Why the hell would you work for an MP?
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.
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5. The Battle for Scotland39:54Host Ailbhe Rea hits the campaign trail in the greater Glasgow constituency of Rutherglen and Hamilton West, where a high-profile by-election battle between Labour and the ruling Scottish National Party looks very much like next year's general election in Scotland in microcosm.Ailbhe meets the leaders of the two parties battling it out here: the SNP leader and Scottish First Minister, Humza Yousaf, and the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar. She meets their candidates, the SNP's Katy Loudon and Labour's Michael Shanks, and the voters of Ruthergen and Hamilton West. Everyone's favourite pollster, Professor John Curtice, explains what's at stake.And do be sure to check out POLITICO's brand new transatlantic podcast "Power Play," hosted by Anne McElvoy. In this week's inaugural episode, Labour leader Keir Starmer unpacks his vision for U.K. foreign policy should he make it to No. 10 at the next election.
4. Meet Robert Peston — ITV's political editor on friendship, loss and being the face of a crisis43:25This week host Aggie Chambre sits down with her old boss Robert Peston, the TV journalist who shot to fame during the last financial crash. Almost two decades on, ITV's political editor remains one of the best-known faces in U.K. politics. He's also joined a celebrity band with his pal Ed Balls, launched a high-profile podcast, and just published his second novel, a fictional work set in the chaos of the 2007/08 financial meltdown.In a wide-ranging interview Peston discusses the art and the ethics of journalism; opens up about love and grief, plus his battle with obsessive compulsive disorder; explains why he would never want to be a politician, and why he believes the country is in such a mess. Aggie also goes behind the scenes at Peston's TV chat show — and hears what his team really think of him.
3. What ex-prime ministers do next45:50In the week we marked the first anniversary of Liz Truss taking office — and Boris Johnson leaving Downing Street — host Aggie Chambre explores what former prime ministers do next with their lives.Former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, fired by Truss 38 days into her 45 day premiership, talks of the “emptiness” and “numbness” that comes with leaving Downing Street, and how he felt “let down” by his old friend. Speaking agency founder Jeremy Lee, recently retired, is gloriously indiscreet as he regales Aggie with stories of his conversations with ex-prime ministers seeking riches down the years. Political biographer Anthony Seldon takes Aggie through the history of former prime ministers, and how the role has changed since Winston Churchill’s Champagne-fueled heyday.Unherd journalist Tom McTague explores Tony Blair’s increasingly powerful Institute for Global Change, while POLITICO’s Annabelle Dickson tells tales of tracking down Boris Johnson in downtown Dallas.
2. Back to school briefing: A whirlwind guide to UK politics this autumn44:35As MPs return to parliament after the summer break, host Ailbhe Rea and an array of expert guests provide an essential briefing on everything that’s coming up in British politics over the next few months.The Spectator’s political editor Katy Balls takes Ailbhe through Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s "not-a-reset" leadership reset, and explains No. 10's thinking around reshuffles, the King's Speech, the party conferences ... and its plan to go "in the gutter" for a fresh wave of attacks on Labour leader Keir Starmer.Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank gives provides a debrief on the U.K.'s economic situation and looks ahead to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's autumn statement, while the Times’ Scottish political editor Kieran Andrews has everything you need to know about the upcoming Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.BBC Northern Ireland’s Jayne McCormack ponders whether Stormont might finally get up and running again this autumn, while POLITICO’s very own Eleni Courea has all the gossip on a Labour reshuffle — and explores Rishi Sunak’s hopes for the G20 summit in India.Finally, POLITICO'S Annabelle Dickson lifts the lid on what might yet prove to be the biggest political event of the year — the final Supreme Court judgement on Sunak's controversial plan to deport undocumented migrants to Rwanda.
