XClose

The Constitution Unit

Home
Menu

The Constitution Unit Podcast

Listen to audio recordings of the Constitution Unit's virtual, and in-person events, and topical podcast episodes which feature our researchers.

Podcast

Subscribe to the Constitution Unit Podcast


E72: Changes and challenges in regulating elections

An expert panel discusses recent changes in election regulations ahead of the 2 May local elections.

Speakers: Laura Lock – Deputy Chief Executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, Lord (Paul) Tyler – Liberal Democrat peer and former MP, co-author of the 2023 book Can Parliament Take Back Control?, Professor Alistair Clark – Professor of Political Science, Newcastle University

Chair: Professor Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit.

Listen to episode 72


E71:Should military action require parliamentary approval?

An expert panel discusses the UK parliament’s role in approving military action.

Speakers: David Lidington – Chair of the Royal United Services Institute, former Conservative MP for Aylesbury, and former Minister for the Cabinet Office, Lord Chancellor, and Leader of the House of Commons, Dr Veronika Fikfak – Associate Professor in International Law, University College London, Dr James Strong – Senior Lecturer in British Politics and Foreign Policy, Queen Mary University of London

Chair: Lisa James – Research Fellow, Constitution Unit

Listen to episode 71


E70:Do protests affect what politicians say?

A UCL Uncovering Politics episode, Tom Fleming and Alan Renwick discuss the effects of protest. Do protests influence what politicians talk about? And what does this say about the role of protests in democracy?

Speaker: Dr Tom Fleming – Lecturer in British and Comparative Politics.

Chair: Professor Alan Renwick – Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit and Professor of Democratic Politics.

Listen to episode 70


E69:UK Governance Project: proposals for reform

Dominic Grieve and Helen MacNamara discuss the recent report from their UK Governance Project with Prof Meg Russell.

Speakers: Dominic Grieve – chair of the UK Governance Project, former Attorney General for England and Wales, and former Conservative MP for Beaconsfield; Helen MacNamara – former Deputy Cabinet Secretary and Director General of the Cabinet Office Propriety and Constitution Group

Chair: Professor Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit, UCL.

Listen to episode 69


E68:The Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales: UK-Wide Implications

The Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales launched its final report in January 2024. This seminar examined its recommendations and considers their implications for the whole of the UK.

Speakers: Laura McAllister - Professor of Public Policy at Cardiff University's Wales Governance Centre and co-chair of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales; Nicola McEwen - Professor of Public Policy in the College of Social Sciences and Director of the Centre for Public Policy at the University of Glasgow; Ciaran Martin - Professor of Practice in the Management of Public Organisations at the Blavatnik School of Government and former Constitution Director in the Cabinet Office

Chair: Professor Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit.

Listen to episode 68


E67:How Parliaments Question Prime Ministers

A UCL Uncovering Politics episode, Ruxandra Serban and Alan Renwick discuss how parliaments question prime ministers. How does questioning work? And does it actually do any good?

Speaker: Ruxandra Serban, Associate Lecturer (Teaching) in Democratic and Authoritarian Politics

Chair: Professor Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit.

Listen to episode 67


E66:The Future of Power-Sharing in Northern Ireland

First released on UCL's Uncovering Politics podcast, this episode looks at the politics of power-sharing in Northern Ireland. What is it? Why is it not currently working? And what is its future?

Speakers: Alan Whysall, Honorary Senior Research Associate at the Constitution Unit, Conor Kelly, Research Assistant at the Constitution Unit.

Chair: Professor Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit.

Listen to episode 66


E65: The Future of Democracy in the UK: Public Attitudes and Policy Options

This seminar gathered leading figures from Westminster, with an expert on public attitudes and members of the project team, to explore the findings of the final report of the Democracy in the UK after Brexit project.

