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#TheStateOfBritain

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Should the UK leave the Commonwealth?

The Commonwealth of Nations is home to 2.6 billion people and comprises 54 member states, most (but not all) with links to the former British Empire. The Queen has been head of the Commonwealth for more than seven decades, and Prince Charles has been agreed, in principle at least, as her successor. But as the UK considers the next chapter of the monarchy, would the Commonwealth be better off without the UK in it? Only 9% of UK trade is with the Commonwealth – despite all the talk of it being a major trading opportunity post-Brexit. With our greater understanding of the long-term impact of colonialism, is our continued involvement in the Commonwealth just an attempt to paper over the cracks caused by Britain’s imperial past, or do we still have a responsibility to be involved? editor and invited experts Jeevan VasagarClimate Editor Dr Sue OnslowDirector & Reader in Commonwealth History, Institute of Commonwealth Studies Kojo KoramLecturer at the School of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London Lord HowellFormer President of the Royal Commonwealth Society; Chairman of the Council of Commonwealth Societies

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Does the UK have enough nukes?

Despite the UK’s commitments to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), last year the Johnson government announced that Britain will to grow its nuclear capability by up to 40%, equivalent to 260 warheads, citing risks from nuclear-armed states, emerging nuclear states and state-sponsored nuclear terrorism. The argument being that a nuclear deterrent is needed to guarantee the UK’s security and that of its allies.Opponents say that nuclear powers like the UK should use their influence to strengthen international arms control agreements and reduce – not increase – the number of nuclear weapons in existence. Do these steps by Johnson undermine the NPT?Renewing Trident will cost an eye-watering £130billion. Is it worth it? Can we afford it? Or is it the cost of maintaining peace in an uncertain world?  editor and invited experts Giles WhittellSensemaker Editor Dr Andrew CorbettFormer Trident Captain and Author of ‘Supreme Emergency: How Britain Lives with the Bomb’ Dr Hassan ElbahtimyDirector, Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) Dr Rebecca Eleanor JohnsonAcronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy

thinkin

Should the UK leave the Commonwealth?

The Commonwealth of Nations is home to 2.6 billion people and comprises 54 member states, most (but not all) with links to the former British Empire. The Queen has been head of the Commonwealth for more than seven decades, and Prince Charles has been agreed, in principle at least, as her successor. But as the UK considers the next chapter of the monarchy, would the Commonwealth be better off without the UK in it? Only 9% of UK trade is with the Commonwealth – despite all the talk of it being a major trading opportunity post-Brexit. With our greater understanding of the long-term impact of colonialism, is our continued involvement in the Commonwealth just an attempt to paper over the cracks caused by Britain’s imperial past, or do we still have a responsibility to be involved? editor and invited experts Jeevan VasagarClimate Editor Dr Sue OnslowDirector & Reader in Commonwealth History, Institute of Commonwealth Studies Kojo KoramLecturer at the School of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London Lord HowellFormer President of the Royal Commonwealth Society; Chairman of the Council of Commonwealth Societies

thinkin

Does the UK have enough nukes?

Despite the UK’s commitments to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), last year the Johnson government announced that Britain will to grow its nuclear capability by up to 40%, equivalent to 260 warheads, citing risks from nuclear-armed states, emerging nuclear states and state-sponsored nuclear terrorism. The argument being that a nuclear deterrent is needed to guarantee the UK’s security and that of its allies.Opponents say that nuclear powers like the UK should use their influence to strengthen international arms control agreements and reduce – not increase – the number of nuclear weapons in existence. Do these steps by Johnson undermine the NPT?Renewing Trident will cost an eye-watering £130billion. Is it worth it? Can we afford it? Or is it the cost of maintaining peace in an uncertain world?  editor and invited experts Giles WhittellSensemaker Editor Dr Andrew CorbettFormer Trident Captain and Author of ‘Supreme Emergency: How Britain Lives with the Bomb’ Dr Hassan ElbahtimyDirector, Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) Dr Rebecca Eleanor JohnsonAcronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy

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What do we owe each other now? A ThinkIn with Minouche Shafik

This is a newsroom ThinkIn. In-person and digital-only tickets are available.Anger manifested in polarised politics, culture wars and intergenerational tensions over climate change have revealed great disaffection in recent years. Minouche Shafik argues that this widespread discontent stems from the failure of existing social contracts to deliver on people’s expectations for both security and opportunity. How should society pool risks, share resources and balance the individual with collective responsibility?Join us for a ThinkIn with the director of the London School of Economics and author of What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract, where she will draw on evidence from across the globe to identify the key principles every society must adopt if it is to meet the challenges of the coming century. We will be asking her and our members the age old question: what do we owe each other? editor and invited experts James HardingCo-Founder and Editor Minouche ShafikDirector of London School of Economics and Political Science and Author of ‘What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract’

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Britain’s productivity crisis: what is the solution?

