14 episodes

How can we make government work more effectively? What are Brexit and the current political tumult doing to our institutions? Is Britain's Constitution able to withstand the strains of 21st Century social, political and technical change? What needs to change in our system of government – and how can we change it?
Find out in the weekly podcast from Britain’s leading governmental think tank, where we analyse the latest events in politics and explain what they mean. Every week on INSIDE BRIEFING, IfG Director Bronwen Maddox welcomes experts, analysts and special guests for a free-ranging conversation on what makes government work – and how to fix it when it doesn’t.

INSIDE BRIEFING with Institute for Government Institute for Government

    • Government

How can we make government work more effectively? What are Brexit and the current political tumult doing to our institutions? Is Britain's Constitution able to withstand the strains of 21st Century social, political and technical change? What needs to change in our system of government – and how can we change it?
Find out in the weekly podcast from Britain’s leading governmental think tank, where we analyse the latest events in politics and explain what they mean. Every week on INSIDE BRIEFING, IfG Director Bronwen Maddox welcomes experts, analysts and special guests for a free-ranging conversation on what makes government work – and how to fix it when it doesn’t.

    The Leverage Report

    The Leverage Report

    Who’s really got the whip hand during Britain’s post-Brexit negotiations with the EU? Special guest RACHEL SYLVESTER of The Times joins us to look at whether Boris Johnson can play the brinkmanship game again when it comes to new trade arrangements with our European friends.
    Plus, we talk to LIAM FOX about starting a government department from scratch, that putative Trump trade deal, and whether he got the Brexit he wanted. Why do ex-ministers heap praise on individual civil servants but rail against the Civil Service in general? The surprise return of self-government in Northern Ireland. And our data guru Gavin Freeguard turns Freedom of Information requests into free jazz. He’s got all the right requests, just not in the right order. 
    “Brexit WILL be done in the narrow sense... but what exactly are we doing with the control we take back?” – Joe Owen
    “There’s been a Roundheads vs Cavaliers divide in politics and Labour have been the joyless Roundheads. The next Labour leader will need to be someone who can spark some joy in the country.” – Rachel Sylvester
    Hosted by Bronwen Maddox with Cath Haddon, Joe Owen, Jess Sargeant and Gavin Freeguard. Audio production by Alex Rees. 

    • 38 min
    BONUS: Jonathan Powell – “What I discovered in No.10 is how LITTLE power you have”

    BONUS: Jonathan Powell – “What I discovered in No.10 is how LITTLE power you have”

    “You need to persuade the Civil Service. Attacking them is not the way to do it.” As Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff during the New Labour years, Jonathan Powell trod the path of radical reform that Dominic Cummings now walks. In this extended version of his interview in this week’s INSIDE BRIEFING, he tells Sam Macrory of the hidden pitfalls of rapid government reform, the perils of absentee opposition, and the real possibility of the UK breaking up over Brexit.
    “I think Boris Johnson will survive this year, politically,” he says. “But I don’t think Dominic Cummings will.”
    Interview by Sam Macrory. Audio production by Alex Rees.

    • 21 min
    Revolution Number Ten

    Revolution Number Ten

    Dominic Cummings wants to make “seismic” changes to the way government works. Can the PM’s supreme advisor pull off such radical transformations in short order? And are his reforms really all that radical, or just designed to look that way? Special guest James Kirkup of the Social Market Foundation joins us to discuss what levelling up government” really means – and whether proper scrutiny is a thing of the past in an age of massive majorities.
    Plus, secrets of how new MPs look busy. Can Boris Johnson really ban the word Brexit? The march of the “misfits and weirdos”. And the undiscovered political power of the English-not-British. And we talk to Tony Blair’s former Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell about the limits of power and the bear-traps hidden in the heart of Whitehall. Watch out for a special extended version of the interview in your podcast feed.
    “These are the beginning of the lean years for lobby journalists who have for three years feasted on huge fatted corpses.” - James Kirkup
    Hosted by Bronwen Maddox with Cath Haddon and Hannah White. Audio production by Alex Rees.

