Best political podcasts in 2023: essential listening on both sides of the Atlantic
The best political podcasts to help you make sense of the madness that is our political landscape.
The best political podcasts aren't recommended if you want a calm, soft and easy life. But if you're interested in the latest political developments, then they're one of our favourite ways to stay on top of the news – much better than actually watching the news, most of the time at least.
Whether it's the repercussions of Brexit in the UK or the mounting presidential bids currently in the US, the best political podcasts will ensure you know what's going on with plenty of analysis and some of them manage to give you a few laughs along the way as an added bonus.
The best political podcasts may not help you make any sense of the world around you, but perhaps it’ll all seem a little bit less mad if nothing else.
Upvote your favourite political podcast below, and suggest any other politically-charged podcasts that you think we should add at the bottom.
- These are the best crime podcasts you need to listen to
Best political podcasts
1. The Political PartyListen now on Apple Podcasts
If you care more about the people who make the decisions, and would enjoy personal anecdotes from life at Westminster, The Political Party is for you. Each month, political comedian Matt Forde meets a current member of parliament for an informal but informative chat in front of a live audience in London.
Guests have represented big names of the Commons (Jess Phillips, Anna Soubry) to bigger names from parliaments past (Neil Kinnock, George Osborne). Between the main shows, there are studio-based interviews with interesting academics, journalists and activists to ensure you don’t miss it too much.
2. The BugleListen now on Apple Podcasts
The Bugle is a longstanding satirical podcast covering the week’s news. Formerly starring John Oliver, who left when his HBO commitments became too much, co-host Andy Zaltsman now has a rotating guest co-host with whom to riff on whatever is going on in the world of politics each week. There's also now a daily series too, which brings you some of the best bits of The Bugle's past Don’t expect anything too serious, but do expect plenty of laughs.
3. The DailyListen now on Apple Podcasts
If high-octane political debate and timely world affairs sound like your kind of thing, look no further than The Daily's subscribe button. A podcast brought to you from The New York Times, this audio offering - with its daily content - is the ultimate companion for anyone who enjoys staying on top of world affairs. It's better than music to our ears.
4. Slow BurnListen now on Apple Podcasts
Slow Burn is different to every other podcast in this list. Why? Because it looks at the past, rather than the present.
Slow Burn is closer to the likes of This American Life in nature, and has so far explored two huge scandals of American political history, explaining how they slowly unravelled and resolved with years of hindsight. The first season deals with Nixon and Watergate, the second focuses on Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. We just need more scandals to guarantee a third season…
5. Reasons to be CheerfulListen now on Apple Podcasts
If you thought that Ed Miliband’s presenting days would be numbered after he attempted to do a death metal scream on Radio 2, you’d be mistaken. Instead, along with co-presenter Geoff Lloyd, he now presents Reasons to be Cheerful.
It’s not directly related to politics as such, but its remit of exploring “big ideas” and Miliband’s main job as an MP means it can’t help but frequently stray into that space. The first episodes discuss the benefits of a universal basic income and tech’s monopolies, which are the big political ideas that are only just getting a belated airing in Westminster. More recent episodes discuss topics like the climate crisis and the education system.
6. The Red Box Politics PodcastListen now on Apple Podcasts
Join Red Box editor Matt Chorley as he sits down with Times columnists to give their insight on the big stories of the day. It may be dealing with complex political issues but funny anecdotes and Westminster gossip breaks up the needed analysis. If you prefer to read your news, we suggest also signing up to their newsletter. Also called Red Box, it’s one of the best out there and will give you exclusive comment and analysis daily.
7. BombshellListen now on Apple Podcasts
This fortnightly podcast explores the big international political news stories of the moment and looks at them through the lens of national security. There are lots of security experts that take part in the pod, as well as academics.
8. KCRW's Left, Right & CenterListen now on Apple Podcasts
American politics often feels extremely polarised and that's why KCRW's Left, Right & Center can be refreshing. The whole aim of this show is to present the biggest political issues of the day from different political standpoints in a way that aims to be bias-free. It may feel uncomfortable to step outside of your political comfort zone and hear someone else's perspective, but it could be vital for the future of not only the US but the whole planet.
9. InterceptedListen now on Apple Podcasts
This weekly podcast is from The Intercept, an investigative news site. It's US-based and has a US focus, but deals with a lot of geopolitical issues, takes a look at some international news stories that haven't been heavily reported on and takes an insightful and critical look at the role of the US in all of what's going on.
10. The Problem with Jon StewartListen now on Apple Podcasts
Most of us know Jon Stewart from the Daily Show, but he also hosts The Problem with Jon Stewart, a TV show that also has its own dedicated political podcast. As you might expect, this is a politics podcast with lots of laughs. But this isn't just humour for humour's sake, Stewart does really know what he's talking about and provides interesting analysis alongside jokes. The whole ethos for the show is that Stewart tackles topics that are 'too big for TV', which means they need dissecting over a longer period of time with expert guest input. This allows for more in-depth and nuanced takes, which are often sorely lacking in political commentary elsewhere.
11. Ways to Change the WorldListen now on Apple Podcasts
Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy hosts “Ways to Change the World”. It’s an exploration of interview subjects’ beliefs on the issues of the day.
Crucially for this list, those interview subjects include a lot of prominent politicians. Past guests have included Jacob Rees-Mogg, Ken Clarke, Michael Heseltine, David Lammie and Jess Phillips. The hour-long format offers a lot more than the usual five minutes the interviewees would normally be granted on TV or radio, and it leads to some revealing sentiments.
12. The Spectator PodcastListen now on Apple Podcasts
If you prefer your politics with a centre-right twist, The Spectator Podcast makes a solid accompaniment. As with The New Statesman’s effort, you usually get a similar analysis of the week’s parliamentary developments in a slightly more formal style, but there’s usually some wider cultural content to give you a break from the relentless Westminster chat.