Speakers: Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister; Wendy Chamberlain MP, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip in the House of Commons; Damian Green MP, former First Secretary of State and chair of the One Nation Conservatives; Professor Maria Sobolewska, Professor of Political Science, University of Manchester; Professor Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit, UCL

Chair: Professor Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit, UCL

Listen to episode 65


E64: Mark D’Arcy - Reflections on over 20 years of reporting on parliament

Recently retired BBC parliamentary correspondent, Mark D’Arcy, discusses his key reflections on parliament with Prof Meg Russell

Speakers: Mark D'Arcy former BBC parliamentary correspondent, Professor Meg Russell, Director of the Constitution Unit.

Listen to Episode 64


E63: Ian Dunt's How Westminster Works...and Why It Doesn't

The recent book by journalist and author Ian Dunt provides a detailed and critical account of many aspects of the UK’s political system, including political parties and elections, parliament and the legislative process, the work of ministers and civil servants in Whitehall, and the role of the media. The book analyses various perceived problems, and proposes a range of possible solutions. In this seminar Ian presents some of his key arguments, and responds to comments and questions from a panel of experts and the online audience.

Speakers: Ian Dunt, journalist and author; Dr Ruth Fox, Director of the Hansard Society; Jill Rutter, Senior Research Fellow at UK in a Changing Europe and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government; Professor Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit, UCL

 Chair: Dr Tom Fleming, Constitution Unit, UCL

Listen to episode 63


E62: The Future of the Constitution Conference - Elections and Electoral Reform

Conference panel | 1hr 13 mins | 29 June 2023

Adopting a more proportional electoral system is opposed by the Conservative Party, and by the Labour leader, but attracts growing support elsewhere. Would such reform be desirable or practical, and what might be its consequences? What might politicians wish to consider regarding other aspects of our elections, such as the minimum voting age, voter ID rules, or the reform proposals of the Law Commissions? How might any such changes be delivered?

Speakers: Cat Smith MP, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, former Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office; Lord (Robert) Hayward, Conservative Peer; John Pullinger, Chair of the Electoral Commission; Professor Sarah Birch, Professor of Political Science at King's College London.

Chair: Professor Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit.

Listen to Episode 62


E61: The Future of the Constitution Conference - Implementing Constitutional Change

Conference panel | 1 hr 12 mins | 29th June 2023

This final keynote session considered the practicalities of delivering constitutional change in the round, whether under the current government, or a new Conservative, Labour, or coalition administration after the next general election. What kinds of changes might be ‘quick wins’, and which might instead take longer to deliver? How is the balance to be reached between public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny and achieving desired changes? Two senior figures with huge experience at the heart of British government reflected on these challenges.

Speakers: Lord (Charlie) Falconer of Thoroton, Labour peer, and former Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor; David Lidington, former Conservative MP for Aylesbury, and former Minister for the Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Lord Chancellor, and Leader of the House of Commons.

Chair: Professor Meg Russell FBA – Director of the Constitution Unit, UCL

Listen to Episode 61


 

E60: The Future of the Constitution Conference - Constitutional Standards

Conference panel | 1 hr 15 mins | 29th June 2023

The issue of ensuring high standards of behaviour in public life remains high-profile following the Johnson and Truss premierships. Rishi Sunak pledged to lead a government of ‘integrity, professionalism, and accountability’ when he first became Prime Minister, while Labour has proposed an extensive overhaul to the UK’s system of standards regulation. What are the key problems in the current system, and what reforms could most successfully address them?

Speakers: Lord (David) Anderson of Ipswich, Crossbench peer, and former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation; Dr Hannah White, Director of the Institute for Government; Jeremy Wright MP, Conservative MP for Kenilworth and Southam, former Attorney General and former member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life

Chair: Professor Meg Russell FBA – Director of the Constitution Unit, UCL

Listen to Episode 60


E59: The Future of the Constitution Conference - Courts and the Rule of Law

Conference panel | 1 hr 11 mins | 28th June 2023

Relations between the political branches and the courts have been strained in recent years. Pushback against the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights has spilled over into determined attempts to ‘clip the wings’ of the UK’s own courts, with renewed interest in ‘ouster clauses' and attempts to repeal the Human Rights Act, against a steady drumbeat of complaint that courts have become too powerful in our constitutional arrangements. How can the damage be repaired? What should be the priorities of a future government interested in restoring the UK’s battered reputation as a rule of law-regarding nation?

