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Host Aggie Chambre speaks to Westminster spouses from across the political spectrum about the ups and downs of life married to a British MP.Felicity Mercer, wife and constituency aide of Tory MP Johnny, tells of her pride in her husband's work, but also of the political abuse they receive — and what happens when that reaches your front door.Tory MP Mark Fletcher and his charity worker husband Will discuss the struggle of life in such a long-distance relationship, while vet Kate Carmichael, wife of Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair, explains how she copes with being the furthest-flung political spouse of all.Opera singer — and avid tweeter — Nevana Bridgen, wife of former Tory MP Andrew, explains why she feels the need to defend her husband's explosive comments on COVID vaccines, and opens up about extra-marital affairs in Westminster and what it's like watching women hit on your husband.And Labour MP Cat Smith and SNP MP David Linden discuss how they found love in SW1 across party lines, as they walked together hand in hand across Westminster Bridge. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
POLITICO’s Ailbhe Rea takes us inside the art of the political interview.In a rare conversation on the other side of the microphone, Today programme presenter and ex-BBC political editor Nick Robinson opens up about what’s going through his mind in the middle of a high-profile grilling, politicians lying, persuading them to come on the Today programme, and what happened behind the scenes when he notoriously told Boris Johnson to “stop talking.”Rob Burley, who has plotted political interviews with the greats including Andrew Neil, Andrew Marr, Jeremy Paxman, Emily Maitlis and now Beth Rigby at Sky News, takes us through how they game-plan a big interview, the great interviews of political history — and what Paxo was thinking when he asked Michael Howard the same question 12 times.Former Westminster Hour doyenne Carolyn Quinn reveals the complex human relationships between interviewers and politicians, while former Tory comms staffer Laura-Emily Dunn reveals what’s happening on the politician side. Andrea Leadsom and Rachel Sylvester each — separately — recall Leadsom’s car crash “motherhood” interview during the 2016 Tory leadership campaign, which, of course, prompted her to drop out of the race and left Theresa May as Prime Minister.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
In a special episode, host Aggie Chambre gathers a group of 20-something politicos who spent years working as aides and researchers for some of Britain's best-known politicians — and hears what working for an MP is really like.They tell stories of drunken sleepovers in parliament, MPs' texts at 4 a.m., and high-pressure casework for distraught constituents which changed their lives forever. And the group explains how in the world of Westminster, your MP is also your "judge, jury, and executioner" — meaning if you work for the wrong person, things can quickly go badly wrong. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
In a special anniversary episode 25 years on from the agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland, host Ailbhe Rea heads home to Belfast to retell the gripping story of how a historic compromise was reached.Former British PM Tony Blair and former Irish premier Bertie Ahern explain why — and how — they decided to pursue a peace deal when they both came to power in 1997, and recall key moments of drama from inside the negotiating room.David Kerr, right-hand man to the late David Trimble — the UUP leader who would go on to win the Nobel Peace prize for his role in the talks — describes the splits and crises within unionism at the time, while chief SDLP negotiator Mark Durkan, later to become deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, explains how his boss John Hume’s thinking infused the entire peace process.Mitchel McLaughlin, spokesperson for Sinn Féin during the negotiations, describes the challenge his party’s leadership faced in trying to take the entire republican movement with them. Jonathan Powell, chief of staff to Blair, explains what it was like to face Sinn Fein across the negotiating table. And Monica McWilliams, co-founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, shares her memories of those tense final days and hours inside Castle Buildings.Ailbhe also meets Cathy McCann and Betty Speers, two victims of an IRA bomb in 1990 — Cathy was severely injured and Betty’s brother was killed — as they reflect on what the Good Friday Agreement means to them. And Ailbhe ends the episode with Sara Canning, the partner of the late journalist Lyra McKee, who was killed by dissident republicans on the 21st anniversary of the agreement, four years ago. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
How to become an MP

