New podcast

The history of today’s politics with Tom McTague and Helen Thompson

Each week Tom and Helen explore the great forces and ideas that led us to where we are right now. It’s a politics podcast for those who want a deeper, historical understanding of the news, to understand what has really shaped our world and why.

EP. 31 - SEPTEMBER 19, 2023
How George Osborne’s all-in bet on China went wrong

In the wake of revelations about Chinese spy activity in Westminster, Tom and Helen explore the recent history of British-Chinese relations, from Hong Kong, to espionage.

EP. 30 - SEPTEMBER 14, 2023
Rory Stewart’s divided soul: An interview with the man who still wants to be PM

Tom McTague sits down with Rory Stewart to chat about populism, spycraft and his route to No 10.

EP. 29 - SEPTEMBER 12, 2023
How Worried Should We Be About Saudi Arabia?

In this episode, Tom and Helen explore Saudi Arabia – a place at once futuristic and authoritarian. From Aramco Oil to Cristiano Ronaldo, we discuss the ways in which the Kingdom in the Middle East is trying to take over the world, and how worried we should be.

EP. 28 - SEPTEMBER 5, 2023
Africa’s Coup Belt

In this episode, Tom and Helen explore the African Coup’s, from Gabon to Niger, and discuss what the turmoil across the Sahel reveals about today’s world.

EP. 27 - AUGUST 29, 2023
The Strange Legacy of Tony Blair

In this episode, we turn to Britain’s abiding political presence – Tony Blair. From his early beginnings in British politics, to The Tony Blair Institute, Tom and Helen ask whether we are entering a new era of Blairdom?

If you would like to ask Tom and Helen a question about politics, history or whatever else which they will endeavour to answer on next week’s podcast, please email us at [email protected] or dm us on Twitter @thesetimespod. Looking forward to hearing from you!


EP. 26 - AUGUST 24, 2023
Thatcher’s Legacy: An Interview with Charles Moore

In this episode, Tom sits down with former editor of The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator, and Margaret Thatcher’s biographer, to talk about the romance of Ms. Thatcher, and her influential legacy on modern British politics.

EP. 25 - AUGUST 22, 2023
From Bruges to Brexit

In this week’s episode, Tom and Helen journey back 35 years to explore the forces surrounding Margaret Thatcher’s speech in Bruges, marking the birth of British euroscepticism.

EP. 24 - AUGUST 15, 2023
The 1970s Strike Back with Dominic Sandbrook

In this episode, Tom and Helen sit down with Dominic Sandbrook to discuss the 1970s – from energy shocks to Stars Wars’ new age spirituality and bin-bags lining the streets during the winter of discontent, Tom, Helen and Dom ask whether we are entering a neo-1970s, and what that might mean for Britain’s future…

EP. 23 - AUGUST 10, 2023
Special Report: Inside Tony Blair Inc.

In this special episode, Tom is interviewed by UnHerd’s editor Freddie Sayers to explore Tom’s new report into the inner workings of the Tony Blair Institute.

EP. 22 - AUGUST 8, 2023
American Power in the Age of Biden

In this week’s episode, Tom and Helen discuss the politics of US foreign policy, from Vietnam to Ukraine and what that reveals about the future.

EP. 21- AUGUST 1, 2023
The Times of Joe Biden

In this week’s episode, Tom and Helen discuss the US president’s long (and controversial) political record and ask what it reveals about the state of the nation today — and the country’s future.

EP. 20 - JULY 27, 2023
Cancelled by Keir: An Interview with Jamie Driscoll

Meet Jamie Driscoll, the incumbent mayor blocked from standing to be Labour’s candidate for the new north-east super mayoralty, now crowdfunding to stand as an independent left-winger.

EP. 19 - JULY 25, 2023
Europe’s Right Turn?

After the elections in Spain, and a shock announcement in Germany, Tom and Helen discuss the underlying causes of Europe’s tilt to the right.

EP. 18 - JULY 20, 2023
Keir’s Blairite Ultra: An Interview with Pat McFadden

In this episode, Tom McTague chats to Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Pat McFadden—the man tasked with making Starmer’s sums add up—on the lessons of Labour’s history, from Kinnock to Blair to Starmer.

EP. 17 - JULY 17, 2023
Inside NATO’s Summit

In this episode, Tom and Helen discuss how last week’s meeting in Vilnius revealed fault lines in the organisation which can be traced all the way back to its founding.

EP. 16 - JULY 13, 2023
Come on Arlene: An Interview with Arlene Foster

Come on Arlene: An interview with Arlene Foster. In this episode, we discuss the history of Northern Ireland through the lens of Arlene Foster’s own turbulent life, covering everything from the IRA’s attempted assassination of her father to her own downfall as leader — and everything in between.

EP. 15 - JULY 11, 2023
France on fire

This week, Tom and Helen are joined by John Lichfield to talk about the history of street violence in the country and what that means for the future.

