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Election Daily

Sunak vs Starmer – The Rematch

The political podcasts stay up late to review the debate

7:53 AM GMT+1 on June 13, 2024

    Groucho Marx once said that "politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." And by that standard, we have been governed by some of the best politicians in this country for generations! So who are we keen to select next? Well, neither of the major parties, if you were to judge by the broad hostility that greeted both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer at last night's Sky News hosted debate in Grimsby. Sunak faced yet more uncomfortable questions about his D-Day gaffe, while Starmer was accused of being a "political robot", briefly glitching in his response to the accusation.

    Several of the UK's best news pods bravely stayed up late to digest and respond to the debate. Here is what they saw as the main takeaways of the head-to-head and everything else worth digging into from the last 24 hours on the campaign trail.

    The News Agents: Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall were among those who stayed up late to analyse the latest TV battle between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer. I can only imagine it was a classic sleepover party with popcorn, pyjamas and pillow flights. Or probably everyone sat to attention in suits, actually. "It was the toughest test for Starmer so far and probably the most electrifying hour of television since the election was called", says Maitlis in her snap analysis. They look at who came out on top, with loads of good clips from the debate too. This episode is truly a credit not only to the presenters but the editors as well. Nice work, unsung News Agents.

    The Rest is Politics: Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell also stayed up in their jimmy jams to give their immediate reaction to the Sky News leaders event. Who won, and, more importantly, will it have changed anyone’s vote, they ask. They have a fun bit where they  wrestle with how they would have answered the tricky personal questions. Campbell reveals this personal titbit: "I once played the bagpipes for Elvis… sorry Muhammad Ali". Er, what? How do you mix Elvis and Ali up? This story doesn’t add up, Campbell. 

    BBC Newscast: The BBC, too, has the resources to fund late-night, pizza-fuelled reporting, so Newscast stayed up to discuss, in some depth, what the debate hinged on. Starmer was grilled on tax rises while Sunak was asked about NHS and immigration. Also on the show is former Conservative adviser Jo Tanner and former Labour adviser Tom Hamilton. And they have a good look at the Green Party manifesto launch, which focuses on taxing the wealthy to pay for the NHS and housing. The poor Greens have been rather overshadowed by everything else that's going on, but their manifesto has plenty of interesting stuff in it. 

    Novara Live: Digging more deeply into the Greens manifesto are Michael Walker and Grace Blakeley, who break down what the Greens had to offer in some detail. The pod also looks at how Rishi Sunak’s D-Day blunder just continues to get worse and worse.

    Planet Normal: Nigel Farage has rapidly become this election's leading talking point, so Telegraph columnists Allison Pearson and Liam Halligan have got him on the show to subject him to a good grilling, asking if Reform UK is actually racist, how many votes he expects to win, and if he could imagine standing down candidates in Tory marginal seats. Of course, he bats it all away with ease because he is a more polished media performer than almost anyone, but still good to get those questions asked.

    The Today Podcast: In front of a live audience for the first time, Amol Rajan and Nick Robinson bring together a panel of experts: former Labour deputy prime minister Lord Mandelson; Fiona Hill, Theresa May’s former chief of staff in Downing Street and founder of the Future Resilience Forum; and Professor Jane Green, co-director of the British Election Study. Together they discuss loads of stuff from voter apathy to why so many MPs are leaving parliament. Also Rajan leaned on his new mate Roger Tilling, the voice of University Challenge, to take care of the announcements. It's truly not what you know, it's who you know.

    Holyrood Sources: Managing Director of Ipsos in Scotland, Emily Gray, comes on to explain what Ipsos' first Scotland poll indicates; the SNP and Labour in Scotland share 36% of the country's voting intention. Hosts Calum Macdonald, Geoff Aberdein and Andy Maciver also ask where next for the Scottish Conservatives after Douglas Ross announced he would stand down as leader - just as the Holyrood Sources team had predicted he would. They are all very pleased with themselves for predicting this.

    Talking Politics: ITV's crack team of Robert Peston and Anushka Asthana join Nina Hossain to discuss the possibility of a Labour supermajority. What would that mean and does it really matter? It would certainly make them harder to dislodge at the next election. But that is a long way off, let's get this one out of the way first. Also in the show, Paul Brand reflects on the Sunak interview which stole headlines after the PM admitted he "went without" Sky TV as a child. Tiny violins have been playing up and down the country ever since.

    The New Statesman Podcast: What's the opposite of a supermajority? A "superdefeat", say the New Statesman team, who speculate that's what the Tories are heading towards. But, they suggest, not all of those old Tory votes will be going to Labour. Interesting speculation here about how they will be split.

    Sky News Daily: Bigger isn't always better, say the Sky News Daily team, noting that smaller parties are having their moment, as the combined vote share for Labour and the Conservatives continues to shrink. Using the Green Party's manifesto launch as their jumping-off point, Niall Paterson and Sky News' deputy political editor Sam Coates look into what is driving the dissatisfaction with Sunak and Starmer.  

    Quiet Riot: Investigative journalist Peter Geoghegan joins hosts Alex Andreou and Naomi Smith to discuss the Conservative manifesto, which they say, "everyone is treating it like a business document", when it is actually "a work of fiction". They also look at the fall-out from Sunak's catastrophic D-Day decision, because it is still so hypnotically awful and, one speculates, may well haunt Sunak for the rest of his days.

    And now for something completely different
    Pro Revolution Soccer: Novara Media's football podcast is back with new episodes every Wednesday until the Euro 2024 final. Hosts Juliet Jacques and Tom Williams kick off with a look at the embarrassing spectacle of politicians pretending to like football. They also discuss the changing status of women and LGBT+ players and fans, what Starmer might end up doing for the game, and England's prospects after losing to Iceland. Sooo, maybe football still isn't coming home after all?

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