Speakers: Laura Farris MP, Conservative MP for Newbury and former practising barrister at Matrix; Emily Thornberry MP, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, and Shadow Attorney General; Fiona Rutherford, Chief Executive, Justice

Chair: Murray Hunt, Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law

Listen to Episode 59


E58: The Future of the Constitution Conference - Devolution and the Union

Conference panel | 1 hr 16 mins | 28th June 2023

Uncertainties over the UK’s future territorial politics are great. The SNP is in turmoil, and the UK government’s block on Holyrood’s gender legislation is being challenged in the courts. Labour’s Brown Commission has recommended major changes, and further proposals are being developed in Wales. Renewed devolution within England is on the cards. Is fundamental reform of the UK’s territorial arrangements needed? If so, what might this mean in practice?

Speakers: Dr Anwen Elias, Reader in Politics at Aberystwyth University, and member of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales; Kezia Dugdale, Director of the John Smith Centre at the University of Glasgow, and former Leader of the Scottish Labour Party; Professor Michael Kenny, Director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge

Chair: Professor Alan Renwick – Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit, UCL

Listen to Episode 58


E57: The Future of the Constitution Conference - Parliament

Conference panel | 1 hr 8 mins | 28th June 2023

The last few years have seen frequent controversy about parliament’s role, and the government’s openness to parliamentary accountability. What are the proper scrutiny roles of MPs and peers? Do they have the opportunities and resources to fulfil these? If not, what reforms might be needed?

Speakers: Thangam Debbonaire,  Labour MP for Bristol West and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons; Professor Lord (Philip) Norton of Louth, Conservative peer, and Professor of Government at the University of Hull; Dr Brigid Fowler, Senior Researcher, Hansard Society; Alexander Horne, barrister, and Visiting Professor at Durham.

Chair: Dr Tom Fleming

Listen to Episode 57


E56: Combatting Democratic Backsliding: What Works?

Public Webinar | 1hr 7 mins | 13th June 2023

An expert panel discussed what we can learn from existing responses to democratic backsliding around the world.

Speakers: Professor Kim Lane Scheppele, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Princeton University; Ken Godfrey, Executive Director of the European Partnership for Democracy; Dr Seema Shah, Head of Democracy Assessment at International IDEA

Chair: Professor Meg Russell

Listen to Episode 56


E55: How can we fix our democracy?

Inaugural lecture | 1 hr 7 mins | 26th May 2023

Prof Alan Renwick's inaugural lecture. What are the problems with democracy in the UK and are there any solutions that would work in practice?

Speaker: Professor Alan Renwick

Respondent: Anand Menon, Director, UK in a Changing Europe

Chair: Professor Meg Russell

Listen to episode 55


E54: Ministers also have rights - balancing executive prerogatives and executive scrutiny

Inaugural lecture | 1 hr 15 mins | 22nd May 2023

Inaugural lecture for Sir Peter Riddell, Honorary Professor in Political Science and member of the Constitution Unit. Is there middle ground in the culture war over ministerial standards?

Speaker: Sir Peter Riddell

Respondent: Rt Hon Jack Straw

Chair: Professor Meg Russell

Listen to episode 54


E53 | The Parliamentary Battle over Brexit

Podcast | 36 minutes | 4 May 2023

This week we ask: What does the process of Brexit tell us about the role of the UK’s parliament and whether it needs reform? This episode was first recorded for our sister podcast - UCL Uncovering Politics.

Guests: Professor Meg Russell & Lisa James

Host: Professor Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 53


E52 | The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement at 25: What Should London's Priorities Be?

