Politics Uk Archive [world Service]

Episodes

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20081122

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20081129

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20081206

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20081213

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20081220

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20081227

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090103

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090110

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090117

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090124

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090131

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090207

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090214

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090221

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090228

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090307

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090314

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

20090321

Do the bad times bring out the best in people? Presented by Susan Hulme.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Do the bad times bring out the best in people? Britain's charities think so, as donations go up.

But will the Prime Minister be able to honour his commitment to Africa's poor?

Consumers tighten their belts, but for the clever entrepreneur even that might be a business opportunity.

And in the age of austerity, is the demon drink the next target for the nanny state?

Presented by Susan Hulme.

20090418

A special edition asks how history will judge the outcome of the war in Iraq.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

In just a few weeks most of the 4,000 British troops in Iraq will return home six years after one of the most controversial wars in recent history. Was it worth it? The removal of Saddam Hussein was only one objective. How secure are Iraq's democratic foundations? And what of the hoped for domino effect in the region? One British politician, Ann Clwyd, with a long involvement in Iraqi politics is hopeful of the future, but others remain unconvinced. This special edition of Politics UK asks how history will judge the outcome of the war in Iraq. Presented by Norman Smith.

20090425

Austerity Britain faces historically high debts. Will the Budget work?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Britain's debts are now worse than at any time since World War Two. But the Chancellor insists we're not as badly off as other countries. Is he right? Will spending cuts and taxing the rich do any good, or will it still take a generation to pay it all off? And is this the end of New Labour? The Government wants Britain to go green, but do their plans to decarbonise the economy add up?

20090502

Is Prime Minister Gordon Brown's authority ebbing away?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Rebellion at Westminster over the Gurhkas: is Gordon Brown's authority beginning to ebb away? The Opposition parties make head-way in Parliament, but is this really the time to be frank with the electorate? Just how far should a Government in waiting spell out its plans for the future? MPs are in hot water over their expenses: has the European gravy train crossed the Channel. And reappraising the original champagne socialist. Presented by Edward Stourton.

20090516

Has the expenses row dragged the reputation of Parliament to its lowest ebb for centuries?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

"A pack of mercenery wretches" : Cromwell's words to Parliament in 1653 come back to haunt Westminster as details of MP' s dodgy expenses to pay for moats and swimming pools and mortgages that didn't exist are plastered all over the newspapers. Has this generation of politicians brought the reputation of Parliament to its lowest ebb for centuries? The public, facing the consequences of the worst recession since the 1930s are furious. What is the impact on British democracy? How will Parliament restore its repution? Politics UK is presented by Susan Hulme.

20090523

The Speaker of the House of Commons is forced out, can Parliament retrieve its reputation?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

What price reputation? The Speaker of the House of Commons is forced out, but can Parliament retrieve its reputation? After the most turbulent political week in living memory, Politics UK looks at how to restore the standing of Westminster's politicians. Revelation may be painful, but do democracies need the attentions of an unlovable press? And the wit and wisdom of the furious voters, as seen in the letters pages of the paper that revealed all. Politics UK is presented by Sean Curran.

20090530

"Power to the people". Reform is in the air. Who wants to be a politician now?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Power to the people promise the political classes, in response to public anger over their expenses. But do they mean it? And who wants to be a politician now? Are celebrities really the answer to Westminster's troubles? Reform is in the air and perhaps the route back to respectability in politics could lie as far back as ancient Greece. Why are the arts left-wing? A new front line in British culture is challenging political orthodoxy among the intelligentsia. Politics UK is presented by Norman Smith.

20090606

The weekly programme that covers political and policy issues in the UK.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Labour politicians are caught on the horns of a dilemma: should they ditch the Prime Minister? And if he goes, would it really alter their fate at the next election? A plague on all your houses is the mood of the voters, but is constitutional reform the answer to the scandal over expenses? Financial prudence was the slogan of Mr Brown's years at the Treasury, so why is he getting the blame now for trouble in the banking sector? And, poor little rich girl: the perils of the high earner in the new age of austerity. Politics UK is presented by Dennis Sewell.

20090705

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

To spend or not to spend: arguments about how to deal with Government debt come down to trust. Do the politicians dare to tell the truth? What price security? Can Britain afford to replace its nuclear deterrent? The days of Empire are long gone, so why do the Iranians think Britain is interfering? And, ten years on, why Scottish Nationalists may not be so happy about the success of devolution. All that on Politics UK.

Britain's national debt is huge, the largest annual deficit of any developed country. Perhaps we should follow the example of the German government, which is seeking to introduce a new law making it a legal requirement for governments to balance the nation's books. Thomas Kielinger, London correspondent of the German newspaper, Die Welt, explains how this new law would work.

There is much disagreement between the political parties in Britain about the level of debt. The Prime Minister maintains it is necessary to get Britain through the recession, while the Conservative leader, David Cameron, says that huge cuts in public spending must be made, or future generations will be burdened with paying it off. John McFall, the Labour chairman of the Commons Treasury Select Committee, addresses the argument over whether it's possible to avoid steep spending cuts.

One of the biggest spending tickets facing the Government is the replacement of Britain's ageing Trident nuclear submarine fleet at around £20bn. Can Britain afford it? This week the former Defence Secretary and head of NATO, George, now Lord, Robertson, entered the fray, in a report which called for a public debate about whether to continue with Trident.

Whatever happens to Britain's nuclear deterrent, there is one country which still regards us as a major player on the world stage - Iran. Indeed, the Iranian authorities currently seem to be more antagonistic towards the UK than their usual enemy, the U.S. The Professor of Iranian History at St Andrews University, Ali Ansari, explains why this is the case.

This week sees the 10th Anniversary of Scottish devolution: the creation of a Scottish parliament with many of its own powers - a project which all agree has been a success. Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party and Scotland's First Minister, wishes to go further and gain full independence for Scotland from the rest of the UK, but does the success of devolution mean Scots may no longer have an appetite for independence?

20090725

Can the lawmakers of today measure up to the politicians of the past?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

What is civilisation? Is it great art, music, the way we live or the way we aspire to live? Has the Western hemisphere, in its pursuit of material prosperity lost confidence in the idea of spiritual prosperity? All questions put to the test in Politics UK this week as it searches for the ideal among the law makers of the past, where duty was the order of the day, and asks whether today's politicians measure up? Presented by Sean Curran.

A reporter once asked Mahatma Gandhi -- what do you think of Western Civilization. Gandhi replied -- I think it would be a good idea.

Philosopher John Armstrong has written a book called In Search of Civilization -- Remaking a Tarnished Idea, in which he suggests that the biggest problem facing Western Civilization is that it has delivered material but not spiritual prosperity. John Armstrong suggests that a civilized person would be reasonable, witty, mature refined, courageous and self controlled. Just sort of the qualities we look for from our lawmakers. They've seemed in short supply in recent months when politics has been dominated by the row about expenses.

It's now the parliamentary summer recess, and there's a tradition that Conservative members are sent off with a reading list. This year there are 27 books. We're interested in two of them. A new biography of the former Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan by Charles Williams. And Attlees Great Contemporaries -- a collection of essays by the former Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee, chosen and edited by the Labour former Welfare Minister Frank Field.

Both Macmillan and Attlee were products of the professional upper middle class of late Victorian Britain. They fought in the First World War, and many underestimated them. Attlee became Labour leader in 1935 largely by default because so many of his colleagues had lost their seats in Parliament.

When Sir Anthony Eden resigned in the wake of the Suez crisis in 1957 members of the Cabinet were asked to choose between Rab Butler, the leader of the Commons and the then Chancellor, Harold Macmillan. They chose Macmillan but few expected him to succeed.

Charles Williams -- who is a working Labour peer -- Lord Williams of Elvel -- and Frank Field came into our studios along with the historian Professor Peter Hennessey who provided an epilogue to Attlee's Great Contemporaries.

20090912

When it comes to tough decision, does Bulgaria have the answer to Britain's debt crisis?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Doubts about British strategy in Afghanistan are affecting public opinion. Has the Government been clear enough about what it is trying to achieve? If so, why suppress a critical report warning of possible defeat? Could the Government learn lessons from Churchill about the power of oratory in the conduct of war? And, when it comes taking tough decisions, why the new Bulgarian Government could have the answer to Britain's public debt crisis. All that in Politics UK.

A report this week by military analysts has warned that Britain faces a possible "strategic defeat" in Afghanistan. So damning was the report that the ministry of Defence apparently blocked its publication in the British Army Review -the house journal of the British military. One of the authors of the report is Dr David Betz from the Department of war Studies, at Kings College London.

So how far is the Government to blame for failing to set out a clear strategy in Afghanistan? Have ministers allowed themselves to be distracted from the war on terror - by more idealistic notions of establishing a democracy in Afghanistan - or of ensuring human rights for women and young girls. We talked to John Hutton who was Defence Secretary until this July.

In the middle of the Second World War, after a series of defeats and setbacks, Churchill faced criticism from his Cabinet colleagues. He appealed directly to the public and won their support. Could the present Government learn lessons from Churchill in its conduct of the conflict in Afghanistan. We talked to Sir Max Hastings whose book, Finest Years:Churchill As Warlord 1940-45, has just been published.

Politicians of all Political parties in Britain now accept that after the next election there will have to be sweeping cuts in public spending to reduce the colossal level of debt. But will they have the courage to do what the new Government of Bulgaria achieved in one month this, where they reduced their deficit by a staggering 80%. We spoke to the man who masterminded the cuts programme, Finance Minister Simeon Djankov and asked him how he did it.

Britain's debt is four times that of Bulgaria. So how serious are British politicians about dealing with the problem, we asked former Treasury economist Ruth Lea?

20090919

Brown has finally admitted the need for spending cuts so where will they come and when?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

This was the week in which Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally admitted the word " cuts" into his vocabulary of economic policy. But as always the devil is in the detail: where will the cuts come and who will bear the brunt of them? General Secretary of CPS union Mark Serwotka thinks the less well off are paying for the mistakes of the bankers while Matthew Eliott of the Taxpayers Alliance thinks politicians, bankers and bureaucrats are all to blame for the unprecedented national debt crisis. On the political front what room for manoeuvre do the politicians have ? Daniel Finklestein of the Times and Steve Richards of the Independent discuss what might be in the Chancellor's pre budget statment later this year. And on the first anniversary of the collapse of Lehman brothers we ask Allister Heath of City A.M if banks should be allowed to fail. All that in Politics UK.

It was in his speech to the TUC conference in Liverpool that Gordon Brown finally admitted the need for public spending cuts. But the Trades Unionists were not pleased, and perhaps there was no-one in the audience quite so dismayed as Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services Union, many of whose members are now seriously worried about their futures.

