, after a year-long fight which had become, in Sweden, just as political and personal as it had in the UK and America. The Swedish media has not spared the retired professor any criticism...

To read the rest of the article and to see the accompanying graphs click here

14 Apr 2021
Bridget Phetasy: the power of Big Tech is chilling

Around the world, California is romanticised as a glamorous haven of luxury and sunshine. But the reality, as we have been finding out, is quite different: rubbish stacked in the streets, a homelessness crisis, and an exodus of disillusioned residents. One of these disillusioned residents is Bridget Phetasy, a comedian, writer, podcaster and YouTuber based in Los Angeles, who has grown increasingly frustrated with her home state. California is in a ‘premageddon’, she fears, and that’s not just because of Gavin Newsom’s (the California governor who is up for recall) poor Covid response:

It’s a process that’s been happening for some time and it’s been accelerated by the pandemic and the lockdowns. I’ve been describing it as ‘premageddon’…It’s a little bit pre-apocalyptic or dystopian: you’re seeing increasing homelessness, which is tragic. And it’s also filthy because there’s garbage everywhere. It’s definitely not the Los Angeles I moved to in 2007 when I came back. 

On her vulnerability to Big Tech: 'I would rather be free than have to silo who I am, privately and publicly. But my biggest fear is when you see things like, for instance, what happened in the wake of the president being de-platformed from social media. He basically disappeared, almost like a technical mob hit…. That would be detrimental to me. I always joke that I’m just gonna keep talking until I can’t because I feel like you’re constantly avoiding like the Eye of Sauron.' 

On identity: 'I don’t think it’s great that everybody is so invested in making their entire identity about these immutable characteristics, or, in some cases, mutable characteristics, which I can’t get my mind around. Your sex, your gender, your ethnicity — this is what you build your entire world around instead of what gives you meaning beyond the traits that you were just born with. It just feels like we’re going backwards.' 

On the Left: 'The Left feels much more insidious to me than the Right, because it seems social… When I talk to people about why they’re self censoring, it’s because they feel like they can’t say certain things. And that’s not being enforced by the government yet, although we are headed in that direction in California. But it is being enforced socially…And then people are petrified of saying anything at work, and are being made to go to these kind of diversity and inclusion trainings, and they can’t say anything about whether or not they agree with the stuff.' 

On vaccine passports: 'What’s so shocking to me is how many people are okay with this. I can’t figure out if it’s just because people like being told what to do, or need to be told what to do. And then there’s a sense of self righteousness that goes along with that. So you’re basically following the lead and then you get to be arrogant and take the moral high ground.' 

09 Apr 2021
Sir Nicholas Soames: the values of Philip's generation are now far away

There are few families in Britain closer to the royal family than the family of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill. His grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, knew Prince Philip very well over a 60-year period and shared his thoughts on his passing in a special edition of LockdownTV.

“It’s a strange day, a day of reflection, and I hope people get him right," he told me. "The press, with that attention span for which they are famous, always talks about his ‘gaffes’ — his gaffes were that what you saw was what you got. He was an absolutely ram rod straight former naval officer, who didn’t have much time for sycophancy or bloody fools or anyone else, and spoke as he found. But he was essentially a man of great humour, he had tremendous wit and charm … and he held very strong views. This is not a mere figure.”

Sir Nicholas reflected on the values of the generation that the Duke of Edinburgh belonged to:

"One of the saddest things about Prince Philip dying — and about a lot of people who die of his generation — is that they are the last of a generation who people talk about slightly glibly, but they were the wartime generation. He did see active service, he knew what it was like to command in great difficulty and at hours of great danger... The values of his generation now feel quite far away. He wasn’t a sentimentalist, Prince Philip, but he was a tough egg... He was the epitome of the stiff upper lip. I mean that in the best sense of the word. It wasn’t that he didn’t share emotion in any way, but he was a great believer in picking yourself up and getting on with it.