Public Webinar 2023  75 minutes | 29 April 2023

 

As the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement passes its 25th anniversary, uncertainty remains over whether Northern Ireland’s power-sharing institutions will be restored any time soon. Debate has intensified over possible reforms, notably to how the Northern Ireland Executive is formed and to voting procedures within the Assembly. There are also differing views over the optimal forms of North–South and East–West engagement. The UK government has a vital role in shaping Northern Ireland’s future, but trust in it is exceptionally low across all Northern Ireland’s communities. In this seminar, a panel of leading authorities will explore the question of what London’s role and priorities should be.

Speakers: Simon Hoare, Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Baroness (Angela) Smith of Basildon, Alan Whysall

Chair: Professor Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 52


E51 | The Parliamentary Battle Over Brexit and the Constitution

Public Webinar 2023  75 minutes | 23 March 2023

Since the 2016 referendum, the hotly contested issue of Brexit has raised fundamental questions about the workings of British democracy. A new book by the Constitution Unit’s Meg Russell and Lisa James charts The Parliamentary Battle Over Brexit, and this seminar discussed the book’s key arguments and conclusions, including why this period was so difficult, and what if anything might need to change in the UK’s parliament and wider constitution.

Speakers: Professor Meg Russell, Lisa James, David Gauke, Joanna Cherry MP, Dr Robert Saunders

Chair: Professor Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 51


E50 | Integrity and Accountability in Politics: What Do the Public Want?

Public Webinar 2023  75 minutes | 13 March 2023

Topics covered include the role of parliament, the future of the House of Lords, voting reform, the role of judges, and integrity in public life. 

Speakers: Professor Alan Renwick, Professor Joe Tomlinson, Dr Hannah White, Professor Paula Surridge

Chair: Professor Meg Russell

Listen to episode 50


E49 | The Brown Commission: What Next?

Public Webinar 2023  75 minutes | 24 January 2023

What does the Commission’s report propose? What does it leave out? And could its proposals be practically implemented?

Speakers: Prof Aileen McHarg, Akash Paun, Arabella Lang, Prof Meg Russell

Chair: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 49


E48 | A Primer on the House of Lords

'UCL Uncovering Politics' episode, 35 minutes | 21 December 2022

Meg Russell & Alan Renwick discuss the House of Lords: What does it do? And how, if at all, should it be reformed?

Listen to Episode 48


E47 | Reform of the Prerogative

Public Webinar 2022  65 minutes | 14 December 2022

From the prorogation of parliament to military action, prerogative powers have been at the heart of recent political controversies.

Speakers: Prof Robert Hazell, Sir Peter Riddell, Arabella Lang, Prof Philippe Lagassé

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 47


E46 | How should politicians’ behaviour be regulated?

'UCL Uncovering Politics' podcast episode, 36 minutes | 30 November 2022

How should politicians’ behaviour be regulated? How, that is, can we best ensure that politicians are honest, play fair, and do a decent job?

Guests: Prof Robert Hazell, Sir Peter Riddell 

Host: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 46


E45 | What does the new Prime Minister mean for the constitution?

Public Webinar 2022  75 minutes | 24 November 2022

How will Rishi Sunak approach his predecessors’ legislative proposals relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol, retained EU law, and human rights? How will he deliver on his pledge to prioritise integrity, professionalism, and accountability? This expert panel provides a constitutional stock-take at the start of the Sunak premiership.

Panel: Jill Rutter, Dr Ruth Fox and Prof Colm O’Cinneide

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 45


E44 | Parliament’s Role in Brexit

'UCL Uncovering Politics' podcast episode, 38 minutes | 04 November 2022

This episode comes from our sister UCL podcast - Uncovering Politics - and looks at parliament’s role in shaping Brexit-related legislation between 2017 and 2019. We ask: What role did parliament play in Brexit? More particularly, how much influence has it had over Brexit legislation? And has it done harm or good?

