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Author: The Centre for Opposition Studies

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Discussion of political opposition with leading academics, politicians and commentators, presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher of the Centre for Opposition Studies.
29 Episodes
An unscheduled EMERGENCY episode (!) prompted by the resignation of senior Civil Servant Sue Gray to take up a job as Chief of Staff to the Labour Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer. Featuring the government's response in the House of Commons to an urgent Question on the subject, Keir Starmer's awkward radio interview about it, and a look at the challenges of running the Leader's office with contributions from our archive interviews with Charles Clarke, Tina Stowell and Kate Fall. Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher
New Year, new episodes! An update from Nigel Fletcher on our plans for the podcast in 2023, including more topical content and a focus on the UK's opposition parties as they prepare for the next General Election. In the meantime, check out the Leaders of the Opposition feature from Times Radio in 2022, with Nigel speaking to Matt Chorley about each of the leaders who failed to make it to Number 10. Available now as a series of 11 bonus episodes of The Times's Red Box Politics Podcast. Finally, tell us what you think of OppositionCast and your ideas for future episodes - email Look forward to hearing from you! Produced by the Centre for Opposition Studies Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher
With protests continuing on the streets of Iran against the country's authoritarian regime, and the Ukrainian people continuing their defiance in the face of Russia's invasion, different forms of opposition continue to be manifested around the world. In this episode Nigel talks to foreign policy expert Garvan Walshe about the resistance being shown in these three countries and their prospects for success. Produced by the Centre for Opposition Studies Presenter: Dr Nigel Fletcher Theme Music: Tom Hector
As the Conservative Party suffers a collapse in its opinion poll rating, Nigel speaks to pollster Chris Curtis of Opinium Research about how bad it is for the government, and what it means for the Labour Party. We also hear from Professor Jane Green of Nuffield College Oxford in her keynote address to our Opposition Studies Conference, given in July during a previous political crisis... Produced by the Centre for Opposition Studies. Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher. OppositionCast Theme Music by Tom Hector.
There is a new mood of confidence around the Labour Party as it takes a substantial lead in the opinion polls and begins thinking seriously about the prospect of power. Nigel Fletcher reports from the Labour Party Conference on Sir Keir Starmer's speech, and talks to guests including Professor Jane Green, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Meg Hillier MP, and Dr Catherine Haddon of the Institute for Government. Produced by the Centre for Opposition Studies. Presenter: Dr Nigel Fletcher Theme Music: Tom Hector
In this special episode, we pay tribute to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the week of her State Funeral. Nigel reflects on the relationship between the Queen and her Leaders of the Opposition, with archive contributions from the current and former Leaders of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. The episode also includes clips from the 1992 BBC documentary "Elizabeth R - A year in the life of The Queen". Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher Theme Music: Tom Hector.
This episode features extracts from the first Opposition Studies Conference, held in July 2022 at King's College London. Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Chair of the Centre for Opposition Studies, gives the opening address, followed by Professor Lord Norton, who speaks on "Making Sense of Opposition". The two peers then join a panel for a discussion on the role of the House of Lords in Opposition. Presenter: Dr Nigel Fletcher Theme Music by Tom Hector
The Labour Party, perhaps more than other parties, has a keen sense of its own history. In this episode we discuss the role of Labour's mythology -its heroes, villains and legends. Joining Nigel for this episode is Anthony Broxton, a political historian who founded and runs the Tides of History blog on Labour Party history ( Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher Theme Music: Tom Hector Research Assistant: Iman Abdel-Haq
How important are ideas to an opposition party seeking election? How has the Labour Party struggled to balance ideology and pragmatic politics? Dr Patrick Diamond of Queen Mary, University of London, joins us to discuss these and other issues. Patrick is a former adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in 10 Downing Street, and has written extensively on the Labour Party. Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher Research Assistant: Iman Abdel-Haq Theme Music: Tom Hector
We're back with a Christmas Special, and a real treat from the archives of the Centre for Opposition Studies. In April 2017, just before that year's General Election, we held an event in the House of Lords, with our Honorary President Lord Kinnock in conversation with Professor Lord Hennessy. It was a fascinating and entertaining discussion, and we're delighted to be able to bring it to a wider audience. Merry Christmas one and all! Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher Research Assistant: Iman Abdel-Haq Theme Music: Tom Hector
When Tony Blair took Labour back into government in 1997, his achievement was built on the foundations laid by his predecessors as Leader of the Opposition, in particular Neil Kinnock. During the 18 "years of hurt", it was Kinnock who took Labour from its dire position in the wake of the 1983 landslide defeat to the brink of power in 1992. As Chief of Staff to the Leader, Charles Clarke played a major role in those years, and speaks to us about his experiences and reflections on Kinnock's leadership. Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher.