“We are limiting the use of electricity by almost all factories, shops and offices to three days a week.”Ted Heath, UK Prime Minister 1970-1974 The Three Day Week. In a different context it might sound appealing. But back in 1974 they weren’t too happy about it.  That was the last time Britain experienced organised blackouts. Strikes by coal miners and railway workers meant that not enough electricity was being generated to keep the power on. Businesses were ordered to limit electricity use to three consecutive days. Essential services, such as hospitals, supermarkets and newspaper printers, were exempt. The restrictions lasted for 66 days. Now, Britain’s facing another energy crisis and with it, the prospect of the lights going off this winter. “A perfect storm of cold weather and gas shortages could lead to the necessity of organised blackouts.”TalkTV Under the government’s latest “reasonable worst-case scenario” officials say that the UK could experience four days of intermittent power. But that’s dependent on several things not going our way. One is the weather. Here’s David Jenkins, an energy expert at Heriot Watt University: “If we have a very cold winter, with generally very low wind speeds, and then we have the escalation of problems in Russia, it’s the combination of all these factors. And that’s why it’s so difficult to predict.”Professor David Jenkins, Heriot Watt University A cold winter would strain gas supplies because 80 per cent of UK homes are heated using the fuel, while a lack of wind would mean less of Britain’s power is generated from renewables. That would mean burning even more gas to generate enough electricity. A problem is gas supplies are limited.  The other factor is Europe. Throughout this year the UK has been shipping record amounts of gas to the continent on the understanding that countries will return the favour when it starts to get cold. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has kicked off an intense, worldwide competition for natural gas shipments, and some countries, for example Norway, are already looking at ways to limit power exports this winter. it’s important to say though, that even if we have an extreme winter, complete blackouts aren’t expected. Here’s Professor Jim Watson, Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources: “They may need to do some kind of what they call demand management. It might be certain customers or certain areas, probably industry first, rather than households, that would be asked to reduce their demand. But the idea of a blackout where nobody has electricity, I think would be very, very unlikely.”Professor Jim Watson, University College London In other words, any blackouts would likely be organised, not random. The government would have to decide who gets energy, and when. And industry would probably be forced to take a hit. It’s yet another item on the new prime minister’s list of problems. And experts say that Liz Truss’s decision to freeze everyone’s energy bills could make blackouts more likely. That’s because some people will be less likely to reduce their energy use, because they know their bills will be fixed once they reach a certain amount. And that could mean more shortages. So what more can the government do? *** During her campaign to become Conservative Party leader Liz Truss said she was against the idea of energy rationing in the UK this winter. Here she is at a hustings hosted by LBC presenter Nick Ferrari: Nick Ferrari: “You’ll be aware in France they’ve talked about the possibility of energy rationing, can you rule that out Liz Truss?”Liz Truss: “I do rule that out, yes.”Conservative leadership hustings But in recent days, there are rumours that she has started drawing up plans for a public information campaign to encourage people to save energy. Reducing consumption at peak times – typically from 4pm to 7pm – could mean asking people to turn down their thermostats or do their washing overnight. Just like it did in the 1970s, the government would be asking people to conserve what they can. “You can get by with less. Switch off some power. Now.”Government public information announcement, 1973 For ministers in Liz Truss’s government – many of whom are deeply wedded to the idea that the state shouldn’t interfere in people’s lives – it’s a big change. But they may have no choice. In Europe, they’re already rolling out energy saving plans: the city of Cologne is dimming street lights by 30 per cent at night. In Normandy, schools are heating classrooms by burning wood in order to avoid using natural gas.  Britain, if it wants to avoid that “worst case scenario” of four days without power, needs to do something similar. Even if it means this government sacrificing ideology for energy. Today’s episode was written by Barney Macintyre and mixed by Xavier Greenwood.

