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Red Box Politics Podcast

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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  • Local Journalism In Crisis

    As editors of regional newspapers challenge the BBC for threatening their future, Matt details why local journalism has been in such steep decline over the last decade. He asks culture minister Sir John Whittingdale what the government can do to help, and looks at new ways local reporters are funding their journalism. Plus: A taster of the latest episode of How to Win An Election, where political masterminds Peter Mandelson, Polly Mackenzie and Daniel Finkelstein discuss how to deal with the legacy of a former leader.
  • Labour's First Prime Minister

    It's 100 years since the election of December 1923, which led to the formation of Britain's first Labour government under Ramsay MacDonald.How did the illegitimate son of a crofter come to lead a cabinet of socialist 'wild men', and has history judged him fairly? Matt is joined by Patrick Maguire, author David Torrance and Ramsay MacDonald's granddaughter Iona Kielhorn.Plus: Columnists Rachel Sylvester and Tom McTague discuss the chances of Nigel Farage making a political comeback, why Keir Starmer praised Thatcher's 'drive', and what do we mean by success?
  • And Finally... With Trevor McDonald

    Broadcasting legend Trevor McDonald is arguably the most recognisable face (and voice) in British news broadcasting history. He talks to Matt about his 60-year career including interviewing Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gaddafi, and securing the first interview with Nelson Mandela after his release from prison.Plus: Columnists India Knight and James Marriott discuss Omid Scobie's penchant for publicity, whether reality really is stranger than fiction, how much is too much to spend on biscuits, and how to become a Freeman of London.
  • From Child Refugee To Top Lawyer

    The headlines are dominated by statistics about who is coming to the UK and why; but what is it like to come to Britain as a child refugee, without your parents or the ability to speak English, and make a success of life in the UK? Somali born Hashi Mohamed arrived in North London aged 9. He tells Matt about his journey to becoming a top barrister and author, why people from poor backgrounds face the same obstacles he did, and why he is put off from a career in politics.Plus: Columnists Jenni Russell and Matthew Parris discuss the legacy of Henry Kissinger, whether mental health sickness leave has led to a spike of skivers, and whether we should mourn cuts to Newsnight.
  • PMQs Unpacked: Dad Joke Delivery

    The dad jokes are flowing at Prime Minister's Questions, as Keir Starmer accuses Rishi Sunak of 'losing his marbles' after falling out with the Greek prime minister.Matt is joined by Giles Coren, Tim Shipman and Lara Spirit to pause and unpack the exchanges from the Commons chamber.Plus: Columnists Alice Thomson and Robert Crampton talk about bringing funerals back into fashion, Robert's experience on the march against anti-semitism, and whether there really is a shortage of British ballet dancers.
  • The Art Of Political Sketch Writing

    Matt is joined by parliamentary sketch writers old and new to discuss the art of the political sketch. Hear first hand from the people whose job is to poke fun at politicians, which MPs are the ones to watch, and what topics are off limit.Plus: A taster of the latest episode of How to Win An Election, where political masterminds Peter Mandelson, Polly Mackenzie and Daniel Finkelstein chat about how to see off rebels within your own party.
  • Is Farage A Tory Threat?

    As ministers try to plot a new path to cut record migration numbers, Reform UK - formerly the Brexit Party - hopes to win over disillusioned Conservative voters. Patrick Maguire is joined by Iain Martin and John Stevens to discuss the threat to the Tories, and whether Labour was right to mock Rishi Sunak's use of a hammer.PLUS: In Patrick's political counter-factual series "What If", Labour's Lord Adonis and Lib Dem Baroness Featherstone remember the 2010 coalition talks and discuss what might have happened if Nick Clegg's party had rejected the Conservative offer.
  • A Winter Of Political Discontent?

    As temperatures drop around the UK, Patrick Maguire and historian Phil Tinline look at how political problems can turn into a crisis during the winter months - from the industrial action and coal shortages of the 1970s to modern-day demands to help households pay their energy bills.Plus: Columnists India Knight and James Marriott discuss Keir Starmer's taste in classical music, whether people really care about politicians swearing, why we're still obsessed with posh people, and is it too early to put up your Christmas decorations?
  • How Conspiracies Poisoned Politics

    Conspiracy theories aren't new, bu they're becoming harder for politicians to ignore. Patrick Maguire explores how they've crept into mainstream discourse, and how they're dominating the Republican primaries in the US.Plus: Columnists Manveen Rana and Matthew Syed debate how to solve the crisis in the asylum system and what to expect from the new "minister for common sense".