They say a week is a long time in politics. Never has that been more apposite than now. Tune into these podcasts for lively debate, political gossip and to make sense of the times in which we live.

‘May you live in interesting times.’ So goes the saying, a translation of an apocryphal old Chinese curse. Its origins may be in doubt, but its sentiment is not: uninteresting times may sound tedious, but who doesn’t long for peace and tranquillity after the years that we’ve had? A pandemic followed by war undoubtedly qualify as majorly ‘interesting’ events. But, as ever, so much of how we experience disasters is in the handling of them – and for that, we look to politics.

It just so happens that, as the world has entered into a period of volatility, so too has Westminster, with the first-ever sitting Prime Minister found to have broken the laws that his own government made. It is very easy – and absolutely understandable – to find the whole affair too perplexing, too infuriating or too extraordinary to engage fully with – at least without finding oneself shouting at the news with alarming regularity and vehemence.

Enter then the political podcast: whether you choose to listen to political podcasters with wildly divergent views to your own in order to better understand the other side, or you prefer to hear cogent arguments from those you find politically sound, it has never been a more interesting time for commentary. You can, of course, devour the newspapers for well-argued takes, but there is an immediacy to spoken debate that is particularly engaging for those with an interest in goings-on at Westminster – plus, of course, you can listen on-the-go.

These are the ones that will have you nodding in agreement or yelling in dissent. Either which way, you’ll find anything but apathy here.


The Rest Is Politics




A former Prime Ministerial candidate and would-be London Mayor, Conservative Rory Stewart is a an author, an explorer and a former soldier who is proficient in eleven languages. Alastair Campbell is a journalist, author, broadcaster and strategist, known for his role as chief press secretary in Tony Blair’s New Labour government. From across the political divide, they unpick and debate the current Westminster news and – all too often – the latest outrages. Despite technically being on opposing sides, there is a lot of commonality in their chiefly centrist opinions, which is not to say that they agree on everything. As they say, part of the point of the podcast is ‘bringing back the lost art of disagreeing agreeably.’ On the iniquities of Boris Johnson, however, they are almost always united. Listen in here.


Reasons To Be Cheerful




Ed Miliband, former leader of the Labour Party and now MP for Doncaster and Shadow Secretary for Climate Change and Net Zero, presents Reasons To Be Cheerful with broadcaster Geoff Lloyd. Recorded in the latter’s loft, it came into being in the aftermath of Brexit and the election of Trump in America – which is to say, just as many people were feeling in the doldrums about global politics. The concept, then, was to host a show that would present good ideas as a demonstration that they were still out there and not lost forever. As they say, ‘In a world of division, deception, climate crisis and splintered societies, Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd decided to take a brighter look at the world we live in, and find out what’s shaping our futures for the better.’ The scope is vast, ranging from episodes on how to save British rivers to storing clean energy to why we need a circular economy. And if you like what you hear, you can also join its book club for optimists. Great listens for those who want to engage with politics, but are fed up with Westminster itself. Listen in here.


Americast




We have a lot going on the UK right now, but no man is ever an island (despite that we do, in fact, live on one). As evidenced in so many aspects of political life – and not least with regard to the war in Ukraine – America has always had close links to the UK, hence the so-called ‘special relationship’. Americast, presented by the great Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel, was initially founded to provide analysis of the 2020 US elections for a British audience. Since then, it has gained huge numbers of listeners, and continues to provide incisive, in-depth looks at America in the Biden era. Recent episodes include discussion of the American fascination with Boris Johnson, whether Biden is handling Putin any better than Trump would have done, and Prince Andrew’s sex assault case. Listen in here.


Politics Weekly UK




Guardian columnist John Harris hosts this podcast, which looks at the week’s events through the lens of a whole spectrum of interviewees from up and down the country and across the political divide. Given the times in which we live, this makes for very lively listening. Recent episodes include ‘Are we in the middle of a constitutional crisis?’ and ‘Will privilege and parties sink the Tories?’ Listen in here.


Oh God, What Now?




‘Oh God, what now?’ is a question more and more of us are asking ourselves with alarming regularity. So much so, in fact, that it spurred presenter Dorian Lynskey to found a podcast to make sense of the political week while having a much-needed laugh. They say, ‘Oh God, What Now? has become one of Britain’s most entertaining political voices. With top-quality guests and analysis, and poor-quality jokes, we make the unbearable bearable.’ Recent episodes include ‘The lunatics have taken over the asylum system’ and ‘The Crime Minister.’ Listen and laugh (after all, if you don’t, you’ll cry). Listen in here.


The Edition




Presented by Lara Prendergast and William Moore, The Edition is The Spectator’s flagship podcast. Featuring discussion and debates around the magazine’s biggest stories of the week, recent episodes have asked, ‘How much longer can Boris keep going?’ and taken a long, hard look at what it calls ‘Biden’s war’. Listen in here.


For The Many




LBC presenter Iain Dale and former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith discuss the week that has just been, addressing the big issues with a big hearty dose of humour (for which, thank god). We like its weekly smut rating, which goes from zero to ‘higher than normal due to Jaqui’s filth.’ Listen in here.

By Nancy Alsop
May 2022

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