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.

Brexit, Trump and Aldershot FC

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 6 August 2020

6 August 2020 · 43mins

David and Helen talk with the historian David Kynaston about his diary of the 2016-17 season in football and in politics, when a lot happened both to the world and to his beloved Aldershot FC. It's a conversation about loyalty, identity and belonging, and about what sorts of change we can tolerate and what we can't. Plus Helen reflects on her life as a West Ham fan.

Whose Work is it Anyway?

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 6 August 2020

30 July 2020 · 42mins

David and Helen talk with Diane Coyle about what the pandemic has revealed about the changing nature of work. Who is doing more of it? Who is still getting paid for it? Which jobs are not coming back? Plus we explore the impact of the digital revolution on how we get rewarded for what we do and we ask whether the big tech firms can continue to hoover up so many of the rewards. Is Jeff Bezos really worth it?

Revisiting Yuval Harari

David Runciman, 6 August 2020

23 July 2020 · 47mins

David Runciman launched the Talking Politics podcast in 2016 with a conversation with Yuval Noah Harari about his book Homo Deus. In this episode, Runciman reflects on what difference the four subsequent years have made to how we think about the themes that emerged in that conversation, themes which the podcast has revisited regularly: the power of the big technology companies; the vulnerability of democracy; and the deep uncertainty we all feel about the future. 

Twilight of Democracy

David Runciman and Anne Applebaum, 6 August 2020

16 July 2020 · 43mins

David talks to the writer Anne Applebaum about her highly personal new book, which charts the last twenty years of broken friendships and democratic failure.

Helen’s History of Ideas

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 6 August 2020

9 July 2020 · 48mins

David talks with Helen to get her take on the history of ideas – both what’s there and what’s missing. Why start with Hobbes?  What can we learn from the Federalist Papers? Where’s Nietzsche? Plus they talk about whether understanding where political ideas come from is liberating or limiting, and ask how many of them were just rationalisations for power.

James Meek on Healthcare: from WHO to NHS

David Runciman and James Meek, 6 August 2020

6 July 2020 · 38mins

David Runciman talks to James Meek about what the Covid crisis has revealed about how we understand healthcare and how we think about the organisations tasked with delivering it.  Their conversation covers hospitals and community care, Trump's America and Johnson's Britain, and about the WHO and the NHS.

Brexit in the Age of Covid

David Runciman, Helen Thompson and Anand Menon, 6 August 2020

2 July 2020 · 44mins

David and Helen are joined by Anand Menon and Catherine Barnard to assess the impact of the Covid crisis on the fate of Brexit and its implications for what might happen later this year.

Britain Wrestles with its Past

David Runciman, Helen Thompson and Fintan O’Toole, 6 August 2020

25 June 2020 · 48mins

David and Helen talk with the writer and political commentator Fintan O’Toole about how British politics can and should deal with its imperial past in the age of Brexit. From battles over statues to fights over nationalism we explore whether history has become the new democratic divide. Why does Churchill loom so large over our politics? Can Labour reclaim the mantle of patriotism? Will the Union survive the history wars? 

American Fascism: Then and Now

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 6 August 2020

18 June 2020 · 49mins

David Runciman and Helen Thompson talk to historian Sarah Churchwell about the origins of the idea of American fascism. Does it follow a European model or is it something exceptional? What role do white supremacy and anti-Semitism play in its development? How close has it got to power? And does it make sense to call Trump a fascist?

Police State USA

David Runciman and Adom Getachew, 6 August 2020

11 June 2020 · 56mins

David talks to Adom Getachew, Jasson Perez and Gary Gerstle about the politics of protest and the politics of policing in America.

Facts vs Opinions

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 6 August 2020

4 June 2020 · 45mins

David and Helen talk with Jonathan Shainin, Head of Opinion at the Guardian newspaper, about the challenges of political journalism in a deeply polarised age.

Dan Snow on Covid History (and Cummings)

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 6 August 2020

28 May 2020 · 47mins

David and Helen talk to the historian Dan Snow about the parallels for the current crisis. Is it like past pandemics or is it more like a war? What has it exposed about the weak spots in our societies? And what have we learned about the role of political leadership?

Europe Blows Up

David Runciman, Helen Thompson and Adam Tooze, 6 August 2020

21 May 2020 · 56mins

How does a judgement of the German constitutional court threaten to explode the European project? David Runciman talks to Helen Thompson, Adam Tooze and Shahin Vallee about what the court's decision might mean for the euro, for the response to the pandemic, for Franco-German relations and for the future of central banks.

Labour and Brexit: Beyond the Crisis

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 6 August 2020

14 May 2020 · 46mins

David is joined by Helen Thompson and Chris Brooke to try to get beyond the current crisis and work out where British politics is heading.

Ebola, COVID and the WHO

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 6 August 2020

7 May 2020 · 50mins

David and Helen talk this week with Amy Maxmen, senior reporter at Nature, who also covered the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa. Does she see comparisons between that and COVID-19?