I’ll tell you what I think we have lost, that his generation had — we’ve lost any sense of proportion about what goes on. Everything is bulled up into an enormous drama, but if you’ve lived in that generation you’ve lived through an era of profound upheaval. And you learned to distinguish between what was important and what wasn’t important. I think we’ve lost that now."

Sir Nicholas stressed that, as evidenced by Prince Philip's founding of St George's House centre for spiritual reflection at the chapel at Windsor Castle, "he was a thinker, and he was interested in the spiritual side of life."

But the reputation for straight talking was well-earned:

"He didn’t like bloody fools, and if he thought you were talking rubbish he told you… What you saw with Prince Philip was what you got. He was completely authentic as a human being. I think it must have been a great challenge when he first started as the Queen’s consort not to allow his own character to dominate. He was always in the Queen’s wake, and he supported her through thick and thin, through some terribly difficult times."

Sir Nicholas shared that Prince Philip would not have wanted a state funeral, even if Covid had not prevented one:

"I think people would have wanted in great numbers to come and show their respects to Prince Philip, and I think it’s very sad — and entirely correct and understandable — that there are going to have to be very special arrangements for the funeral, because after all the royal family will want to behave the same as anyone else. I understand the body will lie in state at Windsor before his burial and it is not going to be a great do… I know for a fact that Prince Philip did not want a state funeral, but there would have been an opportunity for the public to pay their respects, because he was greatly admired."

06 Apr 2021
Dave Rubin: why the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ split up

The group of thinkers now known as the “Intellectual Dark Web” — Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Bret and Eric Weinstein, Ben Shapiro — were convened in Dave Rubin’s garage and on his YouTube channel, The Rubin Report. And yet he has always suffered the accusation that he wasn’t a ‘real’ intellectual.

“What I thought and believe now that I am good at is that I can sit with these people and take a lot of that stuff and distil it into something that the average person can understand enough of. I love that space,” he told Freddie Sayers in a wide-ranging and philosophical discussion on LockdownTV.

He sees the old IDW gang as divided now along a crucial ideological split. There are those who believe the tools of liberalism can still be deployed to persuade the Woke Left to change their mind (he includes Bari Weiss, Sam Harris, Bret Weinstein in this group); and then there are those, like him, who have decided that it simply isn’t possible, and they’re better off building bridges with the Right: 'They’ve made what to me seems to be a very obvious fatal mistake, that you can use any of the tools of Liberalism — of open inquiry, freedom of speech, respect for your fellow human beings, individual rights — that you can use any of these things to rationalise with the monster that is coming to burn your house down. And that’s why we’ve seen in effect the liberals have no defence over this, which is why all the liberal institutions are crumbling.What I’m seeing, and I would say this is more me, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, is that there’s all sorts of bridges to be built the other way. If you would have told me five years ago that I would consider Dennis Prager and Glenn Beck and Larry Elder and many other conservatives not only friends but the type of intellectual that I want to be — I would be shocked.'

His hope is on the Right, and the long-term vision is of building parallel institutions to those controlled by the liberal Left: 'Maybe we’re just going to build parallel societies. I think that that may start to be — woke culture will have its own TV, apps and all their institutions, and then the rest of us will have a whole bunch of other stuff. But my money is on those guys building the right thing.' 

This vision of two parallel societies may come across as rather dispiriting for early fans of Rubin. After all, this was the host who brought together people of all different political stripes, namely the IDW, to talk things out on his show. Now he is advocating for the opposite. There was something genuinely counter-cultural about the way in which figures from the Reaganite Right all the way through to the progressive Left gathered under Dave’s roof to exchange and debate ideas, and it is a pity to see that disappear. Though Dave insists that there are “bridges to be built in the other way”, the gradual disintegration of the IDW feels like the end of an (albeit short-lived) era. Let’s hope the next one can provide us with something similar.

31 Mar 2021
Vermont Professor: I stand by my anti-whiteness video

Over the past year, the culture wars have been raging and one of the places where they have been fought most fiercely is on American college campuses. Efforts to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ and censor professors and students found to be deviating from progressive orthodoxy on identity issues have intensified, particularly on liberal college campuses.