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Is Britain unravelling?

“We are limiting the use of electricity by almost all factories, shops and offices to three days a week.”Ted Heath, UK Prime Minister 1970-1974 The Three Day Week. In a different context it might sound appealing. But back in 1974 they weren’t too happy about it.  That was the last time Britain experienced organised blackouts. Strikes by coal miners and railway workers meant that not enough electricity was being generated to keep the power on. Businesses were ordered to limit electricity use to three consecutive days. Essential services, such as hospitals, supermarkets and newspaper printers, were exempt. The restrictions lasted for 66 days. Now, Britain’s facing another energy crisis and with it, the prospect of the lights going off this winter. “A perfect storm of cold weather and gas shortages could lead to the necessity of organised blackouts.”TalkTV Under the government’s latest “reasonable worst-case scenario” officials say that the UK could experience four days of intermittent power. But that’s dependent on several things not going our way. One is the weather. Here’s David Jenkins, an energy expert at Heriot Watt University: “If we have a very cold winter, with generally very low wind speeds, and then we have the escalation of problems in Russia, it’s the combination of all these factors. And that’s why it’s so difficult to predict.”Professor David Jenkins, Heriot Watt University A cold winter would strain gas supplies because 80 per cent of UK homes are heated using the fuel, while a lack of wind would mean less of Britain’s power is generated from renewables. That would mean burning even more gas to generate enough electricity. A problem is gas supplies are limited.  The other factor is Europe. Throughout this year the UK has been shipping record amounts of gas to the continent on the understanding that countries will return the favour when it starts to get cold. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has kicked off an intense, worldwide competition for natural gas shipments, and some countries, for example Norway, are already looking at ways to limit power exports this winter. it’s important to say though, that even if we have an extreme winter, complete blackouts aren’t expected. Here’s Professor Jim Watson, Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources: “They may need to do some kind of what they call demand management. It might be certain customers or certain areas, probably industry first, rather than households, that would be asked to reduce their demand. But the idea of a blackout where nobody has electricity, I think would be very, very unlikely.”Professor Jim Watson, University College London In other words, any blackouts would likely be organised, not random. The government would have to decide who gets energy, and when. And industry would probably be forced to take a hit. It’s yet another item on the new prime minister’s list of problems. And experts say that Liz Truss’s decision to freeze everyone’s energy bills could make blackouts more likely. That’s because some people will be less likely to reduce their energy use, because they know their bills will be fixed once they reach a certain amount. And that could mean more shortages. So what more can the government do? *** During her campaign to become Conservative Party leader Liz Truss said she was against the idea of energy rationing in the UK this winter. Here she is at a hustings hosted by LBC presenter Nick Ferrari: Nick Ferrari: “You’ll be aware in France they’ve talked about the possibility of energy rationing, can you rule that out Liz Truss?”Liz Truss: “I do rule that out, yes.”Conservative leadership hustings But in recent days, there are rumours that she has started drawing up plans for a public information campaign to encourage people to save energy. Reducing consumption at peak times – typically from 4pm to 7pm – could mean asking people to turn down their thermostats or do their washing overnight. Just like it did in the 1970s, the government would be asking people to conserve what they can. “You can get by with less. Switch off some power. Now.”Government public information announcement, 1973 For ministers in Liz Truss’s government – many of whom are deeply wedded to the idea that the state shouldn’t interfere in people’s lives – it’s a big change. But they may have no choice. In Europe, they’re already rolling out energy saving plans: the city of Cologne is dimming street lights by 30 per cent at night. In Normandy, schools are heating classrooms by burning wood in order to avoid using natural gas.  Britain, if it wants to avoid that “worst case scenario” of four days without power, needs to do something similar. Even if it means this government sacrificing ideology for energy. Today’s episode was written by Barney Macintyre and mixed by Xavier Greenwood.

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Is levelling up a myth?

