For all the choice words you can say about the world of politics right now (and the words ‘incompetent’, ‘stressful’ and ‘maddening’ spring to mind) you can’t say it isn’t interesting. From everything breaking down due to Brexit in the UK to Trump’s latest tweets across the pond, there’s certainly plenty to discuss and analyse.
The nine podcasts below do a particularly stellar job of unpicking the confusing times we live in, and some of them manage to give you a few laughs along the way as an added bonus. They may not help you make total sense of the world as it stands, but perhaps it’ll all seem a little bit less mad if nothing else.
Upvote your favourite, and suggest other political podcasts you think we should add at the bottom.
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Best political podcasts
1. The Political PartyListen now on iTunes
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 iTunes
Sticking with the comedy theme, 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. Don’t expect anything too serious, but do expect plenty of laughs.
3. RemainiacsListen now on iTunes
For fully-throated Remainers who haven’t let go of June 23 2016, Remainiacs is a welcome alternative to Chopper’s Brexit podcast.
This provides a more chaotic but thoroughly entertaining analysis of the latest twists and turns with an unapologetic Remainer twist on things. Even it’s tagline is “Ho, hey: let’s stay.”
4. The New Statesman PodcastListen now on iTunes
It’s always a good sign when a podcast jumps the queue to be the one you have to listen to next and, for us, The New Statesman podcast does that every time.
Fair, insightful analysis in a breezy conversational style is the order of the day, and despite the brand being firmly on the left of centre, it manages to avoid the traps of partisanship pretty effectively. It even manages to raise a couple of laughs, which is no mean feat in the current climate.
5. The Spectator PodcastListen now on iTunes
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.
6. Slow BurnListen now on iTunes
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…
7. Chopper’s Brexit podcastListen now on iTunes
Staying abreast of the daily twists and turns of the ongoing Brexit saga is a day job in itself. Fortunately, Chopper’s Brexit podcast from The Telegraph is on hand to provide weekly insights into the latest from Westminster and Brussels.
Featuring interviews of politicians and commentators, alongside analysis from the team, you’ll certainly be a lot better informed of how the negotiations are going and whether any kind of end is in sight. Quick note: because this is a Telegraph podcast, expect this to be a bit more from a Leaver’s perspective…
8. Reasons to be CheerfulListen now on iTunes
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 very first episodes discusses 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.
9. Ways to Change the WorldListen now on iTunes
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.