On the other side of the argument the case was made for swinge-ing cuts this week in a new book co-authored by David Craig and Matthew Elliott of the Taxpayers' Alliance, under the punchy title: Fleeced! How we've been betrayed by the politicians, bureaucrats and bankers…and how much they've cost us. Three trillion pounds sterling in all. We talked to Matthew Elliott.

Now that both main parties are pledged to cut spending, what is there left to argue about in the run up to the general election? For some predictions on the tone and content of the political debate to come, we consulted Steve Richards of the Independent and Daniel Finkelstein of the Times.

This week marked one year since the collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers precipitated the global financial system into chaos. Since then we've heard from every kind of expert about how important it is that such events never happen again. Allister Heath, Editor of City A.M takes a different and rather unusual line - it's good to let banks fail.

20090926

A special panel discuss whether social media is good for politics and democracy

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Social media is the latest new technology to set the political world alight. But is it good for politics? Does it undermine existing democracies? Can it help new ones develop? In a series of special debates from the UK political party conferences, Politics UK brings together journalists, politicians and social media experts to grapple with that issue and answer audience questions. Presented by Nik Gowing.

20091003

Can the new social media undermine repressive regimes, or are the regimes using them?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Democracy activists are always looking for new ways to get under the skin of repressive regimes. Are social media their latest weapon? Or can they actually help those regimes? In the second of our special debates from the UK political party conferences, Politics UK brings together journalists, politicians and social media experts to grapple with that issue and answer audience questions. Presented by Lyse Doucet.

20091010

How useful will social media be during elections for politicians journalists and voters?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Politicians are always asking how new technology can help them campaign. Have they found the perfect tool with social media? Or is it actually the best way for journalists and the public to hold politicians to account? In our final special debate from the UK political party conferences, Politics UK brings together journalists, politicians and social media experts to grapple with that issue and answer audience questions.

Peter Horrocks is Director of the BBC World Service; Jeremy Hunt is the MP for South West Surrey and the Shadow Culture Secretary; Douglas Murray is Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion; Benoit Thieulin is a social media expert.

20091017

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

The scandal surrounding the expense claims of British politicians comes back to haunt them as they return to Parliament after the summer break. Will the story ever end? The Prime Minister Gordon Brown's experiment to bring outside experts into Government has all but failed. Why is the British system so limiting: what do other countries do? And it's 25 years since the Brighton Bombing, the most serious terrorist attack on the British cabinet in modern times. Do the security precautions that have surrounded top politicians ever since get in the way of democracy? All that in Politics UK. Presented by Edward Stourton.

Yet again expenses was a hot topic as MPs returned to Parliament after the summer break. Sir Thomas Legg, who had been commissioned by the Prime Minister to examine all MPs' claims over a four-year period, wrote to every single MP laying out his findings. Some have been given a clean bill of health but others have been told to pay some money back. Senior Labour MP Tony Wright explains why this story just goes on and on.

Those who thought the expenses saga might provide some fun at the first Prime Minister's Questions after the summer break were disappointed. At the start of 'PMQs', Gordon Brown read out the names of 37 soldiers who had been killed in Afghanistan during the summer, after which no-one seemed to have much appetite for the usual political knockabout. Parliamentary sketch writers, Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail, and Ann Treneman of the Times, were watching.

Various prominent public figures from outside the political world have been invited to join Gordon Brown's 'Government of All the Talents' (commonly referred to as 'GOATS'). The idea is to bring in extra knowledge and expertise to the business of government. Yet almost all of these 'GOATS' have now left the government again. Charles Grant, of the Centre for European Reform, describes how other countries manage these matters.

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Brighton Bomb - the attack by the Irish Republican paramilitary group, the IRA, on the hotel where most of the British Cabinet were staying, during the Conservative party conference of 1984. Lord Tebbit, at the time a Tory MP, was injured in the explosion and so was his wife. He says the memory of that dreadful night has not got softer over the years.

The Brighton bomb changed party conferences forever - indeed it marked the beginning of the sort of security that surrounds political events and politicians today. Michael Dobbs, who was a Tory adviser at the time and is now best known as a novelist, suggests that Britain has lost something as a result of this increased security protection. Others would counter that any relaxation of security is an invitation to terrorists to strike - but Michael Dobbs disagrees.

20091024

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

The leader of the far right British National Party appeared on one of the BBC's flagship political programmes amid a huge amount of controversy and protest. How did the programme go? Will it help the BNP to gain support? British MPs may be banned from employing their relatives to run their offices. Is this latest idea to clean up politics a step too far? Why are many activists in the main opposition Conservative party up in arms because their leader says he is considering imposing all-women shortlists? And do celebrities make good politicians? All that in Politics UK, presented by Dennis Sewell.

20091030

We ask why British conservatives want to stop Tony Blair from ever becoming EU president?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

On Politics UK this week, we ask what chance of Tony Blair becoming European president. We hear from Charles Grant, head of the Centre for European Reform think tank about the damage he says Conservative opposition has done to Mr Blair’s prospects. And we ask the Tory politician David Heathcote-Amory why his party is determined to deny the post to the former British prime minister.

The House of Lords has been debating a new law to protect an estimated one thousand workers in the UK, who are held in conditions which amount to slavery. Two hundred years after the abolition of the slave trade in Britain, Paul Donohoe of the campaign group Anti-Slavery International explains why he believes the new law is necessary.

The government’s hopes that the British economy was returning to growth were dashed by figures published this week. With Germany, France and Japan already bouncing back, we’ll be discussing the political implications of Britain’s long-lasting recession with the economist Ruth Lea, and Larry Elliott, economics editor of “The Guardian” newspaper.

We’ll also examine why the government climbed down this week over 20 million pound cuts to training for the territorial army. Tory MP Desmond Swayne saw active service with the TA in Iraq. He explains the role of the territorials in our national life, But we’ll also be hearing that not all the military brass are pleased that the cuts have been restored.

Finally, history in the making as Britain’s Youth parliament debates for the first time on the Commons green benches. With MPs often accused of behaving like teenagers, we’ll meet two of the teenagers aspiring to behave like MPs. Presented by Ben Wright.

20091106

Why expenses have cost MPs their respect and should Welsh Labour be more Welsh?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

On Politics UK this week we ask whether the Kelly report into MPs expenses can save the reputation of the House of Commons, and we’ll be discussing the way the party leaders have handled the crisis.

David Cameron’s Conservative party is digesting a new policy on Europe after their leader was forced to abandon a promised referendum on the Lisbon treaty. We’ll hear why some in his party have doubts about his new plans to protect British sovereignty from further encroachments by the EU’s institutions.

Ballot papers were sent out this week in Wales where Labour party members are electing a new leader. Labour used to dominate politics in the principality. – but have recently suffered a steep decline in support. We’ll find out why.

And we’ll hear why one British local authority is planning to run services like refuse collection and street cleaning, on the lines of a low-cost airline. The North London borough of Barnet has been dubbed “easy-council”, after its leader suggested residents could choose the level of service they wanted, and pay for extras.

20091113

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Is the war in Afghanistan actually winnable? Will ten new nuclear power plants in Britain save us from global warming or put the world in peril? And is it wrong to joke about wounded soldiers? Presented by Susan Hulme.

As Britain commemorated her war-dead this week, those who have died in the war in Afghanistan were certainly not forgotten. One angry mother, who had recently lost her son in Afghanistan, blamed the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, for a lack of essential equipment, such as helicopters, which she felt had contributed directly to her son's death.
Paddy Ashdown was the UN's High Representative in Bosnia, and was at one point considered a candidate to co-ordinate the effort in Afghanistan. He tells us the soldiers' families are right to be angry with their political leaders.

The Conservative MP, Peter Viggers, is standing down from Parliament and his party need to find a new candidate for his constituency of Gosport, on the south coast of England. They're keen to find a way of reconnecting with the public after the row over MPs' expenses, and have decided to hold an American-style "open primary" to select the candidate. Voters in Gosport will have the chance to decide, from a pre-selected list of people, who will be the Conservative candidate.
Newsweek magazine's London bureau chief, Stryker McGuire - a veteran of many a US primary - explains the system.

Although there has long been some very vocal opposition to nuclear energy in Britain, the government has recently decided that ten new nuclear power plants should be built in England and Wales. Ministers argue that, with many existing power stations due to be decommissioned over the next few years, there will be an energy shortfall unless new power stations are built - and that using nuclear instead of fossil fuels will significantly reduce the nation's carbon emissions.
Simon Bullock, from the environmental group Friends of the Earth, and the Conservative party's Greg Clark, discuss whether the British public has finally come round to the idea of nuclear.
Professor Dieter Helm, of Oxford University, explains why politicians in Britain have had what seems to be a change of heart on nuclear.

The British comedian, Jimmy Carr, caused controversy when he told a joke about servicemen who'd lost limbs in Afghanistan, saying that at least it meant Britain would have a fantastic team for the 2012 Paralympic Games. The Defence Secretary was said to be furious. The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement.
William Cook, the Guardian newspaper's comedy critic, and Clive Anderson, a comedian and broadcaster, discuss whether Jimmy Carr's joke was indeed offensive or actually quite funny.

20091120

Did the Queen's Speech amount to a launch of the Labour Party's manifesto?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

This week the British Government unveiled the final package of laws ministers want to pass before the next election, in what's known as the Queen's Speech. Will the measures help reform public services? Or did the announcements amount to a launch of the ruling Labour Party's manifesto? The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said it should be possible to begin handing over provinces in Afghanistan to Afghan troops and authorites from next year. Is this evidence that the Government is preparing an exit strategy? A survey suggests nearly a third of people are not yet convinced global warming is caused by human activity. What can politicians do to persuade them? All that in Politics UK.

20091127

Iraq Enquiry, census questions of sexuality, alcohol pricing and what happened to eVoting?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

As a fifth inquiry begins in London into the causes and conduct of the Iraq war, what can the United States teach British politicians about dealing with this most divisive of issues?

Britain’s equality commission has suggested a question on sexual preferences should be included in the national census. A useful aid to policy-makers, or an unwarranted intrusion?

Hospital accident and emergency units treated over 800 thousand people last year for sickness and injuries related to alcohol. We ask if raising the price of drink is the answer.

And whatever happened to dream of casting a vote by computer or text? We find out from the organiser of Britain’s annual conference on e-democracy.

That's on Politics UK this week with Susan Hulme.

20091204

The climate debate hots up, and should Britain have elected police commissioners?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

This week the Australian opposition leader was deposed by his party because he supported government plans for carbon trading. In Britain growing reservations have been expressed by Conservatives about their leader David Cameron’s commitment to measures designed to combat global warming. On politics UK this week we examine the re-emergence of climate scepticsm with leading scientist Professor Mike Hulme, and the former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson, founder of a think tank devoted to the subject.