How to become an MP


In the week Jeremy Corbyn was blocked from running again as a Labour MP, host Aggie Chambre takes a look at the secretive world of MPs' selections — and learns how insidery cliques, funding and old-school sexism can all be barriers to entry.Aggie takes a road trip with the man who helped select Rishi Sunak for his North Yorkshire seat, and hears more about the prime minister's slick sales pitch to local members. Tory peer Anne Jenkin discusses her efforts to get more women into parliament, while Labour MP Stella Creasy recalls what it's actually like to go through the high-pressure selection process. Aggie also speaks to journalist Michael Crick about his work cataloguing the 2024 election candidates selected so far, and to author Isabel Hardman on why we get the wrong politicians. And former Momentum boss Jon Lansman has his say on Corbyn's de-selection, and explains how he believes selection 'stitch ups' in the Labour Party could lead to the rise of fascism in Britain.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Westminster Insider profiles the woman who could be running Britain alongside Keir Starmer in a year's time. Host Ailbhe Rea sits down with Labour Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves to explore her background, her political instincts, her successes and failures ... and tries her hand at a game of chess against the former child star.Reeves takes us back to the south London of the 1980s where she grew up; the Oxford University of her New Labour years; her career in banking both pre-and post-global financial crisis; and her early experiences as a young female MP — and picks out the moments that made her the politician she is today. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Host Aggie Chambre explores the best and worst political U-turns of recent times — and ponders how and why certain politicians get away with abrupt changes of heart.Former Lib Dem Cabinet Minister David Laws recalls the tuition fee furor that sunk his party, while former Downing Street chief of staff Fiona Hill discusses Theresa May's swiftly-abandoned 'Dementia Tax' of 2017. Liz Truss' close allies Simon Clarke and Sarah Ludlow relive the U-turn over her disastrous 'mini-budget' of 2022, while ex-Home Secretary David Blunkett picks over the most significant U-turns of the New Labour years. Former Thatcher aide John Whittingdale discusses what happens when your leader simply refuses to change course despite massive opposition, while Tory peer Daniel Finkelstein argue that U-turns are actually a cause for celebration in a complex world. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Co-host Aggie Chambre sits down for a rare interview with former Downing Street chief of staff Fiona Hill to talk about her central role in Theresa May's first government, the astonishing highs and disastrous lows of life in No. 10, and the devastating impact of being fired after the failed 2017 general election.Hill reveals the years of secret plotting behind Theresa May's successful bid to become prime minister; the inner workings of May's dysfunctional Downing Street operation; and the surprising politician who helped her when she was floored by her departure from No. 10.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
The secrets of TV news

