Every week we provide online briefings on key issues and places around the world. It’s a subscription service. Membership will give you unique Insight into the places and issues we cover around the world, and keep our team together so that we can be in a position to provide tours as soon as travel restrictions are lifted. If you have any enquiries about the service or requests please email us at info@politicaltours.com.

Recent Insight Briefings

Throwing it all away with Vivienne Walt and Graham Forbes

throwing it all away

Vivienne Walt is an award-winning foreign correspondent who, together with photographer Sebastian Meyer, were commended by the Pulitzer Prize committee for their work on recycling. The duo’s article in Fortune magazine reveals that, in the US, trash is no longer being recycled domestically but is shipped 8000 miles to countries such as Malaysia – where the majority is then thrown away! Even in environmentally conscious Europe only 30% of waste plastics are fully recycled, but at the same time the plastics industry is pumping more and more plastic into the system.

In discussing Viv’s story, we’re also joined by Graham Forbes, who is the Plastics Global Project Leader for Greenpeace.

“Mummy est Morte” with Christopher de Bellaigue

Mummy est Morte with Christopher de Bellaigue

Christopher de Bellaigue was only 13 and at Eton when he was told his mother was dead. Nobody dared to mention the word suicide; stiff upper lips were still de rigueur in 1980s England. Many will know Christopher from our tours to Iran or may have read his books on Persia, Turkey and Islam. But over the past year he has turned his mind and his pen back to the events that defined his childhood. We speak to him about that dreaded day and how it has shaped his life and writing ever since.

It is worth reading Christopher’s recent diary in the London Review of Books below and listening to a podcast interview with his aunt, on the BBC ahead of our talk. Please contact us for links to these. Tough stuff but worth tuning in for.

Seven Lessons from Pandemics with Iain King

7 lessons from pandemics

Iain King is a British diplomat and defence strategist who has served in the British Embassy in Washington, Libya, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Northern Ireland. He now works at the Royal College of Defence Studies. In May last year, while at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, he made seven predictions regarding pandemics which were based upon historical precedent; among them were the claims that militarism declines, beliefs are challenged, and governments come in for heavy criticism. So far, so obvious, but there were some surprises among Iain’s other predictions and, eight months later, he returns to tell us how accurate his predictions were…

Brexit – the final gambit

brexit final gambit

At midnight on 31 December, the UK will leave the EU’s single market and customs union, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Alex Pigman, a journalist with Agence France-Presse, has followed the UK-EU negotiations from the outset, and here takes a broad look at relations between the two sides, and how they might develop from January 1 under the terms of the trade deal struck on Christmas Eve. David Gavaghan, meanwhile, who is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known businessmen, joins us from Belfast to offer an Irish perspective on the situation, together with Lolita Cigane, a Council member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.


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What to Expect

Help us to Carry On. As well as giving you a unique perspective at this critical time, Insight with Beyond The Headlines will help keep our team together so that we are in a position to provide tours as soon as travel restrictions are lifted. We will continue to give you access to our contacts and communities around the globe. And you don’t even have to get on a plane to do it!

Multiple Time Zones. We’ll rotate talks so you are guaranteed to get at least 3-4 talks a month within your time zone. If you miss a broadcast you will be able to see it online within 24 hours. These are all live and interactive – so you can put your questions directly to speakers.

Join the Debate. At the end of each session you’ll be able to exchange views on air with other members of the club, just as we do on the tours. This will give us a chance to discuss points of interest amongst ourselves. We have a great community of travellers, many with their own areas of expertise. Those views add to the quality of our debates.

Limited Membership. The new subscriptions club will be limited to just 100 peopled uring the first six months. This means you won’t be one of several hundred or thousand people viewing a discussion. You are guaranteed access and able to ask our own questions. You will also be able to propose new debates. We want to hear your ideas on what topics you would like to explore, and who you would like to hear from.

Unlike Anyone. Like our tours – the key thing you’ll get from us is access to people on the ground. We steer clear of armchair experts that populate most online forums. We have experts and access to people around the globe, so whether its speaking to someone in Soweto or hearing a North Korean defector speaking – you are guaranteed to get a unique view of what’s happening at the moment.

The Year Ahead. You can also shape where we go after lockdown. We’ll talk with you about where you’d like us to travel as restrictions are lifted. If you are interested in going to a particular country or exploring an issue we’ll aim to set up a tour around that theme.


What’s Next


February 2024

We have a great line-up and will confirm further briefings when we have the dates & times. There are a minimum of six briefings each month. Thus far we have the following confirmed Insight discussions:


Tues 6 Feb   12pm PST (San Francisco), 3pm EST (New York), 8pm GMT (London), 9pm CET (Berlin), 7am AEDT (+1 Sydney), 9am NZDT (+1 Wellington)

Endgame in Gaza? With Anshel Pfeffer

Anshel Pfeffer has maintained from the outset of this appalling war that Israel would not be able to achieve its war aim of defeating Hamas – let alone releasing all the hostages. What then does the Prime Minister’s coalition really want? And with almost 28,000 Palestinians dead, and that figure mounting by the week, is there anything else that might force it to change its course? Pfeffer is The Economist’s Israel correspondent, an opinion writer and correspondent with the Israeli daily Haaretz, and wrote an unofficial biography of Benjamin Netanyahu, Bibi.


Thurs 8 Feb 1pm PST (San Francisco), 4pm EST (New York), 9pm GMT (London), 10pm CET (Berlin), 8am AEDT (+1 Sydney), 10am NZDT (+1 Wellington)

The Widening War with Nicholas Blanford

The United State’s unrelenting support for Israel seems to be dragging it into a wider conflict in the Middle East. Iranian backed groups in Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Iraq and Syria are now in engaged in tit-for-tat attacks with the US and Israel. While neither the US nor Iran say they want a wider war, the US’s military presence in the region is being put to the test. Nicholas Blanford speaks from Beirut.


Tues 13 Feb  12pm PST (San Francisco), 3pm EST (New York), 8pm GMT (London), 9pm CET (Berlin), 7am AEDT (+1 Sydney), 9am NZDT (+1 Wellington)

Cyprus The Divided Island with Fiona Mullen

In July it will be half a century since Turkey invaded Cyprus causing thousands to flee their homes north and south. Repeated talks have been held to bring long-term peace to the island, but to little effect (all the while both Turkey and Greece are NATO members!). Now, possibly more than ever, the island’s future has become part of a much wider dynamic. The discovery of oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean has entrenched divisions. Turkey is demanding recognition of Northern Cyprus before anything else. And does the EU really want a united Cyprus (and all the complications it might bring) in the EU?  Fiona Mullen runs a think tank based in Cyprus, Sapienta Economics, and gives an introduction to this thorny problem.



Tues 20 Feb 1pm PST (San Francisco), 4pm EST (New York), 9pm GMT (London), 10pm CET (Berlin), 8am AEDT (+1 Sydney), 10am NZDT (+1 Wellington)

Mexico’s Migrants with Christine Murray

Mexico has a presidential election coming up this summer and the leading contenders are both women. Whoever wins is facing an increasing fractious relationship with the United States. Normally close ties are being undermined by the migrant crisis in a US election year – corruption and drugs cartels are also in the mix. The Financial Times Mexico correspondent Christine Murray takes us behind the crisis and looks at the implications for whoever wins this year’s polls.



Rescheduled from 13 Feb, new date TBC  1pm PST (San Francisco), 4pm EST (New York), 9pm GMT (London), 10pm CET (Berlin), 8am AEDT (+1 Sydney), 10am NZDT (+1 Wellington)

Eastern Approaches with Kamil Calus

Ukraine’s long-drawn-out war is having an unsettling affect across central and eastern Europe. Baltic resolve contrasts with pro-Russian sentiment in the Balkans. The biggest sea-change could be taking place in little Moldova where a long-entrenched Russian influence operation may be in its final days. Polish expert and academic Kamil Calus takes a look across the region from Kyiv to Belgrade and from Khakiv to Warsaw.


Trading Stolen Antiquities with Azadeh Moaveni

When the British Museum was told that part of its collection was being sold off by one of its own employees on Ebay it failed to act. The emerging scandal (the museum still doesn’t know how much was stolen) has shed light on the enormous trade in stolen antiquities – more often than not from the world’s top museums. US Iranian journalist Azadeh Moaveni talks to Nicholas Wood. 


Please note- We hope to have the rest of the schedule for the end of the month confirmed shortly.



Past Insight Briefing


Please contact us if you would like to view a members recording.


Thursday 4 Jan  

Reforming the UN with Carne Ross

Set up after the horrors of the second world war the UN was meant to provide a forum that could help prevent similar conflicts. No wars since have matched the bloodshed of that era. Still many see the institution as ripe for change – most notably the Security Council with its five permanent members France, Britain, China, the United States and Russia. Carne Ross, a former UK diplomat based at the UN, has spent the latter part of his career giving small nations (and unrecognised ones too) diplomatic support – and advocating change within system. He outlines the pros and cons of reform.


Wednesday 10 Jan 

World Photo Review with Thorne Anderson

Thorne Anderson is a leading international photographer and academic at the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. His work has appeared New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and TimeNewsweekU.S. News & World Report, and Stern magazines. He’ll be reviewing some of the past year’s photos and news stories.


Friday 19 Jan 

Yemen & the Houthis  with Iona Craig

Iona Craig, a multi-award-winning journalist, joins Owen Bennett-Jones to discuss Yemen and the Houthis who are attacking international shipping. The Red Sea is a new global front line. Since 2010 Iona‘s work has focused on Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula. She regularly returns to Yemen where she was The Times correspondent, and has repeatedly crossed the front lines to report on both sides of Yemen’s ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis.



Tuesday 16 Jan 

Iowa Caucuses – Can anyone beat Trump? with Bradley Knott and Nicholas Wood

Fresh off the campaign trail we look at the results of the Iowa Caucuses. Trump is the clear favourite, but with 93 indictments facing him in numerous federal and state courts anything could happen between now and election day. Keep your eye on Nikki Halley. Campaign strategist and our Iowa tour expert, Bradley Knott analyses the results.


Thursday 25 Jan    

Will Britain Rejoin the EU?! With James Blitz

A large majority of UK voters think Brexit was a mistake. Polls also show a majority in favour of re-joining the EU. Bregret (yes – Begret!) is growing, but it is far from unclear that the EU would ever has us back. And as for the political upheaval in UK politics? James Blitz, the Financial Times’s former Whitehall editor explores what, if any, options are available. Interviewed former BBC correspondent, Owen Bennet-Jones (Nicholas and Karen are in the US for the primaries)


Friday 15 Dec  

Maduro’s Gambitwith Joe Daniels

As if the world doesn’t have enough conflict to deal with, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro is threatening to annex a part of neighbouring Guyana. It seems Maduro has his eyes on recently found oil reserves, but as Financial Times correspondent Joe Daniels outlines, it may have more to do with his own flagging popularity back home.