Guests: Dr Tom Fleming and Lisa James

Host: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 44


E43 | Planning for the next Coronation, and the new Reign

Public Webinar 2022, 73 minutes | 26 October 2022

The next big event for King Charles after accession will be his coronation, planned jointly by the monarch, church and state. Parliament will need to update the Regency Acts to provide for additional Counsellors of State. Meanwhile several Commonwealth countries have declared their intent to leave the monarchy and become republics.

Panel: Catherine Pepinster, Dr Craig Prescott, and Dr Sue Onslow

Chair: Prof Robert Hazell

Listen to episode 43


E42 | Caretaker Conventions in British Government

Public Webinar 2022, 72 minutes | 06 October 2022

What are the UK’s caretaker conventions? When do they apply? Should the existing conventions be clarified, codified, or reformed? If so, what lessons might be learned from experience in other countries?

Panel: Lord (Gavin) Barwell, Lord (Gus) O’Donnell, and Professor Anne Tiernan

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 42


E41 | Keynote Speech by Rory Stewart - The State of the Constitution: Constitution Unit Conference 2022

The State of the Constitution 2022, 58 minutes | 23 June 2022

The keynote address from our 2022 conference, The State of the Constitution.

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 41


E40 | Parliament: the decline of scrutiny? - The State of the Constitution: Constitution Unit Conference 2022

The State of the Constitution 2022, 73 minutes | 23 June 2022

The fifth panel from our 2022 conference, The State of the Constitution.

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 40


E39 | The Role of the Courts - The State of the Constitution: Constitution Unit Conference 2022

The State of the Constitution 2022, 71 minutes | 23 June 2022

The fourth panel from our 2022 conference, The State of the Constitution.

Chair: Joshua Rozenberg QC (Hon)

Listen to episode 39


E38 | The Future of the Union and Devolution - The State of the Constitution: Constitution Unit Conference 2022

The State of the Constitution 2022, 76 minutes | 23 June 2022

The third panel from our 2022 conference, The State of the Constitution.

Chair: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 38


E37 | Northern Ireland: how can power-sharing be revived? - The State of the Constitution: Constitution Unit Conference 2022

The State of the Constitution 2022, 72 minutes | 22 June 2022

The second panel from our 2022 conference, The State of the Constitution.

Chair: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 37


E36 | Constitutional Standards - The State of the Constitution: Constitution Unit Conference 2022

The State of the Constitution 2022, 74 minutes | 22 June 2022

The first panel from our 2022 conference, The State of the Constitution.

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 36


E35 | The 1997 Labour government's constitutional reform programme: 25 years on

Public webinar, 77 minutes | 17 May 2022

We look back at the Labour reforms proposed in 1997 with a panel of experts who were closely involved from different perspectives.

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 35


E34 | Politics in Northern Ireland

'UCL Uncovering Politics' podcast episode, 36 minutes | 12 May 2022

This episode of 'Uncovering Politics' week looks at politics in Northern Ireland in the wake of the Assembly elections. Can power-sharing government return? And what are the implications for Northern Ireland’s future?

Panel: Alan Whysall and Professor Etain Tannam

Host: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 34


E33 | Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK

Public webinar, 72 minutes | 28 April 2022

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 33


E32 | What role should party members have in leadership elections?

Public webinar, 74 minutes | 7 April 2022

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 32


E31 | The Platinum Jubilee and Future of the Monarchy

Public webinar, 75 minutes | 17 March 2022

Chair: Prof Robert Hazell

Listen to episode 31


E30 | What Kind of Democracy Do People Want? 

Public webinar, 78 minutes | 10 February 2022

We discuss the findings of our major survey of attitudes to democracy in the UK.

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 30


E29 | What Can Be Done About the House of Lords? 

Public webinar, 73 minutes | 13 January 2022

There are regular calls for reform of the House of Lords. This distinguished panel considered the difficulties of achieving even small, incremental reforms, and whether new approaches are needed. 

