Jonathan Freedland and a team of historians and BBC correspondents take The Long View of the Union of the United Kingdom.
The peoples of this island and their relationship with each other is hotly discussed and contested. Its relationship – constitutionally, economically and culturally - is up for debate, especially as issues of the Union after Brexit and the pandemic come to the fore. In this special edition of The Long View Jonathan Freedland and a team of historians and BBC correspondents look back at three separate moments in the history of the birth of the Union where its future - and its terms of engagement - were under similar scrutiny.
Producer: Mohini Patel
Violence against women in Public Spaces
Earlier this year the death of Sarah Everard provoked an outpouring of grief and anger. A vigil marking her death descended into violence and thousands of social media-posts were shared detailing experiences of attack and threats against women in public spaces. Although the attempted rape of Kate Dickinson by the military officer Valentine Baker had a less tragic conclusion, the response to his assault on her in a railway carriage, which resulted in her hanging out of the train door for several miles until rescue came, provoked a very similar reaction across the nation. The ability for a woman to travel freely, to walk the streets without let or hindrance, was a topic of hot debate.
There were many men who felt that with women becoming increasingly emancipated, and more involved in walks of life traditionally the preserve of men only, they simply had to accept as inevitable, the fact that they were at greater risk.
Who was responsible for women's safety, and whether or not there were practical solutions like the re-design of railway carriages so that there was both access by way of a corridor and directly onto the platform, were discussed in newspapers and journals.
Jonathan and his team explore the debate back then and the anger now about what may or may not happen to insure what to most is a basic freedom - to walk the streets in safety.
Producer; Tom Alban
The Long View of Legal Backlog
Although not dominating the COVID headlines the backlog of legal cases in the UK is taking a heavy toll on everyone from the people involved who are seeking resolution to the legal profession itself. That's the story today, but it was also the story back in 1666 when after a year of plague and then the Great Fire of London, our capital city was crippled by a legal backlog which made economic recovery and the rebuilding that it required all but impossible. The challenge then was to deal with all the cases to do with Landlords and Leaseholders who had lost everything in the fire and so couldn't afford to begin the rebuilding process.
Jonathan is joined by the historian Professor Jay Tidmarsh who will tell the story of the Fire Courts and Fire Judges, set up to deal with the backlog as quickly and efficiently as possible. What they did, how the courts operated and just how much work they got through in less than a decade might provide some ideas for today's legal practitioners. To compare the history with the present Jonathan also hears from the Chair of the Bar Council Amanda Pinto and Sir Ernest Ryder a Lord Justice of Appeal, master of Pembroke College, Oxford and a law reformer.
That's the Long View of Legal Backlogs.
Producer: Tom Alban
The Long View of an acrimonious and disputed US election
It's been a Presidential race like no other with the internet and social media age insuring a bitter divide between the two sides and acrimonious debate throughout. And even at its conclusion there's dispute over the result. But does that make 2020 unique? Jonathan Freedland is joined by Historian Professor Adam Smith of Oxford University and commentators from both wings of the US spectrum, Kate Andrews and Richard Wolffe to compare today with what happened back in 1800 when another one term President, John Adams, lost an equally divisive election. And as with today's result Adams was far from content to accept defeat. Famously, he didn't turn up to the inauguration ceremony of his successor, the Republican-Democrat Thomas Jefferson.
Actor Kerry Shale reads the words of Adams, Jefferson and the extreme press of both sides. Did Adams come to terms with his loss? And what damage did the election do to his party, the Federalists who included in their number the now famous star of musical theatre, Alexander Hamilton.
Producer: Tom Alban
Dominic Cummings and Civil Service Reform
Jonathan Freedland takes the Long View of Civil Service reform. With the PM’s Chief Advisor Dominic Cummings promising a ‘hard rain’ on the Service, Jonathan follows the story of Charles Trevelyan, the ‘stormy reformer’ of the 1850’s, who reshaped the Civil Service and made many enemies along the way.
Featuring Lord Butler, former head of the Civil Service and Dead Ringers star, Jon Culshaw. Historian Catherine Haddon from the Institute for Government and Sebastian Payne Whitehall journalist at the Financial Times.
Producer Neil McCarthy