Tuesday 19 Dec  

The Laws of WarUkraine vs Gaza with Marc Garlasco

From Syria to Ukraine and now Gaza the laws of war are being flouted with reckless abandon. We look at those conflicts, starting with Ukraine and then Gaza. Marc Garlasco is a former Pentagon targeting expert turned human rights investigator. Over the past two decades he worked in Syria, Israel, Afghanistan and Ukraine.


Thursday 21 Dec  

Mexico’s Student Massacre with Ana Paula Jimenez

In 2014 43 students were gunned down in a provincial town in Mexico and their remains vanished. The massacre has evolved into one of most disturbing in the country’s recent violent history; drugs cartels were initially blamed but a decade later and after numerous  investigations, its now evident that the security forces and politicians at the highest level were all involved. With Ana Paula Jimenez from the London School of Economics.


Wednesday 1 November 

Contagion – Will the War in Gaza Spread? with Nicholas Blanford

Nicholas Blanford assesses the risk of the conflict in the Middle East spreading. Hezbollah has threatened to attack Israel if the IDF launch a ground invasion of Gaza. There are similar threats further afield in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. But do Iran and Hezbollah really want to get involved, let alone Lebanon? Nicholas is one of the world’s leading experts on Hezbollah and is based in Beirut.


Wednesday 8 November 

Inside Gaza with Taghreed El-Khodary

Taghreed El-Khodary covered Gaza for the New York Times in the early 2000s. She has lived through and reported on numerous Israeli operations in Gaza. With over 10,000 people dead (at the time of writing) – the vast majority of them civilians and many of them children, she accuses the west of hypocrisy in its handling of the crisis. She talks about living and reporting in the territory controlled by Israel and Hamas – and her fears for her family and friends.


Tuesday 14 November   

The Republican Fieldwith RayGun’s Mike Draper & Katy Siddal

We take a (partial) partial view of the Republican candidates in the run up to the Iowa Caucuses and get a take on the Elephant absent from the room; Donald J Trump who so far has not bothered to join any of the Republican debates. The “world famous” RayGun store owner, Mike Draper is joined by Iowa progressive campaigner – for commentary on the candidates and the issues in the run up to this crucial primary.


Thursday 16 November   

Ukraine – The Long War with Orysia Lutsevych

Chatham House’s Ukraine expert, Orysia Lutsevych, looks the immediate prospects for the conflict in Ukraine after the failure of Kiev’s summer offensive. Russia is now piling more men and arms into counter attacks – meanwhile western attentions are drawn to the Middle East. Donald Trump too is looming in the wings. How easily can Ukraine manage the conflict with flagging western support?


Monday 20 November 

Borderlands  – Ireland, North & South A photographic review with Andrew Testa 

Photographer Andrew Testa – who’s work is published most frequently in the New York Times – has spent much of the last few years documenting the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Few border controls remain in place following the Good Friday agreement, but Brexit has thrown the region’s politics into disarray. Amid this political uncertainty polls show increasing support for unification between north and south. Andrew’s photos reveal the divisions left over from The Troubles and a region in limbo.


Wednesday 22 November   

After Hamas with Dahlia Scheindlin

Israel says its plans to take over the Gaza strip once the current conflict has subsided. No word on what this means for the Palestinians immediate future. Benjamin Netanyahu was never a fan of a two-state solution (“we don’t have a partner,” he always said all-the-while boosting Hamas vs the Palestinian Authority). Dahlia Scheindlin says there are many alternatives to the government’s plan – and all of them should be a stepping stone to resolving the most vexed question in the Middle East.


Thursday 5 October

Nagorno Karabakh No More with Richard Giragosian

Stepankert, the regional capital is all but empty, deserted in the wake of a mass exodus of refugees. Azerbaijan’s shock seizure of this break-away enclave seems to be a fait-accompli. What now then for the refugees, and Armenia. Russia’s its erstwhile ally has been found wanting (it did little to stop the Azeri advance). Azerbaijan says it will give those that remain in the territory full citizenship and rights but few are ready to take them at their word.  Richard Giragosian directs a think-tank based in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.


Tuesday 10 October

All Locked Up – Freedom of the Press  with Peter Greste

More journalists than ever before are behind bars, facing trumped up charges from sedition to terrorism. Authoritarian regimes trying to make their mark or in some cases using them as bargaining chips (think Evan Gerskovich in Moscow) Former Al-Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste knows more than a thing or two about the problem. He was imprisoned in Egypt along with colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. He now campaigns for media freedom globally.


Monday 16 October

China and Taiwan with Olivia Cheung

What do the disappearance of China’s foreign minister, then defence minister and the sinking of Vietnamese fishing boats all have in common? The answer could be Taiwan, says SOAS’s Olivia Cheung. Xi Jinping’s drive to centralise power is have all sorts of side-effects.


Monday 23 October

Balkan Problem with Ed Joseph

Things seem to be going from bad to worse. First armed Serbian militants attack police in Kosovo, then Serbia massed its troops close to the border. Critics, previously divided on who to blame for mounting tensions in the region, accuse Serbia’s nationalist Prime Minister of stoking things up. Yet he is the man both the US and EU seem to be backing in the region. Veteran Balkan analyst, Ed Joseph (School of Advanced International Studies, DC) takes a critical look.


Monday 30 October

Reproductive Rights with Joung-Ah Ghedini-Williams

It’s not all about Roe vs Wade. Outside of the United States there are numerous countries that have highly restrictive abortion policies. The US based Centre for Reproductive Rights is an NGO that fights to give women the fundamental right to determine their own reproductive rights from access to family planning to abortion. Joung-Ah Ghedini-Williams, until very recently a senior official with United Nations main refugee agency UNHCR, gives an overview of their work and the intense political batter underway in the US


Tuesday 12 September


Pushing Boundaries with Peter Kellner

Britain’s voting laws and electoral boundaries have undergone some changes over the last year. Sounds like dull stuff? Pay attention, says Peter Kellner, slowly slowly Britain’s Conservative government has been trying to amass a series of advantages at the ballot box. The leading pollster and political analyst takes us through the changes (including the introduction of photographic voter id) and gives an assessment of Rishi Sunak’s chances at next year’s expected general election.


Thursday 14  September


How to be a woman in Serbia with Jovana Ruzicic

When others were leaving Serbia for jobs abroad, Jovana Ruzicic returned from the US to her hometown, Belgrade, and set up an NGO to fight for women’s rights. Her actions led to the government giving paid maternity leave for the first time. But the list of problems women face in Serbia is long. From high levels of domestic violence to the denial of pain killers during child birth – it all sounds like the 1950s. But Jovana is making waves. Don’t miss this excellent and energetic speaker.


Tuesday 19 September

Trumps Georgia Tribulations with Greg Bluestein

The former president’s legal woes are mounting, with 4 major cases now piling up against him. But it’s in Georgia that he faces possibly his most serious charges – a mass conspiracy to try and undermine the 2020 election results. Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis’s case could be a greater obstacle to his run for another term than any of his political rivals. Atlanta Journal Constitution political reporter and regular MSNBC and NBC contributor, Greg Bluestein, offers up his analysis of how next year’s race and legal battles might play out.


Thursday 21 September

After Prigozhin with Leonid Ragozin

Does Prigozhin’s downfall (forgive the choice of words) change much at home or on the battlefront? Leonid Ragozin suggests Putin is going nowhere and his troops are unlikely to budge much either. At the same time renown military analyst Michael Kofman suggests Ukranian forces are entering a crucial stage.


 Tuesday 26 September 

Why People Vote Trump with Prof. John Hibbing

Back in the 1950s a new book emerged detailing how and why some populations/voters might be sympathetic to fascism and nationalism. The Authoritarian Personality became a must-read for political analysts and sociologists alike. In 2020, Nebraska based professor, John Hibbing, produced a 21st century sequel titled The Securitarian Personality. In it, Hibbing identifies a large swathe of the voters who, in a world of threat and uncertainty, find security in Trump.


Thursday 28 September

Germany – Sick Man of Europe? With Derek Scally

Revised accounting methods may have just rescued German (and Britain) from the scrapheap of European growth statistics but Berlin still faces major challenges. The cheap gas taps have been turned off, its biggest export market (China) has dried up, and the largest war in Europe since the second world war means it has to spend money on defence. And then there’s a question of the EU’s budget (Germany’s is the EU’s biggest contributor) What to do? Irish Times correspondent, Derek Scally, takes us through the choices politicians want to avoid.


Tuesday 8 August  

The Orwell Tour with Oliver Lewis

It might seem odd that no one has done it before – a book that traces George Orwell’s travels and where he lived from Eton to India, and Catalonia to Hayes. What they say about the world that shaped the writer, you can hear from Oliver Lewis. It’s primarily a travel book, but the contrasts and possibly what he might have made of them today, are drawn out by Lewis, an academic who teaches politics in both Paris and Oxford.


Tuesday 15 August

Reproductive Rights with Joung-Ah Gedini-Williams

It’s not all about Roe vs Wade. Outside of the United States there are numerous countries that have highly restrictive abortion policies. The US based Center for Reproductive Rights is an NGO that fights to give women the fundamental right to determine their own reproductive rights from access to family planning to abortion. Joung-Ah Ghedini-Williams, until very recently a senior official with United Nations main refugee agency UNHCR, gives us an overview of their work and the intense political batter underway in the US.


Tuesday 29 August

What went Wrong with Brexit? With Peter Foster

Put aside the ideology and bitter divisions brought about by Brexit. How does Britain make it work? The Financial Times’s public policy editor, Peter Foster, dispels the myths and, most importantly, shows what a better future for Britain after Brexit might look like. With clear-headed practicality, he considers the real costs of leaving the EU, how we can recover international trust in the UK, how to improve co-operation and trade with our neighbours, and how to begin to build the “Global Britain” that Brexit promised but failed to deliver. Peter’s book comes out in September.


Monday  3 July  

French Riots with Catherine Fieschi

France’s rioting is a reminder of deep-seated social and economic problems it has struggled to solve for years. In 2005, unrest, also among urban youth from migrant and minority communities, saw far more serious damage. This time around the government’s approach has been to defuse tensions rather than stoke them. All of this is on the back of the recent nationwide protests against pension reforms. Meanwhile France’s far-right, in the shape of Marine LePen looks on. Catherine Fieschi is Policy Director of the Open Society Foundations and a frequent commentator or French politics.


