Labour party

Labour won’t spend outside fiscal rules, says Reeves

Chancellor Reeves adamant she will ‘make sure the sums add up’ Rachel Reeves gave an interview with Laura Kuenssberg this morning in which she emphasised the ‘mess’ she says the Conservatives have left behind, and restated that Labour would not spend outside of its fiscal rules. Kuenssberg asked the Chancellor whether she would be prepared to ignore the recommendations of the independent pay review bodies, which have called for a public sector pay rise of 5.5 per cent. Reeves would not confirm the government’s position, but accepted that ‘there is a cost to not settling’ public sector pay disputes, implying she might be open to above-inflation pay increases. What is

Kate Andrews

Will Reeves boost public sector pay?

As the dust around the election settles, a question Tory MPs and supporters still grapple with is why Rishi Sunak called the election when he did – not least because economic indicators point to improvements over the summer and autumn, as inflation returns to target and growth starts to pick up. But Rachel Reeves, the new Chancellor, is having none of this narrative. ‘I really don’t buy this idea that somehow we’ve been handed a golden inheritance,’ she told Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC this morning, in her first sit-down interview since she entered No. 11. ‘If the former prime minister and chancellor had thought things were so good, they

How to drown your sorrows

Age. At the Spectator party last week, the editor asked me how long I had been attending the festivity. I could not remember whether it had been since the late 1970s or not until the early 1980s. But change is not always for the worse. During the 1980s, dearly beloved Bron Waugh was in charge of the wine. Talk about plonk. I do not know whether cats or horses were responsible, but there should have been no question of calling in a vet. The beasts ought to have been sent straight to a laboratory, to hunt down the toxicity. The Blairites had no shame about drinking champagne in public These

Katy Balls

The new divide in Labour

Labour MPs ought to have been jubilant when they gathered for their weekly all-party parliamentary meeting on Monday. Most were still riding high after their party won a landslide majority. Yet there was a frisson of unease as some of the new flock took the opportunity to raise a grievance: the two-child benefit cap. ‘It’s the first week and they’re already complaining,’ sighed one MP this week. The unhappiness has been brewing since last summer when Keir Starmer and his Chancellor, Rachel Reeves, said they were in no rush to lift the ‘nasty’ two-child benefit cap, introduced by Theresa May’s government in 2017. The policy, which restricts welfare payments to

What was missing from the King’s Speech?

16 min listen

Labour has set out its ambitious missions in the King’s Speech to open a new parliament today. On the podcast, Oscar Edmondson speaks to Katy Balls and former Labour advisor John McTernan about what was expected – and what was missing – from the legislative agenda. Produced by Oscar Edmondson and Cindy Yu.

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 months in the job, and in the US, Donald Trump has chosen the junior senator from Ohio J.D. Vance as his nominee for Vice-President. What could these developments mean for Labour? Lucy Dunn speaks to Katy Balls and Isabel Hardman.  Produced by Patrick Gibbons and Oscar Edmondson.

Coffee House Shots live: election aftermath

59 min listen

Join Fraser Nelson, Katy Balls and Kate Andrews, along with special guest Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, for a live edition of Coffee House Shots recorded earlier this week. A week on from Sir Jacob losing his seat, he declares ‘I can speak freely now’. So, why does he think the Conservatives lost the election? The team also answer a range of audience questions, including: how will the Conservatives win voters back? Is Nigel Farage here to stay? And what’s their verdict on Labour’s first week? Produced by Patrick Gibbons and Megan McElroy. 

Welcome to Whitehall Watch

14 min listen

What happens to staff in Whitehall when a government changes? In this Saturday edition of the podcast, Katy Balls is joined by Henry Newman, former adviser to Michael Gove. He now runs Whitehall Watch, a project exploring who’s up, who’s out, who’s in and what’s going down across Whitehall, the corridors of power and the Civil Service. 

Can Labour solve our prisons crisis?

16 min listen

Justice secretary Shabana Mahmood has acknowledged that ‘our prisons are on the point of collapse’. She has announced that, from September, most prisoners serving sentences of less than four years will be released 40 per cent of the way through their sentences instead of the halfway point, which is currently the case. The policy will ease pressure on prisons, but the question remains; could this backfire? Katy Balls speaks to Fraser Nelson and Professor Ian Acheson, former prison governor and former Director of Community Safety at the Home Office. You can listen to Shabana Mahmood on Women With Balls here.

