Isabel Hardman

Isabel Hardman

Isabel Hardman is assistant editor of The Spectator and author of Why We Get the Wrong Politicians. She also presents Radio 4’s Week in Westminster.

Two-child benefit cap row – Starmer’s first big test?

13 min listen

Keir Starmer is coming under pressure to commit to scrapping the two-child benefit cap, introduced in 2017 by the Conservatives. Plaid Cymru, the Greens, Nigel Farage, the SNP, and now some Labour backbenchers are all calling for its removal. Can Starmer hold the line? Elsewhere: in Wales, First Minister Vaughan Gething has resigned after four

The two-child benefit cap row is Starmer’s first big test

Can Keir Starmer hold the line on backing the two-child benefit cap? The row about the policy, introduced by the Conservatives and vociferously opposed by most people in the Labour party, is going to be a significant problem for the Prime Minister, even in his honeymoon period. The King’s Speech this week is unlikely to

How will Starmer keep his backbenchers busy?

One of Keir Starmer’s very nice problems to have is that his majority is so big and many of his new MPs so experienced that he needs to work out how to keep them occupied. The Prime Minister gave a partial answer to that last night, appointing a number of figures who have only just

Isabel Hardman

Spare a thought for our departing MPs

The MPs who lost their seats spent yesterday clearing out their offices. Their passes stop working later this week, and then they have a few months to wind up their offices and constituency work before truly becoming ex MPs. It is a brutal experience, not least because Westminster is buzzing with newly-elected members. There is

Isabel Hardman

Can Wes Streeting end the NHS strikes?

14 min listen

Health Secretary Wes Streeting declared the NHS ‘broken’ over the weekend. With a creaking in-tray of issues, he opened up negotiations with the BMA today to try and solve one: the pay dispute with junior doctors. With ambitious reforms planned, and a workforce with low morale, how successful will Labour be?  Isabel Hardman and James

Isabel Hardman

What Keir Starmer revealed in his first Commons speech as PM

Keir Starmer has just made his first Commons speech as Prime Minister. Both he and Rishi Sunak spoke at the election of the Speaker Lindsay Hoyle this afternoon in what was, by tradition, a largely jovial occasion. He paid tribute to Hoyle’s work in the previous parliament, and also cracked a joke about Sir Edward

Keir Starmer is leaning on experienced ministerial hands

Keir Starmer waited for the football to finish before announcing his latest tranche of ministerial appointments. A few of them are confirmations of the roles held by shadow ministers in opposition: Matthew Pennycook is housing minister, Jim McMahon is in the same department as local government minister, and Dan Jarvis remains in the Home Office

Isabel Hardman

Labour should ignore the Lib Dems on social care

Politics is a goldfish bowl, and not in the sense that it’s small and everyone is watching you intensely. It’s more that the inhabitants of the bowl have a three-second memory. That’s the only explanation for the Liberal Democrats saying they will use their 71 MPs to push Labour for cross-party talks on social care. 

Streeting declares: ‘the NHS is broken’

Wes Streeting has just given a striking statement on arrival at the Department of Health and Social Care in which he announced that ‘from today, the policy of this department is that the NHS is broken’. Parties make campaign threats that there are ‘24 hours to save the NHS’, but this description of Labour’s sacred

Isabel Hardman

Jeremy Corybn and the rise of the Gaza independents

A counterpoint to the main story of Labour’s election victory is the way Gaza has cost the party at least five seats – and ran it very close in others. Jon Ashworth’s shock loss to independent Gaza campaigner Shockat Adam in Leicester South was the most high profile but there were three other losses to

Boris swoops in late to help out Tories

Boris Johnson has tonight made a surprise appearance at a ‘stop the supermajority’ Conservative rally to warn of the dangers of Keir Starmer. The former prime minister, who has spent most of the election campaign on holiday, came on stage in Central London to chants of ‘Boris! Boris’ and told the crowd of party activists

Isabel Hardman

How will Starmer handle reshuffles?

Will Keir Starmer keep David Lammy on as foreign secretary? That sort of question would not normally be at all relevant until about midday on the day after an election, but the result has become such a foregone conclusion that everything has sped up. The Labour leader was today asked whether Lammy would go into

Isabel Hardman

Who cares what Keir Starmer does with his Friday nights?

As part of their vote-Tory-or-the-kitten-gets-it final push, the Conservatives have spent the past 12 hours pushing the idea that Keir Starmer would ‘clock off’ at 6 p.m. as prime minister. This was based on a radio interview the Labour leader gave where he said he would try to protect Friday evenings for his family: his

Fear and loathing (and door-knocking) with the SNP

The SNP is having a very normal election: its first really normal one in a long time. It’s just short of a decade since the party nearly swept away all traces of other political parties in the 2015 election, leaving just three non-nationalist MPs in place. Many of the candidates who won back then are

Why is Sunak proud of his defensive campaign?

Rishi Sunak isn’t lacking in energy as he goes into his final few days of election campaigning. He is, though, using that energy in some quite futile ways. He spent much of his interview with Laura Kuenssberg this morning arguing with the way she phrased questions and getting irritated that he wasn’t being given enough

The pointlessness of the junior doctors’ strike

Junior doctors are back out on strike in England today, walking out this morning for five days. The timing of this particular strike is highly political, given medics will return to work just before polling day – but it is also highly pointless: something NHS leaders have been quick to highlight. The election campaign is

Sunak vs Starmer round two – who won?

16 min listen

Isabel Hardman and Katy Balls speak to Patrick Gibbons following the second, and final, debate between Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak. With a week to go until the general election, who came out on top and did we learn anything? 

Isabel Hardman

Why is Mel Stride always doing the broadcast round?

It’s a day ending in ‘y’, so it must be time for Mel Stride to make one of his appearances on the broadcast round. Stride is one of the few ministers who have been prepared to go out and about for the Tories during this campaign, alongside Grant Shapps. They seem to perform slightly different