The secrets of TV news


New host Aggie Chambre takes us inside the world of TV News, and asks how the advent of 24-hour rolling coverage has shaped British politics.Sky News presenter Sophy Ridge explains the importance of the Sunday shows to the Westminster news cycle, and reveals the reaction from Downing Street after she asked then-PM Theresa May a question she really didn't want to answer.Her outgoing boss John Ryley, head of Sky News, tells the podcast how his channel transformed 24-hour political coverage, and takes a final swipe at his TV news competitors. ITV's Rachel Bradley and veteran broadcaster Michael Crick lift the lid on the art of the doorstep interview, while former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale explains the misery of embarking on a round of broadcast interviews.Craig Oliver recalls his time running David Cameron's comms operation and explains how much thought goes into every TV image. And Neil Kinnock, the former Labour leader, explains what really happened that time he fell over on Brighton beach — and how much damage the endless TV coverage caused him.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Host Ailbhe Rea takes you inside the weird and wonderful world of the House of Lords, and explores the increasingly bitter battles over its future.Paralympic gold medallist and crossbench peer Tanni Grey-Thompson lifts the lid on what life in the Lords is really like, and Ailbhe has a rare meeting with an endangered species: a hereditary peer, the Earl of Caithness, in his natural habitat.John McFall, the Lord Speaker, takes us on a guided tour of the grand building itself — and explains how it actually works — while POLITICO's very own Esther Webber explains the joys of covering the second chamber as a journalist.Jess Sargeant from the Institute of Government provides a whistlestop tour of efforts to reform the Lords down the decades — some more successful than others.And we look at the internal debate within the Labour Party over former PM Gordon Brown's recommendation to abolish the House of Lords altogether. Henry Stannard, who worked closely with Brown on his commission, defends the plans, while Labour grandees Neil Kinnock and David Blunkett take radically different points of view.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Host Ailbhe Rea tells the inside story of Liz Truss' chaotic, historic 49 days in No. 10 Downing Street, via candid interviews with those in the room where it happened.Speaking publicly for the first time about that turbulent period, Truss' former special adviser Hugh Bennett and ex-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's former aide Celia McSwaine lift the lid on life inside Truss' Downing Street — and how it all went wrong in six short weeks. They are joined by Truss' former speechwriter Asa Bennett, her biographers Harry Cole and James Heale, and her political opponent, Labour's Pat McFadden. Using their voices alongside multiple off-record-interviews, Ailbhe retells one of the most extraordinary stories in modern British politics — the rise and fall of the 49-day prime minister. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
For the final episode of the year, host Jack Blanchard looks ahead to the biggest political stories coming down the track in 2023. Guests include Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies; former U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon; Katy Balls of the Spectator; Stephen Bush of the Financial Times; Ipsos pollster Keiran Pedley; Tory peer and elections expert Robert Hayward; Jill Rutter and Giles Wilkes of the Institute for Government; and POLITICO's own Jamil Anderlini and Cristina Gallardo. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Host Ailbhe Rea looks at the world of political punditry with the help of some of Westminster's best-known commentators and producers, and the comedian Joe Lycett.Rob Burley, who spent years running flagship political programmes at the BBC including the Andrew Marr Show and Politics Live, explains why Lycett's infamous appearance on Laura Kuenssberg's show in September enraged him, and discusses whether conflict is ever engineered on his shows. Scarlett Maguire, producer of the Andrew Neil Show, explains how pundits are selected and why they are needed in political broadcasting.Katy Balls and Stephen Bush, a common TV punditry 'couple', and political journalists for the Spectator and the FT respectively, explain what makes a good or a bad pundit. James Schneider, former head of strategic communications for Jeremy Corbyn, bursts the bubble on the cosy pundit chat and explains why he thinks very little of it is worth listening to at all — but also how Team Corbyn still felt the need to use political punditry for its own ends. And finally Joe Lycett himself, the comedian and one-time "terribly right-wing" commentator, gives his take on his brief turn at political punditry.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Host Jack Blanchard speaks to former U.K. energy ministers and policy experts about the chequered history of British energy policy over recent decades — and how the nation was left so vulnerable to Vladimir Putin's energy price war.Guests including former Energy Ministers Charles Hendry and Michael Fallon, and former Whitehall policy chief Adam Bell, explain how what should have been a smooth transition away from fossil fuels has been blotted by a stalled nuclear program and endless rows about wind turbines. And Stag Energy's George Grant and the Financial Times' Nathalie Thomas rue Britain's failure to invest in undersea gas storage sites which might have offered an insurance policy against the current crisis. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Host Ailbhe Rea takes a closer look at the shadowy world of the whips — the sinister party enforcers whose job it is to keep MPs in line.Michael Dobbs, the creator of "House of Cards" and one-time chief of staff to Margaret Thatcher, lifts the lid on the murky world of whipping that inspired his novels and the hit TV dramas, while Jacqui Smith, a chief whip to Tony Blair, describes how she did it in the era of Blair/Brown plotting. Playwright James Graham — whose hit play "This House" brought the dark arts of the whips' office to London's West End — discusses the hung parliament of the 1970s, the most legendary period in whipping history, and Wendy Morton discusses her unique experience as chief whip to Liz Truss. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Host Jack Blanchard sits down with Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, to discuss life, politics and the Labour Party over a bottle of red wine at an exclusive Westminster restaurant. Streeting, tipped by many as the next Labour leader, discusses his poverty-stricken childhood, his recent battle with cancer and his vision for the future on the eve of his 40th birthday. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Did austerity work?

