James Heale

James Heale

James Heale is The Spectator’s political correspondent.

Is Diane Abbott in or out?

11 min listen

The drama in Westminster never seems to end. Last night the Times reported that the Labour party would not allow veteran MP Diane Abbott to represent the party at the upcoming general election. Abbott has reportedly been given the Labour whip back as a middle way, causing something of a backlash. Seeking to clarify the situation, Keir

Police drop investigation into Rayner housing claims

Labour’s election campaign continues to get off to a good start. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has today confirmed that it will take no further action against Angela Rayner after accusations surrounding her living arrangements. Officers from the force launched an investigation into the party’s deputy leader in April after Tory MP James Daly registered a

James Heale

Farage speaks of ‘six-year plan’ as he launches campaign

The Royal Cinque Ports Yachts Club was an appropriate place for Nigel Farage to make his first big speech of the election campaign today. Set on the Dover seafront, it offered the perfect setting for Farage – Reform’s honorary president and spiritual figurehead – to lambast the Tory record on small boats. The Conservatives, he

Tories race to find 160 candidates

The decision to call a snap election last Wednesday caught many in Tory and Labour high command by surprise. Both parties are now racing to finalise candidate selections for all 630 seats in Britain by the deadline of Friday 7 June, with Labour much further advanced in this process than the Conservatives. Fewer than 35

Sunak’s smoking ‘legacy’ goes up in flames 

When Rishi Sunak announced his decision to call a July election, he used his rain-soaked speech to list his apparent achievements in office. This included his plans for a ‘smoke-free generation’: We set out a comprehensive plan to reform our welfare system to make it fair to those who pay for it as well as those who need it. Immigration is finally coming down and we will stop the boats with our Rwanda partnership. We will ensure that the

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

James Heale

Reform’s election launch overshadowed by Farage

It’s been a big morning on the right of British politics. First, net migration figures were published showing 685,000 people arrived in the 12 months between 2022 and 2023. Rishi Sunak then admitted that no flights to Rwanda will take off before polling day on 4 July. This was followed shortly after by Nigel Farage

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