Panel: Baroness (Angela) Smith, Lord (Michael) Jay, Sir Bernard Jenkin MP

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 29


E28 | Riding the populist wave: the UK Conservatives and the constitution

Public webinar, 73 minutes | 1 December 2021

Professor Tim Bale’s book, 'Riding the Populist Wave', highlights how mainstream right-wing parties across Europe – including the UK Conservatives – have faced challenges responding to electoral pressure from the populist radical right. How such parties respond may have important implications for everyday politics, and raise concerns about the robustness of constitutional protections, and even of liberal democracy itself. This seminar reflects on the international trends, with a particular interest in how they are affecting, and may continue to affect, the UK.

Panel: Prof Tim Bale, Lord (Daniel) Finkelstein

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 28


E27 | Improving Standards of Conduct in Public Life 

Public webinar, 55 minutes | 12 November 2021

CSPL's chair, Lord (Jonathan) Evans, discusses the final report of their Standards Matter 2 review and their recommendations.

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 27


E26 | Reforming elections: assessing the government’s proposals

Public webinar, 71 minutes | 23 September 2021

Leading experts discuss some of the controversial proposals put forward by the government in the Elections Bill and draft Online Safety Bill.

Panel: Prof Justin Fisher, Laura Lock, Baroness (Nicky) Morgan of Cotes, Louise Edwards

Chair: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 26


E25 | The Gun, the Ship & the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions and the Making of the Modern World

Public webinar, 75 minutes | 29 July 2021

In discussion with Prof Linda Colley FBA about her latest book on warfare, constitutions and the making of the modern world.

Panel: Prof Linda Colley, Dr Harshan Kumarasingham

Chair: Prof Robert Hazell

Listen to episode 25


E24 | Devolution and the future of the Union

Conference on Johnson's Constitutional Reform Agenda, 75 minutes | 18 June 2021

The second panel of day two of our conference on Johnson's constitutional reform agenda explored devolution and the future of the Union with four experts based in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Panel: Prof Adam Tomkins, Prof Laura McAllister, Prof Katy Hayward, and Prof John Denham

Chair: Prof Robert Hazell

Listen to episode 24


E23 | Judicial review, human rights and judiciary

Conference on Johnson's Constitutional Reform Agenda, 71 minutes | 17 July 2021

The second panel of our conference on Johnson's constitutional reform agenda looked at the government's recent review of administrative law and programme for reform of human rights and the judiciary.

Panel: Lord Faulks, Prof Kate O'Regan and Joshua Rozenberg

Chair: Prof Catherine Barnard.

Listen to episode 23


E22 | Elections and referendums - updating campaign regulation for a digital era

Conference on Johnson's Constitutional Reform Agenda, 56 minutes | 18 June 2021

The first panel of day two of our conference on Johnson's constitutional reform agenda discussed the need to update political campaigning regulations for a digital era.

Panel: John Pullinger, Dr Kate Dommett, and Prof Rachel Gibson

Chair: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 22


E21 | Re-balancing between parliament, executive and the courts

Conference on Johnson's Constitutional Reform Agenda, 58 minutes | 18 June 2021

The closing panel of our conference on Johnson's constitutional reform agenda examined the re-balancing of power between parliament, the executive and the courts.

Panel: Dominic Grieve QC, Peter Riddell, Prof Meg Russell, and Prof Tim Bale

Chair: Prof Petra Schleiter

Listen to episode 21


E20 | Review of Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011

Conference on Johnson's Constitutional Reform Agenda, 72 minutes | 17 June 2021

The third panel of day one of our conference on Johnson's constitutional reform agenda examined the government's review of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act and it's repeal bill: the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill.

Panel: Lord McLoughlin, Chris Bryant MP, Prof Petra Schleiter, and Prof Alison Young

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 20


E19 | Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland discusses the government's constitutional reform agenda

Conference on Johnson's Constitutional Reform Agenda, 43 minutes | 17 June 2021

Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland delivered the keynote speech to open our conference on Johnson's constitutional reform agenda in which he provided an overview of the government's plans.