    • 43 min
    Get with the programme? Johnson’s new era of government

    Get with the programme? Johnson’s new era of government

    It’s the second Queens Speech in two months, with perhaps more changes than we expected. Will Boris Johnson’s huge majority mean he can deliver on his election promises? Or will his radical programme be derailed by governments’ oldest enemies: unforeseen circumstances, hubris, and “events, dear boy”*?
    On this last INSIDE BRIEFING before Christmas, we also look at whether Johnson can pull off his much-touted NHS reforms and whether Dominic Cummings can remake Whitehall in his own image. Is it a mistake to plunge into government departments into wholesale upheaval, however good your intentions? And we ask prominent Brexiteer Douglas Carswell if his dreams have come true in quite the way he wanted. 
    Plus, should auld acquaintance be forgot, there’s a look at the lessons and legacy of David Cameron’s government – remember them? – with special guest Chris Cook of the innovative “slow news” start-up Tortoise Media. And our statistical savant Gavin Freeguard is on hand with some Speed Data about ministerial turnover. 
    “It’s really hard to get government money spent on things that people can actually see.” – Chris Cook
    “Ministers have actually said to us, how do we get stuff done?” – Bronwen Maddox
    * Did Harold McMillan ever actually say this? We may never know… 
    Hosted by Bronwen Maddox with Cath Haddon and Emma Norris plus Chris Cook and Gavin Freeguard. Audio production by Alex Rees.

    • 43 min
    Holyrood vs. Westminster: A Scottish Independence Special Edition

    Holyrood vs. Westminster: A Scottish Independence Special Edition

    PODCAST EXTRA: As the SNP sweeps Scotland in the General Election, can the Union survive? And with Holyrood and Westminster on a collision course, will Nicola Sturgeon’s demands for another referendum be impossible for Boris Johnson to rebuff?
    The IfG has just released its most detailed report yet into possible roads to IndyRef2 and potential fallout of another vote. On this special podcast its co-authors Akash Paun and Jess Sargeant – plus eminent legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg and Kevin Schofield, editor of PoliticsHome – look into how Scotland might get to vote again, and the unforeseen consequences for the whole UK. 
    What happens if Nicola Sturgeon’s mandate clashes with Boris Johnson’s? If Westminster won’t relent, could we see a Catalonian-style ‘unofficial’ referendum, civil disobedience or even UDI? And even an independent Scottish currency? And a tour of the possible flashpoints: Brexit, the WAB, trade, agriculture, the trial of Alex Salmond, and fish. 
    Listen closely. This could be the big crisis of 2020. 
    “The future of the union is not devolved to Scotland. It’s a matter for the United Kingdom.” – Joshua Rosenberg
    “Brexit has been a massive recruiting sergeant for the SNP.” – Kevin Schofield
    “Scotland would wants to rejoin the EU. What we don’t know is, does the EU want Scotland?” – Joshua Rosenberg
    Hosted by Bronwen Maddox with Akash Paun and Jess Sargeant plus guests Joshua Rozenberg and Kevin Schofield. Audio production by Alex Rees. 

    • 37 min
    Johnson unbound? Election results special

    Johnson unbound? Election results special

    It’s the general election result we half-expected – but few thought it would upset politics on such a seismic scale. Aside from the party tumult, will Boris Johnson’s giant majority mean wholesale change for the way Whitehall does business? How can he resolve the tension between what the Conservatives promised and what their tax commitments can deliver? And beneath the surface, the hidden issue of British fish. Does Boris grasp the scale of the problem?
    Plus the Election result could mean big changes to the very fabric of the United Kingdom. As the SNP’s calls for a second Independence Referendum in Scotland grow louder, the IfG’s Akash Paun explains the constitutional challenges presented by IndyRef2. You can read the IfG’s special report here.
    All this plus Gavin Freeguard’s statistical box of delights. 
    “Johnson’s now making the weather. So what does he want?” – Joe Owen
    Hosted by Bronwen Maddox with Cath Haddon, Hannah White, Gemma Tetlow, Joe Owen and – plus Gavin Freeguard and Akash Paun. Audio production by Alex Rees.

    • 39 min

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