Labour party

Is the Labour lead as big as it seems?

13 min listen

Both major party leaders are hitting the road today and campaigning in Scotland, which will be a major battleground in the coming election. Labour looks comfortably in the lead, but is that number accurate to what’s happening on the ground? Cindy Yu and Katy Balls talk to Focaldata’s James Kanagasooriam about their latest analysis. Produced by Cindy Yu.

Why has the election been called now?

15 min listen

Less than 24 hours after Rishi Sunak’s surprise election announcement, we look ahead to the parties’ campaigns. What has been the fall out? How have Labour responded to the shock news? And why didn’t Rishi have an umbrella? James Heale is joined by Isabel Hardman and former Labour adviser John McTernan to discuss.  Produced by Patrick Gibbons.

Is there finally good news for the government?

11 min listen

The IMF has upgraded the 2024 economic forecast for the UK. What does this mean for the Government and could more good news follow this week? And, with speeches on tax, benefit crackdowns and tackling anti-semitism, what should we make of all this political activity? Will we see the return of ‘the hot lectern guy’? Kate Andrews and James Heale join Katy Balls to discuss. Produced by Patrick Gibbons

The whips’ office and their woes

18 min listen

There have been two recent defections from the Conservatives to Labour. There’s lots of chatter in parliament about a potential third defector. In this Saturday edition of Coffee House Shots, Katy Balls and James Heale hear from Gyles Brandreth, former MP and broadcaster. He takes us back to what it was like working in the whips’ office in the 1990s, and ask if he thinks there are more defections to come.  You can read Gyles’ diary here. Produced by Megan McElroy.

Can Hunt answer the Reagan question?

11 min listen

Ronald Reagan famously asked voters: ‘are you better off than you were four years ago?’ At the next election, the Tories face a public thinking over the last fourteen years. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt gave a speech today defending the UK’s record tax levels and attacking Labour’s economic plans. But who should we trust more on tax? Fraser Nelson and James Heale join Katy Balls to discuss. Produced by Megan McElroy and Patrick Gibbons.

Has Starmer scaled down his pledges?

13 min listen

Keir Starmer has unveiled his six election pledges. In a nod to Tony Blair’s 1997 election card, the Labour leader has announced key promises to the public should they win the election. How are the commitments being received, and what will the impact of his speech be?  James Heale speaks to Katy Balls and Stephen Bush, Associate Editor at the Financial Times. 

Katy Balls

The Shabana Mahmood Edition

45 min listen

Shabana Mahmood is the shadow secretary of state for justice. She was born in Birmingham to migrant parents. After studying Law at Lincoln College, Oxford, where Rishi Sunak was a contemporary, she qualified as a barrister and lived and worked in London. First elected to Parliament in 2010, representing Birmingham Ladywood, she was one of the UK’s first female Muslim MPs. On the episode, Katy Balls talks to Shabana about her upbringing in the UK and in Saudi Arabia; how her faith is central to who she is as a person; and her approach to the tricky issues of abortion and assisted dying. Produced by Oscar Edmondson and Cindy Yu.

Can Lammy charm Trump?

14 min listen

This week, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy is stateside, meeting with senior advisors to Donald Trump and hoping to charm them. Meanwhile, David Cameron gives his first set-piece policy speech. Who is the more credible statesman? Cindy Yu talks to James Heale and Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform. Produced by Cindy Yu.

Why does Labour want Natalie Elphicke?

12 min listen

The MP for Dover, Natalie Elphicke, has shocked MPs and pundits across the political spectrum by defecting to the Labour party today. In her resignation letter, she accused the Conservative party for having ‘abandoned’ the ‘centre ground’. But for someone who has vocally criticised Labour in the past, how helpful is Elphicke’s defection? Oscar Edmondson talks to Katy Balls and Isabel Hardman. Produced by Oscar Edmondson and Cindy Yu.

Lloyd Evans

Keir Starmer is ashamed of his party

Questions from backbenchers dominated PMQs. Sir Edward Leigh is keen to end unfettered immigration and he announced a way to stop the boats that might actually stop the boats. ‘Detain all those who land illegally on our shores and offshore them immediately,’ he said. His specific goal was to prevent children from being shoved onto leaky inflatables crewed by emaciated refugees who paddle across channel at the dead of night. ‘End this callous trade,’ he said, citing the risks to innocent kids. No one could quibble with that. The PM agreed.  Sir Keir Starmer has quietly rebranded the Labour movement as ‘the changed Labour party’ ‘He’s right,’ said Rishi. He

What does Andy Street’s defeat mean for Rishi Sunak?

The local elections results are in, and the Conservatives have lost more than 450 council seats. After a full recount, Labour’s Richard Parker beat Andy Street to become West Midlands mayor, with only around 1500 votes in it. What does his loss mean for Rishi Sunak, and where do the overall results leave him? Katy Balls and James Heale speak to Megan McElroy. Produced by Megan McElroy. 