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 19


E18 | Final Report by the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland

Public webinar, 78 minutes | 9 June 2021

It would be 'highly unwise' for any referendum on Northern Ireland's constitutional future to be called without having a clear plan for what would follow. That is the central conclusion of the Final Report by the Working Group. So, how would any such referendum best be designed and conducted?

Panel: Prof Alan Renwick, Prof John Coakley, Sarah Creighton, Dr Avila Kilmurray and Patrick Maguire

Chair: Prof Cathy Gormley-Heenan

Listen to episode 18


E17 | Deciding Northern Ireland's Future

'UCL Uncovering Politics' podcast episode, 38 minutes | 3 June 2021

This episode of 'UCL Uncovering Politics' looks at referendums on the constitutional future of Northern Ireland. Could they happen? If so, how would they best be designed and conducted?

Guests: Prof Katy Hayward, Dr David Kenny, and Dr Etain Tannam

Host: Dr Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 17


E16 |  Does the UK Still Have a Political Constitution?

'UCL Uncovering Politics' podcast episode, 36 minutes | 28 May 2021 

This episode of 'UCL Uncovering Politics' looks at the UK’s constitution. What form does it take? And is that changing?

Guest: Prof Richard Bellamy

Host: Prof Alan Renwick 

Listen to episode 16


E15 | Ministerial Standards

Public webinar, 69 minutes | 24 May 2021  

Westminster and Holyrood have both been engulfed by scandals over ministerial behaviour in the past year. This webinar discussed standards of conduct in Westminster and beyond.

Panel: Sir Alex Allan, Susan Deacon and Richard Thomas CBE

Chair: Prof Robert Hazell

Listen to episode 15


E14 | Regulating public appointments

Public webinar, 72 minutes | 29 April 2021

Peter Riddell steps down as the Commissioner for Public Appointments in September. In this valedictory talk, he will reflect on the system of public appointments, and discuss what changes are needed to provide public confidence in the system.

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 14


E13 | Ideas of Democracy 

'UCL Uncovering Politics' podcast episode, 32 minutes | 25 March 2021

This episode of 'UCL Uncovering Politics' focuses on contemporary ideas of democracy. What kinds of democratic system do people want? And what understandings of democracy underpin them?

Guests: Prof Alan Renwick, Prof Meg Russell, and Prof  Albert Weale

Host: Prof Jennifer Hudson 

Listen to episode 13


E12 | Can Johnson prevent indyref2?

Public webinar, 75 minutes | 22 March 2021

If the SNP win a majority in the Scottish Parliament elections in May, Nicola Sturgeon will declare they have a mandate for a second independence referendum. Boris Johnson has said he will refuse to allow one. But can he can really resist?

Panel: Prof Aileen McHarg, James Forsyth, and Prof Alan Renwick

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 12 


E11| The Prerogative Powers of Governments

'UCL Uncovering Politics' podcast episode, 28 minutes | 11 March 2021

This episode of 'UCL Uncovering Politics' explores the powers of political executives. What can ministers and presidents do without the consent of the legislature? And what place should such powers have in a democracy?

Guest: Prof Robert Hazell

Host: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 11


E10| Attitudes to Democracy in the UK Today 

Public webinar, 72 minutes | 25 February 2021

How do people in the UK view democracy? How do they think UK democracy ought to operate? To launch the Unit's new ESRC-funded research project, 'Democracy in the UK after Brexit', we hosted a webinar with three leading experts in the field to unpack these questions.

Panel: Prof Jane Green, Prof Claudia Landwehr and Deborah Mattinson 

Chair: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 10


E9| Boris Johnson and Parliament 

Public webinar, 61 minutes | 27 January 2021

In partnership with The UK in a Changing Europe, two seasoned Conservative parliamentarians and the director of the Constitution Unit look back at Boris Johnson’s relationship with parliament, reflect on the highs and lows, expectations and reality, and lessons for the future.