Last week, another target was found, this time at the University of Vermont. After claiming to see ‘anti-whiteness’ spreading around campus, Professor Aaron Kindsvatter published a video denouncing the anti-racist agenda that reduced and discriminated against people on account of their skin colour. As a professor of counselling, Kindsvatter was especially concerned about the implementation of policy based on the work of Ibram X. Kendi, the author of ‘How to be an Antiracist’, into the counselling programme. Given that these students were training to be psycho-therapists, Kindsvatter notes, this “rigid” ideology would inform the basis of their work:

29 Mar 2021
Tim Pool on Joe Biden, Occupy and Big Tech

Online Lefty, liberal journalist, Right-wing podcaster and alt-Right adjacent. These are just some of the labels applied to Tim Pool, a YouTuber and citizen journalist who first rose to prominence in his coverage of the Occupy Movement nearly 10 years ago. That he’s been called all these different names is something of a badge of honour for Pool, whose heterodox opinions have led to criticism from all corners of the political spectrum.

26 Mar 2021
Tom Tugendhat: the Chinese Government sent letters to my home

Tom Tugendhat MP is Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and one of the five British MPs placed on a sanctions list yesterday by the Chinese Communist Party. He spoke to Freddie Sayers about what it means.

On the impact of sanctions on him personally

It doesn’t affect me at all, really, because I have no interests in China, either personal or professional. So for me, it’s not significant. But what this is, is an attempt to intimidate British business people, intimidate British politicians and, by the way, intimidate many other people around the world. This is an attempt to bully and I hope it will be seen for exactly what it is.

These are Chinese rights, not Western rights

I think we need to stand up for human rights as set out by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which is not a Western imposition. Those human rights were written by P.C. Chang, a Chinese diplomat. These are Chinese rights that we’re standing up for. And it’s quite something that the Chinese Communist Party is the organisation that is looking to condemn the Chinese citizenry to hardship and its non Chinese powers that are looking to stand up for the Chinese people.

‘Guarding the guards’ over Covid restrictions

I know the government got extra powers, which allow it to go until six months time, but it needs to lift them the moment that that is reasonable to do so which I hope, according to the government’s own timelines will be around the 21st of June. So I think that, you know, there is certainly a job of guarding the guards for members of parliament today and powerful speeches by people like Charles Walker yesterday, and and indeed many others on all sides of the house were very important to listen to, but I don’t think it’s quite the same parallel.

On personal harassment by the Chinese state

I’ve had letters sent to my home, which is a sort of a ‘we know where you live’ type of message by people in mainland China and friends of mine in agencies have been quite clear as to who they believe has done it. And I’ve had fake email addresses set up in my name and sent out messages to people like you often claiming all sorts of extraordinary and spurious claims… There’s absolutely no doubt that in a tyrannical state like China, these are not the actions of free citizens. These are the actions of the Chinese state. There’s no doubt about it at all. And speaking to internet providers, it’s absolutely clear, who has been doing it, there’s really no doubt at all.

‘Minor irritation’

The Chinese state has been doing this to its own people for 50 years — it’s hardly surprising that it’s now doing it to people it considers a nuisance overseas. The reality is that the Chinese government runs an extremely aggressive totalitarian regime with which it seeks to silence dissent. It has some of the largest numbers of people in prison, it has some of the highest capital punishment rates in the world, it executes in prisons in order to achieve its aims. And it intimidates in order to attempt to silence beforehand. And you know, the fact that I’m getting some minor irritation, it shouldn’t be here or there.

25 Mar 2021
Spermageddon: are humans going extinct?

Is the human race on the verge of extinction? That’s the jaw-dropping claim made in Professor Shanna Swan’s new book ‘Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race’. According to the book, sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973 and suggests that they could reach zero by 2045, which would mean no more reproduction and no more babies.