Tuesday 4 July  

Putin Exposed with Mark Galeotti

Yevgeny Prigozhin was never in any position to unseat Vladimir Putin all alone. But the fact that he had to be bought off and was Putin’s own creation points to very unstable leadership in the Kremlin. This might be the turning point for Russia’s leadership, says Mark Galeotti, but by no means does it point to a collapse of the state or its formidable security services.


Tuesday 11 July  

Afghan Update with Charlie Gammell

Like Vietnam before it, the West has chosen to forget Afghanistan. Beyond calling on it to improve women’s rights and denying it access to aid and finance, western governments don’t know how to handle the place. In the meantime, its people have experienced famine and one of the worst economic crises in decades. Meanwhile China, Russia and Pakistan hold sway. Former UK diplomat, Charlie Gammell, says things could be and should be different.


Thursday 13 July    

Exit Boris with Stephen Castle

Like Donald Trump before him, Boris Johnson has left the political stage surrounded in ignominy. Not one but two parliamentary reports point to him lying to parliament and then trying to undermine the committee investigating him. But also like Trump Bojo is undaunted and is convinced he’ll be back before long. Depending on who you ask he’s either the most successful politician in Britain for 30 years, or the most disastrous. New York Times London Correspondent, Stephen Castle looks at Boris’s legacy, Sunak’s government and the future for the Conservatives.


Friday  2 June

Prime Candidate – Trump & Iowa with Dave Swenson and Bradley Knott

More and more Republican candidates are declaring their hand and heading to Iowa in the hope of gaining some traction ahead of next year’s Caucus. Former UN ambassador Niki Hayley and South Carolina senator Tim Scott are among field of fairly prominent public figures. Ron DeSantis was the most recent to announce his bid with a disastrous launch on Twitter hosted by none other than Elon Musk. But none of these candidates can seem to get anywhere near Donald Trump in the poll ratings.  Still Iowa remains the key primary for candidates hoping to gain some momentum everyone is heading there. We’ll be there to watch them for the caucus in February. In the meantime veteran Iowa watchers, Dave Swenson and Bradley Knott, give us an overview of the issues and the competitors. A lot has changed since 2020!


Friday 9 June

Imran Khan & Pakistan with Omar Waraich & Owen Bennett-Jones

Pakistan is no stranger to political drama but the nuclear-armed country is facing one of its deepest predicaments yet. On the one hand there is the charismatic and very popular former cricketer Imran Khan. On the other, the all-powerful army. The two are now in direct confrontation. Imran Khan has already survived one assassination attempt but he won’t back down and the clashes on the streets are ever more intense. 


Thursday  15 June

Iran Update with Rana Rahimpour & Owen Bennett-Jones

The clerical regime in Iran has survived numerous challenges since the 1979 revolution. And in some ways its more powerful than ever, with its proxies active in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. And on top of that, it probably now has enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb. How has the government survived despite its international isolation and domestic opposition?


Tuesday 27 June

Minority Report – Kosovo with Miodrag Marinkovic

What’s it like to be a Serb living in Kosovo? Back in 1999 Milosevic tried to expel nearly all of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority and killed thousands in the process. But NATO prevailed and eventually Kosovo’s declared independence from Serbia. Those Serbs that stayed behind complain that they are now being victimised by Kosovo’s government and want to retain ties with Belgrade. Miodrag Marinkovic runs an NGO that works with Serbs across the region at a time of high tension between governments in Prishtina and Belgrade.


Thursday 22 June 

Knock on Effect – Ukraine and The Western Balkans with Valery Perry

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a rush by western policy makers to strike new deals in the Western Balkans. Their fear is Russia could gain new influence and destabilise the region. It doesn’t seem to be going too well for now though as Kosovo and Serbia strike an increasingly hostile tone. The EU has just slammed a wave of restrictions on Kosovo’s government for its actions in the north of the country. But long-time Balkan analyst Valery Perry says both Brussels and Washington are taking the wrong approach.


Friday  12 May

Ukraine – The Long War with Fabrice Deprez

Russia’s war with Ukraine looks more and more like one of attrition. A much talked about Ukrainian offensive is in the offing – but with Russian troops well dug in, few observers expect it to change the conflict’s course dramatically. French reporter Fabrice Deprez speaks to us from Kyiv about the impact of fighting this winter  – notably around Bakhmut – and what the impending battle this summer might bring.


Monday  15 May

The End of Erdogan? – Turkey’s Elections with Chris Morris

Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dominated politics for twenty years, but this month’s elections may see him unseated by a coalition of six opposition parties. Voting takes place on Sunday May 14 with a runoff expected on Sunday May 28. It would be a remarkable if he does lose – he’s shaped state institutions according to his needs, dominates the media and has made Turkey a pivotal power in the region. But hyperinflation and the country’s recent earthquake may be his final undoing. Veteran Turkey and former BBC Europe correspondent, Chris Morris, says what’s at stake.


Thursday 18 May

Israel’s Offensive with Gershon Baskin

There’s nothing remarkable about Israel’s latest spat with militants in Gaza. Israel has fought repeated battles with the besieged Palestinian strip ever since it withdrew its forces in 2005. But it is a distraction from Netanyahu’s own troubles.  His coalition government is facing massive unrest over their plans to curb the powers of Israel’s judiciary. Even Israeli reservists have joined the protests. Will another war with Gaza change anything? Gershon Baskin provides an update.


Tuesday 23 May

Jon Swain – 5 Decades of Reporting with Jon Swain

Few can match Jon Swain’s experience as a reporter. He began writing after a stint with French Foreign Legion  reporting on Vietnam and the fall of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. He was kidnapped in Africa, and later reported on Bosnia in the 1990s. Then there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of it was for The Sunday Times where he was a roving reporter for 35 years. Jon Swain looks back at his career and how reporting has changed during that time.


Monday  29 May

Kosovo Deadlock with Jeta Xhara

Kosovo’s war with Serbia ended in June 1999 at the cost of 10,000 (mostly Albanian dead). Decades later Serbia still refuses to recognize Kosovo as a state and tensions continue to flare. The past few months have seen repeated attempt by EU negotiators to find a long-term settlement while Russia – Serbia’s erstwhile ally – is doing its best to thwart it. Veteran Kosovar reporter and TV anchor Jeta Xhara (pronounced Yeta Jara) speaks with us ahead of our trip to the region.


Tuesday  4 April    

Ukraine: On The Home Front with Brock Bierman

Before the war in Ukraine Brock Bierman ran the US government’s aid agency in Europe, USAID. He now run a charity dedicated to supplying troops on the frontline with ambulances. He and his programme director, Oksana Barchuk, talk about the challenges of getting aid to the right people and aid fatigue a year into the war.


Thursday  6 April    

Kramatorsk Station – A War Crimes Investigation with Richard Weir

Following on from last month’s discussion on war crimes and the possibility of holding people to account for crimes in Ukraine we look at one incident from last year, the attack on Kramatorsk railway station, a known evacuation-point for refugees fleeing the conflict. Human Rights Watch and SITU, a data driven human rights group, have combined to provide an in-depth report on the attack. We speak with one of the report’s main authors, Richard Weir.


Thursday  13 April     

End of the Line? –  Britain’s Monarchy with Matthew Dennison & Latika Bourke

In a look ahead to our UK tour in May, Royal biographer Matthew Dennison looks at King Charles III and the future of Britain’s monarchy. The monarchy has remained one constant during Britain’s political and constitutional upheaval over the last few years. But overseas dominions are increasingly keen to get rid of the crown and Charles himself is far from the popular figure his mother once was. The new King has himself said the royal family will be have to be reformed and slimmed down. Dennison makes the case for its survival.  Latika Bourke joins the discussion.


Thursday  20 April     

Beirut – Boats and Ballot Boxes with Ibrahim Jouhari

In our series of three talks on Lebanon, Ibrahim Jouhari digs into the numbers behind Lebanon’s financial and political crisis. Fed up with their corrupt elites – that prompted their banking system and currency to collapse, not to mention the Beirut port blast – voters are turning away from traditional parties, even including Hezbollah. Younger voters and women in particular want change. Other who feel there’s no hope to be had are making the dangerous journey to Europe by boat. (Ibrahim Jouhari is a Lebanese data analyst who specialises in polling and migration.)

Beirut Blast – Anatomy of a Failed State with Aya Mazjoub

217 people were killed in the blast that rocked Lebanon’s capital in 2020 injuring thousands and displacing 300,000 from their homes. At the outset the blast, caused by the explosion of several hundred tonnes of fertilizer, appeared to be a tragic accident. Since then attempts to investigate the incident by a lone Lebanese judge have been frustrated at every step. Human rights groups now say the material may have been bound for the civil war in Syria and worse still most of Lebanon’s politicians in government knew about it.  Aya Mazjoub, from Amnesty International, says the affairs goes to the heart of the Lebanese state and all that is wrong with it.


Beirut Bank Heist with Alia Ibrahim

In September last year 27 old Sali Hafez entered a Beirut bank armed with a fake pistol and walked away with $13,000 – of her own money. The raid was one of series last year in which deposit holders tried to force banks to hand over their own savings. Lebanon’s banks have been restricting withdrawals to $400 a month even since financial crisis hit the country in 2019. But our guest, investigative journalist Alia Ibrahim, says the real robbery has been carried out by Lebanon’s politicians and bank owners who have been taking money out of the country by the billion. Worse still, the central bank governor, the man responsible for stabilising the banking system is now under investigation for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars of state funds.



Thursday 2 March

Turkey Earthquake with Ayla Jean Yackley

The last time a major earthquake struck Turkey in 1999 over 17,000 people lost their lives and officials swore never again. How then has the latest disaster killed more than 3 times as many people and buildings that were meant to resist the strongest of tremors been toppled. Ayla Jean Yackley has been piecing together the failures both administrative and political behind the latest catastrophe. (We will be speaking to photographer Simon Townsley, who has also been covering the story, later in the month.)


Friday 3 March

Northern Ireland update? with David Davin-Power

Rishi Sunak says the UK’s new deal with the EU on Northern Ireland gives the province the best of both worlds – much to the surprise of his Eurosceptic conservative backbenchers. But will Ulster’s unionists (the D.U.P) take the bait. Either way the deal seems to indicate a thawing of relations between Britain and Brussels. Veteran Irish political reporter David Davin-Power takes a broader look at the deal, Anglo-Irish relations and what it might say for the future of the island.


Tuesday 7 March 

And Then What? with Catherine Ashton

Catherine Ashton was Europe’s most senior diplomat from 2009 to 2014 – critical years during which the Iran nuclear deal was struck, Libya fell into civil war and Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. “And Then What?” is the title of her book that looks back over this critical time in global politics and provides insights into the key players and their motivations. She was largely ignored by the British press and as she notes she was both the first British EU foreign policy chief and the last. An exceptional opportunity to put your questions to someone who was in the thick of it all.