If he wins the general election, David Cameron has also promised that policing in England and Wales will be entrusted for the first time to elected commissioners. We’ll be debating the pros and cons with a supporter of the idea, the Spectator magazine’s political editor James Foesyth, and an opponment, Rob Garnham, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities.

And how close are the Scottish National Party to achieving their dream of an independent Scotland? This week the SNP government in Edinburgh published plans for a referendum on the subject. Political scientist Professor James Mitchell is an expert on Scottish politics, and he’ll bring us up to date.

20091211

Can the Chancellor reduce Britain's debt and why has class war erupted at Westminster?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Spending cuts, pay freezes and tax increases - can such a package of pain from government ministers halve Britain's ballooning borrowing requirement? Or is it too little, too late? Is happiness perhaps the answer - should politicians concentrate on increasing people's well-being? Why has class war erupted in Westminster? And what is the attraction of politics to the writers of fiction? All that in Politics UK, presented by Norman Smith.

Britain's chief finance minister, the Chancellor Alastair Darling, delivered his annual pre-budget report this week, setting out the state of the nation's finances. Mr Darling announced a series of measures to try to control the country's ballooning debt. Mark Serwotka - the leader of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents public sector workers - and the economist, Ruth Lea, discuss the Chancellor's rescue plan.

Perhaps the Government should spend less time worrying about money and Britain's finances - and a lot more time thinking about the country's happiness. The Government recently launched a programme to put more resources into tackling depression. One of the driving figures behind the aim to make Happiness central to Government policy is David Halpern, who was the chief analyst in Tony Blair's Strategy Unit in Downing Street. He tells us it's not difficult to gauge people's happiness.

Class has frequently been at the heart of political debate in Britain, with the Labour party traditionally seen as speaking for the 'working class' and Conservatives often regarded as more representative of the wealthy and privileged in society. The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, recently sought to embarrass the Conservative leader, David Cameron, for being educated at one of the country's most prestigious (and expensive) private schools. Labour MP Martin Salter, and Conservative MP Justine Greening, discuss why Mr Brown adopted this line of attack.

Politicians have always been a rich source of material for authors and, despite the apparently low esteem in which politicians are held, books and dramas about them seem to be incredibly popular. This week the Labour MP Chris Mullin - himself the author of the political thriller "A Very British Coup" - will speak at a conference looking at the way politics and politicians are portrayed in fiction. He considers why writers might be attracted to the world of politics.

20091218

How far has the inquiry into the Iraq war got in its first few weeks of evidence?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Britain's independent inquiry into the war in Iraq has been questioning officials for the past few weeks and early in the new year the former prime minister, Tony Blair, will appear. What has the investigation found so far and what can we expect from future sessions? Do bishops deserve their special place in British public life? And as the Copenhagen climate change meeting ends, why do summits always seem to reach a climax with a sense of crisis? Presented by Edward Stourton.

The Chilcott Inquiry into the Iraq war has been sitting for three weeks now, and has taken evidence from diplomats and other senior officials. Next year, the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair gives evidence. Richard Norton-Taylor, a journalist for the Guardian newspaper has been following the inquiry closely.

Perhaps it is natural that the leaders of the Anglican Church should voice their opinions a little more noisily than they usually do at this time of year; Christmas is after all the period when much of Britain celebrates its Christian heritage without embarrassment - with real enthusiasm, in fact. Evan Harris MP, and Andrew Selous MP, discuss some recent interventions from the Church.

With the climax of the Copenhagen talks on Climate Change, Lord Owen, a former British Foreign Secretary discusses the difference senior politicians can make to such gatherings.

There is no getting around the fact Parliament has taken a terrible battering in the public's eyes over the past year because of the ways MPs have been working the expenses system. With an election also looming, 2 MPs , Tony Wright and Douglas Hogg, discuss where British politics stands at the moment.

20091225

A Special look at the interdependence between the banks and the UK government.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

This Christmas some of the banks at the heart of the financial crisis have started handing out bonuses, provoking cries of foul from the Church, the political classes and from the public. But now the Government has announced a tax on these windfalls, what will be the consequences of trying to stop bankers being bankers? How much does the city of London contribute annually to the Treasury, and how would the British economy manage without it? There are already signs of an exodus of wealth creators from the city. Switzerland is among the beneficiaries. Politics UK assembles its own Christmas Carol and examines the prospects for the the British economy in the Christmases to come.
Presented by Susan Hulme

20100101

20100101

Does religion have a place in politics? Or should legislators be driven by secular ethics?

20100101

Does religion have a place in politics? Or should legislators be driven by secular ethics?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Many of the most bitterly contested issues that Britain's legislators have to deal with today involve a clash of ethical systems that cuts across traditional political boundaries. Arguments about the nature of the family or about assisted suicide, genetic engineering and the manipulation of human embryos all raise questions that challenge the traditional view of human life held in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. By what values should Britain's politicians be guided in what some claim is a post-Christian, or even post-religious world? Should the secular ethics and bioethics, which hold a view of human life drawn from Charles Darwin, be held in equal balance with those put forward by religious groups?
Presented by Dennis Sewell.

2010010120100102 (WS)

Does religion have a place in politics? Or should legislators be driven by secular ethics?

20100101

Many of the most bitterly contested issues that Britain's legislators have to deal with today involve a clash of ethical systems that cuts across traditional political boundaries. Arguments about the nature of the family or about assisted suicide, genetic engineering and the manipulation of human embryos all raise questions that challenge the traditional view of human life held in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. By what values should Britain's politicians be guided in what some claim is a post-Christian, or even post-religious world? Should the secular ethics and bioethics, which hold a view of human life drawn from Charles Darwin, be held in equal balance with those put forward by religious groups?

Presented by Dennis Sewell.

2010010120100102 (WS)

Many of the most bitterly contested issues that Britain's legislators have to deal with today involve a clash of ethical systems that cuts across traditional political boundaries. Arguments about the nature of the family or about assisted suicide, genetic engineering and the manipulation of human embryos all raise questions that challenge the traditional view of human life held in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. By what values should Britain's politicians be guided in what some claim is a post-Christian, or even post-religious world? Should the secular ethics and bioethics, which hold a view of human life drawn from Charles Darwin, be held in equal balance with those put forward by religious groups?

Presented by Dennis Sewell.

Does religion have a place in politics? Or should legislators be driven by secular ethics?

Does religion have a place in politics? Or should legislators be driven by secular ethics?

20100108

20100108

A Special look at the first Asian MPs to be elected in Britain, more than a century ago.

20100108

A Special look at the first Asian MPs to be elected in Britain, more than a century ago.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

It's a little known fact that the first Asian MPs were elected to the British Parliament more than a hundred years ago - at the height of the British Empire. At a time when Britain ruled over many peoples of Asian and Africa - ordinary British voters were still happy for men born and brought up in India to speak for them in Parliament. Politics UK this week examines how these remarkable individuals managed to win a place at the heart of the Victorian establishment, and their impact on the future of India itself.

Presented by Susan Hulme. The editor is Elaine Thomas.

Some of the material in this programme was originally broadcast on BBC Radio Four, in the series "Britain's White House" produced by Julia Johnson.

2010010820100109 (WS)

A Special look at the first Asian MPs to be elected in Britain, more than a century ago.

20100108

It's a little known fact that the first Asian MPs were elected to the British Parliament more than a hundred years ago - at the height of the British Empire. At a time when Britain ruled over many peoples of Asian and Africa - ordinary British voters were still happy for men born and brought up in India to speak for them in Parliament. Politics UK this week examines how these remarkable individuals managed to win a place at the heart of the Victorian establishment, and their impact on the future of India itself.

Presented by Susan Hulme. The editor is Elaine Thomas.

Some of the material in this programme was originally broadcast on BBC Radio Four, in the series "Britain's White House" produced by Julia Johnson.

2010010820100109 (WS)

It's a little known fact that the first Asian MPs were elected to the British Parliament more than a hundred years ago - at the height of the British Empire. At a time when Britain ruled over many peoples of Asian and Africa - ordinary British voters were still happy for men born and brought up in India to speak for them in Parliament. Politics UK this week examines how these remarkable individuals managed to win a place at the heart of the Victorian establishment, and their impact on the future of India itself.

Presented by Susan Hulme. The editor is Elaine Thomas.

Some of the material in this programme was originally broadcast on BBC Radio Four, in the series "Britain's White House" produced by Julia Johnson.

A Special look at the first Asian MPs to be elected in Britain, more than a century ago.

A Special look at the first Asian MPs to be elected in Britain, more than a century ago.

20100115

20100115

A century ago the map of the world was coloured with the pink of the British Empire. Britain's diplomats reigned supreme, with the reassurance of a gunboat to support them. But the world has changed much since then. The British Foreign Office has had to change too, as the UK faces new threats and priorities across the globe. In the first part of “The New Art of Diplomacy? James Naughtie is in India, to examine how one outpost reflects the new way of doing things for British diplomats.

20100115

James Naughtie investigates the changing role of the British Foreign Office in India.

20100115

James Naughtie investigates the changing role of the British Foreign Office in India.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

A century ago the map of the world was coloured with the pink of the British Empire. Britain's diplomats reigned supreme, with the reassurance of a gunboat to support them. But the world has changed much since then. The British Foreign Office has had to change too, as the UK faces new threats and priorities across the globe. In the first part of “The New Art of Diplomacy” James Naughtie is in India, to examine how one outpost reflects the new way of doing things for British diplomats.

2010011520100116 (WS)

James Naughtie investigates the changing role of the British Foreign Office in India.

2010011520100116 (WS)

James Naughtie investigates the changing role of the British Foreign Office in India.

James Naughtie investigates the changing role of the British Foreign Office in India.

A century ago the map of the world was coloured with the pink of the British Empire. Britain's diplomats reigned supreme, with the reassurance of a gunboat to support them. But the world has changed much since then. The British Foreign Office has had to change too, as the UK faces new threats and priorities across the globe. In the first part of “The New Art of Diplomacy? James Naughtie is in India, to examine how one outpost reflects the new way of doing things for British diplomats.

20100122

20100122

Is Britain\u2019s Foreign Office ready for the challenges of a fast-changing world?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

The British Foreign Office is an institution that has faced severe budget cuts - with more to come - while trying to do more things, in more places, in an unpredictable, globalized world. In the second of two special editions of Politics UK, James Naughtie visits the Foreign Office’s London headquarters to speak to the Foreign Secretary and diplomats – and to critics who wonder if it has lost its way in Whitehall and in the world.

20100122

Is Britain’s Foreign Office ready for the challenges of a fast-changing world?

2010012220100123 (WS)

Is Britain’s Foreign Office ready for the challenges of a fast-changing world?