This is a worrying discovery, particularly as one of the central drivers of this trend is modernity itself; Swann argues that chemicals, ranging from ATM receipts to Tupperware plastic, in the modern environment are altering —and endangering — human sexual development, and is getting worse by the year.

Even if you find this argument a little too extreme (as UnHerd columnist Tom Chivers does), Prof Swan is certainly worth listening to. Having devoted over 20 years of her career to the study of sperm, the epidemiologist is about as well-credentialed as they come and has made a fascinating contribution to the debate. We thank Prof Swan for her time and hope you enjoy the discussion. Key quotes below:

On plummeting sperm count:

What we found was that sperm count had to climb dramatically over the preceding 40 years, and was at a point where nearly half of men would be entering that range of sperm count, which is associated with sub-fertility at least. We didn’t see any indication that the slope of that line had levelled off, so that when we looked at the data restricting it to the past 30 years, 20 years, 10 years, you might hope that it would be flattening out. But we didn’t see any indication of that, which is alarming, because if it were to continue on its present course — that’s a difficult thing to project — but just mathematically, if you’ve extended the line, it does hit zero in 2045. So that’s the median sperm count, that means half of men would have no sperm. 

18 Mar 2021
Debate: are vaccine passports necessary?

Are vaccine passports the fastest way back to normality or do they bring us a step closer towards a dystopian checkpoint state?

On today’s LockdownTV, Freddie Sayers heard from both sides of the debate. Making the case for vaccine passports was Kirsty Innes, Head of Digital Government for the Tony Blair Institute, whose recent paper called for the implementation of what she called ‘digital health passports’. Innes argues that, by using a QR code on people’s phones that shows a tick or cross indicator, passports would make it easier to “manage the risk” of the virus in certain settings (pubs, stadiums, care homes etc).

This, according to Silkie Carlo, Director of Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties group, is “alarming”. She warned that this kind of discrimination between the vaccinated and unvaccinated would lead to a “segregated surveillance society” that takes a big step towards mandatory vaccines. Given that Britain has administered 25 million doses, mostly to its vulnerable population, that should be a reason to liberalise — not clamp down on — society.

10 Mar 2021
Paul Kingsnorth: science can never replace the mythic

Paul Kingsnorth doesn’t fit neatly into Left or Right — which is only one of the reasons we consider him one of the more interesting thinkers of our time. He has been talking and writing about nature for over 25 years, and during that period he has developed a his own self-reliant, localised form of environmentalism.

Formerly a climate activist, Paul grew disaffected with the movement when he came to the realisation that “economic monster” that enveloped the world was too great to fight against. Instead, he channelled his energies into writing books, essays, novels and poetry, all of which have been hugely influential in the way we view our relationship with the modern world and its maladies.

In his own life, he has tried to “secede from the system” as much as possible by living on his own farmstead out in western Ireland in county Galway. While he admits that it is impossible to fully withdraw from the world, small acts of resistance — whether they are using an unconnected compost loo or refusing to use a smartphone — allows him to “jump off the treadmill”. His recent conversion to Christianity came as a surprise, not least to Paul, and it gave him a deeper appreciation of the importance of limits and humility. Below are some excerpts from this enthralling interview:

04 Mar 2021
Lord Sumption: mass civil disobedience has begun

Jonathan Sumption was once the epitome of the Establishment — a brilliant barrister who represented the Government in the Hutton enquiry, Supreme Court Justice, supporter of the Remain campaign and esteemed historian of the Hundred Years’ War. But then Covid happened.

Over the past year, his unabashed criticism of lockdown policies has turned him into something of a renegade. It is a development that mystifies him; as he sees it, his views have always been mainstream liberal, and it is the world around that has changed.

In the course of our conversation, the retired judge doesn’t hold back. He asserts that it is becoming morally acceptable to ignore Covid regulations, and even warns that a campaign of “civil disobedience” has already begun.

You can read more about what he really thinks here.