Wednesday 15 March

British Press Photographer of the Year with Simon Townsley

Simon Townsley is an acclaimed international photojournalist and twice recipient of the British Press Photographer of the Year Award. Simon is known for his ability to connect with people and convey their story with dignity, even in extreme contexts. He has recently returned from Turkey where he has been covering the aftermath of the recent earthquake.


Tuesday 21 March 

Wobble – Russia, Ukraine & The West with Kristi Raik

Why is it that European states that lie farthest away from the war with Russia are so happy to compromise on Ukrainian sovereignty? Kristi Raik, the deputy director of the Estonian think tank ICDS (the International Centre for Defence and Security) says that despite offers of military support to Kyiv countries like France and Germany appear more worried about a Russian collapse or Vladimir Putin’s possible humiliation. Raik provides a different assessment of the war in Ukraine and how best to deal with Russia.


Thursday 30 March

Revolt – Macron, France & The Fifth Republic with Simon Kuper

France can’t go on like this, writes Simon Kuper in the FT. Months of street protests have turned violent as Emanuel Macron has circumvented parliament and imposed new pension laws. Seen from across the Channel or the Atlantic, France’s welfare state seems well overdue for reform. But Macron’s heavy hand is the mark of an overly powerful President. Kuper suggests the country needs to demote the job that De Gaul shaped for himself and make way for a Sixth Republic. With Marie Le Pen possibly waiting in the wings at the next election there’s a lot at stake.


Thursday 2 February

Back to Rwanda with Michela Wrong

So far Britain has paid Rwanda £140 million to house asylum seekers. And so far, none have been sent. Michela Wrong updates us about Britain’s unusual deal as well as the latest on Kagame in Kigali, his dubious human rights record and Rwanda’s forays into neighbouring DRC.


Tuesday 7 February 

Settling for Less  with Lachlan McNamee

Colonisation, where one state subjugates another people and settles its own in their place, is seen as a thing of the past. But it continues today in areas as disparate as China, Indonesia and Israel. Academic and author, Lachlan McNamee, looks at recent and historical examples and explains why states colonise and why they stop.


Monday 13 February

No Justice, No Peace – Lessons for Ukraine from the Balkans with Iva Vukusic

The International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia held dozens of trials stemming from the wars of the 1990s. Most famously Serbian leaders like Slobodan Milosevic (who died in jail), Ratko Mladic, and Radovan Karadzic were brought to justice. But the truth is the vast majority of perpetrators literally get away with murder. Will it be the same in Ukraine? Academic Iva Vukusic asks what lessons can be learned.


Thursday 16 February

Another Fine Mess – What Next for the UK? with Jill Rutter, The Institute for Government

It’s hard to comprehend the mess Britain got into in 2022; 3 prime ministers, 5 chancellors, the Bank of England forced to intervene in the markets, not to mention Boris Johnson’s covid party shenanigans. Jill Rutter from The Institute for Government takes a broader look at how bad British governance has got from Brexit to today. And now just as the Tory Party sacks its Chairman & former Chancellor Nadim Zahawi over his infamous tax settlement we ask what chance Rishi Sunak has of restoring trust and stability?


Monday 27 February

Meddling in the Sahel with Andrew Lebovich

For years French special forces have been fighting Islamist forces in the Sahel – a bloody conflict that has gone largely ignored in the anglophone press.  A mounting death toll and hostile hosts (both Mali and then Burkina Faso had recent coups) have forced the French to withdraw. Russia’s Wagner group is now taking their place. Andrew Lebovich argues Europe and France should not be giving up on the Sahel.



Thursday 12 January

North Korea Update with Prof. Ruediger Frank

The headlines don’t seem to change much when it comes to North Korea. The DPRK has just carried out more rocket tests – interpreted by some as another bid to ease sanctions on Pyongyang. But other analysts in the US and South Korea say Kim Jung Un’s nuclear programme has reached a new phase. And it’s unclear if the US and its allies in the region have the means or willingness to stop it.


Tuesday 17 January


Germany, Ukraine & the EU with Gerald Knaus

Where’s German leadership when Europe needs it most? Chancellor Olaf Scholz has shown a sclerotic approach to the war in Europe, dragging his heals when it comes to providing Ukraine with modern weaponry. With the conflict due to carry on – if not escalate in 2023 – Gerald Knaus argues Europe should be going even further and planning for life after the war, and an expanded EU that goes right up to Russia’s borders.


Thursday 19 January

End of the Revolution? with Christopher de Bellaigue

The street protests in Iran have been ongoing for almost six months now, and although smaller show no sign of abating. It is, according to Christopher de Bellaigue, author and former Economist correspondent in Tehran, the biggest challenge to the Islamic regime since its birth in 1979. Still, the Islamic Revolution has deep roots.


Tuesday 24 January

Timothy Fadek Review

Photographer Tim Fadek has won countless awards for his photography and appeared in publications such as the National Geographic, the New Yorker, Time and the New York Times Magazine. Most recently he has been in Ukraine (with five reporting trips in the last year). He outlines his approach to a story and says why despite the headlines interest in the war appears to be waning.


Friday 27 January

Ukraine with Orysia Lutsevych 

Orysia Lutsevych is head of the Ukraine Forum at Chatham House. While much of the focus rests on what weaponry the country gets from the West it faces many other challenges away from the front line. She gives an overview of the political and social impact on Ukrainian society.


Friday 9 December

Putsch with Derek Scally

Earlier this week German police and special forces launched dawn raids to arrest members of a far-right movement intent on installing an aristocrat as the head of state. It sounds too bizarre to be true, but the accused include a federal judge and members of the police and armed services. Prosecutors said the group had planned to storm parliament and were ready to kill to achieve their aim. While post war Germany has long been regarded as one of the most stable states in Europe, prosecutors say right-wing groups now represent a serious threat to democracy. Irish Times correspondent, Derek Scally, gives his take.


Thursday 15 December


Lebanon Update – Hope?  with Nicholas Blanford and Leena Saidi

With our own Lebanon tour looming (March 25 to April 2) we take another look at recent events. Israel and Lebanon – long-time enemies have agreed a split on maritime gas-reserves. A rare agreement for a pair that have never held diplomatic ties. Meanwhile the country is without a president and its economic crisis remains -all powerful Hezbollah sit in the wings. Our two tour experts, Nicholas Blanford (Atlantic Council Fellow and leading expert on Hezbollah) and Leena Saidi give their take.


Friday 16 December

Braving the Winter – Ukraine with Tim Judah

Loosing on the battlefield Russia is bombarding Ukraine’s population centres and power supply. On one level its working; more people are fleeing their homes and at least half the country is without heating in sub-zero temperatures. Russia appears to trying to be buying time. Can it work?  Economist Correspondent, Tim Judah has just returned from Odessa and Kherson.


Monday 19 December

SofaGate! Corruption dogs South Africa with Kaizer Nyatsumba

Cyril Ramaphosa was seen as a safe pair of hands after the tawdry years of Jacob Zuma. But now the current president has been dragged down in his own scandal (the allegations revolve around several hundred thousand dollars stuffed in a sofa, payment for rare cattle, which was then stolen and the President was then accused of bribing police to keep quiet about the theft). The issue goes to the heart of SA politics. 30 years after Mandela’s release the state is riven by corruption, infrastructure is in a mess, power cuts are the norm (in a country rich with energy reserves) and more and more people are fed up with the ANC. Is the country going to the dogs? One of the country’s leading political analysts, Kaizer Nyatsumba, shares his thoughts.

Political Tours has just returned from a wonderful tour in South Africa – marking ten years of tours there. We will return again in December 2023.



Friday 23 December

Bibi’s Back with Nebi Qena

With the help of an unsavoury coalition of ultra-right wing parties, Benjamin Netanyahu is back in office. Negotiations are underway on who gets what – the Jewish Power party leader, Itamar Ben-Gvir, is pushing to be interior minister. At the same time violence is on the uptick and Israel’s expansion in the West Bank continues unabated. Two bombs were detonated in late November at bus stops in Jerusalem –a tactic that has not been used by Palestinian groups in years.  Nebi Qena who we met on our Israel and Palestine Tour in October, updates us.


Wednesday 28 December

The End of Empire – Russia with Janusz Bugajski

Vladimir Putin assumed power to prevent Russia’s disintegration, but he may be remembered as precipitating the country’s demise. If Russia loses the war in Ukraine, expect new conflicts to emerge at home. New territorial entities could surface as Moscow’s credibility crisis deepens. Elite power struggles, political polarization, nationalist radicalism, and regional and ethnic revivals could make the country increasingly unstable. Janusz Bugajski, an academic suggests Russia may fall apart. He outlines how and what might follow.


Tuesday 1 November


War with Russia with Keir Giles plus Dan Damon

Russia’s 2022 attack on Ukraine saw confrontation between Moscow and the West spill over into open conflict once again. But Russia has also been waging a clandestine war against the West for decades. Hostile acts abroad, from poisoning dissidents to shooting down airliners, interfering in elections, spying, hacking and murdering, have long seemed to be the Kremlin’s daily business. But what is it all for? Why does Russia consistently behave like this? And what does it achieve? Keir Giles has written a book that addresses these questions. In it he explains how and why Russia pushes for more power and influence wherever it can reach, far beyond Ukraine – and what it means not just for governments, but for ordinary people. At the same time we ask can that change? Interview with Dan Damon.


Wednesday 2 November


Lula’s Back – Brazil’s Elections with Richard Lapper

Luis Ignacio Lula de Silva scraped a close win over right wing populist Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s recent Presidential election. Lula, who overcame corruption charges to stand in the polls, has promised to run the country as a centrist. But nobody’s quite sure what that means. Lula’s last term in office, from 2003 to 2010, ended in financial and political turmoil.  Former FT Brazil correspondent and author, Richard Lapper speaks to us from Sao Paolo – interviewed by Dan Damon.


Wednesday 9 November


Ready or Not – Qatar’s World Cup with Matt Slater

No other World Cup has been dogged with as much controversy as this one. Put aside the weather and the corruption surrounding its bid Qatar’s World Cup has been bugged by serious and persistent problems. Fragile infrastructure and not enough hotel space; the Fan Village is comprised of port-a-cabins and cruise ships are being brought in to house others. With a million visitors expected even the organisers are nervous. Qatar has even borrowed riot police from Turkey. Matt Slater from The Athletic explains.