20100122

The British Foreign Office is an institution that has faced severe budget cuts - with more to come - while trying to do more things, in more places, in an unpredictable, globalized world. In the second of two special editions of Politics UK, James Naughtie visits the Foreign Office’s London headquarters to speak to the Foreign Secretary and diplomats – and to critics who wonder if it has lost its way in Whitehall and in the world.

2010012220100123 (WS)

The British Foreign Office is an institution that has faced severe budget cuts - with more to come - while trying to do more things, in more places, in an unpredictable, globalized world. In the second of two special editions of Politics UK, James Naughtie visits the Foreign Office’s London headquarters to speak to the Foreign Secretary and diplomats – and to critics who wonder if it has lost its way in Whitehall and in the world.

Is Britain’s Foreign Office ready for the challenges of a fast-changing world?

Is Britain’s Foreign Office ready for the challenges of a fast-changing world?

20100129

20100129

Politics UK is replaced today by a previous edition of The Interview with Oscar Pistorius.

20100129

Politics UK is replaced today by a previous edition of The Interview with Oscar Pistorius.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Politics UK will be replaced today by a previous edition of The Interview where Owen Bennett-Jones spoke to the athlete Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar needed to have both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old but he has now grown up into a world-class runner.

He runs on carbon fibre blades earning him the nickname "Bladerunner".

He talks to Owen Bennett Jones about whether he should be allowed to compete with able-bodied athletes and why he has a fear of ballet.

2010012920100130 (WS)

Politics UK is replaced today by a previous edition of The Interview with Oscar Pistorius.

20100129

Politics UK will be replaced today by a previous edition of The Interview where Owen Bennett-Jones spoke to the athlete Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar needed to have both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old but he has now grown up into a world-class runner.

He runs on carbon fibre blades earning him the nickname "Bladerunner".

He talks to Owen Bennett Jones about whether he should be allowed to compete with able-bodied athletes and why he has a fear of ballet.

2010012920100130 (WS)

Politics UK will be replaced today by a previous edition of The Interview where Owen Bennett-Jones spoke to the athlete Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar needed to have both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old but he has now grown up into a world-class runner.

He runs on carbon fibre blades earning him the nickname "Bladerunner".

He talks to Owen Bennett Jones about whether he should be allowed to compete with able-bodied athletes and why he has a fear of ballet.

Politics UK is replaced today by a previous edition of The Interview with Oscar Pistorius.

Politics UK is replaced today by a previous edition of The Interview with Oscar Pistorius.

20100205

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

A review of Britain's defence capability was announced this week lookng at ways of countering threats ranging from terrorsim to cyberspace and climate change. What shape should the armed forces take and has the Tony Blair doctrine of liberal intervention been so discredited by the war in Iraq that Britian's foreign policy may also have to be adjusted?

The Conservatives appear to be softening their policy on tackling the budget deficit contrary to City expectations of a tough line on public spending. What now is the difference between the two main parties on the economy?

The expenses scandal at Westminster has resulted in more than half of MPs paying back 1.2 million pounds of public money. What is the overall effect of the scandal and is this the end of the affair?

And the struggle between the media and politicians - where does the power lie?

20100212

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC with Dennis Sewell.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

On Politics UK this week with Dennis Sewell, we ask if there was a secret conspiracy behind mass immigration to Britain. Good cop, bad cop: a former Scotland Yard chief gives us the inside track on a senior policeman who was sent to jail - and we're on the hunt for policies that dare not speak their names - should voters be told what the parties would actually do if they win?

20100219

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC - with Edward Stourton.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

On Politics UK this week we ask why Westminster is angry about the allegations that forged British passports were used in the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai. A man who lost his job on the Misuse of Drugs Council explains why he thinks politicians routinely misuse expert advice. And was Prime Minister Gordon Brown right to let us share his pain about the death of his daughter in a television interview?

The knowledge that forged British passports may have been used in a plot to assassinate a Hamas commander has caused alarm and anger at Westminster. Labour MP Kim Howells, a former minister in the Foreign Office, thinks there should be a full investigation.

Twenty respected economists wrote a letter to the Sunday Times newspaper last weekend, stressing the urgency of reducing Britain's budget deficit. The opposition Conservative Party claimed the letter was an endorsement of their economic policy, but some of those who signed the letter are unhappy that the Tories have used it in this way. Sir Howard Davies, Director of the London School of Economics, was one of the signatories. Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London was the head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs but was sacked from his position for expressing views on cannabis that were at odds with those of the government. They discuss how expert advice gets caught up in political debate.

Constitutional change has become a hot topic in this election year as British politicians struggle with the fallout from the parliamentary expenses scandal. The Conservative MP Bill Cash, who has long advocated a "Sovereignty Bill", which would aim to protect the rights of Parliament, debates the issue with one of Britain's leading constitutional lawyers: Richard Gordon QC has written a book called "Repairing British Politics", which proposes a new written constitution for the country, and he explains why he thinks British politics is in need of repair.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, broke down on a television chat show this week, while talking about the death of his baby daughter in 2002. Such a personal interview is rare for Mr Brown, and many political commentators, while expressing sympathy with Gordon Brown for his dreadful loss, felt that the timing of the interview, just before an election, was a cynical political decision. Mattia Bagnoli, the London correspondent of the Italian newspaper La Stampa, discusses the interview with Sarah Sands, deputy editor of the Evening Standard, who is sceptical about Gordon Brown's motives.

20100226

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC, presented by Susan Hulme.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

After a new book raises questions about Gordon Brown's character, we ask do we need our leaders to be nice or should it be tough at the top? Also - saying sorry isn't hard to do - but a former British Ambassador tells us what it's worth to the child migrants who were sent to Australia. After the expenses scandal, MPs are still left fighting for their reputation, but where will the real power lie in the proposed reform of the House of Commons? And how to explain the birds and the bees - we examine the row over sex education in schools. Presented by Susan Hulme.

The political commentator, Andrew Rawnsley, claims in a new book that the Prime Minister frequently bullies his staff. Those close to the Prime Minister have emphatically denied the charge, saying he is just a strong leader who is passionate about his job. John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University in Scotland, and Jennifer Palmeri, former speech-writer for US President Bill Clinton, examine whether it is right to focus on the personality of our leaders and, as a consequence, ignore their policies.

This week Gordon Brown apologised for a child migration programme, which ended forty years ago, that saw thousands of children forcibly separated from their families and sent to Australia and other Commonwealth countries - supposedly to a better life. Grant Macauley, professor of social anthropology at the University of New South Wales in Australia, says that some of the 130,000 child migrants did go on to lead successful lives but many experienced hard labour, violence, and sexual abuse.
Gordon Brown's apology for the suffering that had been caused was warmly welcomed by the former child migrants themselves. Sir Brian Barder, ex-British High commissioner to Australia, discusses the value of a government apologising for something for which it was not responsible.

Many ordinary MPs are increasingly concerned that it has become more and more difficult to hold the government to account: ministers can now organise matters so that often the government's new laws go sailing through parliament, with very little scrutiny from MPs at all. Chris Mullin, a former Labour Minister, is a member of a committee which is looking into parliamentary reform. He cites an example of a recent vote where there was absolutely no time to debate a controversial matter before MPs voted on it.

The vote that Chris Mullin mentions concerns making sex and relationship education compulsory in English state schools. The government plans to give faith schools the right to adapt the teaching of the subject to fit with their own religious beliefs, but critics say this means some schools could teach in a way that was homophobic or fail to give children proper guidance on contraception. The Emmanuel Foundation runs a number of state schools in the north of England. They're not church schools, but the Foundation says its ethos is a "Christian" framework. Its chief executive is David Wooton.

20100305

We speak to the man whose new book about Gordon Brown set Westminster alight

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

01/01/201020100102

Does religion have a place in politics? Or should legislators be driven by secular ethics?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Many of the most bitterly contested issues that Britain's legislators have to deal with today involve a clash of ethical systems that cuts across traditional political boundaries. Arguments about the nature of the family or about assisted suicide, genetic engineering and the manipulation of human embryos all raise questions that challenge the traditional view of human life held in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. By what values should Britain's politicians be guided in what some claim is a post-Christian, or even post-religious world? Should the secular ethics and bioethics, which hold a view of human life drawn from Charles Darwin, be held in equal balance with those put forward by religious groups?
Presented by Dennis Sewell.

02/05/200920090503

Is Prime Minister Gordon Brown's authority ebbing away?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Rebellion at Westminster over the Gurhkas: is Gordon Brown's authority beginning to ebb away? The Opposition parties make head-way in Parliament, but is this really the time to be frank with the electorate? Just how far should a Government in waiting spell out its plans for the future? MPs are in hot water over their expenses: has the European gravy train crossed the Channel. And reappraising the original champagne socialist. Presented by Edward Stourton.

03/01/200920090104

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

03/10/200920091004

Can the new social media undermine repressive regimes, or are the regimes using them?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Democracy activists are always looking for new ways to get under the skin of repressive regimes. Are social media their latest weapon? Or can they actually help those regimes? In the second of our special debates from the UK political party conferences, Politics UK brings together journalists, politicians and social media experts to grapple with that issue and answer audience questions. Presented by Lyse Doucet.

04/12/200920091205

The climate debate hots up, and should Britain have elected police commissioners?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

This week the Australian opposition leader was deposed by his party because he supported government plans for carbon trading. In Britain growing reservations have been expressed by Conservatives about their leader David Cameron’s commitment to measures designed to combat global warming. On politics UK this week we examine the re-emergence of climate scepticsm with leading scientist Professor Mike Hulme, and the former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson, founder of a think tank devoted to the subject.

If he wins the general election, David Cameron has also promised that policing in England and Wales will be entrusted for the first time to elected commissioners. We’ll be debating the pros and cons with a supporter of the idea, the Spectator magazine’s political editor James Foesyth, and an opponment, Rob Garnham, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities.

And how close are the Scottish National Party to achieving their dream of an independent Scotland? This week the SNP government in Edinburgh published plans for a referendum on the subject. Political scientist Professor James Mitchell is an expert on Scottish politics, and he’ll bring us up to date.

05/02/201020100206

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

A review of Britain's defence capability was announced this week lookng at ways of countering threats ranging from terrorsim to cyberspace and climate change. What shape should the armed forces take and has the Tony Blair doctrine of liberal intervention been so discredited by the war in Iraq that Britian's foreign policy may also have to be adjusted?

The Conservatives appear to be softening their policy on tackling the budget deficit contrary to City expectations of a tough line on public spending. What now is the difference between the two main parties on the economy?

The expenses scandal at Westminster has resulted in more than half of MPs paying back 1.2 million pounds of public money. What is the overall effect of the scandal and is this the end of the affair?

And the struggle between the media and politicians - where does the power lie?