Panel: Mark Harper MP, Lord Young of Cookham, and Prof Meg Russell

Chair: Jill Rutter

Listen to episode 9


E8| Taking Back Control: Why the House of Commons Should Govern its Own Time 

Private webinar, 84 minutes | 22 January 2021

'Taking Back Control: Why the House of Commons Should Govern its own Time' is a Constitution Unit report which explores why MPs lack control of their own institution, what problems this causes, & what should be done; this webinar discusses its findings and implications. 

Panel: Karen Bradley MP, Valerie Vaz MP, Sir David Natzler, Prof Meg Russell (co-author), and Dr Daniel Gover (co-author)

Chair: Jill Rutter

Listen to episode 8


E7| Devolution and the Union 

Public webinar, 72 minutes | 4 December 2020 

As the final part of the Constitution Unit’s 25th anniversary celebrations, we looked at devolution and the Union. Devolution had a deceptively easy start under the Labour government but it has become increasingly under pressure with the ruptures of Brexit and the election of governments of different persuasions. Four academic experts, one from each part of the UK, discuss the devolution journey so far, and its future. 

Panel: Prof John Denham, Prof Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Prof Michael Keating, and Prof Laura McAllister

Chair: Prof Robert Hazell

Listen to episode 7


E6| Interim Report by the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland

Public webinar, 87 minutes | 3 December 2020

The Interim Report of the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland explores how any potential future referendum or referendums on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland would best be designed and conducted. This webinar discussed the report’s purposes, analysis, and conclusions.

Panel: Prof Alan Renwick, Alan Whysall, Clare Salters, and Martin Kettle 

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 6


E5| Populism and the Rise of Autocracy

Public webinar, 70 minutes | 3 December 2020

There are concerns about the rise of populism and erosion of democratic standards throughout the world. Examples include countries such as Hungary, Poland and Brazil, growing support for populist parties in western Europe, and recent development in the US. Populism has grown through new challenger parties, but also through capture of previously mainstream parties. In this Policy and Practice seminar three international experts discuss these worldwide trends.

Panel: Anne Applebaum, Rory Stewart and Prof Nadia Urbinati

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 5


E4| Constitutional Reform, Then and Now

Public webinar, 80 minutes | 27 November 2020

As part of the Constitution Unit’s 25th anniversary celebrations, this online seminar looks back at the constitutional reform agenda of the 1997 Labour government, and forward at the constitutional reforms proposed in the 2019 Conservative manifesto. What were the key questions, and motivating factors, then and now?

Panel: Jack Straw, Prof Francesca Klug OBE, and David Gauke

Chair: Prof Meg Russell

Listen to episode 4


E3| Monarchy in Modern Democracy

'UCL Uncovering Politics' podcast episode, 30 minutes  | 22 October 2020

Serious books on monarchy are rare, but a new volume on Europe’s eight contemporary democracies helps to fill the gap. Does monarchy still deserve the attention of students of politics? And is the fact that most of the world’s healthiest democracies are monarchies anything more than a coincidence? In this episode of UCL Uncovering Politics, book co-author, Prof Robert Hazell, explores some of these questions. 

Guest: Prof Robert Hazell

Host: Prof Alan Renwick

Listen to episode 3


E2| Checks and Balances in Democracy 

'UCL Unconvering Politics' podcast episode, 38 minutes  | 8 October 2020

The long-standing idea that democracy needs checks and balances is questioned in some quarters. So what is the case for checks and balances, and what are the arguments against? Should we look upon different kinds of checks and balances in different ways? And what are the contemporary tensions bringing these debates to the fore? This UCL Uncovering Politics podcast episode explores these questions with three leading thinkers on constitutional politics.

Guests: Prof Meg Russell, Prof Richard Bellamy, and Prof Jeff King

Host: Prof Alan Renwick

 Listen to episode 2


E1| The Johnson government's constitutional reform agenda

Public event, 80 minutes | 14 January 2020

The Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto commits the new government ‘to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the government, parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people’. This event recording discusses how the new government might implement this agenda and what obstacles it might face.

Panel: Lord Dunlop and Chris White

Chair: Prof Meg Russell 

Listen to episode 1