Tuesday 15 November


Britain Alone with Philip Stephens

The root-cause of Liz’s Truss’s disastrous and short-lived time in Number 10 go back decades argues FT contributing editor Philip Stephens. Incredible as it may sound many British politicians have not come to terms with the UK’s much reduced role in the world. Brexit and policies such as “Global Britain” are symptoms of a political class clutching on to a glorious past. Interviewed by Nicholas Wood.


Tuesday 4  October 


A Multi-Ethnic Kosovo with Elizabeth Gowing

In 2006 Elizabeth Gowing moved to Kosovo. It was the start of an incredible journey which has transformed her life, but more importantly the lives of thousands of others. She founded a charity to help support Kosovo’s least favoured minority, the Roma, as well as women living in poor and remote rural communities. 12 years later she was given Kosovan citizenship in recognition of her work, and last year she became the advisor to Kosovo’s prime minister on minorities. All the while, she’s written 4 books about the region and translated two others from Albanian. Elizabeth outlines her extraordinary journey as well as the challenges faced by the communities she works with.


Monday 10 October 


Midterms Preview with Susanna Capelouto & Malcolm Brown

Just weeks away from the crucial US midterms two veteran correspondents give us an overview of what’s at stake. Will Biden lose control of Congress? Is Trump’s power waning and will he run again in 2024? Malcolm Brown will be with Nicholas in Philadelphia ahead of their tour there. Susanna Capelouto is based in Atlanta where she is managing editor of the news radio station, WABE.


Tuesday 11 October 


Palestinian Conundrum with Inès Abdel Razek plus Dan Damon

Most observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict agree the two-station solution is dead. But there’s no sign of Israel relinquishing its control of the West Bank anytime soon or ending the siege of Gaza. In the meantime, Israeli settlements continue to expand and the Palestinian Authority has lost legitimacy among its own population in part over its close co-operation with Israel. What are the options then for those who support a free Palestine or even just Palestinians with equal rights? Inès Abdel Razek, the Advocacy Director for the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy in Ramallah, outlines the options as she sees them.


Tuesday 18 October 


President for Life; Xi Jinping & The CCP with Prof. Steve Tsang

With days to go before Xi Jingping’s appointment to a third term as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party there have been a series of high-profile arrests – including officials best known for anti-corruption drives over the last decade. The message couldn’t be clearer. Xi is China’s paramount authority wresting power from anyone who could be a potential threat. Expect more of the same, as Xi entrenches his rule – but what will be the longer term effect on China? Professor Steve Tsang explains.


Thursday 20 October 


Bosnia – A Frozen Conflict with Kurt Bassuener & Sabina Niksic plus Dan Damon

Bosnia is not officially a Frozen Conflict. That honour used to go to Nagorno Karabagh (no longer true) and Abkhazia (still true) in the Caucasus. But for all the lack of progress made in the former Yugoslav state since the war’s end almost 30 years ago, the title is just as apt. The Dayton Agreement effectively stopped the fighting but created a state so complex and ethnically entrenched that the same nationalist parties which fought the war dominate. The EU has failed to capitalise on the influence it has in the region, and all the while Russian, Turkish and even Chinese interests have sought to fill the void and in Russia’s case promote unrest. Next-door Serbia remains as nationalist as it ever was. It’s a grim outlook, but odd as it may seem, does the war in Ukraine offer some hope?  Kurt Bassuener, a former diplomat and Sabina Niksic, the Associated Press’s correspondent in Sarajevo, discuss. The interview is led by Dan Damon, a former BBC reporter who covered much of the war in former Yugoslavia.


Friday 28 October  

Iran Unveiled with Kelly Golnoush Niknejad and Marketa Hulpachova, Tehran Bureau

The widespread protests by women across Iran are unprecedented, both in scale and in what they say about attitudes towards the government. But Iran’s theocracy is well entrenched. What impact, if any, can they have? The Tehran Bureau is an independent research group based in Paris that provides complex and in-depth news stories on the country. Kelly Golnoush Niknejad and Marketa Hulpachova give their analysis.


Tuesday 6  September


Opportunist – Erdogan, NATO and Russia with Ayla Jean Yackley

Turkish Bayraktar drones were credited with giving Ukraine an edge in the early days of the war with Russia. An exaggeration perhaps, but the flow of Turkish arms and then Ankara’s closure of the Bosphorus to naval traffic suggested Recep Tayyip Erdogan was backing NATO’s efforts to bolster Ukraine. But now the Turkish President has met with Putin and wants to act as a facilitator for Russian trade and finance. What’s he up to? FT writer Ayla Jean Yackley says he is betting that neither the US or EU can do much about it.


Tuesday 13  September


Inflation – Back to the 70s? with David Smith, Sunday Times Economics editor

PT’s been keeping its beady eye on inflation for over two years now – so much so we’ve held three talks on it. But when we last spoke to Sunday Times Economics Editor, David Smith, he was sceptical prices rises would get this bad. Is it all down to the war in Ukraine? David looks at what he missed, what’s different from previous eras, and more importantly how long it might stick around. Most western governments looks like they are in for a tough time ahead.


Wednesday 14  September

Political Upset? Midterms Update with Professor Chris Borick

Six months back the Democratic party was expecting a rout in November’s midterm elections. But now things are looking a bit different. Trump’s personal picks, a still buoyant economy, and even the Supreme Court’s controversial decisions this summer may stem losses. Politics professor Chris Borick, who we’ll be meeting on our midterms tour with Malcolm Brown, gives us a view from Pennsylvania – a crucial state.


Monday 19  September

Nine Quarters of Jerusalem with Matthew Teller

Most books on Jerusalem focus on its history and architecture. In this new book, author and journalist Matthew Teller, has written a modern account of the city and its people – and notably the repeated attempts by powers and states to shape it in their own image; from the British Empire, to Jordan and more recently Israel. It’s a compelling read.


Thursday 29  September


Making the Pandemic with John Ehrenreich

Author and clinical psychologist, John Ehrenreich argues that pandemics don’t “just happen;” they are made by us. In his new book, The Making of a Pandemic: Social, Political, and Psychological Perspectives on Covid 19, he traces the human activities in his view that have vastly increased the risk of pandemics; he looks at the political, social, and economic factors – including hospital and private sector malfeasance, the deterioration of the social safety net, the rise in inequality, the short- and long-term gutting of public health capacity – that hamstrung the U.S. efforts to contain the virus.


Friday 30 September

Truss’s Tightrope  with Stephen Castle

The Conservative Party has just appointed its fourth leader, and the UK’s fourth Prime Minister, in six years – a pace of change that only Italian politics can compete with. Don’t expect things in Britain to settle down anytime soon. Liz Truss’s new government is backed by the right of the party and seems on a collision course with Europe over Northern Ireland. That plus a cost-of-living crisis not seen in 50 years will make for a difficult balancing act ahead.


Tuesday 9 August  

Strong Man- The Rise of Authoritarianism with Gideon Rachman (FT)

Since the beginning of the millennium, when Vladimir Putin took power in Russia, authoritarian leaders have come to dominate global politics. Self-styled strongmen have risen to power in Moscow, Beijing, Delhi, Brasilia, Budapest, Ankara, Riyadh and Washington. Gideon Rachman’s new book looks at how and why did this new style of strongman leadership arrive? How likely is it to lead to war or economic collapse? And what forces are in place not only to keep these strongmen in check but to reverse the trend?


Tuesday 16 August   

Paper Army with Sir Richard Shirreff

For years NATO’s former deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Sir Richard Shirreff, warned the alliance was not doing enough to face the threat from Russia. He even wrote a thriller about it to get his message across. And now long after Moscow’s full-scale invasion he questions if the alliance is doing enough.


Thursday 18 August  

Battleground GeorgiaThe Midterms 2022 with Prof. Charles S. Bullock III

The US state of Georgia has some of the most interesting electoral battles ahead of this November’s midterms. Stacy Abrams, who was credited with turning out the Democratic vote and helping win the Presidency for Joe Biden, is running for governor. Trump’s candidates look less than triumphant. But booming economy and the impact of the recent supreme court decisions mean that this and many other races are too hard to call. Professor Charles S. Bullock III one of the State’s best known political analysts describes a state in political flux.


Thursday 25 August  

Being Palestinian with Taghreed El-Khadory & Nadine Bahour

At a time when criticism of Israel prompts accusations of anti-semitism many Palestinians find is difficult to present their case or even have their own identity accepted. Taghreed El-Khodary, formerly the New York Times’s Gaza correspondent and Nadine Bahour, a Palestinian-American currently at Harvard say what it is like to be a Palestinian abroad.


Tuesday 30 August

Covid 19 – A Review with Adam Kucharski

Adam Kucharski, associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine takes the long view on the pandemic. Even before Covid19 took hold he had written a widely acclaimed book about disease and epidemics. He looks at what worked, what didn’t and where Covid19 is headed now.


Wednesday 6 July 2022  

Political Court – with David Cole, Legal Director ACLU

The United States Supreme Court has just completed one of its most remarkable sessions in years. It has torn up Roe vs Wade, expanded gun rights and looks likely to give states the ability to further restrict voting for some people. There’s no doubting the impact of President Trumps 3 appointments to the bench. But how did we get here? David Cole, National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union outlines the enormous changes to the court over the last 50 years and then looks at its most recent decisions.


Thursday 7 July 2022    

Fuelling Unrest – Food Prices & Political Fallout with Paul Raymond, AFP

Covid, supply chain shortages and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have hiked fuel, fertiliser and grain prices. The knock-on effect is likely to be political unrest across the developing world. Paul Raymond is one of AFP’s North Africa correspondents looks at the dilemmas faced by ordinary people and the regimes that rule them.


Monday 11 July 2022   

Afghan Update Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News

Lindsey Hilsum is one of the UK’s most recognised foreign correspondents and is currently Channel 4 News’s International Editor. She has consistently reported on events left aside by other news outlets. She has just returned from Afghanistan where the nascent regime is still trying find its feet. Girls education, a major earthquake, and the Taliban’s relations with the outside world dominated her recent reporting. She’s has also spent a substantial amount of time in Ukraine over the last six months.


Thursday 14 July 2022   

Baltic Dirt Holger Roonema, Investigative Reporter

Leading investigative journalist, Holger Roonemaa, has been uncovering dirt and skulduggery across the Baltics for the past few years – much of it linked to Russia. He outlines some of the amazing investigations he’s covered over the last year. Holger is the head of investigative journalism at Estonia’s largest media company Eesti Meedia Based in Tallinn, he recently lead our Baltics Tour.


