Ep. 16: Daniel Finkelstein - Everything in Moderation
A close friend of former prime minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, Daniel Finkelstein is a conservative peer and Times political columnist who has just released a collection of his best articles entitled Everything in Moderation. As I said to him in my email asking him on the show, the title of his book is the antithesis in every way to the podcast’s epithet of On the Edge.
But, having read Daniel’s insightful book, which I’d recommend to everyone looking to get a sense of perspective - it does correspond with many of my views about the world. When I have a psychopath, a paedophile or a cult member on this podcast, the idea is not to celebrate or promote their ideas, but often to show the perils of living life too far on the edge, too close to precipice. That’s why I like to round off those edges every other week by hearing from thought leaders – we’ve had anti-woke scholars Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, futurist Zoltan Istvan – and next episode is an interview with feminist Helen Lewis.
But right now I’m honoured to introduce Daniel Finkelstein, a conservative who is perhaps known for his uber modernist beliefs. He runs counter to the stereotype of the old-fashioned Tory, with liberal views on pretty much everything. With a father who had been exiled in Siberia and a mother who was a survivor of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, he grew up able with a clear grasp on the perils of the extremes and the safety and liberties extended by the centre.
He’s centre-right, and I ask him what makes a conservative and why so many people find them repellent. We talk about what he said to actor Martin Freeman and what it’s like down the pub with David Cameron and George Osborne. What was really going on in Cameron’s mind when he confused his football team of Aston Villa with West Ham. He also talks about prime minister Boris Johnson, with rumours abound about his stepping down in the coming months.
To non-Brits or those who aren’t politically minded, there are some parts that delve into the nitty gritty, but Daniel does speak a lot about accessible and universal concepts. This is not a political podcast – and I’d be totally out of my depth framing it as such – it’s the type of podcast where I ask ‘Hey, what actually is a Lord?’ and ‘Which footie team DOES David Cameron support.’ As a writer, Daniel is not afraid to pluck cases from the popular or low-brow zeitgeist to make broader political points, and I hope you feel this podcast reflects that accessibility.
Listen to other episodes with the Coffin Confessor who reveals the secrets of the dead and anti-woke feminist Helen Lewis.