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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.

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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 FBA, 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 FBA, 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 FBA

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 FBA

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?

Panel: 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 FBA

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, and Profs Meg Russell FBA and 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 FBA

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.

Speakers: 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.

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

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. 

Speakers: Karen Bradley MP, Valerie Vaz MP, Sir David Natzler, Prof Meg Russell FBA (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. 

Speakers: Professors John Denham, Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Michael Keating, and 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.

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

Chair: Prof Meg Russell FBA

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.

Speakers: Anne Applebaum, Rory Stewart and Prof Nadia Urbinati

Chair: Prof Meg Russell FBA

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?

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

Chair: Prof Meg Russell FBA

Listen to episode 4


E3| Monarchy in Modern Democracy

'UCL Unconvering 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: Professors Meg Russell FBA, Richard Bellamy, and 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.

Speakers: Lord Dunlop and Chris White

Chair: Prof Meg Russell 

Listen to episode 1