1. I know what MPs did last summer38:25With Westminster largely empty during the summer recess, host Aggie Chambre heads out of London to watch MPs in different parts of the country meet the people who really matter — the voters.At constituency surgeries in Glasgow East, Pontypridd and North Norfolk, Aggie watches politicians help desperate constituents who have nowhere else to turn, hearing heartbreaking stories of poverty as well as local rows about overgrown trees and NHS dentists. And on doorstep visits she sees them met by barking dogs, angry voters and even the occasional slammed door.Aided by Tory MP Duncan Baker, Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones and SNP MP David Linden, Aggie explores how the job of an MP has changed — and whether this is really the sort of work they should be carrying out at all.
Westminster Insider trailer01:28Westminster Insider will be back next Friday! Hosts Aggie Chambre and Ailbhe Rea chat about what to expect from season 11 of the weekly podcast from POLITICO.
8. The dark arts of politics40:00In the final episode of the season, host Aggie Chambre explores the clandestine operations, secretive briefing wars and campaign stunts that make up the darker side of politics — and asks if there is still a place for such activities in 2023. She speaks to crossbench peer John Woodcock, who — in a former life — was a Labour Party researcher and occasional undercover spy. He tells Aggie how one secret mission in 2005 derailed the career of a former deputy Conservative Party chairman. Former Downing Street comms boss and News of the World editor Andy Coulson tells how, while working for David Cameron in opposition, he took advantage of Gordon Brown's decision not to call an election with a simple but eye-catching PR stunt. Another former Cameron aide, Giles Kenningham, explains why — with an election looming — political parties will now be building up treasure troves of secret recordings and other destructive data to deploy against their opponents.Former Labour Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong talks about the internal dark arts —underhand techniques used against party colleagues — and why her boss Tony Blair, no great fan of such methods, chose not to take action against a serial rebel on his backbenches called Jeremy Corbyn.Commons public administration committee Chair William Wragg and former Deputy Chief Whip Anne Milton explain why they think the dark arts are best left in the past.And Paul Staines, of the notorious Guido Fawkes blog, reveals some of the underhand tricks he uses to get his biggest scoops — and explains why for him, the very best stories are those that end politicians' careers.
7. The real Keir Starmer: Part II46:19In the second half of a two-part profile, hosts Ailbhe Rea and Aggie Chambre take a closer look at the man hoping to become Britain's next prime minister.This week they take listeners through Starmer's political career so far, from entering parliament as a political novice in 2015, through the difficult days of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, to his own successful leadership bid and beyond.They hear from Starmer's closest political advisers: Ben Nunn, his former head of communications; Chris Ward, formerly his deputy chief of staff; and key ally Jenny Chapman, who casts new light on the infamous pledges Starmer made — and subsequently broke — during the 2020 Labour leadership contest.They also hear from Corbyn’s head of policy, Andrew Fisher, for a very different take on Starmer's rise to power. Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting explains what angers the Labour leader around the shadow Cabinet table. And the podcast travels to Starmer's current neighbourhood in north London, visiting both his favorite pub and an infamous kitchen table.
6. The real Keir Starmer: Part I43:42In the first part of a major profile of Labour leader Keir Starmer, podcast hosts Ailbhe Rea and Aggie Chambre take a deeper look at the man hoping to become Britain's next prime minister.Starting their journey from the kitchen of the house in Surrey where Starmer grew up, they follow his path through childhood and university toward a stellar legal career, speaking to those who’ve known him along the way.Andrew Cooper, a schoolfriend who would go on to be an adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, reveals the early antics — and politics — of the young Starmer, while John Murray, a university pal, lifts the lid on their laddish student life.The pair then follow Starmer’s journey up the career ladder as a lawyer, a barrister and eventually director pf public prosecutions (DPP). Ken Macdonald, a crossbench peer and Starmer’s predecessor as DPP, recalls Starmer’s approach at the Bar — and his real thoughts on law and order.Denis Bradley, former vice-chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, explains the tricky role Starmer took on as human rights adviser in Northern Ireland following the Good Friday Agreement — and how this role eventually led Starmer to abandon a successful legal career for the murky world of Westminster.The Times’ Tom Witherow evaluates Starmer’s record as DPP, while Scarlett MccGwire, a legendary Labour aide who has worked with four party leaders, reveals how Starmer finally began to make inroads into the world of politics.