26 Feb 2021
Darren McGarvey: Class, not identity, should drive politics

Class is a subject that, no matter how much we advance as a society, we seem unable to stop talking about — especially in the UK. Glasgow rapper Darren McGarvey, otherwise known as Loki, has been thinking a lot about it for a new documentary series on the BBC. Over the years, Loki has developed a reputation for scathing social commentaries through his music and writing; three years ago he published a book, Poverty Safari, detailing the rapper’s working class upbringing in Scotland and winning the Orwell Prize in the process.

24 Feb 2021
Politicians of Left and Right join forces to question lockdowns
One of the main features of the UK lockdowns has been the near-uniform consensus around them. As each one has gone by, cross-party support for lockdowns has only strengthened while fewer voices have been willing to offer anything in the way of dissent. There have been exceptions on both sides of the aisle: Lord (David) Blunkett, a famous figure of the New Labour era and former Home Secretary, and Sir Charles Walker, a prominent Conservative Party backbencher and vice chairman of the 1922 Committee, the all-important backbencher group.

19 Feb 2021
Claire Lehmann: Australia is the canary in the Facebook coal mine

Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a difficult decision to make. Incoming legislation in Australia meant that social media platforms like his were going to be forced to pay news providers to new content. How was he going to respond? Quite aggressively, it would seem. Not only did he instantly pull all news content from Facebook Australia, but he did so overnight — without any warning — before the law even came into effect.

So where does this leave news providers and online sites Down Under? Earlier today, Freddie Sayers spoke to Quillette’s founding editor Claire Lehmann, who joined us from Sydney, to give us a clearer understanding of what this means for publications like hers.

16 Feb 2021
Government scientist: dystopian talk of ‘new normal’ scares me

When is life going to go back to normal? That’s the question on everyone’s lips and one that Government ministers have — so far— been reluctant to answer. It was hoped that the advent of a vaccine would lead to a loosening of restrictions, but as things stand the country will be in full lockdown for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile there is a growing campaign among some parts of the ZeroCovid campaign for keeping certain restrictions in place permanently.

One scientist who stands firmly against this proposal is Dr Michael Tildesley, an epidemiologist from the University of Warwick. Dr Tildesley is a formal advisor to the Government, on SPI-M or the “scientific pandemic influenza group on modelling”, which feeds into SAGE, the government scientific committee. While Dr Tildesley favours a slow and gradual loosening of restrictions, he is adamant that keeping restrictive measures in place forever is “very, very scary” and verging on “dystopian”.

#Covid-19 #ZeroCovid #lockdown

11 Feb 2021
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Covid will change the immigration question forever

It is hard to think of a more sensitive topic than the connection between sexual violence against women and the surge in immigration from Muslim countries into Europe since 2015. But then, it is hard to think of a more credible person to address it than Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who herself began life in Somalia and ended up claiming asylum in the Netherlands to escape a forced marriage.

In this fascinating interview, Ayaan discusses how the pandemic will effect the West’s view of immigration:

'There’s a sense that when it comes to immigration, we were told, well, we can’t do this, because it’s going to violate our civil rights. We are liberal societies. And as liberal societies, there are things we can’t do you know, deportations, closing borders, this, that and the other. And now with COVID, what are we doing? We’re closing borders, we’re constraining our civil liberties. We’re having lockdown after lockdown. And so I think even after COVID has passed (us if it’s ever passed us), I think voters are going to think wait a second, you subjected us to all of these things. So you can’t make those arguments afterwards.' 

03 Feb 2021
Roger Hallam: the conservative case for Extinction Rebelllion

As the Conservative government prepares to host the COP26 climate summit, famous environmental campaigner and co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, Roger Hallam, has a message he wants people to hear: his movement is not just for woke students and the radical Left.

