In his latest Spectator column, Rod Liddle draws attention to the growing and depressing phenomenon of the groupthink podcast – the opportunity to listen to people who basically agree on everything pretending they don’t. Here’s an excerpt.
This false divide stuff is becoming very popular on the liberal Left. You can, if you wish, choose to listen to a whole host of podcasts posited on the notion that the two participants are politically averse, when actually they agree about pretty much everything. The most egregious is the pairing of Alastair Campbell with Rory Stewart, two people with identically stupid opinions on Brexit, the culture war, Ukraine, nationalisation, green stuff… you name it, these two political failures are happy to concur every time.
The same is true, to a slightly lesser extent, with the pairing of Ed Balls and George Osborne or David Yelland and Simon Lewis. It is our liberal establishment talking to itself and pretending that debate is happening, when actually, for these people, there is not really a debate to be had. If there had been podcasts in the old USSR they would have been exactly like this: Rory Stewart suggesting that the latest five-year plan was going brilliantly and Alastair Campbell disagreeing and saying no, no, Rory, you have never been more wrong, it’s actually going very brilliantly. Except they wouldn’t be called Alastair and Rory. They’d be called Dmitri and Ivan, or something.
The reason this happens is that our liberal elite simply cannot tolerate genuine debate: everything discussed must be within its own narrow parameters. Views from beyond its conspicuously failed catechisms are contraband and should simply not be heard. With these podcasts and indeed with the Guardian’s ‘divide’ feature, one can argue that it doesn’t matter: let these tarts jabber in agreement at each other, we don’t have to listen to or read the rubbish. But this mindset has purchase beyond the pygmy audiences enjoyed by the Guardian and Campbell and Stewart and it warps discourse.
Liddle goes on to highlight examples where the groupthink monotony overspills into cancel culture, such as the recent case of Dr. Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, “an academic and writer on education who was invited to speak at last weekend’s Rethinking Education conference in London, until the organisers decided they didn’t want to rethink education at all, actually”.
Worth reading in full.
For a podcast beyond the groupthink, there’s the Weekly Sceptic, of course.