Kate Fall was a key member of David Cameron's inner circle throughout his time as Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister. Like many of 'Team Cameron', she had her political apprenticeship in the Conservative Research Department in the mid-90s, before staying to work in Opposition under William Hague and Michael Howard. In 2005 she encouraged Cameron to stand for Leader, and was then his Deputy Chief of Staff as he fought to return the Conservatives to power in the 2010 General Election. Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher.
In politics as in battle, it's vital to know your enemy. Getting inside their head to anticipate their likely attacks and prepare your own defences, as well as seeing your respective weaknesses. Tom Hamilton was Head of Research for the Labour Party for 10 years, and helped prepare Harriet Harman, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister's Questions. He talks to us about how oppositions prepare for battle in debate.
When the Conservatives suffered their landslide defeat in the 1997 General Election, they faced the sudden shock of opposition: ignored by the public, mocked by the press, and cut off from the support of the government machine after 18 years in power. As their new Leader, William Hague had to build his team for the uphill struggle ahead, which he later called "the night shift". Tina Stowell was recruited by Hague a few months later as his Deputy Chief of Staff, with responsibility for organising and running the Leader of the Opposition's office, where she sought to bring order and professionalism to Hague's inner team. In this interview, she takes us inside the Leader's Office during those challenging years and gives her assessment of the Hague Opposition. She also discusses her own later political career, when as Baroness Stowell of Beeston, she served as Leader of the House of Lords in David Cameron's Cabinet. Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher.
The last decade has seen a number of surprise election results in the UK- from the unexpected Conservative majority in 2015 to the EU referendum in 2016 and the volatility seen between the subsequent General Elections in 2017 and 2019. Professor Jane Green, Co-Director of the British Election Study, talks about the impact of this turbulent political landscape in both the UK and US, as examined in her recent co-authored book "Electoral Shocks: Understanding the Volatile Voter in a Turbulent World". Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher
With renewed protests in Russia following the arrest and detention of activist leader Alexei Navalny, what are the prospects for the future of opposition to President Putin? Mark Galeotti, a prolific writer and expert on contemporary Russian politics gives us his view. Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher.
As President Joe Biden begins his Presidency, the shadow of his predecessor Donald Trump hangs over the administration, following the attack on the US Capitol on 6th January and the former President's upcoming impeachment trial for helping incite the riot. Anti-Trump Republican activist Chris Brennan and Professor Sarah Birch of King's College London discuss the impact of recent events on the US political system. Presented by Dr Nigel Fletcher.
Making fun of politicians is a longstanding tradition in the press, and the ability to do so is a vital sign of a free society. With all of us needing some cheering up, Patrick Kidd of The Times discusses his four years as a parliamentary sketchwriter during the turbulent Brexit years, and his current role as editor of The Times Diary, aiming to be "an antidote to the news". Presented by Nigel Fletcher.
In a festive special, Nigel is joined by former Home Secretary and recent Strictly star Jacqui Smith, to discuss the role of the Government Chief Whip, which she held under Tony Blair. She tells us about the plot to remove him from office in favour of Gordon Brown, and how she managed dissent in the Labour ranks.
Dr Nigel Fletcher considers the nature of political uncertainty, and discusses the future challenges for the Labour Party and the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer - with a little help from Richard Osman's House of Games...
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