Tuesday 26th July 2022  


Little Britain – The View from Near and Afar with Tristan de Bourbon-Parme (La Croix) and Latika Bourke (Sydney Morning Herald) 

As the Conservative Party chooses a third leader in less than six years two foreign correspondents – one French, one Australian – give differing views on these Isles since Brexit. Leaving the EU was meant to unleash a new era of cooperation overseas and enable a nimbler economy at home. Progress on both, to say the least, has been slow. Is there a more sympathetic assessment to be had abroad?!


Thursday 2 June 2022  

From Plague to Famine?Cuba after the pandemic Michael Bustamante

Its hasn’t been easy going for Cuba. After the pandemic left it with some of the highest infection rates in the developing word it now has to contend with food price hikes and a drought. Cuban-American academic Dr Michael Bustamante says the government is hoping a revived tourism market will help relieve some of the pain. And the good news is that the US is easing up on some of the travel restrictions to island. Political Tours hopes to return to Cuba in spring 2023.


Monday 13 June 2022  

Neutral or Not? Ukraine, NATO & Europe’s Neutral States – Derek Scally

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced both Sweden and Finland to abandon their long-held policy of neutrality. Moscow, they say, has given them no choice. Austria and Ireland – also neutral in name, are now facing awkward questions. Irish Times Berlin correspondent, Derek Scally, back from his own Baltic tour, asks whether neutrality has gone for good and also casts an eye over Germany’s ambiguous defence policy.


Thursday 16 June 2022  


NAZI BillionairesDavid de Jong

It’s an open secret that Porsche, Volkswagen, BMW and other German industrial giants were part of the German war machine. Their founders profited, used slave labour and few served time as a result. Dutch author and former Bloomberg reporter David de Jong says despite that terrible legacy – their successors, both families and corporations, have sought to whitewash their past.


Friday 24 June 2022  

Pyongyang Film Buff Nick Bonner

Those who joined Insight early on in 2020 may remember Nick Bonner’s fascinating talk on North Korean art and propaganda. Nick is known as the owner of the world’s largest international collection of North Korean art. His company, Koryo Studios has also helped to produce some of the most fascinating films about life in the hermit like state. During lockdown Nick commissioned a series of shoots with leading Korean film stars. Nick speaks about an unusual project in difficult times.


Monday 27 June 2022  


Midterms UpdateIdrees KahloonDC correspondent for The Economist

The second in a series of talks that look at the midterms. In May we looked at the progress of rival candidates in the Democratic and Republic primaries. The Economists’ Washington Correspondent Idrees Kahloon takes a broader look at what is shaping voters views and the overall direction of US politics. Such heated competition between candidates on the left and right might suggest American democracy is in rude health.


Thursday 30 June 2022  


Loot – A reckoning – Barnaby Phillips


A lot has happened since Barnaby Philips released his book about the British army’s theft of the Benin Bronzes. Auction houses have stopped sales, museums have returned items and Barnaby himself has accompanied some pieces on a journey back to Nigeria. Germany recently announced the return of its collection. Still the UK’s British Museum owns some 900 pieces – and is holding back on their immediate return. Barnaby give us a fascinating update on an ongoing debate.


Thursday 5 May 2022   

Chums – Boris Johnson & Co with Simon Kuper

It’s a small circle at the top of Britain’s political elite. Much of it traces its roots back to 1980’s Oxford. Simon Kuper’s new book explains how the rarefied and privileged atmosphere of this narrowest of talent pools – and the friendships and worldviews it created – shaped modern Britain. Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, David Cameron, George Osborne, Theresa May, Dominic Cummings, Daniel Hannan, Jacob Rees-Mogg: Whitehall is swarming with old Oxonians. They debated each other in tutorials, ran against each other in student elections, and attended the same balls and black-tie dinners. They aren’t just colleagues – they are peers, rivals, friends. And, when they walked out of the world of student debates onto the national stage, they brought their university politics with them.


Tuesday 10 May 2022    

A War of Attrition with Michael Kofman

Beyond its failure to understand Ukraine’s possible response to an invasion – the Russian military’s inability to conduct combined operations has come as a shock to most. The pivot to the east, the focus on a smaller object, a new commander, and shorter supply lines suggest Russia’s can make more progress in this next phase. But now most analysts are even questioning that. Progress is likely to be slow and extremely bloody. But the Kremlin may be just fine with that.


Thursday 12 May 2022   

Popular, Right? with Catherine Fieschi

Catherine Fieschi, is the founder of Counterpoint, a think tank, and the author of “Populocracy.” Her focus is populism and European politics. She wrote her PhD thesis on Jean-Marie Le Pen and spent time with the family in their chateau. Consequently, she knows more than most about France’s pretender to the presidential throne. Macron won this time, but it is not the end of the hard right or left for that matter in France or elsewhere. We take a longer-term view of French politics and populism in Europe.


Tuesday 17 May 2022   

Colombia Elections with Joe Parkin Daniels & Megan Janetsky

Economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic, state violence against mostly peaceful protesters last year – and rising armed violence in the countryside – have turned voters against Colombia’s government. Now President Ivan Duque’s leaving office and a former rebel is leading the opinion polls promising to redistribute wealth and implement the country’s stalled peace-process. Our Political Tours expert and NYT correspondent Joe Parkin Daniels and fellow reporter Megan Janetsky say what’s at stake.


Tuesday 24 May 2022   

 In Trumps Shadow with Malcolm Brown and Prof. Tom Baldino

The 45th President of the United State may have left office in a cloud but he continues to dominate the Republican party. Indeed his endorsements have raised eyebrows and even given the Democrats some hope ahead of the crucial mid-term elections. But can he ride this wave and run again in 2024? And can Joe Biden and the Democrats claw anything back and avoid a rout. Malcolm Brown and Professor Tom Baldino take the temperature of the nation and look ahead to our own midterms tour scheduled for this November (3-9).


Thursday 26 May 2022   

Putting Putin in the Dock with Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin

Peace and justice are often at odds when it comes to ending long running conflicts. Vladimir Putin is unlikely to sign a peace deal if he knows he’s going to end up before a tribunal somewhere. There are good precedents too for those keen to avoid prosecution; the war in Bosnia only ended because the West did a deal Milosevic. And when the criminals were put on trial from that conflict it was many years after the event. We’ve got to do better, says political analyst Dahlia Scheindlin.  She’s spent much of her career in Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East. Following recent interviews with some of the world’s leading international jurists she outlines how Putin and those under him could and should be held to account.


Monday 4 April 2022   

Hungary with Nick Thorpe

Hungary’s authoritarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, is facing his toughest challenge in years with parliamentary elections taking place on Sunday April 3rd. A disparate array of opposition parties have united against him, hoping all the while that the war in Ukraine and Orban’s closeness to Vladimir Putin will help them. But state media and the opinion polls say Orban still has the edge. Veteran BBC Hungary correspondent, Nick Thorpe, reviews the results.


Thursday 7 April 2022   

Out of the Limelight: North Korea with Ruediger Frank

The latest State video from North Korea shows a triumphant Kim Jung Un cheering the launch of yet another intercontinental missile. But in reality, the totalitarian state is reeling from border closures in the wake of the pandemic and continued western sanctions. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is doing its best to keep our attention. Professor Ruediger Frank gives us an update.


Tuesday 12 April 2022     

Where does China stand? with Steve Tsang

Russia’s failure to achieve a quick win in Ukraine has left China in a quandary. At the outset Beijing hoped for a divided west and a weakened Russia – a win-win for China either way. But the war’s progression has changed that calculation and it’s having damaging economic consequences. Professor Steve Tsang from the School of Oriental and African Studies, outlines Xi Jinping’s choices.


Tuesday 19 April 2022    

Ukraine – The Long Game with Fabrice Deprez

Fabrice Deprez is the Ukraine correspondent for La Croix and has been covering the region for close to a decade. He has been closer than most to predicting what Vladimir Putin would do in the region. We get his latest analysis.


Thursday 21 April 2022   

What is a War Crime? with Peter Bouckeart

Peter Bouckaert has spent most of his career documenting war crimes around the world as an investigator with Human Right’s Watch. He looks at how conflicts have evolved over the past two decades and assesses what is happening in Ukraine now. He also asks whether some 80 years after Nuremberg the world is better at holding people to account.


Tuesday 26th April 2022  

Volte Face – on Russia with Leonid Ragozin

For a decade Leonid Ragozin has tried not to fall into the clichéd analysis of Russia in terms of East vs West. But then Putin invaded Ukraine. A former BBC Russian reporter and our expert in both Russia and Ukraine, Leonid looks back at his own thinking on Russia and what he got wrong as well as what the future holds for his own friends and relatives on both sides of the border. Leonid is also raising money for some of families we have met on our tours with him in Ukraine.


Tuesday 1 March 2022    

Ukraine, Russia & Putin’s Leviathan with Konstantin Von Eggert

Konstantin Von Eggert was a well-known critic of Vladimir Putin before February 24th. The former Moscow bureau chief for the BBC’s Russian service outlines what the war means for ordinary Russian’s and the Russian state. He says a large majority of Russian’s blame the West for events in Kyiv but at the same time there is a fatalism about their own future. Just as the Kremlin is using force to crush its neighbour, it is going to become even more repressive at home.


Thursday 3 March 2022   

Home & Away – Photos with Alan Chin

Leading American photographer Alan Chin talks about his work. He’s recently back from Ukraine. He’s noted as much for his work documenting US life, and it’s shifts during the Trump era, as he is for foreign coverage.


Tuesday 8 March 2022   

Afghanistan Update with Frud Bezhan

More than six months on from the Taliban’s take over Afghanistan is affected by famine and shortages of all kinds. The United States is still holding back billions of dollars in Afghan reserves while the Taliban stands accused of repressing women and former government employees alike. Is there any hope to be had? Frud Bezhan covers the region for Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.


Thursday 10 March 2022   

Baltic View with Lolita Cigane

Putin’s war isn’t ultimately about Ukraine but a new world order in which real politique is the order of the day. After Ukraine the Baltic states fear they have the most to lose. Does NATO have the metal to stand up for its allies? Should the West plan for an anti-Russian insurgency in Ukraine, and how will life for those living on Russia’s newly claimed borders change. Former Latvian politician and commentator, Lolita Cigane, says the world has changed.


Thursday 17 March   

Blitzkrieg  with Keir Giles

At the time of writing it’s hard to tell how Ukrainian forces will stand up to the overwhelming strength of Russian forces in the air and on the ground. We get an analysis of the conflict so far and its strategic ramifications. The Chatham House Russia expert Keir Giles spoke with us at the beginning of last month.  He gives us his latest analysis.


Friday 18 March 

Kyiv Correspondent Update with Dave Clark (AFP) or Nabih Bulos (LA Times)

We speak with a leading correspondent from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Time to be confirmed. Dave Clark is a senior editor with Agence France Presse normally based in Brussels. Nabih Bulos is the LA Times Middle East correspondent who has covered Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. He is normally based in Beirut and Amman. Both journalists are currently in Kyiv.