05/03/201020100306

We speak to the man whose new book about Gordon Brown set Westminster alight

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

05/09/200920090906

Has the release of al-Megrahi put Britain's special relationship with the US under strain?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Britain's special relationship with America is under strain: was the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber in Britain's national interest or a diplomatic disaster? But if the decision was taken in Scotland why is Gordon Brown taking the flak? Better than ever exam results for Britain's school children suggest that education is working well, but is it? One writer suggests the real story is in the children who get left behind. And the politics of cycling: why Britain needs to get on its bike to catch up with the rest of Europe. All that on Politics UK.

06/06/200920090607

The weekly programme that covers political and policy issues in the UK.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Labour politicians are caught on the horns of a dilemma: should they ditch the Prime Minister? And if he goes, would it really alter their fate at the next election? A plague on all your houses is the mood of the voters, but is constitutional reform the answer to the scandal over expenses? Financial prudence was the slogan of Mr Brown's years at the Treasury, so why is he getting the blame now for trouble in the banking sector? And, poor little rich girl: the perils of the high earner in the new age of austerity. Politics UK is presented by Dennis Sewell.

06/11/200920091107

Why expenses have cost MPs their respect and should Welsh Labour be more Welsh?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

On Politics UK this week we ask whether the Kelly report into MPs expenses can save the reputation of the House of Commons, and we’ll be discussing the way the party leaders have handled the crisis.

David Cameron’s Conservative party is digesting a new policy on Europe after their leader was forced to abandon a promised referendum on the Lisbon treaty. We’ll hear why some in his party have doubts about his new plans to protect British sovereignty from further encroachments by the EU’s institutions.

Ballot papers were sent out this week in Wales where Labour party members are electing a new leader. Labour used to dominate politics in the principality. – but have recently suffered a steep decline in support. We’ll find out why.

And we’ll hear why one British local authority is planning to run services like refuse collection and street cleaning, on the lines of a low-cost airline. The North London borough of Barnet has been dubbed “easy-council”, after its leader suggested residents could choose the level of service they wanted, and pay for extras.

06/12/200820081207

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

07/02/200920090208

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

07/03/200920090308

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

08/01/201020100109

A Special look at the first Asian MPs to be elected in Britain, more than a century ago.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

It's a little known fact that the first Asian MPs were elected to the British Parliament more than a hundred years ago - at the height of the British Empire. At a time when Britain ruled over many peoples of Asian and Africa - ordinary British voters were still happy for men born and brought up in India to speak for them in Parliament. Politics UK this week examines how these remarkable individuals managed to win a place at the heart of the Victorian establishment, and their impact on the future of India itself.

Presented by Susan Hulme. The editor is Elaine Thomas.

Some of the material in this programme was originally broadcast on BBC Radio Four, in the series "Britain's White House" produced by Julia Johnson.

10/01/200920090111

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

10/10/200920091011

How useful will social media be during elections for politicians journalists and voters?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Politicians are always asking how new technology can help them campaign. Have they found the perfect tool with social media? Or is it actually the best way for journalists and the public to hold politicians to account? In our final special debate from the UK political party conferences, Politics UK brings together journalists, politicians and social media experts to grapple with that issue and answer audience questions.

Peter Horrocks is Director of the BBC World Service; Jeremy Hunt is the MP for South West Surrey and the Shadow Culture Secretary; Douglas Murray is Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion; Benoit Thieulin is a social media expert.

11/12/200920091212

Can the Chancellor reduce Britain's debt and why has class war erupted at Westminster?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Spending cuts, pay freezes and tax increases - can such a package of pain from government ministers halve Britain's ballooning borrowing requirement? Or is it too little, too late? Is happiness perhaps the answer - should politicians concentrate on increasing people's well-being? Why has class war erupted in Westminster? And what is the attraction of politics to the writers of fiction? All that in Politics UK, presented by Norman Smith.

Britain's chief finance minister, the Chancellor Alastair Darling, delivered his annual pre-budget report this week, setting out the state of the nation's finances. Mr Darling announced a series of measures to try to control the country's ballooning debt. Mark Serwotka - the leader of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents public sector workers - and the economist, Ruth Lea, discuss the Chancellor's rescue plan.

Perhaps the Government should spend less time worrying about money and Britain's finances - and a lot more time thinking about the country's happiness. The Government recently launched a programme to put more resources into tackling depression. One of the driving figures behind the aim to make Happiness central to Government policy is David Halpern, who was the chief analyst in Tony Blair's Strategy Unit in Downing Street. He tells us it's not difficult to gauge people's happiness.

Class has frequently been at the heart of political debate in Britain, with the Labour party traditionally seen as speaking for the 'working class' and Conservatives often regarded as more representative of the wealthy and privileged in society. The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, recently sought to embarrass the Conservative leader, David Cameron, for being educated at one of the country's most prestigious (and expensive) private schools. Labour MP Martin Salter, and Conservative MP Justine Greening, discuss why Mr Brown adopted this line of attack.

Politicians have always been a rich source of material for authors and, despite the apparently low esteem in which politicians are held, books and dramas about them seem to be incredibly popular. This week the Labour MP Chris Mullin - himself the author of the political thriller "A Very British Coup" - will speak at a conference looking at the way politics and politicians are portrayed in fiction. He considers why writers might be attracted to the world of politics.

12/02/201020100213

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC with Dennis Sewell.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

On Politics UK this week with Dennis Sewell, we ask if there was a secret conspiracy behind mass immigration to Britain. Good cop, bad cop: a former Scotland Yard chief gives us the inside track on a senior policeman who was sent to jail - and we're on the hunt for policies that dare not speak their names - should voters be told what the parties would actually do if they win?

12/09/200920090913

When it comes to tough decision, does Bulgaria have the answer to Britain's debt crisis?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Doubts about British strategy in Afghanistan are affecting public opinion. Has the Government been clear enough about what it is trying to achieve? If so, why suppress a critical report warning of possible defeat? Could the Government learn lessons from Churchill about the power of oratory in the conduct of war? And, when it comes taking tough decisions, why the new Bulgarian Government could have the answer to Britain's public debt crisis. All that in Politics UK.

A report this week by military analysts has warned that Britain faces a possible "strategic defeat" in Afghanistan. So damning was the report that the ministry of Defence apparently blocked its publication in the British Army Review -the house journal of the British military. One of the authors of the report is Dr David Betz from the Department of war Studies, at Kings College London.

So how far is the Government to blame for failing to set out a clear strategy in Afghanistan? Have ministers allowed themselves to be distracted from the war on terror - by more idealistic notions of establishing a democracy in Afghanistan - or of ensuring human rights for women and young girls. We talked to John Hutton who was Defence Secretary until this July.

In the middle of the Second World War, after a series of defeats and setbacks, Churchill faced criticism from his Cabinet colleagues. He appealed directly to the public and won their support. Could the present Government learn lessons from Churchill in its conduct of the conflict in Afghanistan. We talked to Sir Max Hastings whose book, Finest Years:Churchill As Warlord 1940-45, has just been published.

Politicians of all Political parties in Britain now accept that after the next election there will have to be sweeping cuts in public spending to reduce the colossal level of debt. But will they have the courage to do what the new Government of Bulgaria achieved in one month this, where they reduced their deficit by a staggering 80%. We spoke to the man who masterminded the cuts programme, Finance Minister Simeon Djankov and asked him how he did it.

Britain's debt is four times that of Bulgaria. So how serious are British politicians about dealing with the problem, we asked former Treasury economist Ruth Lea?

13/11/200920091114

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Is the war in Afghanistan actually winnable? Will ten new nuclear power plants in Britain save us from global warming or put the world in peril? And is it wrong to joke about wounded soldiers? Presented by Susan Hulme.

As Britain commemorated her war-dead this week, those who have died in the war in Afghanistan were certainly not forgotten. One angry mother, who had recently lost her son in Afghanistan, blamed the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, for a lack of essential equipment, such as helicopters, which she felt had contributed directly to her son's death.
Paddy Ashdown was the UN's High Representative in Bosnia, and was at one point considered a candidate to co-ordinate the effort in Afghanistan. He tells us the soldiers' families are right to be angry with their political leaders.

The Conservative MP, Peter Viggers, is standing down from Parliament and his party need to find a new candidate for his constituency of Gosport, on the south coast of England. They're keen to find a way of reconnecting with the public after the row over MPs' expenses, and have decided to hold an American-style "open primary" to select the candidate. Voters in Gosport will have the chance to decide, from a pre-selected list of people, who will be the Conservative candidate.
Newsweek magazine's London bureau chief, Stryker McGuire - a veteran of many a US primary - explains the system.

Although there has long been some very vocal opposition to nuclear energy in Britain, the government has recently decided that ten new nuclear power plants should be built in England and Wales. Ministers argue that, with many existing power stations due to be decommissioned over the next few years, there will be an energy shortfall unless new power stations are built - and that using nuclear instead of fossil fuels will significantly reduce the nation's carbon emissions.
Simon Bullock, from the environmental group Friends of the Earth, and the Conservative party's Greg Clark, discuss whether the British public has finally come round to the idea of nuclear.
Professor Dieter Helm, of Oxford University, explains why politicians in Britain have had what seems to be a change of heart on nuclear.

The British comedian, Jimmy Carr, caused controversy when he told a joke about servicemen who'd lost limbs in Afghanistan, saying that at least it meant Britain would have a fantastic team for the 2012 Paralympic Games. The Defence Secretary was said to be furious. The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement.
William Cook, the Guardian newspaper's comedy critic, and Clive Anderson, a comedian and broadcaster, discuss whether Jimmy Carr's joke was indeed offensive or actually quite funny.

13/12/200820081214

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

14/02/200920090215

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

14/03/200920090315

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

15/01/201020100116

James Naughtie investigates the changing role of the British Foreign Office in India.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

A century ago the map of the world was coloured with the pink of the British Empire. Britain's diplomats reigned supreme, with the reassurance of a gunboat to support them. But the world has changed much since then. The British Foreign Office has had to change too, as the UK faces new threats and priorities across the globe. In the first part of “The New Art of Diplomacy” James Naughtie is in India, to examine how one outpost reflects the new way of doing things for British diplomats.

16/05/200920090517

Has the expenses row dragged the reputation of Parliament to its lowest ebb for centuries?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

"A pack of mercenery wretches" : Cromwell's words to Parliament in 1653 come back to haunt Westminster as details of MP' s dodgy expenses to pay for moats and swimming pools and mortgages that didn't exist are plastered all over the newspapers. Has this generation of politicians brought the reputation of Parliament to its lowest ebb for centuries? The public, facing the consequences of the worst recession since the 1930s are furious. What is the impact on British democracy? How will Parliament restore its repution? Politics UK is presented by Susan Hulme.