Did austerity work?


As U.K. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveils huge spending cuts and tax hikes in his Autumn Statement, host Ailbhe Rea looks back at the economic program still haunting the current debate: the austerity of the early 2010s. David Gauke, one of former Chancellor George Osborne's must trusted lieutenants, opens up about how the big decisions were taken and reflects on how he'd do things differently if he had his time again. Torsten Bell, head of the Resolution Foundation think tank and formerly head of policy for Labour leader Ed Miliband, considers the effects of the spending cuts and the differences between the Labour and the Conservative positions, while Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader, talks about what he thinks his party got wrong. Carys Roberts, executive director at the IPPR think tank, discusses the way the public debate played out, while Professor Michael Marmot considers the impact of austerity on life expectancy and health inequalities across the U.K.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Following Rishi Sunak's unprecedented 50-day turnaround from defeated leadership candidate to U.K. prime minister, Westminster Insider host Jack Blanchard looks back at some of the great political comebacks of our times.Guests include Peter Mandelson, who shocked Westminster — and himself — with a sensational return to the U.K. Cabinet in 2008 after four years away as an EU Commissioner; and U.S. historian John A. Farrell, who recalls Richard Nixon’s extraordinary rise to the American presidency in 1968, eight years after his crushing defeat to John F. Kennedy. Professor Edith Hall tells the story of the great Roman leader Cincinnatus and his return to power from his humble plow — famously namechecked by Boris Johnson in his farewell speech as prime minister. Professor Nicholas Allen recalls other great British political comebacks of the 20th century; while POLITICO's own Meredith McGraw assesses former U.S. President Donald Trump's prospects of a return to the White House in 2024.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Who is Rishi Sunak?

Who is Rishi Sunak?


Host Ailbhe Rea profiles the U.K.'s new prime minister, with the help of those who know him best. From his early years in Southampton and his lifelong Hindu faith; his elite education at Winchester, Oxford and Stanford; to his rapid rise through the political ranks, his time as U.K. chancellor and his machinations for the top job, we uncover the values, personality traits, priorities and potential pitfalls of the new man in No. 10.At the Hindu temple in Southampton that Rishi Sunak's family have been attending for generations, we learn about what he was like as a young boy and the values instilled in him by his faith.Shabana Mahmood, now his opponent as Labour's national campaign coordinator, recalls Rishi the "library geek" from their days at Oxford together, and Alan Mak, a former Treasury minister and the Conservative MP for Havant, recalls the buzz around this high-flying banker when he arrived in parliament in 2015. Peter Cardwell, now political editor at TalkTV, looks back on being a special adviser working with Sunak in his first junior ministerial role. Cardwell's book is "The Secret Life of Special Advisers."Sky News' deputy political editor Sam Coates analyzes Rishi Sunak's rise through the ranks at Westminster — his strengths, weaknesses, and the help of Dominic Cummings — while one of the prime minister's former advisers and closest allies, the education minister Claire Coutinho, describes his approach to economics and being vindicated after the leadership contest.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
As Liz Truss considers another humiliating budget U-turn, host Jack Blanchard looks back at the U.K.'s infamous 1972 'Dash for Growth' budget — when another Tory Chancellor announced unfunded tax cuts and sent inflation through the roof — and considers the parallels with Truss' chaotic first month as prime minister.Historians Duncan Needham and Nick Thomas-Symonds explain the backdrop to that 1970s meltdown, while economists Paul Johnson, Gerard Lyons and Soumaya Keynes consider what's gone wrong in the U.K. economy today. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
Comments (2)

Midnight Rambler

silly lefty whining

Jun 28th

Sabine Schnittger

Great show. Really thoughtful discussion on this anniversary.

Feb 13th
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