Wes Streeting should be ashamed of his white supremacist Tory jibe

Over the past few years Wes Streeting has established himself as one of the more open-minded and reasonable members of the shadow cabinet. Rather than nodding along with his party’s traditional worship of the NHS, and utilising the usual, false campaigning tool of trying to claim that the Tories have some secret plan to privatise the health service, he has been frank about its weaknesses. A tweet put out by Streeting yesterday afternoon, however, points in a rather different direction: blatant opportunism. He wrote: ‘A win for Susan Hall and the Conservatives is a win for racists, white supremacists and Islamophobes the world over. Susan Hall’s campaign has been fought

Can Starmer do patriotism?

13 min listen

It was St George’s Day this week, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he has ‘no time’ for those who ‘flinch’ at the St George’s flag. But how authentic is his patriotism? Katy Balls speaks to Tom Baldwin, former Labour Party adviser and author of new book England: Seven Myths That Changed a Country – and How to Set Them Straight. Produced by Megan McElroy. 

Why a Labour super-majority is unlikely

In economics, there is a phenomenon known as ‘automatic stabilisers’, which kick in at the onset of a recession. Without politicians having to do anything, state spending on out-of-work benefits increases while the amount of money taken off private citizens in taxes decreases, thereby preventing the economy from going into freefall. Hence wild fluctuations in GDP are constrained. We will shortly discover whether there is an automatic stabiliser in the UK electoral system. Most polls are indicating that Labour will go from the 202 seats they won in 2019, to more than 400 at the looming election. One poll this week even indicates that 500+ is on the cards for

Dowden: UK position on arms sales to Israel ‘has not changed’

Dowden: UK position on arms sales to Israel ‘has not changed’ Israel and Hamas are expected to hold a new round of ceasefire negotiations in Cairo today, at a time when Israel is under more pressure than ever before to pause the conflict. An IDF strike on an aid convoy which killed seven aid workers, including three Britons, led to Foreign Secretary David Cameron telling Israel that British support was ‘not unconditional’. This week there have been calls for the UK to suspend arms exports to Israel. Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said this morning on Sky News that the UK has ‘one of the toughest arms export systems’, based

The Starmer supremacy

40 min listen

On the podcast this week: what could achieving a large majority at the next election mean for Labour; how much should parents worry about picky eating; and why are humans fascinated with the apocalypse?  First up: The Starmer supremacy. If the polls are correct, Labour could be on to a record landslide at the next general election. Any political leader would relish such a win. But can achieving such a large majority present internal problems of its own? Labour MP Harriet Harman joins The Spectator’s political editor Katy Balls to discuss. (1:32) Then: Lara and Gus discuss some of their favourite pieces from the magazine, from Charles Moore’s column to

James Heale

Could Sadiq Khan lose London?

With Labour 20 points ahead in the national polls, a lot of Tories have already written off next month’s mayoral contest in the capital. London, they maintain, is a Labour city that occasionally votes Conservative. But supporters of Sadiq Khan and his Tory challenger Susan Hall agree: it’s going to be closer than many think. The mayor’s image is as likely to be found on Conservativeleaflets as on Labour ones Three factors are held by both camps to be at play. The first is the incumbency factor versus ‘time for a change’. Khan’s re-election team has consulted other campaigns which won three in a row; all agreed this was the

Hunt: Tories will keep the triple lock on pensions

Jeremy Hunt: Russian government creating a ‘smokescreen of propaganda’ On Friday night, a terrorist attack at a large concert in Moscow led to at least 133 deaths. Russian officials vowed revenge and suggested Ukrainian involvement, despite Islamic State claiming responsibility. On Sky News this morning, Trevor Phillips asked Jeremy Hunt how much Russia’s version of events could be believed. The Chancellor said it was always a tragedy when innocent people lost their lives, but that the UK had ‘very little confidence in anything the Russian government says’. He suggested they were creating a ‘smokescreen of propaganda’ to justify their invasion of Ukraine. Hunt guarantees Tories will keep triple lock on

What does Rachel Reeves stand for?

As the world discovered when she was caught lifting other people’s work for her book on women in economics, Rachel Reeves is not the most original of thinkers. But she has political talents. She has cultivated her image as an uninspiring technocrat in order to present herself as someone who will not spring surprises or take risks as chancellor. She thinks the state is inefficient and taxes are too high. She believes in ‘securonomics’, which sounds like a pleasing contrast to years of Tory policies. It is easy to preach fiscal discipline, but in office Labour would find it very difficult to contain spending Polls show that voters now think

What should Labour do about the Rwanda bill?

14 min listen

All ten of the amendments to the Rwanda bill, put in by the House of Lords, were rejected by the House of Commons last night. The bill will head back to the Lords tomorrow, where they will decide whether to continue the process of ‘ping pong’ (putting more amendments in and sending the bill back to the Commons). Should Labour peers worry about being portrayed as foiling the Rwanda asylum plan? Cindy Yu talks to Katy Balls and Spectator contributor Patrick O’Flynn. Produced by Cindy Yu.