17/01/200920090118

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

17/10/200920091018

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

The scandal surrounding the expense claims of British politicians comes back to haunt them as they return to Parliament after the summer break. Will the story ever end? The Prime Minister Gordon Brown's experiment to bring outside experts into Government has all but failed. Why is the British system so limiting: what do other countries do? And it's 25 years since the Brighton Bombing, the most serious terrorist attack on the British cabinet in modern times. Do the security precautions that have surrounded top politicians ever since get in the way of democracy? All that in Politics UK. Presented by Edward Stourton.

Yet again expenses was a hot topic as MPs returned to Parliament after the summer break. Sir Thomas Legg, who had been commissioned by the Prime Minister to examine all MPs' claims over a four-year period, wrote to every single MP laying out his findings. Some have been given a clean bill of health but others have been told to pay some money back. Senior Labour MP Tony Wright explains why this story just goes on and on.

Those who thought the expenses saga might provide some fun at the first Prime Minister's Questions after the summer break were disappointed. At the start of 'PMQs', Gordon Brown read out the names of 37 soldiers who had been killed in Afghanistan during the summer, after which no-one seemed to have much appetite for the usual political knockabout. Parliamentary sketch writers, Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail, and Ann Treneman of the Times, were watching.

Various prominent public figures from outside the political world have been invited to join Gordon Brown's 'Government of All the Talents' (commonly referred to as 'GOATS'). The idea is to bring in extra knowledge and expertise to the business of government. Yet almost all of these 'GOATS' have now left the government again. Charles Grant, of the Centre for European Reform, describes how other countries manage these matters.

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Brighton Bomb - the attack by the Irish Republican paramilitary group, the IRA, on the hotel where most of the British Cabinet were staying, during the Conservative party conference of 1984. Lord Tebbit, at the time a Tory MP, was injured in the explosion and so was his wife. He says the memory of that dreadful night has not got softer over the years.

The Brighton bomb changed party conferences forever - indeed it marked the beginning of the sort of security that surrounds political events and politicians today. Michael Dobbs, who was a Tory adviser at the time and is now best known as a novelist, suggests that Britain has lost something as a result of this increased security protection. Others would counter that any relaxation of security is an invitation to terrorists to strike - but Michael Dobbs disagrees.

18/04/200920090419

A special edition asks how history will judge the outcome of the war in Iraq.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

In just a few weeks most of the 4,000 British troops in Iraq will return home six years after one of the most controversial wars in recent history. Was it worth it? The removal of Saddam Hussein was only one objective. How secure are Iraq's democratic foundations? And what of the hoped for domino effect in the region? One British politician, Ann Clwyd, with a long involvement in Iraqi politics is hopeful of the future, but others remain unconvinced. This special edition of Politics UK asks how history will judge the outcome of the war in Iraq. Presented by Norman Smith.

18/12/200920091219

How far has the inquiry into the Iraq war got in its first few weeks of evidence?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Britain's independent inquiry into the war in Iraq has been questioning officials for the past few weeks and early in the new year the former prime minister, Tony Blair, will appear. What has the investigation found so far and what can we expect from future sessions? Do bishops deserve their special place in British public life? And as the Copenhagen climate change meeting ends, why do summits always seem to reach a climax with a sense of crisis? Presented by Edward Stourton.

The Chilcott Inquiry into the Iraq war has been sitting for three weeks now, and has taken evidence from diplomats and other senior officials. Next year, the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair gives evidence. Richard Norton-Taylor, a journalist for the Guardian newspaper has been following the inquiry closely.

Perhaps it is natural that the leaders of the Anglican Church should voice their opinions a little more noisily than they usually do at this time of year; Christmas is after all the period when much of Britain celebrates its Christian heritage without embarrassment - with real enthusiasm, in fact. Evan Harris MP, and Andrew Selous MP, discuss some recent interventions from the Church.

With the climax of the Copenhagen talks on Climate Change, Lord Owen, a former British Foreign Secretary discusses the difference senior politicians can make to such gatherings.

There is no getting around the fact Parliament has taken a terrible battering in the public's eyes over the past year because of the ways MPs have been working the expenses system. With an election also looming, 2 MPs , Tony Wright and Douglas Hogg, discuss where British politics stands at the moment.

19/02/201020100220

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC - with Edward Stourton.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

On Politics UK this week we ask why Westminster is angry about the allegations that forged British passports were used in the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai. A man who lost his job on the Misuse of Drugs Council explains why he thinks politicians routinely misuse expert advice. And was Prime Minister Gordon Brown right to let us share his pain about the death of his daughter in a television interview?

The knowledge that forged British passports may have been used in a plot to assassinate a Hamas commander has caused alarm and anger at Westminster. Labour MP Kim Howells, a former minister in the Foreign Office, thinks there should be a full investigation.

Twenty respected economists wrote a letter to the Sunday Times newspaper last weekend, stressing the urgency of reducing Britain's budget deficit. The opposition Conservative Party claimed the letter was an endorsement of their economic policy, but some of those who signed the letter are unhappy that the Tories have used it in this way. Sir Howard Davies, Director of the London School of Economics, was one of the signatories. Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London was the head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs but was sacked from his position for expressing views on cannabis that were at odds with those of the government. They discuss how expert advice gets caught up in political debate.

Constitutional change has become a hot topic in this election year as British politicians struggle with the fallout from the parliamentary expenses scandal. The Conservative MP Bill Cash, who has long advocated a "Sovereignty Bill", which would aim to protect the rights of Parliament, debates the issue with one of Britain's leading constitutional lawyers: Richard Gordon QC has written a book called "Repairing British Politics", which proposes a new written constitution for the country, and he explains why he thinks British politics is in need of repair.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, broke down on a television chat show this week, while talking about the death of his baby daughter in 2002. Such a personal interview is rare for Mr Brown, and many political commentators, while expressing sympathy with Gordon Brown for his dreadful loss, felt that the timing of the interview, just before an election, was a cynical political decision. Mattia Bagnoli, the London correspondent of the Italian newspaper La Stampa, discusses the interview with Sarah Sands, deputy editor of the Evening Standard, who is sceptical about Gordon Brown's motives.

19/09/200920090920

Brown has finally admitted the need for spending cuts so where will they come and when?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

This was the week in which Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally admitted the word " cuts" into his vocabulary of economic policy. But as always the devil is in the detail: where will the cuts come and who will bear the brunt of them? General Secretary of CPS union Mark Serwotka thinks the less well off are paying for the mistakes of the bankers while Matthew Eliott of the Taxpayers Alliance thinks politicians, bankers and bureaucrats are all to blame for the unprecedented national debt crisis. On the political front what room for manoeuvre do the politicians have ? Daniel Finklestein of the Times and Steve Richards of the Independent discuss what might be in the Chancellor's pre budget statment later this year. And on the first anniversary of the collapse of Lehman brothers we ask Allister Heath of City A.M if banks should be allowed to fail. All that in Politics UK.

It was in his speech to the TUC conference in Liverpool that Gordon Brown finally admitted the need for public spending cuts. But the Trades Unionists were not pleased, and perhaps there was no-one in the audience quite so dismayed as Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services Union, many of whose members are now seriously worried about their futures.

On the other side of the argument the case was made for swinge-ing cuts this week in a new book co-authored by David Craig and Matthew Elliott of the Taxpayers' Alliance, under the punchy title: Fleeced! How we've been betrayed by the politicians, bureaucrats and bankers…and how much they've cost us. Three trillion pounds sterling in all. We talked to Matthew Elliott.

Now that both main parties are pledged to cut spending, what is there left to argue about in the run up to the general election? For some predictions on the tone and content of the political debate to come, we consulted Steve Richards of the Independent and Daniel Finkelstein of the Times.

This week marked one year since the collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers precipitated the global financial system into chaos. Since then we've heard from every kind of expert about how important it is that such events never happen again. Allister Heath, Editor of City A.M takes a different and rather unusual line - it's good to let banks fail.

20/11/200920091121

Did the Queen's Speech amount to a launch of the Labour Party's manifesto?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

This week the British Government unveiled the final package of laws ministers want to pass before the next election, in what's known as the Queen's Speech. Will the measures help reform public services? Or did the announcements amount to a launch of the ruling Labour Party's manifesto? The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said it should be possible to begin handing over provinces in Afghanistan to Afghan troops and authorites from next year. Is this evidence that the Government is preparing an exit strategy? A survey suggests nearly a third of people are not yet convinced global warming is caused by human activity. What can politicians do to persuade them? All that in Politics UK.

20/12/200820081221

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

21/02/200920090222

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

21/03/200920090322

Do the bad times bring out the best in people? Presented by Susan Hulme.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Do the bad times bring out the best in people? Britain's charities think so, as donations go up.

But will the Prime Minister be able to honour his commitment to Africa's poor?

Consumers tighten their belts, but for the clever entrepreneur even that might be a business opportunity.

And in the age of austerity, is the demon drink the next target for the nanny state?

Presented by Susan Hulme.

22/01/201020100123

Is Britain\u2019s Foreign Office ready for the challenges of a fast-changing world?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

The British Foreign Office is an institution that has faced severe budget cuts - with more to come - while trying to do more things, in more places, in an unpredictable, globalized world. In the second of two special editions of Politics UK, James Naughtie visits the Foreign Office’s London headquarters to speak to the Foreign Secretary and diplomats – and to critics who wonder if it has lost its way in Whitehall and in the world.

22/11/200820081123

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

23/05/200920090524

The Speaker of the House of Commons is forced out, can Parliament retrieve its reputation?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

What price reputation? The Speaker of the House of Commons is forced out, but can Parliament retrieve its reputation? After the most turbulent political week in living memory, Politics UK looks at how to restore the standing of Westminster's politicians. Revelation may be painful, but do democracies need the attentions of an unlovable press? And the wit and wisdom of the furious voters, as seen in the letters pages of the paper that revealed all. Politics UK is presented by Sean Curran.

24/01/200920090125

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

24/10/200920091025

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

The leader of the far right British National Party appeared on one of the BBC's flagship political programmes amid a huge amount of controversy and protest. How did the programme go? Will it help the BNP to gain support? British MPs may be banned from employing their relatives to run their offices. Is this latest idea to clean up politics a step too far? Why are many activists in the main opposition Conservative party up in arms because their leader says he is considering imposing all-women shortlists? And do celebrities make good politicians? All that in Politics UK, presented by Dennis Sewell.

25/04/200920090426

Austerity Britain faces historically high debts. Will the Budget work?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Britain's debts are now worse than at any time since World War Two. But the Chancellor insists we're not as badly off as other countries. Is he right? Will spending cuts and taxing the rich do any good, or will it still take a generation to pay it all off? And is this the end of New Labour? The Government wants Britain to go green, but do their plans to decarbonise the economy add up?