In an eye-opening interview, he tells Freddie Sayers about the importance of the nation-state, social conservatism, local community, and how he wants church leaders and ex-police officers in his movement. His pitch, in short, is that philosophical conservatives should not be afraid to embrace radical environmentalism:

'There’s a certain amount of cowardice amongst social conservatives, that they see this culture war, and they don’t want to make that step that I’m making today in talking to you. I want social conservatives to step forward and say, ‘Yes, I’m going to sit on an XR platform’. And as a social conservative, you know, as an ex-police officer, as a church leader, right? And say, ‘Yes, I don’t agree with your culture. But I agree with the moral imperative, that at this time in history, we have to start going above and beyond our sectional interest’. And I think that’s a key element of social conservatism at its best, which is to put the national interest, the interest of the whole of society above the sectional or cultural interest.' 

29 Jan 2021
Teachers speak out: is closing schools immoral?

For much of the past year, across Europe and the wider world, schools have been closed. Was this a morally justifiable policy?

Freddie Sayers spoke to teachers and one former teacher, now MP, to find out: what is the reality on the ground? What is the impact on children’s lives? At the end of it do we think it was the right decision? Katharine Birbalsingh, Headmistress of the Michaela Community School in northwest London. Miriam Cates MP, Conservative MP and former science teacher and Alex Gutentag, a public school teacher from Oakland in California.

Each of them comes to a different conclusion but they agree on one thing: the impact on children of such an extended period of school closures is very grave.

Many thanks to Katharine, Miriam and Alex for sharing their thoughts so candidly.


21 Jan 2021
Sacked Eton teacher: I stand by my Patriarchy lecture

When teacher Will Knowland was sacked by Eton for refusing to take down a lecture from his YouTube account, his departure sparked furious debate. The lecture, ‘The Patriarchy Paradox’, argued that the difference between the two sexes were not social constructions, but due to biological differences too.

To its critics, the video was deemed offensive and sexist for espousing such a retrograde view of masculinity. But to Knowland and his supporters, whether the content was offensive or not was secondary to the video’s broader purpose: that these ideas, however provocative they may be, are fair game for discussion and debate.

That this incident occurred at the world’s most prestigious school — home to over 20 British Prime Ministers (including the current one) and princes William and Harry — has only served to fuel the controversy further.

The story caught our eye because it’s an intriguing case study of the nexus between elite institutions, competing visions of masculine virtue and the limits of acceptable ideas. It’s clear that Knowland sees himself as more than just a teacher looking to provoke his pupils but also a custodian of Eton’s traditions, which he sees as being under threat:

'I felt that my duty to uphold Eton’s very long rich tradition of encouraging independent critical thoughts and having broad based debate was being called into question. Why should we stop boys from watching this even in their own time? People should be allowed to make up their own minds about it' - Will Knowland

Knowland believes that a liberal education, should create an environment in which a full range of ideas should be discussed, which he fears is slipping away:

'I think, watching the way in which debate had been narrowed over the last five years or so, particularly on this topic at an all boys school struck me as slightly strange. And if you’re an all boys school, and you can’t have a rigorous open discussion of masculinity, as informed by anthropology, and psychology, I think something is going wrong. And if the reason for that is that it might upset a member of staff, then you’re heading in the safespace direction. And I think that if Eton can’t resist that, which is a threat, that is, I think it’s fair to say permeating the wider culture, if Eton, can’t resist that then I think very few places have got a chance of doing so' -  Will Knowland

But was sacrificing a job that he held for nine years worth it?

'Well, I knew I was taking a risk making a stand on a point of principle. But as far as I see it, it’s a point of principle that is essential to the identity of the college, and also essential to what a liberal education is all about. So there’s a sense in which, if I’d allowed that, my job already wouldn’t have been as valuable to me. I mean, there are people who might say, you stay in it just for the money, but any teacher who’s in teaching for the money is very easily bought. And I think that there are more important things than that. And there’s a sense in which I’d lost my job even before I was sacked' - Will Knowland

Giving up your job on principle might be one thing, but choosing to do so over a contentious and factually dubious YouTube lecture may be another. We’ll leave it to you to decide, but thanks to Will for his time.

Watch the video version of the podcast here

Watch Will Knowland's video 'The Patriarchy Paradox' here.

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