John McTernan

John McTernan was political secretary to Tony Blair

Is Natalie Elphicke an unlikely hero?

15 min listen

Lucy Dunn speaks to Katy Balls and former Blair advisor John McTernan about the one vote that won plans to exclude MPs from parliament arrested on suspicion of serious sexual offence. After Keir Starmer faced criticism for allowing her into the party, could some of her greatest critics now see the perks? Also is Labour

Can Ben Houchen save Rishi Sunak?

12 min listen

Tomorrow, voters go to the polls for the last set of local elections in this parliament, alongside 11 mayoral elections in England, 37 police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales plus the London Assembly elections. Could Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, help turn Rishi Sunak’s fortunes around? You can read James Heale’s assessment

Can Starmer control 450 unruly MPs?

It doesn’t matter how loyal a candidate is. Once elected, all MPs (to a greater or lesser extent) conclude they have won their seat because of their unique qualities and personal vision. When they look in the mirror, many will see a future prime minister. Almost every backbench MP believes they are one reshuffle away

Can Labour learn from its mistakes?

15 min listen

Keir Starmer has rolled back on his support for the Rochdale by-election candidate, Azhar Ali over further comments made about on Israel-Palestine. John McTernan and James Heale speak to Natasha Feroze about the lessons Labour can learn, and whether antisemitism could topple Starmer. Also on the podcast, Rishi Sunak has been taking advantage of Labour’s

Is Starmer right to ditch his £28 billion green pledge?

15 min listen

Later today Keir Starmer is expected to officially kill off Labour’s £28 billion green investment pledge. With the centrepiece of their public policy now scrapped, what will Labour’s promise be at the next election?  James Heale speaks to Kate Andrews and John McTernan, former No. 10 political secretary.  Produced by Cindy Yu and Oscar Edmondson. 

Did Sunak steal Starmer’s thunder?

18 min listen

Keir Starmer delivered his new year’s speech, promising ‘Project Hope’ ahead of the general election. Critics claimed the speech was rhetoric heavy, low on policy. Having attacked the Prime Minister for dithering over the May general election, Rishi Sunak later announced it was his ‘working assumption’ to hold the general election in autumn 2024. Was

Can Starmer change the subject?

15 min listen

Keir Starmer has had a difficult week, trying to keep his party on message over the war in Israel and Gaza. The official position is that Israel has a right to respond to Hamas’s attacks on 7 October, but a number of Labour MPs are now calling for a ceasefire. Could Starmer have better handled

What’s behind Labour’s private school U-turn?

14 min listen

Another day, another U-turn. But this time it’s Labour, who have changed tack on their plans to end charitable status for private schools. Labour leader Keir Starmer previously declared that the charitable status for private schools could not be justified, so what’s behind the move?  James Heale speaks to Katy Balls and John McTernan, former

Blair is back

21 min listen

It’s been 16 years since Tony Blair walked away from frontline politics, but rather than retiring to Fife to write his books – like another Labour leader – he has managed to build his Tony Blair Institute for Global Change into one of the most sophisticated and influential think tanks in modern politics. What role

Has Starmer become the villain?

15 min listen

Katy Balls speaks to Isabel Hardman and former Labour advisor John McTernan to discuss the ongoing Labour row over the child benefits limit. Reactions were muted during today’s shadow cabinet meeting, but is this a reflection of a looming reshuffle?  Produced by Natasha Feroze. 

What does Starmer’s Labour stand for?

15 min listen

It has been a mixed start to the week for Labour. Rachel Reeves has been criticised for ‘following the same tram lines’ as the Tories on spending. Meanwhile, Starmer has been boosted by the decision taken by Unite – one of the UK’s biggest unions – to retain close ties with the Labour Party. Do

Why did Labour U-turn on its green investment pledge?

14 min listen

Natasha Feroze speaks to Katy Balls and former Labour advisor John McTernan about Labour’s announcement that they are watering down their green investment pledge. Is Labour in trouble over this U-turn? And could this be seen as a change in strategy for the party? Produced by Natasha Feroze.

The Starmtroopers: Labour’s new recruits

43 min listen

This week: In her cover piece for the magazine, The Spectator’s political editor Katy Balls writes that as Labour prepares for government, Keir Starmer is rooting out the far left sections of his party and replacing them with moderates. She is joined by John McTernan, former political secretary to Tony Blair, to discuss the return of the

It’s time to forgive Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott is a giant figure in the modern Labour party. As the first black woman ever to be elected to the House of Commons, and the longest serving black MP, she is an inspiration to black and brown communities – especially women – across the country. Abbott also wrote a crass and offensive letter

Hiring Sue Gray is a shrewd move by Keir Starmer

Offering Sue Gray a job as his chief of staff is one of the most consequential decisions Keir Starmer is ever going to make in his political career. For a senior politician, your chief, together with your communications director, and your campaign director, are force multipliers. They represent you in meetings and briefings you can’t

What it’s really like facing a Downing Street police probe

Boris Johnson and No. 10 staff could soon face being interviewed under caution over partygate. While this is remarkable, it is not unprecedented: Downing Street has been the focus of a police investigation before, when Tony Blair, my boss, was prime minister. Fifteen years ago, the ‘cash for peerages’ affair led to me and my colleagues being interviewed

Anas Sarwar shows how to unite Scotland

Tony Blair had a breakthrough moment in the mid-1980s. As an opposition frontbencher, he observed that UK politics was paralysed by Margaret Thatcher. The Conservative party were in awe of her and Labour were mesmerised like a snake in front of a mongoose. Politics was binary: are you for or against Thatcherism? Tony realised that

The fatal flaw in Labour’s politics

If we learned one thing from Labour Party Conference it’s that capitalism is bad. The union leaders said so, the delegates said so, Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, said so – at length. And do you know what? They’re right. Capitalism is bad, very, very bad – at defending itself. As anti-business