25/07/200920090726

Can the lawmakers of today measure up to the politicians of the past?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

What is civilisation? Is it great art, music, the way we live or the way we aspire to live? Has the Western hemisphere, in its pursuit of material prosperity lost confidence in the idea of spiritual prosperity? All questions put to the test in Politics UK this week as it searches for the ideal among the law makers of the past, where duty was the order of the day, and asks whether today's politicians measure up? Presented by Sean Curran.

A reporter once asked Mahatma Gandhi -- what do you think of Western Civilization. Gandhi replied -- I think it would be a good idea.

Philosopher John Armstrong has written a book called In Search of Civilization -- Remaking a Tarnished Idea, in which he suggests that the biggest problem facing Western Civilization is that it has delivered material but not spiritual prosperity. John Armstrong suggests that a civilized person would be reasonable, witty, mature refined, courageous and self controlled. Just sort of the qualities we look for from our lawmakers. They've seemed in short supply in recent months when politics has been dominated by the row about expenses.

It's now the parliamentary summer recess, and there's a tradition that Conservative members are sent off with a reading list. This year there are 27 books. We're interested in two of them. A new biography of the former Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan by Charles Williams. And Attlees Great Contemporaries -- a collection of essays by the former Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee, chosen and edited by the Labour former Welfare Minister Frank Field.

Both Macmillan and Attlee were products of the professional upper middle class of late Victorian Britain. They fought in the First World War, and many underestimated them. Attlee became Labour leader in 1935 largely by default because so many of his colleagues had lost their seats in Parliament.

When Sir Anthony Eden resigned in the wake of the Suez crisis in 1957 members of the Cabinet were asked to choose between Rab Butler, the leader of the Commons and the then Chancellor, Harold Macmillan. They chose Macmillan but few expected him to succeed.

Charles Williams -- who is a working Labour peer -- Lord Williams of Elvel -- and Frank Field came into our studios along with the historian Professor Peter Hennessey who provided an epilogue to Attlee's Great Contemporaries.

25/12/200920091226

A Special look at the interdependence between the banks and the UK government.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

This Christmas some of the banks at the heart of the financial crisis have started handing out bonuses, provoking cries of foul from the Church, the political classes and from the public. But now the Government has announced a tax on these windfalls, what will be the consequences of trying to stop bankers being bankers? How much does the city of London contribute annually to the Treasury, and how would the British economy manage without it? There are already signs of an exodus of wealth creators from the city. Switzerland is among the beneficiaries. Politics UK assembles its own Christmas Carol and examines the prospects for the the British economy in the Christmases to come.
Presented by Susan Hulme

26/02/201020100227

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC, presented by Susan Hulme.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

After a new book raises questions about Gordon Brown's character, we ask do we need our leaders to be nice or should it be tough at the top? Also - saying sorry isn't hard to do - but a former British Ambassador tells us what it's worth to the child migrants who were sent to Australia. After the expenses scandal, MPs are still left fighting for their reputation, but where will the real power lie in the proposed reform of the House of Commons? And how to explain the birds and the bees - we examine the row over sex education in schools. Presented by Susan Hulme.

The political commentator, Andrew Rawnsley, claims in a new book that the Prime Minister frequently bullies his staff. Those close to the Prime Minister have emphatically denied the charge, saying he is just a strong leader who is passionate about his job. John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University in Scotland, and Jennifer Palmeri, former speech-writer for US President Bill Clinton, examine whether it is right to focus on the personality of our leaders and, as a consequence, ignore their policies.

This week Gordon Brown apologised for a child migration programme, which ended forty years ago, that saw thousands of children forcibly separated from their families and sent to Australia and other Commonwealth countries - supposedly to a better life. Grant Macauley, professor of social anthropology at the University of New South Wales in Australia, says that some of the 130,000 child migrants did go on to lead successful lives but many experienced hard labour, violence, and sexual abuse.
Gordon Brown's apology for the suffering that had been caused was warmly welcomed by the former child migrants themselves. Sir Brian Barder, ex-British High commissioner to Australia, discusses the value of a government apologising for something for which it was not responsible.

Many ordinary MPs are increasingly concerned that it has become more and more difficult to hold the government to account: ministers can now organise matters so that often the government's new laws go sailing through parliament, with very little scrutiny from MPs at all. Chris Mullin, a former Labour Minister, is a member of a committee which is looking into parliamentary reform. He cites an example of a recent vote where there was absolutely no time to debate a controversial matter before MPs voted on it.

The vote that Chris Mullin mentions concerns making sex and relationship education compulsory in English state schools. The government plans to give faith schools the right to adapt the teaching of the subject to fit with their own religious beliefs, but critics say this means some schools could teach in a way that was homophobic or fail to give children proper guidance on contraception. The Emmanuel Foundation runs a number of state schools in the north of England. They're not church schools, but the Foundation says its ethos is a "Christian" framework. Its chief executive is David Wooton.

26/09/200920090927

A special panel discuss whether social media is good for politics and democracy

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Social media is the latest new technology to set the political world alight. But is it good for politics? Does it undermine existing democracies? Can it help new ones develop? In a series of special debates from the UK political party conferences, Politics UK brings together journalists, politicians and social media experts to grapple with that issue and answer audience questions. Presented by Nik Gowing.

27/06/200920090628

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

A new Speaker, and a new plan for keeping politics honest: but like reputation, isn't trust once lost hard to recover? Will the British public ever feel the same again about their politicians? How did a row about expenses turn into a crisis over the constitution? A former Cabinet Secretary argues it was the straw that broke the camel's back. And if Britain's constitution is in need of a make-over, is the American model the answer? All that on Politics UK.

The House of Commons elected a new Speaker this week. John Bercow, the 157th Speaker, and the first Jewish occupant of the chair, has declared he will be a reformer. Parliament has been shaken and shamed in the last tumultuous weeks over the expenses scandal. So will the appointment of a new Speaker help restore its reputation? Among the crowd watching the new Speaker in the central lobby of the Houses of Parliament were the Labour MP Gisela Stuart and the Conservative, Ed Vaizey.

As a result of the furore over expenses, the standing of Westminster's politicians has sunk and the political class is widely reviled. The academic Marek Kohn, who has written a book called "Trust: Self-interest and the Common Good", says that trust is a very difficult thing to measure.

One of the consequences of the scandal over MPs' allowances has been an increase in calls for a radical re-think of Britain's overall system of government. Strong government has long been seen as one of the virtues of the way politics works in Britain, but the power of the executive is now under scrutiny. Lord Turnbull was the Cabinet Secretary and the head of the civil service between 2002 and 2005. Why does he think the expenses scandal has led to a demand for a complete overhaul of the constitution?

Many of the proposals for reform have come from American politics. Shirley Williams, now Baroness Williams, is a Liberal Democrat, who teaches at the Kennedy School in Harvard. Jonathan Freedland is a journalist on the Guardian newspaper who wrote a book 10 years ago that argued it was time for Britain to re-invigorate its politics with the best bits of American democracy. They discuss whether the expenses scandal in Britain could be the catalyst for changes in how the country is run.

27/11/200920091128

Iraq Enquiry, census questions of sexuality, alcohol pricing and what happened to eVoting?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

As a fifth inquiry begins in London into the causes and conduct of the Iraq war, what can the United States teach British politicians about dealing with this most divisive of issues?

Britain’s equality commission has suggested a question on sexual preferences should be included in the national census. A useful aid to policy-makers, or an unwarranted intrusion?

Hospital accident and emergency units treated over 800 thousand people last year for sickness and injuries related to alcohol. We ask if raising the price of drink is the answer.

And whatever happened to dream of casting a vote by computer or text? We find out from the organiser of Britain’s annual conference on e-democracy.

That's on Politics UK this week with Susan Hulme.

27/12/200820081228

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

28/02/200920090301

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

29/01/201020100130

Politics UK is replaced today by a previous edition of The Interview with Oscar Pistorius.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Politics UK will be replaced today by a previous edition of The Interview where Owen Bennett-Jones spoke to the athlete Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar needed to have both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old but he has now grown up into a world-class runner.

He runs on carbon fibre blades earning him the nickname "Bladerunner".

He talks to Owen Bennett Jones about whether he should be allowed to compete with able-bodied athletes and why he has a fear of ballet.

29/11/200820081130

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

30/05/200920090531

"Power to the people". Reform is in the air. Who wants to be a politician now?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Power to the people promise the political classes, in response to public anger over their expenses. But do they mean it? And who wants to be a politician now? Are celebrities really the answer to Westminster's troubles? Reform is in the air and perhaps the route back to respectability in politics could lie as far back as ancient Greece. Why are the arts left-wing? A new front line in British culture is challenging political orthodoxy among the intelligentsia. Politics UK is presented by Norman Smith.

30/10/200920091031

We ask why British conservatives want to stop Tony Blair from ever becoming EU president?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

On Politics UK this week, we ask what chance of Tony Blair becoming European president. We hear from Charles Grant, head of the Centre for European Reform think tank about the damage he says Conservative opposition has done to Mr Blair’s prospects. And we ask the Tory politician David Heathcote-Amory why his party is determined to deny the post to the former British prime minister.

The House of Lords has been debating a new law to protect an estimated one thousand workers in the UK, who are held in conditions which amount to slavery. Two hundred years after the abolition of the slave trade in Britain, Paul Donohoe of the campaign group Anti-Slavery International explains why he believes the new law is necessary.

The government’s hopes that the British economy was returning to growth were dashed by figures published this week. With Germany, France and Japan already bouncing back, we’ll be discussing the political implications of Britain’s long-lasting recession with the economist Ruth Lea, and Larry Elliott, economics editor of “The Guardian” newspaper.

We’ll also examine why the government climbed down this week over 20 million pound cuts to training for the territorial army. Tory MP Desmond Swayne saw active service with the TA in Iraq. He explains the role of the territorials in our national life, But we’ll also be hearing that not all the military brass are pleased that the cuts have been restored.

Finally, history in the making as Britain’s Youth parliament debates for the first time on the Commons green benches. With MPs often accused of behaving like teenagers, we’ll meet two of the teenagers aspiring to behave like MPs. Presented by Ben Wright.

31/01/200920090201

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

James Bulger, public sector workers, hung parliament and election night20100312

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC with Edward Stourton.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

On Politics UK this week, Edward Stourton look at the legal challenges posed as the case of James Bulger - the toddler murdered by two boys in the early 1990s - erupts onto the front pages again. We debate the prospects for public sector workers as thousands come out on strike. Could Britain's third party, the Liberal Democrats, hold the balance of power in the next parliament? And will Election Night itself be the same this time round?

