Talking Politics

David Runciman’s weekly political chat, produced in partnership with the LRB.
This is just a selection of episodes. For more, subscribe on the links below.

Adam Curtis

David Runciman, 9 April 2021

8 April 2021 · 46mins

This week David talks to the celebrated film-maker Adam Curtis about his new series Can't Get You Out of My Head.

How’s Biden Doing?

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 7 April 2021

1 April 2021 · 39mins

Seventy days into the first 100 days we take the temperature of the Biden presidency and ask how he’s doing, and how he’s doing so much. What made sleepy Joe such an active president? Is it him or the people around him? And how should the Republicans respond?


David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 31 March 2021

25 March 2021 · 45mins

David Runciman and Helen Thompson talk to Chris Bickerton about how technocracy and populism have come together to create a new form of democratic politics.  From New Labour to Macron's En Marche, from Dominic Cummings to Five Star, they discuss what these different forms of politics have in common and whether the pandemic has entrenched the hold of technopopulism – or whether we are on the brink of something new.

The Tragic Choices of Climate Change

Adam Tooze, Helen Thompson and David Runciman, 24 March 2021

18 March 2021 · 46mins

David talks to Helen Thompson and Adam Tooze about the choices facing the world in addressing climate change. Can we transition away from fossil fuels while maintaining our current ways of living?


David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 19 March 2021

11 March 2021 · 45mins

The panel discuss the government's post-Budget economic strategy and the new dividing lines in British politics. They also  consider whether a new Labour leader in Scotland can kickstart a revival of the party's fortunes there.

Northern Ireland: Past, Present, Future

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 10 March 2021

4 March 2021 · 52mins

In the latest in our series on the fate of the Union, we talk to historians Richard Bourke and Niamh Gallagher about the history of Northern Ireland’s relationship to the rest of the UK. Plus we ask if Irish re-unification is coming and what it might look like.

What Does Jeremy Think?

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 10 March 2021

25 February 2021 · 44mins

This week we talk to Suzanne Heywood about her memoir of her late husband, Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood - the man who helped to run Britain for more than two decades, working with four different prime ministers. From Black Wednesday to Brexit, from the Blair/Brown battles to the surprising successes of the Coalition, Jeremy Heywood had a unique position at the heart of British politics. We discuss what he did, what he learned and what he wished had turned out differently. 

Is Boris Back?

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 24 February 2021

18 February 2021 · 44mins

David and Helen talk to Nick Timothy, former chief of staff in Downing Street under Theresa May, about the future for Boris Johnson's government.

Rating the Government on Covid

David Runciman, 11 February 2021

11 February 2021 · 37mins

David talks to Bronwen Maddox, Director of the Institute for Government, about how well the Johnson government has performed over the past year of the pandemic. There have been some successes - the furlough scheme, vaccines - and plenty of failures - education policy, health outcomes. But which were the key choices? Who can claim the credit? And where does the blame really lie? Plus we discuss how much personality still matters in political decision-making.

What is the Union?

David Runciman, Helen Thompson and Colin Kidd, 24 February 2021

4 February 2021 · 51mins

Talking Politics begins a series looking at the future of the UK with Colin Kidd, discussing the origins of the Union and the ideas that underpin it. Is the island of Britain a natural territorial political unit? Is nationalism compatible with Unionism? What changed in the 1970s? And how has the shifting character of the SNP shaped the arguments for and against the Union?

Germany, Italy, Coalitions and Vaccines

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 10 February 2021

28 January 2021 · 49mins

The latest episode of Talking Politics looks at change in two European countries: Germany, as it starts to imagine life beyond Merkel, and Italy, after the resignation of the prime minister. Would Armin Laschet as Chancellor mean business as usual? Can Conte cobble together a new government? Where are the biggest challenges to the established order coming from? The episode also considers the new politics of vaccine nationalism.

Biden Begins

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 1 February 2021

21 January 2021 · 58mins

David, Helen and Gary Gerstle reflect on what lies ahead for American politics and for the Biden administration. Does Trump pose more of a threat from inside or outside the Republican party? Is immigration about to become the central partisan dividing line once again? How much good can calls for unity do in such a fractured country?

The Long-term Legacy of Brexit

David Runciman, Helen Thompson and Anand Menon, 2 February 2021

14 January 2021 · 53mins

David and Helen are joined by Diane Coyle and Anand Menon to have another go at pinning down the long term consequences of Brexit.

New Year, New World?

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 13 January 2021

7 January 2021 · 56mins

David Runciman and Helen Thompson look at what's changed – and what hasn't – since the last episode of Talking Politics, from Brexit to Biden to Covid. Has the Brexit deal really given the UK a chance to do things differently? Do Democrat wins in the Georgia Senate races open up new possibilities for Biden? What is at stake in the politics of vaccination? Where do things now stand for the future of the Union?

Did Covid Kill the Climate?

David Runciman, 8 January 2021

31 December 2020 · 40mins

A recording of a recent talk by David on what we've learned in 2020 about the resilience of democratic societies in the face of disaster. Has the experience of Covid shown us how we can deal with climate change, or has it shown us what we are missing? An argument about optimism, pessimism and everything in between.