“We are limiting the use of electricity by almost all factories, shops and offices to three days a week.”Ted Heath, UK Prime Minister 1970-1974 The Three Day Week. In a different context it might sound appealing. But back in 1974 they weren’t too happy about it.  That was the last time Britain experienced organised blackouts. Strikes by coal miners and railway workers meant that not enough electricity was being generated to keep the power on. Businesses were ordered to limit electricity use to three consecutive days. Essential services, such as hospitals, supermarkets and newspaper printers, were exempt. The restrictions lasted for 66 days. Now, Britain’s facing another energy crisis and with it, the prospect of the lights going off this winter. “A perfect storm of cold weather and gas shortages could lead to the necessity of organised blackouts.”TalkTV Under the government’s latest “reasonable worst-case scenario” officials say that the UK could experience four days of intermittent power. But that’s dependent on several things not going our way. One is the weather. Here’s David Jenkins, an energy expert at Heriot Watt University: “If we have a very cold winter, with generally very low wind speeds, and then we have the escalation of problems in Russia, it’s the combination of all these factors. And that’s why it’s so difficult to predict.”Professor David Jenkins, Heriot Watt University A cold winter would strain gas supplies because 80 per cent of UK homes are heated using the fuel, while a lack of wind would mean less of Britain’s power is generated from renewables. That would mean burning even more gas to generate enough electricity. A problem is gas supplies are limited.  The other factor is Europe. Throughout this year the UK has been shipping record amounts of gas to the continent on the understanding that countries will return the favour when it starts to get cold. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has kicked off an intense, worldwide competition for natural gas shipments, and some countries, for example Norway, are already looking at ways to limit power exports this winter. it’s important to say though, that even if we have an extreme winter, complete blackouts aren’t expected. Here’s Professor Jim Watson, Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources: “They may need to do some kind of what they call demand management. It might be certain customers or certain areas, probably industry first, rather than households, that would be asked to reduce their demand. But the idea of a blackout where nobody has electricity, I think would be very, very unlikely.”Professor Jim Watson, University College London In other words, any blackouts would likely be organised, not random. The government would have to decide who gets energy, and when. And industry would probably be forced to take a hit. It’s yet another item on the new prime minister’s list of problems. And experts say that Liz Truss’s decision to freeze everyone’s energy bills could make blackouts more likely. That’s because some people will be less likely to reduce their energy use, because they know their bills will be fixed once they reach a certain amount. And that could mean more shortages. So what more can the government do? *** During her campaign to become Conservative Party leader Liz Truss said she was against the idea of energy rationing in the UK this winter. Here she is at a hustings hosted by LBC presenter Nick Ferrari: Nick Ferrari: “You’ll be aware in France they’ve talked about the possibility of energy rationing, can you rule that out Liz Truss?”Liz Truss: “I do rule that out, yes.”Conservative leadership hustings But in recent days, there are rumours that she has started drawing up plans for a public information campaign to encourage people to save energy. Reducing consumption at peak times – typically from 4pm to 7pm – could mean asking people to turn down their thermostats or do their washing overnight. Just like it did in the 1970s, the government would be asking people to conserve what they can. “You can get by with less. Switch off some power. Now.”Government public information announcement, 1973 For ministers in Liz Truss’s government – many of whom are deeply wedded to the idea that the state shouldn’t interfere in people’s lives – it’s a big change. But they may have no choice. In Europe, they’re already rolling out energy saving plans: the city of Cologne is dimming street lights by 30 per cent at night. In Normandy, schools are heating classrooms by burning wood in order to avoid using natural gas.  Britain, if it wants to avoid that “worst case scenario” of four days without power, needs to do something similar. Even if it means this government sacrificing ideology for energy. Today’s episode was written by Barney Macintyre and mixed by Xavier Greenwood.

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Building Back Better: have the UK’s infrastructure priorities changed?