James Bulger, public sector workers, hung parliament and election night20100313

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC with Edward Stourton.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

On Politics UK this week, Edward Stourton look at the legal challenges posed as the case of James Bulger - the toddler murdered by two boys in the early 1990s - erupts onto the front pages again. We debate the prospects for public sector workers as thousands come out on strike. Could Britain's third party, the Liberal Democrats, hold the balance of power in the next parliament? And will Election Night itself be the same this time round?

Politics UK20090328

Politics UK on the recession: if printing money fails is doing nothing an option?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

The recession is a time of reckoning, but who are the winners and losers? So far Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic are struggling to find a coherent alternative to big Government bail-outs. Is there a crisis of confidence on the right? But if printing money isn't the answer, is doing nothing an option? And how will the next generation fare in the new economic world? Does the future belong to young entrepreneurs? Find out in Politics UK with Sean Curran.

Politics UK20090329

Politics UK on the recession: if printing money fails is doing nothing an option?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

The recession is a time of reckoning, but who are the winners and losers? So far Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic are struggling to find a coherent alternative to big Government bail-outs. Is there a crisis of confidence on the right? But if printing money isn't the answer, is doing nothing an option? And how will the next generation fare in the new economic world? Does the future belong to young entrepreneurs? Find out in Politics UK with Sean Curran.

Politics UK20090404

Will G20 success save the day, and do financial markets need morals?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Striking the deal at the G20 is an achievement, and failure unthinkable, but will the promised reforms be delivered, and will they work? But is there a downside to consensus? The Prime Minister hopes his success this week may translate into electoral victory next year. What are his chances? And do markets need morals? How to close the ethical gap in financial institutions. Presented by Norman Smith.

Politics UK20090405

Will G20 success save the day, and do financial markets need morals?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Striking the deal at the G20 is an achievement, and failure unthinkable, but will the promised reforms be delivered, and will they work? But is there a downside to consensus? The Prime Minister hopes his success this week may translate into electoral victory next year. What are his chances? And do markets need morals? How to close the ethical gap in financial institutions. Presented by Norman Smith.

Politics UK20090411

The relationship between England's oldest religion; Catholicism and the state.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

For centuries after Henry the Eighth's break with Rome, England's Catholics were banned from public life.Even the heir to the throne was not allowed to marry a Catholic. Now Gordon Brown thinks it's time to change all that. But as Britain becomes more secular is this the moment to strengthen the religious voice in public life? Would a Catholic Cardinal in the House of Lords create pressure for other religious communities to be represented in Parliament. On Politics UK, Edward Stourton talks to the retiring Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, and considers the relationship between England's oldest religion and the State.

Politics UK20090412

The relationship between England's oldest religion; Catholicism and the state.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

For centuries after Henry the Eighth's break with Rome, England's Catholics were banned from public life.Even the heir to the throne was not allowed to marry a Catholic. Now Gordon Brown thinks it's time to change all that. But as Britain becomes more secular is this the moment to strengthen the religious voice in public life? Would a Catholic Cardinal in the House of Lords create pressure for other religious communities to be represented in Parliament. On Politics UK, Edward Stourton talks to the retiring Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, and considers the relationship between England's oldest religion and the State.

Politics UK20090510

Gordon Brown; Labour MP's want change, Mrs Thatcher 30 years on and the history of Big Ben

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

No change no chance is the slogan at Westminster from disaffected Labour MPs worried about losing the election. But would it work to replace the Prime Minister so late in the day? Gordon Brown is certainly in the eye of the storm, but a flurry of public announcements may not be the best way to impress the voters. Silence and a cup of tea could be just what the doctor ordered. Remembering Margaret Thatcher: thirty years after she entered Downing Street a tribute from a woman of the left. And Big Ben, one hundred and fifty years of keeping time. Politics UK with Sean Curran.

Politics UK20090614

Is constitutional reform the answer? British voters and the EU and Lord Mandelson

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

The Prime Minister lives to fight another day and the plots to unseat him are shelved, for now. But if changing the leader isn't the answer to the Government's problems, will constitutional reform save the day? Making the case for the European Union: why do the pro-Europeans keep failing to impress British voters? In the land of Lloyd George and Nye Bevan, a surprising shift to the right. And Lord of all he surveys: the rise and rise of the man who saved the Prime Minister's bacon. Politics UK is presented by Norman Smith.

Politics UK20090621

Another inquiry into the Iraq war, but is the Government putting its own interest first?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Another inquiry into the Iraq War: will it achieve truth and reconciliation? Not if it is held in secret according to a former Cabinet Secretary. Is the Government putting its own interests before the public interest? And who's telling the truth about public spending? The Government says the Conservatives will impose cuts, while they will spend more. But are the voters more clued up than politicians realise? MPs say a fond farewell to the Speaker they forced from office, but who should they chose to restore the reputation of Parliament? Politics UK is presented by Edward Stourton.

Politics UK20090711

Are economic hard times revealing the strains of recent immigration?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery and Britain has certainly had a lot of that in the last ten years. But economic hard times are revealing the strains. Are the political classes facing up to the dangers of overstretch? Also this week, President Sarkozy talks of banning the burkha in France, but could that happen here? If all Britons are equal before the law, why are so many Sharia courts in business? And how Britain's Tamils work with Westminster to make their case. Presented by Susan Hulme.

During the economic good times, migrants' labour was lapped up by British business. But as the numbers rise and the recession squeezes - comes the fear of social tension. Mainstream politicians have been rattled by the recent electoral success of the far-right British National Party, the BNP. And the political commentator, Fraser Nelson, argues that while the influx of foreign labour has been terrific for employers - it's not been so great for indigenous low-paid or unemployed people. He's obtained figures that show that in the boom years, while the number of people in work went up - that was fuelled by incoming workers. A rump of around five million British-born stayed out of work and on benefits through the good times, just as they had in the bad ones. Similarly, a House of Lords report has said that the low-paid and unemployed suffer from competition from immigrants.

France's President Sarkozy caused a stir last month when, in a major policy speech he spoke out strongly against the wearing of the veil by Muslim women in France. Mr Sarkozy said the burqa or niqab, a full veil, was not problematic as a religious symbol - but it was a problem of freedom and of women's dignity. Women in Britain are divided on the issue.

One other area which is beginning to cause tensions within the Muslim community is the growth of Islamic sharia courts. Sharia is a set of principles which govern the way many Muslims believe they should live their life. But a report by the think tank Civitas argues that sharia courts operating in Britain may be handing down rulings which are out of step with British law - and discriminate against women. It says there may be more than 85 sharia courts, operating largely out of mosques - often dealing with family disputes and property issues. We brought together the report's author Denis MacEoin, and Haras Rafiq from the Sufi Muslim council.

When the Sri Lankan government began its purge of the Tamil Tiger rebel movement earlier this year, Britain's Tamil community watched in horror as TV pictures showed the panic and desperation of ordinary Tamils, forced from their homes by the fighting. Whether or not they support the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE, British Tamils came out in force, night after night, to demonstrate in front of the Houses of Parliament.

It was an unusual step into the public glare for the Tamil community. We met the co-founder of the British Tamil Foundation, Sen Kandiah, and a young doctor from the community, Sivakami RajamaNOharan INSIDE the Houses of Parliament this time, with their local MP, Siobhan McDonagh who's supported their protests.

Politics UK20090712

Are economic hard times revealing the strains of recent immigration?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery and Britain has certainly had a lot of that in the last ten years. But economic hard times are revealing the strains. Are the political classes facing up to the dangers of overstretch? Also this week, President Sarkozy talks of banning the burkha in France, but could that happen here? If all Britons are equal before the law, why are so many Sharia courts in business? And how Britain's Tamils work with Westminster to make their case. Presented by Susan Hulme.

During the economic good times, migrants' labour was lapped up by British business. But as the numbers rise and the recession squeezes - comes the fear of social tension. Mainstream politicians have been rattled by the recent electoral success of the far-right British National Party, the BNP. And the political commentator, Fraser Nelson, argues that while the influx of foreign labour has been terrific for employers - it's not been so great for indigenous low-paid or unemployed people. He's obtained figures that show that in the boom years, while the number of people in work went up - that was fuelled by incoming workers. A rump of around five million British-born stayed out of work and on benefits through the good times, just as they had in the bad ones. Similarly, a House of Lords report has said that the low-paid and unemployed suffer from competition from immigrants.

France's President Sarkozy caused a stir last month when, in a major policy speech he spoke out strongly against the wearing of the veil by Muslim women in France. Mr Sarkozy said the burqa or niqab, a full veil, was not problematic as a religious symbol - but it was a problem of freedom and of women's dignity. Women in Britain are divided on the issue.

One other area which is beginning to cause tensions within the Muslim community is the growth of Islamic sharia courts. Sharia is a set of principles which govern the way many Muslims believe they should live their life. But a report by the think tank Civitas argues that sharia courts operating in Britain may be handing down rulings which are out of step with British law - and discriminate against women. It says there may be more than 85 sharia courts, operating largely out of mosques - often dealing with family disputes and property issues. We brought together the report's author Denis MacEoin, and Haras Rafiq from the Sufi Muslim council.

When the Sri Lankan government began its purge of the Tamil Tiger rebel movement earlier this year, Britain's Tamil community watched in horror as TV pictures showed the panic and desperation of ordinary Tamils, forced from their homes by the fighting. Whether or not they support the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE, British Tamils came out in force, night after night, to demonstrate in front of the Houses of Parliament.

It was an unusual step into the public glare for the Tamil community. We met the co-founder of the British Tamil Foundation, Sen Kandiah, and a young doctor from the community, Sivakami RajamaNOharan INSIDE the Houses of Parliament this time, with their local MP, Siobhan McDonagh who's supported their protests.

Politics UK20090718

Is the army being asked to do too much in Afgahnistan with too little?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

As the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan mounts up, so does criticism of the Government. Is the army being asked to do too much for too little? And while the public appears to understand the sacrifice, have the political classes been slow in catching up? David Cameron wants Disraeli's 'One Nation Conservatism' to go global? But will his party approve of charity abroad when times are bad at home? And what do the bankers think of the Pope pontificating on greed in the market place? Find out in Politics UK.

Politics UK20090719

Is the army being asked to do too much in Afgahnistan with too little?

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

As the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan mounts up, so does criticism of the Government. Is the army being asked to do too much for too little? And while the public appears to understand the sacrifice, have the political classes been slow in catching up? David Cameron wants Disraeli's 'One Nation Conservatism' to go global? But will his party approve of charity abroad when times are bad at home? And what do the bankers think of the Pope pontificating on greed in the market place? Find out in Politics UK.

Unions and Labour - Who are the Tories? - Political Wives20100319

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC with Dennis Sewell.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC

Unions and Labour - Who are the Tories? - Political Wives20100320

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC with Dennis Sewell.

A weekly look inside British politics from the BBC