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Westminster Insider

Lifting the curtain on how Westminster really works.


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  • 5. How to prepare for opposition

    40:37
    By now, surely everyone in Westminster knows how to get ready for government — but have enough considered how to prepare for opposition?In this week's episode, host Aggie Chambre tackles the conundrum of how to prepare for the one job in politics no one wants. She speaks to former opposition leader Neil Kinnock about his time in charge, including the advice his children gave Tony Blair's kids. Conservative peer George Young, who has been around since 1974, talks about all the times his party has gone from government to opposition. Tories Robert Buckland and Charles Walker consider what their fellow MPs are thinking about life after polling day as they teeter on the edge of opposition.Labour MP Diana Johnson, who has spent the last 14 years on the opposition benches, explains how best to make an impact while you're out of government. Academic Nigel Fletcher runs through the history of the formalization of opposition — dating all the way back to 1937. And Cath Haddon from the Institute for Government tells Aggie the hardest thing about going from government to opposition. 

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  • 4. How a small town in England opened its arms to Ukraine

    54:55
    As the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches, Jack Blanchard returns home to the north of England to hear the stories of the refugees who arrived there in 2022 — and of one small town community which opened its arms to help.Jack meets those who hosted Ukrainian people in their homes, and hears from the Ukrainians themselves about what it's like to arrive so suddenly in a far-off land. Community organisers discuss how they rallied round to help, while former Refugees Minister Richard Harrington explains how the government worked at breakneck speed to get the complex scheme off the ground. Jack's own mum even makes a guest appearance, with a very special family story to tell.
  • 3. Diary of a by-election

    37:14
    As the people of Wellingborough headed to the polls for a historic vote, hosts Aggie Chambre and Sascha O'Sullivan took a train to the East Midlands to see how by-elections really play out on the ground. Over the course of a month, they went door-knocking with the candidates, spoke to disenfranchised voters and, finally, stayed up all night to watch the count. They watched Reform’s Ben Habib drive round in an gigantic, double-decker blue bus and Labour’s Gen Kitchen show off her Taylor Swift friendship bracelets. They listened to the Liberal Democrat’s Ana Savage Gunn regale stories of her former life as a police firearms officer ... and even managed to track down the elusive Tory candidate, Helen Harrison.And the duo consider what this show-stopping by-election result will mean for the upcoming general election.
  • 2. A boozy lunch with Tim Shipman

    50:10
    Host Jack Blanchard goes for lunch with the Sunday Times' chief political commentator, Tim Shipman, as the deadline for his new Brexit tome approaches.Over a bottle of claret and (medium) rare steak, Shipman discusses the art of long-form political writing; recalls his best and worst interview experiences, from Donald Trump to Theresa May; considers his favorite moments of the chaotic past decade in British politics and offers tips to aspiring journalists on how to do a "proper" political lunch. 
  • 1. Inside GB News

    56:58
    For the first episode of the year, host Aggie Chambre goes inside right-wing TV channel GB News and investigates the role it might play in shaping the future of the U.K. Conservative Party. And she looks at the scandals, controversy and culture that has surrounded the channel so far. With the help of the channel's chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos, and former presenters including Simon McCoy and Guto Harri, Aggie tells the story of how the organization went from a chaotic launch to finding its place in the media landscape.GB News host, and founder of the Reform UK party, Nigel Farage, boasts of the "extraordinary" freedom he enjoys at the organization, while his colleague Lee Anderson, a Tory MP, says GB News has given unrepresented viewers a "safe space" to go. Former Labour MP and current GB News presenter Gloria De Piero and Conservative Home's Henry Hill look ahead to the election, and discuss the impact the channel could have in the upcoming year.And former BBC Westminster boss Katy Searle, and former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, compare the channel to America's Fox News, and ponder whether regulator Ofcom should be doing more to intervene. 
  • 8. The year ahead in 54 minutes

    54:21
    For the final episode of the year, host Jack Blanchard and a series of expert guests look ahead to 2024 and what is certain to be an extraordinary year of world politics.The Spectator’s Katy Balls and the Times’ Patrick Maguire survey the election prospects of Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer respectively, while More in Common’s Luke Tryl — a polling and focus group expert — assesses Britain’s current electoral landscape.The Resolution Foundation’s David Willetts looks ahead to the Budget in March and considers how the state of the economy will affect the U.K. general election, whenever it is held.Beyond Britain, POLITICO’s Meredith McGraw, Shawn Pogatchnik and Stuart Lau discuss the impact that elections in the U.S., Ireland and Taiwan could have on the Western world.And former U.K. Foreign Office chief Peter Ricketts considers how the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East are likely to play out in 2024.
  • 7. How did Britain's prisons go so wrong?

    41:10
    Host Aggie Chambre explores the crisis in Britain's prison system and asks what can be done to fix it. She goes inside a prison riddled with drugs and violence, and hears from the governor and from long-serving inmates about what's really going on. Justice Secretary Alex Chalk sets out his plan to overhaul the sector, and why he believes part of the answer is to stop handing out jail terms for less serious crimes. Former Tory leader Michael Howard relives his famous "prison works" speech of 1993 and considers whether he would make the same speech again today. Aggie meets Charlie Taylor, Britain's chief inspector of prisons. He tells her of the harrowing scenes he has witnessed in prisons around the U.K. this past year.And the Howard League's Andrea Coomber, a prison reform campaigner, calls for politicians to be brave in explaining to the public that prison does not work the way they think it does.