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Jonathan Aitken: Ruin And Redemption

Jonathan Aitken's career in politics began 60 years ago as a speech writer for Alex Douglas-Home and saw him rise to the cabinet under John Major. It all came crashing down when he was convicted of perjury and sent to prison, where he then rediscovered his religion.

He talks to Matt about faith, prison reform, and why politicians lose their moral compass.

Plus: Columnists James Marriott and India Knight discuss the possibility of Nigel Farage entering the I'm a Celebrity jungle, how happy we are as a nation, and whether Shakespeare is as good as James thinks he is.

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  • Secrets Of The Whips Office

    How do you maintain discipline in a government that's on the ropes after a long period in office, with a prime minister behind in the polls and beset by defections?Former Tory MP and whip Gyles Brandreth charted the downfall of the Major government in his indiscreet diaries, and joins Matt to discuss the striking similarities between then and now.Plus: Columnists India Knight and James Mariott discuss whether the nation is ready for what is shaping up to be a long election campaign, if tech bros make bad philosophers, and if TV shows work on stage.Columnists (03:04)Gyles Brandreth (24:50)
  • How To Hold The Line

    Heading into an election campaign, politicians can be asked to explain their party's position on absolutely anything - but it's not always easy to remember exactly what that is. Matt is joined by a panel of former spin doctors to find out how MPs are given the lines to take, and what happens when they forget them.Plus: Manveen Rana and Matt Deegan discuss whether Keir Starmer's six pledges have made Labour's policy positions clear, whether the covid inquiry is worth £300k per day, and why radio's popularity is so enduring.Columnist Panel (03:59)  How To Hold The Line (24:45)
  • PMQs: Goodnight Sweetheart

    Never mind prisons running out of space or rainbow lanyards - PMQs gets derailed by Nicholas Lyndhurst. Matt is joined by Patrick Maguire and Lara Spirit to unpack all the action from the Commons.Plus: Columnists Alice Thomson and Robert Crampton discuss what Rishi Sunak should do about Nigel Farage, living next door to celebrities, and whether linen clothes, the Northern Lights, and strawberry jam are overrated.The Columnists: (02:32)PMQs: (24:22)
  • Why Is Food Still So Expensive?

    As Rishi Sunak hosts farmers at Number 10 to offer his support to British agriculture, the sector is struggling with ever higher costs and extreme weather. Food Minister Mark Spencer explains why the wet winter could lead to food prices going up again.Plus: Punch and Judy are cleaning up their act, but will that bring an end to "Punch and Judy politics"? The Politics Of Punch And Judy Politics (04:53)Why Is Food Still So Expensive? (13:03)
  • The Exit Interviews: Edward Timpson

    Matt sits down with MPs leaving Parliament at the next election to find out their highs and lows, their best and worst bosses, and the lessons they've learned from politics.Conservative Edward Timpson remembers arriving in Westminster after a by-election circus where he was characterised as a Tory toff, his achievements as a minister, and he explains why he never went into the family business.Plus: Columnists Rachel Sylvester and Libby Purves discuss whether other potential defectors will be put off following the example of Natalie Elphicke, the link between obesity and sick-not culture, and whether we're too quick to blame technology for our own failings.
  • The Prime Minister That Never Was

    It's been 30 years since the sudden death of Labour leader John Smith, a man many expected would go on to be prime minister. Matt hears from some of the people who knew him best, including the recollections of Tony Blair, Margaret Beckett and Neil Kinnock.Plus: Columnists India Knight and James Marriott discuss Dominic Cumming's idea for a new political party, James' trip to a pro-Palestinian protest, and the ethics behind the hit show Baby Reindeer.Columnists (02:48)The Prime Minister That Never Was (23:19)
  • Focus Group: It's Like He's Evil

    It's the Times Radio Focus Group, where Matt steps outside the Westminster bubble to hear the opinions of ordinary voters. This month it's a group who all voted for the Conservatives in 2019 but now want to vote for Labour or haven't made their mind up. They tell Matt and James Johnson of J.L. Partners that Rishi Sunak's trainers look "stupid" and Keir Starmer makes their "skin crawl". PLUS: Columnists Manveen Rana and Matthew Syed discuss whether Keir Starmer made a mistake when he welcomed the defecting MP Natalie Elphicke, and whether Matthew's manifesto for the next government will work.Columnists (03:33)Focus Group (22:29)
  • PMQs: Dover And Out

    Matt Chorley and Patrick Maguire pause and unpack the action from the Commons chamber, as Tory MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke defects to Labour moments before PMQs.Plus: Columnists Alice Thomson and Robert Crampton discuss never-ending Tory plots, whether the police do enough to tackle stalking, and whether cycling can be cool.Columnists: (01:24) PMQs Unpacked: (23:00)
  • Did Liz Truss Really Screw Your Mortgage?

    Mortgage costs went up after Liz Truss' mini-budget in 2022, and are yet to come down. As new analysis of the local election results suggests that support for the Conservatives dropped more sharply in areas where there are more mortgage holders, Matt tries to get to the bottom of who is really to blame.PLUS: As the Liberal Democrats table another motion of no-confidence in the government to try and trigger an election, Matt asks The Times' Tom Peck - what's the point? No-confidence (08:31)Did Liz Truss Really Screw Your Mortgage? (14:52)