John McTernan

John McTernan

John McTernan was political secretary to Tony Blair

What could Starmer’s first year in power look like?

19 min listen

Picture the scene: it’s July 5th and a triumphant Keir Starmer arrives at Downing Street after achieving a supermajority and the Tories have only narrowly prevented the Lib Dems becoming official party of opposition. Whilst this may sound far fetched, it is the likely result when you take an average of the last week’s polls.

Will Labour’s manifesto contain a surprise?

14 min listen

Overnight, details of Labour’s manifesto were leaked. There are several new policies, but how surprising are they, and how will they land with voters?  Elsewhere, Rishi Sunak has denied he planned to skip D Day events altogether since our episode this morning. Can the row get any worse? James Heale speaks to Isabel Hardman and

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

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

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 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