Keir’s reformation: Labour’s radical plans

50 min listen

This week: Keir’s reformation. A week on from Labour’s victory in the UK general election, our cover piece looks ahead to the urgent issues facing Keir Starmer. If he acts fast, he can take advantage of having both a large majority and a unified party. The NHS, prisons, planning… the list goes on. But what challenges could he face and how should he manage his party? The Spectator’s political editor Katy Balls joins the podcast, alongside Lord Falconer, Labour peer and former cabinet minister under Tony Blair (2:53). Next: have smartphones revolutionised home working for women? Our very own Lara Prendergast writes in the magazine this week about the eclectic ways

James Heale

Has Nato been a success for Starmer?

18 min listen

Keir Starmer is on his first big diplomatic trip to Washington, attending the Nato summit. He has called on member countries to increase defence spending, had a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, and enjoyed a dinner with Joe Biden – all in his first week of the job. How is the trip going, are there any tensions arising, and has it been a success for the new PM?  Oscar Edmondson discusses with James Heale and Sophia Gaston, head of foreign policy at Policy Exchange. 

Portrait of the Week: Starmer’s first steps, Biden’s wobble and Australia’s egg shortage

Home Sir Keir Starmer, the Prime Minister, appointed several ministers who are not MPs, but will be created life peers. Most cabinet posts went to MPs who had shadowed the portfolios, but as Attorney General he appointed Richard Hermer KC, a human rights lawyer, instead of Emily Thornberry, who said she was ‘very sorry and surprised’. James Timpson, the shoe-repair businessman and prison reformer, was made prisons minister. Sir Patrick Vallance was made science minister. The former home secretary Jacqui Smith became higher education minister; Ellie Reeves, the sister of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves, became minister without portfolio. The government dropped the phrase ‘levelling up’. The Chancellor

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 Heale join Cindy Yu to discuss.  Produced by Patrick Gibbons and Cindy Yu. 

Can Labour deliver economic growth?

13 min listen

This morning, Rachel Reeves made her first speech as chancellor. She announced mandatory housing targets, promising 1.5 million homes over the next five years, as well as an end to the onshore wind ban. What else does she have in store, and can Labour deliver the growth the country needs? James Heale discusses with Katy Balls and Kate Andrews.

The surprises in Starmer’s cabinet

15 min listen

In his first 24 hours as Prime Minister, Keir Starmer has appointed his cabinet and held a cabinet meeting. Most of his frontbench have carried over their shadow briefs, but there were a few surprise appointments too. Cindy Yu talks to Katy Balls and Times columnist Patrick Maguire. Produced by Cindy Yu.

Starmer’s ruthless efficiency has risks

A couple of years ago, an anecdote about Keir Starmer did the rounds at Westminster. The story was that when asked about his time leading the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), he said that his proudest achievements involved overhauling IT systems, or procurement rules, or some other highly procedural aspect of the organisation’s bureaucracy. The story was generally told with a mildly mocking tone, proof that Starmer was a bit of a plodder, not the sort of glibly agile PPE debater that generally dominates Westminster life. In essence, Starmer was seen by much of the political village as a manager, not a leader – and the village always prizes dashing leadership

Exit poll predicts Labour landslide

12 min listen

The polls have closed and the exit poll is in. The BBC exit poll projects that Labour will win a landslide of 410 MPs and the Conservatives will be left with 131 seats. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats will win 61 seats, the SNP ten seats and Reform 13 seats. This would mean a Labour majority of 170 – and would be the Tories’ worst ever result. Megan McElroy speaks to Katy Balls and Kate Andrews. 

Lara Prendergast

The reckoning: it’s payback time for voters

39 min listen

This week: the reckoning. Our cover piece brings together the political turmoil facing the West this week: Rishi Sunak, Emmanuel Macron, and Joe Biden all face tough tests with their voters. But what’s driving this instability? The Spectator’s economics editor Kate Andrews argues it is less to do with left and right, and more a problem of incumbency, but how did this situation arise? Kate joined the podcast to discuss her argument, alongside former Cambridge Professor, John Keiger, who writes in the magazine about the consequences that France’s election could have on geopolitics (2:32).  Next: what role does faith play in politics? Senior editor at the religious journal First Things Dan Hitchens explores

Will there be an election upset on Thursday?

12 min listen

Tomorrow, voters will head to the polling booth to cast their vote in the 2024 general election. Will there be any surprises in store? So far, there has been little movement when it comes to the gap in vote share between Labour and the Tories. However, there’s still plenty of uncertainty across the parties as to what the exit poll will say at 10 p.m. on Thursday night. James Heale speaks to Katy Balls and James Kanagasooriam, chief research officer at Focaldata.

Has Reform peaked too soon?

14 min listen

The election campaign was going well for Nigel Farage’s Reform… until it wasn’t. A series of controversies have been difficult for the party to shake off. Will the distractions cost them votes and MPs? How will it affect their momentum – and who’s to blame? Katy Balls speaks to Fraser Nelson and James Heale.