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.

Starmer’s ‘why Labour’ message needs to get slicker

Keir Starmer has been considerably less discombobulated by the election announcement than the party that made it, but he still has some catching up to do. The Labour leader knows that he has to answer the question of ‘why Labour’ to voters who have already largely accepted that there is a strong reason to change

Who dares, wins? Not Michael Gove

Michael Gove has just announced he is standing down at the election. He spent the past few days agonising privately over the decision, and published a letter on Twitter paying tribute to the Conservative party’s legacy in government – mostly his legacy, in fact. He names education reform, funding for modernising prisons and rehabilitation, progressive

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

If only Starmer had answered his own questions at PMQs

Is Rishi Sunak going to announce the election date later today? Speculation was – once again – so rife that the Prime Minister might be about to make some kind of announcement that the question came up at Prime Minister’s Questions. And he didn’t answer it. When SNP Westminster group leader Stephen Flynn asked him,

Isabel Hardman

The stressful world of the Chelsea Flower Show

The man in the Post Office was a bit bemused by the three enormous boxes I was trying to send from my home just outside Edinburgh down to London. He’d asked what the value of the packages was. In one sense, they were worthless, I explained. But I really needed to make sure they got

Sunak apologises during ‘day of shame’

Rishi Sunak’s Commons apology for the contaminated blood scandal was reasonably comprehensive. The statement opened with him saying he wanted to speak directly to the victims and their families, and ‘make a wholehearted and unequivocal apology for this terrible injustice’. The Prime Minister listed what the government was apologising for: the failure in blood policy

Isabel Hardman

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’.

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

Isabel Hardman

Starmer calls Sunak a ‘tech brother’ in rowdy PMQs

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 Tories have so thoroughly trashed their former colleague that the most damaging thing Labour could probably do now would be to send the

MPs demand a rethink on mental illness

Given so many people are suffering from some kind of mental distress at the moment, many of them out of work because of it, it’s heartening to read the report from a group of MPs and peers who want to do something constructive about it. The cross-party ‘Beyond Pills All Party Parliamentary Group’ has published

The NHS’s maternity care has always been a mess

The latest report on maternity care in the UK hasn’t told us anything new. The headline finding of the parliamentary inquiry into birth trauma is that poor care is ‘all-too frequently tolerated as normal’, with women’s concerns and requests for pain relief being dismissed, poor postnatal care where women who couldn’t move after surgery were

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

Isabel Hardman

Elphicke defection baffles Tories at PMQs

If Natalie Elphicke’s defection had much of an effect on the mood of Tory MPs at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, it was largely to leave them looking a bit baffled. Their former colleague was not a clear candidate to cross the floor to Labour. Labour MPs looked a bit confused too, in fairness, having previously

Parliament’s Rafah rage

It’s been a while since the Commons has had so much anger in it as it did during the urgent question on Gaza. The anxiety and criticism of Israel in Rafah wasn’t confined to the usual group of opposition MPs, but came from across the House. The anger wasn’t just directed at Israel, but at

Isabel Hardman

Jeremy Hunt snaps at Rachel Reeves over National Insurance

Rachel Reeves may have been getting attention for her accusation that the government is ‘gaslighting’ the public over the state of the economy, but this afternoon she ended up being accused of spreading fake news. The ‘gaslighting’ line came from a speech in the City of London this morning, after which Reeves then popped up

Tories aren’t panicking – they expected a drubbing

Unsurprisingly, the overnight results from the local elections have been very bruising for the Conservatives. Local election results day is often quite formulaic, though, given there are always predictions of a ‘bloodbath’ for one party or the other for months ahead of polling day. This means that the losses can be priced in to the

Do Tory MPs really believe Rishi Sunak can win the election?

Could Rishi Sunak be about to win the next general election? That suggestion, made at Prime Minister’s Questions today by one of his backbenchers Bill Wiggin, was so unrealistic that the ministers sitting next to Sunak, including Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, couldn’t stop themselves from giggling. Mind you, Wiggin seemed to think that a primary