Thursday 31 March 2022  11:30am PDT (San Francisco), 2:30pm EDT (New York), 7:30pm BST (London), 8:30pm CEST (Paris), 5:30am AEDT (Sydney+1), 7:30am NZDT (Wellington+1) (US & Europe clock change has been accounted for)

Yemen with Elisabeth Kendall

The war in Yemen doesn’t get the headlines but it serves as a stark reminder of the costs of a long running civil war. It is now in its eighth year and shows little sign of abating. It has drawn in Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf – seen huge displacements of population, and deprivation as rival groups restrict basic supplies. There was hope that the conflict would abate last year – but instaed it has escalated more recently. Oxford Don, Dr Elisabeth Kendall, has been following the conflict – and spent time on the ground in the region. She spells out the regional rivalries and impact on people throughout the country.


Tuesday 1 February 2022  

The Bear at The Gate; Russia & The West with Judy Dempsey & Keir Giles

To most observers Russia’s demands of NATO and the west seem fantastic; the Kremlin wants forces to return to cold war boundaries. But it’s also clear that US and European governments are unsure how to respond. Talks continue amid the Russian threat of invasion in Ukraine. Such an idea would seem unthinkable a few years ago; Judy Dempsey from Strategic Europe & Keir Giles from Conflict Research Centre hold the west to accoun


Tuesday 8 February 2022   

On the Ward – Covid Update 

NB this webinar will not be recorded. No recording will be sent out.

We looks at what’s changed since the start of the pandemic in our third discussion with an NHS doctor.  We look at the pressures on the health service, the effects of Long Covid, and the impact of new vaccines including mRNA. This recording is held under the Chatham House Rule; no attribution or recording of it may be made.


Thursday 10 February 2022  

Foreign Story with Peter Beaumont, The Observer & Guardian

Former Observer Foreign Editor, Peter Beaumont, has covered most major foreign news stories over the last thirty years – with a significant amount of time in the Middle East. He was the Guardian and Observer’s Jerusalem correspondent for four years until 2018 and won the Orwel Prize for his coverage of Iraqi death squads. We take a look at his work and how much reporting has changed over that time.


Sunday 13 February 2022  

Bugs, Buns and Bibi with Anshel Pfeffer

Israeli police stand accused of using bugging software without permits to snoop on a host of public figures. Supporters of former PM Benjamin Netanyahu hope the scandal will upset at least one of the four anti-graft cases being brought against him. Not so fast says Haaretz commentator and Economist Correspondent Anshel Pfeffer. It was Bibi after all who told the police to use it.


Wednesday 16 February 2022  

America’s Israel Policy with Michael Omer-Man & Adam Shapiro

It’s a truth (almost) universally acknowledged in American politics that a politician seeking office needs to be a wholehearted supporter of Israel. Last fall a new lobby group emerged in Washington seeking to challenge that. Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) suggests that unquestioning support of Israel is perpetuating the oppression and abuse of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as well as Israel itself. We speak with two high profile Israel rights activists hoping to challenge the consensus.


Thursday 17 February 2022  

Taken for Granted – Human Rights in the UK with Yasmine Ahmed – Human Rights Watch

Yasmine Ahmed is the Human Rights Watch’s Director in the UK. She gives an overview of global human rights in 2021 and looks at the UK in particular. Post Brexit the UK government is overhauling legal architecture governing human and refugee rights– undermining she argues rights that have been taken for granted in Britain for decades.


Tuesday 22 February 2022  

Bashar’s Back plus Beirut Update with Jim Muir

The United States is a spent force in the Middle East. The war in Syria effectively long over Gulf leaders are boarding planes to Damascus to restore ties with Bashar -al-Assad’s regime. Though the country remains divided – Turkey occupies large swathes of Syrian territory – and heavily war damaged, the Assad regime is here to stay. Veteran BBC correspondent, Jim Muir gives an update – and an overview of Lebanon as it struggles with an economic crisis.


Thursday 20  January 2022

Russia’s Story with Mark Laity

Mark Laity has spent more than two decades advising NATO leaders on communications. He created and led a new division that helps to counter Russian tactics of asymmetric warfare. We get his assessment of Vladimir Putin and the threat to Ukraine.


Thursday 27 January 2022

Connectivity & Globalisation are Driving us Apart with Mark Leonard

Mark Leonard is the director of the influential think tank the European Council on Foreign Relations. His new book, The Age of Unpeace, suggests that an increasingly interconnected world is becoming the source of global tension and instability. While much of the world may have seen huge leaps forward in incomes and longevity, government see vulnerabilities that can be exploited by an adversary. New technologies from quantum computing to machine learning provide a new playground for the contest. The book is perhaps an indication in itself that faith in merits of globalisation is weakening.


Tuesday 4 January 2022

Superpower No More with Dan Williams

Former Washington Post correspondent Dan Williams suggests the United States is no-longer a superpower as both Russia and China pose seemingly insurmountable threats to the East and West.


Thursday 6 January 2022

Migration – The Manufactured Crisis with Andrew Connelly

Journalist Andrew Connelly spends most of his time writing about refugee and migrants around the world. The recurring theme in his stories is migrants make good political capital. Be it in the EU, UK or Turkey and elsewhere, manipulating how refugees are treated has big rewards.


Thursday 13 January 2022

What’s gone wrong with the Balkans? with Alida Vracic

The last Balkan war ended in 2001. But what’s happened since? Bosnia threatens to break up and Serbia is drawing ever closer to Russia. All this when the region was expected to join the EU and put the threat of war behind it. Alida Vracic, a former Sarajevo resident and regional expert, accuses the west of failure.


Tuesday 18 January 2022

Deal Again? Iran & US with Esfandyar Batmanghelidj

US sanctions have crippled Iran’s economy for decades. As the two sides reconsider the nuclear deal, Iran expert Esfandyar Batmanghelidj considers the long-term impact of the economic embargo and looks at what Iran’s divided leadership wants.


Friday 3 December 2021    

Not much COP: Carbon emissions and COP26 with Prof. Pierre Friedlingstein

Pierre Friedlingstein is the chair of mathematical modeling of climate at the University of Exeter. As well as being a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change he has contributed to the Global Carbon Project, a consortium of scientists that collect and analyse greenhouse gas information. They revise and assess the amount of carbon being discharged into the atmosphere and its likely impact on global warming.

Consistent with the pledge by many countries to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, carbon dioxide emissions need to decline by 1.4 billion tonnes each year, on average. This was achieved last year during the pandemic, but has rebounded dramatically since, reflecting the huge changes needed before emissions targets can be met.

Professor Friedlingstein gives us his assessment of countries’ announcements at COP26.


Tuesday 7 December 2021    

Overruled – Fans, Big Finance and Football with Matt Slater

In the second of our series on money in football Matt Slater, one of Britain’s leading sports writers, analyses the changes afoot for football teams large and small following a major review of the money flowing into the game. The basic allegation is that football, fuelled in part by leverage buyout and huge salaries, has got too costly and indebted for its own good and making it more and more costly and remote for ordinary fans. A new UK government report says that “the long term health of football is under threat.” Is a revolution really underway and what does it mean for the billions of people around the world who watch?


Tuesday 14 December 2021  

Climate NIMBYs with Dr. Pippa Bailey, Ipsos MORI

Most of the focus on climate change is on governments and policy. But what about personal attitudes to curbing carbon emissions? Pippa Bailey from Ipsos MORI, one of the world leading polling organisations, looks at personal attitudes to climate change. While people across all generations see global warming as a top concern, they also think they are doing enough to tackle the problem in their own lives. Her discussion looks at some of the myths surrounding public attitudes towards the problem and how they might be changed.


Friday 17 December 2021  

Israel and Palestine – A Moral Problem with Amira Hass

Most of the debate about Israel and Palestine has focused for decades on the peace-process. But as the prospects of a two-state solution seem all but dead a shift is taking place in Israel and elsewhere. The occupation of the West Bank has become a moral problem. Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass asks how can one state occupy another and deny its people basic rights. She explains how some young Israelis are asking the same questions and doing the unthinkable – refusing to do national service in the Israel Defence Force.


Monday 20 December 2021   

East of Warsaw with Fabrice Deprez

Fabrice Deprez is the Ukraine correspondent for La Croix. But he also runs a review of blogs, podcasts and news websites that cover all things east of Warsaw. It gives him an unusual view of the former Soviet bloc – from separatist attitudes in Donbas, protestors in Tajikistan and covid curbs in Kazan. You won’t have heard of most of it – and that’s the point.


Wednesday 22 December 2021   

War Story with Thorne Anderson

Thorne Anderson now teaches journalism at the University of North Texas but for the best part of two decades he a was a photographer in conflict zones that ranged from the Balkans to Iraq and Afghanistan. In a world where covering the action (bang bang) is normally the rule, Thorne and his partner Kael Alford spent much of their time fully immersed with the people they were covering. He talks about their take on photojournalism and conflict zone photography.


Thursday 4 November   

Turkey: Persona Non Grata with Ayla Jean Yackley
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to expel 10 western ambassadors – 7 of them from NATO allies – a new low point in relations with his allies. Erdoğan was furious that they called for the release of a civil society figure from jail. The expulsion of diplomats seems to have been averted. The spat could also be a distraction from an enduring economic crisis says Istanbul based reporter Ayla Jean Yackley.


Friday 12 November   

Eastern Update with Leonid Ragozin

Leonid Ragozin gives us an update on politics east of the Vistula: Vladimir Putin is cashing in on Europe’s gas shortage; Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko is hoping illegal migrants will give him similar leverage; in Georgia former President Mikheil Saakashvili is in jail, and in Ukraine comic turned President Volodymyr Zelensky is trying (again) to curb the power of the oligarchs.


Tuesday 16 November   

Taliban Embed with Nabih Bulos

As the last US forces left Kabul airport an elite unit of Taliban fighters entered accompanied by an unlikely embed; Nabih Bulos, an American-Jordanian journalist and Middle East Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times. Nabih filmed the insurgents, clad in US fatigues and carrying American made assault rifles, as they surveyed abandoned material. The images have now become one of defining moments of the US withdrawal. Nabih joins us to give an overview of the fall of Kabul and a wider view of his patch that stretches from Kabul to Beirut. (Nabih’s other role in life is as a professional violin player and member of the Divan Orchestra!)


Thursday 18 November   

So Bad It’s Biden with Malcolm Brown

After a convincing win against President Trump last year both in voter numbers and the electoral college, Biden is down in the polls – quite considerably. Our US expert, Malcolm Brown gives an assessment of Biden’s time so far, including his enormous spending program that is grinding its way through congress.


