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.

Boris: The Ghost of Christmas Present

Helen Thompson and David Runciman, 10 January 2022

6 January 2022 · 52mins

David and Helen talk through what’s going on with the prime minister, the pandemic and the state of British politics. Is Johnson still in touch with public opinion on Covid? Why is hypocrisy more toxic than lying? What are the historical parallels - if any - for the Tories’ recent by-election disasters? Plus we try to decide what 2021 will be remembered for politically in the years to come.

1848 and All That

David Runciman, Helen Thompson and Christopher Clark, 4 January 2022

16 December 2021 · 56mins

David and Helen talk to historian Chris Clark about the 1848 revolutions and what they teach us about political change. What explains the contagiousness of the revolutionary moment? Is it possible to combine parliamentary reform with street politics? Where does counter-revolution get its power?

Supply Chains, Inflation & the Metaverse

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 22 December 2021

2 December 2021 · 59mins

In a special episode recorded live at the Bristol Festival of Economics, David and Helen talk to Ed Conway, economics editor at Sky News, about the biggest challenges facing the global economy. How will the supply chain crisis be fixed? Is inflation the threat it appears? Can the world economy really wean itself off coal? And will Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse ever escape the brute facts of economic reality?

Where Is China Heading?

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 7 December 2021

18 November 2021 · 48mins

Helen and David talk to Cindy Yu, host of the Chinese Whispers podcast, about the trajectory of Chinese politics. What is Beijing’s political strategy for Hong Kong and Taiwan? Is Xi Jinping really a socialist? Can the CCP escape its history? And why didn't Xi show up in Glasgow?

Climate Ambition vs Energy Reality

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 10 November 2021

4 November 2021 · 55mins

David and Helen talk to Jason Bordoff, Dean of the Columbia Climate School and former Special Assistant to Barack Obama, about climate, COP26 and the enormous challenges of the energy transition. How can we balance the need for energy security with the need to wean the world off its dependency on fossil fuels? Why is China still so reliant on coal? Who will pay for the energy needs of the developing world? Plus, just how scared are the oil companies of public opinion?

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel, David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 28 October 2021

28 October 2021 · 57mins

In a special episode recorded in front of a live audience for the LRB’s Subject/Object event series, Helen and David talk to Hilary Mantel about power, monarchy and political intrigue, from the Tudors to the present: from Henry VIII to Boris Johnson, Thomas Cromwell to Dominic Cummings.

Free with Lea Ypi

David Runciman, 28 October 2021

21 October 2021 · 1hr 01min

David talks with Lea Ypi about her remarkable new memoir Free: Coming of Age at the End of History.

German Lessons

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 23 October 2021

7 October 2021 · 56mins

David and Helen are joined by Politico’s chief Europe correspondent Matthew Karnitschnig to explore the consequences of the German elections. Who were the real winners and losers? Are there lessons for centre-left parties in other countries, including the Labour Party in Britain? And what are the choices facing Germany as it decides on its place in an increasingly unstable world? Plus we ask whether this was a Covid election. If not, why not?

Shutdown/Confronting Leviathan

David Runciman, Helen Thompson and Adam Tooze, 13 October 2021

23 September 2021 · 1hr 05mins

David and Helen are back from the summer break and are joined by Adam Tooze.

Q&A: Trump and Everything Else

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 26 July 2021

8 July 2021 · 55mins

David Runciman and Helen Thompson answer a third round of listener questions, starting with Trump and moving on to where we get our ideas from, what we've learned from all our failed predictions, and whether the 1990s were really the decade of missed opportunity.

Q&A: UK Politics and the Union

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 1 July 2021

1 July 2021 · 1hr 01min

The second part of Talking Politics answering your questions, this week covering British politics. Helen and David tackle whether Labour can win, what happened to the Lib Dems, where the Greens are heading and what’s in store for the Union. Plus, how much is being held together by the Queen and what will happen when she is no longer around?

Q&A: Geopolitics

David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 7 July 2021

24 June 2021 · 52mins

David Runciman and Helen Thompson answer questions from Talking Politics listeners on the geopolitics of vaccines, Germany as a 'useful idiot', the Great Game in the 21st century, oil prices, green finance and the risks and rewards of 'Japanification'.

Ed Miliband's Big Ideas

David Runciman and Ed Miliband, 28 June 2021

17 June 2021 · 45mins

David Runciman talks to Ed Miliband about the thinking behind his new book Go Big. What are the ideas that have the power to change British politics? If they have been shown to work elsewhere, why are they so hard to make happen? Is it the politicians or the public who are reluctant to make the shift? And might the Tories be better at the politics of change than Labour?


David Runciman and Helen Thompson, 23 June 2021

10 June 2021 · 46mins

This week David and Helen take stock of the state of British politics, looking at how the big themes of the last year fit together.

Why Constitutions Matter

David Runciman and Linda Colley, 9 June 2021

3 June 2021 · 1hr 19mins

David talks to historian Linda Colley about her new global history of written constitutions: the paper documents that made and remade the modern world. From Corsica to Pitcairn, from Mexico to Japan, it’s an amazing story of war and peace, violence, imagination and fear.