EP. 14 - JULY 4, 2023
Chaos in Russia

After last week’s march on Moscow, Tom and Helen discuss the Wagner group and the history of wars not going to plan and destabilising the political regime at home — from Ireland to Algeria, Vietnam to Iraq.

EP. 13 - JUNE 29, 2023
What would Thatcher do?

An interview with Charles Powell, Mrs Thatcher’s long time foreign policy adviser, covering everything from the war in Ukraine, the risks of humiliating Putin, chaos in Russia and the future of Britain in Europe.

EP. 12 - JUNE 27, 2023
The Politics of Inflation

With inflation remaining stubbornly high and interest rates at their highest in 15 years, this week’s episode looks at the causes and political repercussions of today’s crisis as well as the parallels with previous governments — from Harold Wilson to Ted Heath, James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher.

EP. 11 - JUNE 13, 2023
Britain’s Place in the New World Order – Part 2

Tom and Helen discuss Britain’s changing role overseas in the second instalment of our series on ‘The New World Order’. They discuss Boris Johnson’s AUKUS deal, David Cameron’s involvement in the middle east and where Brexit has left Britain on the international stage.

EP. 10 - JUNE 20, 2023
A New World Order? – Part 1

This week Tom and Helen debate whether America’s global supremacy is coming to an end, replaced by a new multipolar world — and, if so, what that means for the world. From Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 to the great financial crisis, from Obama’s “pivot to Asia” to the presidencies of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Tom and Helen explore this new age.

EP. 9 - JUNE 13, 2023
Is Boris Johnson History?

In this episode, Tom and Helen discuss the tumultuous history of Boris Johnson and ask whether the ups and downs of his political career owe more to his unique character (warts and all) or the much deeper forces at play far beyond his control. The answer to this question will go a long way to determining his future in British politics.

EP. 8 - JUNE 6, 2023
How “Made in China” Changed the World

In 2015, Xi Jinping unveiled his central policy objective: to transform China into the world’s most powerful advanced economy which would no longer be dependent on Western technology. In the eight years that have passed since, the world has transformed — from the election of Donald Trump in 2016 to Joe Biden’s protectionist “inflation reduction act” last year and the European Union’s panicked response in between. In this episode, Tom and Helen trace the origins of the Sino-American stand-off and map out the implications for the rest of the world.

EP. 7 - MAY 30, 2023
The History of Immigration

Official figures released last week showed net migration into the UK had topped 600,000, a new record. But the politics of migration has a long history — from the Napoleonic wars, to Windrush, Enoch Powell and Brexit. In this week’s episode, Tom and Helen discuss this history and what it tells us about Britain today.

EP. 6 - MAY 23, 2023
When Labour Wins

With Keir Starmer seemingly on course for victory at the next election, Tom and Helen look back at the only other Labour leaders to have won a majority: Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair. What was it about these three leaders (and the age in which they served) which allowed them to triumph — and what does that tell us about Labour’s chances today?

EP. 5 - MAY 16, 2023
National Conservatism: New or Old?

With the Tories struggling in the polls and the first “National Conservative” convention meeting in the UK this week, Tom and Helen take a look at the history of the Conservative Party and what it really means to be a conservative today. Tom and Helen debate who founded the Conservative Party, what it seeks to conserve and where its future lies. Take a deep dive into a party and an idea which has shaped Britain and much of the world beyond.

EP. 4 - MAY 11, 2023
Axis of Evil: An Interview with David Frum

In this one-off special, Tom McTague interviews the conservative commentator, activist and former White House speechwriter David Frum — the man who coined George Bush’s famous “axis of evil.” Helen was away when David was in London. In the interview Tom and David discuss the war in Ukraine and lessons from Iraq, George Bush’s haunted retirement and the need for more “tragic thinking” when confronting the world’s problems.

EP. 3 - MAY 8, 2023
Ukraine and the world order

This week, Tom and Helen discuss the ongoing war in Ukraine and to what extent it has changed the world order. Tom and Helen look at the security situation in Europe, the growing power of Turkey, and India — and, of course, how it all fits into the emerging battle for supremacy between the United States and China.

EP. 2 - MAY 4, 2023
Coronation and The Union – Part 2

In the second of our two-part opening special on the Coronation of King Charles III, Tom and Helen discuss what the ceremony reveals about the state of the Union at home, the political fudge at its heart and how historical disputes about religion remain key in understanding how it still functions.

Ep. 1 - May 2, 2023
Coronation and power – Part 1

The Coronation of King Charles III marks a momentous day not only in the life of the new monarch, but also for the British monarchy and the country as a whole. In this very first episode of These Times, Tom McTague and Helen Thompson discuss what this year’s ceremony reveals about Britain’s place in the world and how much has changed since previous coronations.

Trailer - 1 May 2023
These Times from UnHerd – Coming Soon

UnHerd political editor Tom McTague and Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University team up to investigate the history of today’s politics — and what it means for our future. Each week they will explore the great forces, ideas and events that led us to where we are, whether in Britain, the United States, Europe or beyond. It’s a politics podcast for those who want a deeper, historical understanding of the news, to understand what has really shaped our world and why.