Tuesday 23 November  

The Best Catholics in the World with Derek Scally

When Berlin-based correspondent for the Irish Times Derek Scally goes to mass on a visit home to Dublin the once-packed suburban church where he was an altar boy is quiet and ageing – just like its congregants. The dwindling power of the Church in Ireland is undeniable. Sex scandals and an increasingly secular identity have caused many to question religion’s influence, still many are reluctant to probe. Derek speaks to us about Irelands’ changing identity, the role of the Church today, and how people are still grappling with a troubling past.



Wednesday 6 October   

George Blake, Spy & Traitor with Simon Kuper

Most spy biographies are tales of derring-do, caddish behaviour, betrayal and often incompetence. Simon Kuper’s take on George Blake is different. The FT writer met Blake in Moscow in 2011 but promised not publish anything in English until after his death. Blake died in December last year. What follows now is a book that not only looks back on the KGB double agent’s career but is a study of conscience. Blake arguably sent hundreds of Mi6 agents to their deaths for the communist cause only to see the Soviet Union collapse around his ears. He was buried with full state honours last year.


Tuesday 12 October  

Germany After Merkel with Irish Times Correspondent Derek Scally

After 16 years in office Mutti has left office. Derek Scally reviews her legacy and the government that is replacing her CDU led coalition. The German electorate have chosen the Social Democrats. But the big parties have seen their vote share fall, and the Greens and AfD seen their’s rise. How has Germany changed and does Mutti’s departure mark a shift in German politics?


Thursday 14 October   

Flags, Maps, and Mountains with Tim Marshall

Tim Marshall has an ingenious way of explaining how politics and history work. His best-selling books – from Prisoners of Geography, Worth Dying For and Divided – explain how nations and politics have been shaped by their surroundings, symbols and ideas. We look at a flag, a map and a wall (or two) with the former Sky New correspondent and author.


Tuesday 19 October   

Xi’s Brave New World with George Magnus

One of China’s largest construction funds has just defaulted on its debts prompting fears of a possible stock-market crash in China. In reality, says world renown China specialist George Magnus, China’s central bank and government can step in to save the day. But the crisis highlights huge uncertainty over Beijing’s direction. With a weakened economy and an increasingly authoritarian leader at the helm don’t expect China to be the core of growth and stability that it once was.


Tuesday 26 October    

Argentina: Buenos Aires Bust with Bendict Mander

Benedict Mander has spent the last seventeen years reporting for the Financial Times firstly in Venezuela and more recently in Argentina. He gives us an overview of the recurring crises that have plunged many Argentinians into further poverty as well as the unorthodox responses of the Peronist coalition. History seems to have a habit of repeating itself in Buenos Aires. Benedict will also be able to comment on events in Venezuela.


Wednesday 27 October   

Climate Change – The Tipping Point with Prof. Michael Bevis

As the world leaders gather next month in Glasgow for the COP26 summit on global warming, US based scientist Michael Bevis explains the speed at which global warming is taking place. His research shows how quickly the Greenland ice sheet is melting, a change that he says is now irreversible. He points to similar climatic events around the world.


Wednesday 1 September   

Debacle II – The Fall of Afghanistan with Dr Antonio Giustozzi

How the Taliban took Afghanistan: Antonio Giustozzi is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on the Taliban and the author of six books on the group. He explains how the insurgency was able to overcome Afghan government forces and the nature of the US withdrawal from the country. Dr. Giustozzi is a lecturer at Kings College London and a Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.


Wednesday 8 September 

How to Vaccinate the World with UNHCR Katerina Kitidi & Prof. Gabriel Scally

The pandemic is not going to subside until the world is vaccinated. That much seems common sense, but few can agree on how it should be done. As wealthier nations forge ahead with their own programs much of the developing world is being left behind. Katerina Kitidi, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Professor Gabriel John Scally, a former regional director of public health for the south west of England, outline what they think should be done.


Friday 10 September  

Football in Debt with Dan Plumley

English midfielder, Jack Grealish (yes, the one with the flowing locks and hairband) broke the record books earlier this summer with a one-hundred-million-pound transfer deal to Manchester City. Non-football fans (including this writer) might not give a hoot about transfer deals and who’s up and who’s down in which league, but they should care about the money involved, says Dan Plumley. Football is in serious financial crisis with clubs big and small on the verge of bankruptcy – and that affects fans and communities around the world. Dan Plumley is a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University.


Thursday 16 September   

Who Cares about War! with Peter Kellner

Afghanistan stands to damage the reputations of politicians around the world from Joe Biden to Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab (the UK’s Foreign Secretary is blamed for failing to do enough to get former interpreters out of the country). But Peter Kellner says history shows that electorates don’t care too much about failure on the battlefield. Contrary to expectations political leaders have ridden relatively high in the polls, from Suez to Iraq whatever their success or lack of it.


Tuesday 21 September  

Debacle III – The Fall of Afghanistan with David Loyn

What next for Afghanistan? How do Taliban leaders plan to govern the country? And is there risk of renewed civil war? David Loyn is a former BBC foreign correspondent who’s book the Long War looks at US involvement over the past two decades. With the majority of Afghans under the age of 25 he says most will have had no knowledge of Afghan rule and their militant interpretation of sharia law. David looks at the separate factions within the Taliban as well as former government figures and potential opponents as he assesses Afghanistan’s future. David Loyn is a visiting senior fellow in the War Studies Department at King’s College, London.


Tuesday 28 September   

Debacle IV – The Fall of Afghanistan with Lima Halima-Ahmad & Jennifer Murtazashvilli

The World has Betrayed My Country Lima Halima-Ahmad left Afghanistan not long after the Taliban assassinated her sister, an attack she says was meant for her. A former journalist and one time advisor to the Afghan president on women’s affairs, she is now spending her time trying to get family and friends out of the country. The world she says has betrayed her country.  She is joined by Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, the Founding Director of the Center for Governance and Markets and Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.


Tuesday 3 August

Zuma Jailed with Helen Zille & Peter Sullivan

Former South African president Jacob Zuma was jailed in July for contempt of court. But that is the least of his worries. He faces more than 15 counts of corruption, racketeering, fraud and tax evasion. Erstwhile opponent and former head of the Democratic Alliance party, Helen Zille, says it’s a watershed moment for the country as it tries to cut out graft and turn away from tribe based politics. She also has some sympathy for Zuma, penning a recent article in his favour. She is joined by Peter Sullivan, former Editor-in-Chief of South Africa’s largest independent newspaper group, from Johannesburg.


Thursday 5 August   

Cuban Unrest with Dr. Michael Bustamante

Violent street protests are not the norm in Cuba to say the least. Covid restrictions, a dearth of tourists have led to shortages in an already impoverished island. But there’s hope around the corner. Havana has created a vaccine that appears to rival Pfizer and Moderna’s. Our Cuba expert, Michael Bustamante explains all.


Tuesday 10 August   

Beef, Bible and Bullets Brazil and Bolsonaro with Richard Lapper

Former South America editor for the Financial Times, Richard Lapper, has written a brilliant book on Bolsonaro’s rise to power. He’s a climate change denier, covid-sceptic who once urged Brazilians to raise their right hand when singing the national anthem. It’s a chaotic mix but one that goes down well the farmers and evangelical Christians that support him. For them he can do no wrong.


Tuesday 17 August    

Inflation: Back to the Bogeyman with David Smith, Sunday Times Economics Editor

Just over a year ago we asked whether inflation come back to haunt us all. Our guest speaker, Sunday Times Economics Editor David Smith, was skeptical that 1970s style price hikes would rip through our economies. But with the Biden administration unleashing huge spending plans in the US and the pandemic squeezing both production and labour perhaps the genie is out of the bottle. How worried should we be? David sums up the arguments of the hawks and doves.


Tuesday 24 August  

Tigray Province in Ethiopia with Andres Schipani

The Ethiopian province of Tigray has just fought and surprisingly won a conflict with forces from Adis Adiba, stopping at least for now a war that had plunged the region into turmoil. Eritrea too entered the conflict pursuing a scorched earth policy against Tigrayan forces and forcing some areas into famine.  Andres Schipani, East Africa correspondent for the FT, explains how Ethiopia was forced to seek a ceasefire and what happens next.


Wednesday 25 August  

Debacle: The fall of Afghanistan with Professor Lawrence Wilkerson

Lawrence Wilkerson’s last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02). Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army. Professor Wilkerson joins us for an additional Insight discussion.


Thursday 26 August   

Troubling Jordan with Mai Eleimat

Jordan is in a bind. Already overwhelmed by refugees and a moribund economy the kingdom has been hard hit by covid. In April reports suggest there was a coup attempt against King Abdullah. The King’s half-brother Hamzah is now under house arrest and 20 court and government officials jailed. Mai Eleimat is one of Jordan’s best-known economic commentators and a social scientist. She outlines the numerous problems that lie ahead in a shaky political environment.



Wednesday 7 July   

Israel Beyond Bibi with Anshel Pfeffer

Benjamin Netanyahu is out of office after 12 years in power. Economist and Haaretz correspondent Anshel Pfeffer reviews how a motley coalition of parties ousted the wiliest of politicians from power. The new PM, Naftali Bennet is equally outspoken and controversial. Personalities aside this could represent a major shift in Israeli politics.


Tuesday 13 July  

Venezuela & The Dollar with Renata Segura & Yesman Utrera

Nicolas Madura’s grip on power has caused the largest refugee crisis ever seen in the Americas. But there are signs things may be getting better. Most Venezuelans are now trading in dollars bringing new stability to the economy (Lebanon is possibly in the earlier stages of a similar crisis – see next talk). And the government too is showing some signs of compromise. ICG’s deputy director for Latin America, Renata Segura and Venezuelan reporter Yesman Utrera update us.


Friday 16 July   

Out of Cash – Lebanon Update with Leena Saidi & Nicholas Blanford.

Lebanon is undergoing what the World Bank has described as one of the worst economic crises seen globally since the 1850s. The lira has collapsed (down 95%) and the country is fast running out of dollars to pay for crucial imports such as oil, medicine and food. The impact for those who don’t have dollars is devastating. Nicholas Blanford says the causes are well known; a corrupt political class that can’t agree on basic laws while filling its own pockets. But the broader consequences of a collapsing state are worrying many. Leena Saidi also joins us from Beirut.


Tuesday 20 July   

Out of Everything with Professors Mohan Sodhi & William Lazonick

The world’s finely tuned shipping and supply chains have been routed by the pandemic pushing up prices and causing global shortages of all kinds of stocks. But don’t just blame the virus. