James Heale

James Heale

James Heale is The Spectator’s political correspondent.

Sunak makes security central to his stump speech

Rishi Sunak tonight made his first stump speech, kicking off the Tory election campaign with an appearance at the Excel Centre in the East End of London. The Prime Minister took to the stage after James Cleverly served as his warm-up act, reliving the role he played in the last election as party chairman and

James Heale

Sunak’s biggest gamble yet: a July election

12 min listen

Rishi Sunak has called a general election on July 4. A new parliament will be summoned on 9 July and the state opening will be on 17 July. Is a summer election a wise decision? Katy Balls and James Heale discuss from parliament. Produced by Natasha Feroze.

James Heale

Starmer pitches stability

Within 20 minutes of Rishi Sunak announcing plans for a July election, Keir Starmer was up delivering his response. The Labour leader’s first pitch of the campaign could be summed up in six words: stop the chaos, vote for change. It is a neat encapsulation of Starmer’s four-year-mission as Leader of the Opposition – making

James Heale

Visa figures fall again – but is it enough?

It’s a big day for stats in British politics. Following the news that inflation has dropped to 2.3 per cent, the Home Office has this morning published its latest figures for visa applications. They reveal a 25 per cent fall across all visa routes in the first four months of 2024, following the package of

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’?

James Heale

Gove sounds the alarm on anti-Semitism

Multiple ministers are out giving speeches today but none will be as hard-hitting as that made by Michael Gove this morning. Britain, he warned, risks ‘descending into the darkness’ if it fails to tackle growing anti-Semitism in the wake of the 7 October attacks. Much of the Community Secretary’s ire was directed at the recent pro-Palestine campus

Infected blood scandal was ‘no accident’, says report

17 min listen

The Infected Blood Inquiry has finally concluded after a five-year investigation. This lunchtime, the inquiry’s chair Sir Brian Langstaff said thousands of deaths could have been prevented and the ‘worst ever’ NHS scandal, which saw thousands of Britons between 1970 and 1998 become infected by contaminated blood, could ‘largely, though not entirely, have been avoided’.

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

Welsh government in crisis after Plaid pull the plug

Throughout the last 25 years of devolution in the UK, one thing has remained consistent: Welsh Labour’s stranglehold on Cardiff Bay. But in recent weeks, the party’s grip on the Senedd has been shaken by a series of controversies, culminating in today’s news that Plaid Cymru is pulling out of their power-sharing agreement. The two

James Heale

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

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

James Heale

Will Labour fall into the migration trap?

Brexit was the issue that won the last general election for the Tories but botching it may well lose them the next. The Red Wall was attracted by the promise that after sovereignty was wrested back from Brussels, the UK would be able to control its immigration policy and employers would have to pay their

Starmer fluffs his lines at PMQs

11 min listen

There were no defections today at Prime Minister’s Questions, which probably put Keir Starmer in a slightly stronger position, ironically, given the fuss about Natalie Elphicke crossing the floor last week. The focus was on justice and both the PM and Starmer came up with some new attack lines, but the delivery was – in

Can John Swinney turn it around for the SNP?

John Swinney, newly inaugurated First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the SNP, has been in the job for a week. What have we learnt since he took up the job, and can he turn things around for the party in time for a general election?  James Heale speaks to Lucy Dunn and Fergus Mutch,

Starmer is copying the Tory small boats strategy

Today is one of those rare occasions in British politics – a day when Rishi Sunak’s government has a bit of good news. Figures released this morning show the UK economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the first three months of the year, thanks to stronger than expected growth in March. So it is

James Heale

The UK leaves recession – but is it too late for the Tories?

10 min listen

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed this morning that the UK confined its technical recession to 2023. The economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the first three months of the year, thanks in large part to stronger-than-expected growth in March, which reached 0.4 per cent. But is the plan really working?  Also on

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

Sunak’s ex-ministers demand Home Office overhaul

Eight months ago, Robert Jenrick and Neil O’Brien were serving ministers under Rishi Sunak. But both are now out of government and keen to show where their former colleagues are going wrong. The two backbenchers today published a big paper on migration with the Centre for Policy Studies. It calls for the Home Office to

James Heale

Tory MP Natalie Elphicke defects to Labour

Shortly before Prime Minister’s Questions today, Labour dropped a bombshell. Natalie Elphicke, one of the most hawkish Tory MPs on migration, has defected to Sir Keir Starmer’s party. Elphicke, who has sat for Dover and Deal since 2019, said in a statement that she was switching parties because of how much the political landscape had

Will there really be a hung parliament?

14 min listen

It’s the first day back after the local elections. Following Thursday’s results, some polling suggests that if the votes were replicated in a general election, there might be a hung parliament. Could this be a reality?  The Spectator’s James Heale and Katy Balls are joined by Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta.  Produced by