Breakfast ThinkIn: how do we build our way out of this crisis? Our daily digital ThinkIns are exclusively for Tortoise members and their guests.Try Tortoise free for four weeks to unlock your complimentary tickets to all our digital ThinkIns.If you’re already a member and looking for your ThinkIn access code you can find it in the My Tortoise > My Membership section of the app next to ‘ThinkIn access code’.We’d love you to join us.Infrastructure investment was a key part of the government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda. But that was before C19 hit. If the way we live and work is set to change for good, are our pre-virus assumptions about what we need in terms of energy and transport still true? How should major infrastructure projects be funded now? How can they be greener, faster and create more jobs? And how are these decisions best made?Editor: Matt d’Ancona, Editor and Partner, Tortoise `This ThinkIn is in partnership with EDF.Our invited experts include: Jesse Norman MP, Conservative MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire from 2010, Financial Secretary to the Treasury from May 2019.Colin Matthews, Non-Executive Chairman of EDF in the UK, and former Chair of Highways England and Chair of the Highways Agency.Tristia Harrison, CEO TalkTalk.How does a digital ThinkIn work?A digital ThinkIn is like a video conference, hosted by a Tortoise editor, that takes place at the advertised time of the event. Digital ThinkIns are new to Tortoise. Now that our newsroom has closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, we feel it’s more important than ever that we ‘get together’ to talk about the world and what’s going on.The link to join the conversation will be emailed to you after you have registered for your ticket to attend. When you click the link, you enter the digital ThinkIn and can join a live conversation from wherever you are in the world. Doors open at 7:55am for a welcome and briefing. Come early to get settled, meet the team and chat to other members. ThinkIn starts at 8.00am.Members can enter their unique members’ access code to book tickets. Find yours in My Tortoise > My Membership in the Tortoise app.If you have any questions or get stuck, please read our FAQs, or get in touch with us at memberhelp@tortoisemedia.com What is a Tortoise ThinkIn?A ThinkIn is not another panel discussion. It is a forum for civilised disagreement. It is a place where everyone has a seat at the (virtual) table. It’s where we get to hear what you think, drawn from your experience, energy and expertise. It is the heart of what we do at Tortoise.How we work with partners We want to be open about the business model of our journalism, too. At Tortoise, we don’t take ads. We don’t want to chase eyeballs or sell data. We don’t want to add to the clutter of life with ever more invasive ads. We think that ads force newsrooms to produce more and more stories, more and more quickly. We want to do less, better.Our journalism is funded by our members and our partners. We are establishing Founding Partnerships with a small group of businesses willing to back a new form of journalism, enable the public debate, share their expertise and communicate their point of view. Those companies, of course, know that we are a journalistic enterprise. Our independence is non-negotiable. If we ever have to choose between the relationship and the story, we’ll always choose the story.We value the support that those partners give us to deliver original reporting, patient investigations and considered analysis.We believe in opening up journalism so we can examine issues and develop ideas for the 21st Century. We want to do this with our members and with our partners. We want to give everyone a seat at the table.

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Tortoise ThinkIn with Cash Carraway: the truth about austerity today

A writer with first hand experience talks about life in the gutter of austerity Our daily digital ThinkIns are exclusively for Tortoise members and their guests.Try Tortoise free for four weeks to unlock your complimentary tickets to all our digital ThinkIns.If you’re already a member and looking for your ThinkIn access code you can find it in the My Tortoise > My Membership section of the app next to ‘ThinkIn access code’.We’d love you to join us.In her extraordinary first book, Skint Estate, Cash Carraway details the day-to-day realities of living in poverty in the UK between 2010-2019. Bringing poetry and humour to the starkest of circumstances – staying in a women’s refuge whilst pregnant, working in peepshows, visiting food banks and suffering domestic violence – Cash’s heart-wrenching account is moving and inspiring in equal parts, told with dark wit and resilience. Cash takes us from council house childhood to single motherhood, working multiple jobs yet relying on food banks and temporary accommodation, finding lifelines in her love for her daughter, community and friendships. Skint Estate is a call-to-action, shedding light on what life is like for millions of people living in poverty in the UK today.Chair: Liz Moseley, Editor and Partner, Tortoise Buy the book here Our special guest is: Cash Carraway, an award-winning playwright, author and screenwriter from London. How does a digital ThinkIn work?A digital ThinkIn is like a video conference, hosted by a Tortoise editor, that takes place at the advertised time of the event. Digital ThinkIns are new to Tortoise. Now that our newsroom has closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, we feel it’s more important than ever that we ‘get together’ to talk about the world and what’s going on.The link to join the conversation will be emailed to you after you have registered for your ticket to attend. When you click the link, you enter the digital ThinkIn and can join a live conversation from wherever you are in the world. Members can enter their unique members’ access code to book tickets. Find yours in My Tortoise > My Membership in the Tortoise app.If you have any questions or get stuck, please read our FAQs, or get in touch with us at memberhelp@tortoisemedia.comWhat is a Tortoise ThinkIn?A ThinkIn is not another panel discussion. It is a forum for civilised disagreement. It is a place where everyone has a seat at the (virtual) table. It’s where we get to hear what you think, drawn from your experience, energy and expertise. It is the heart of what we do at Tortoise.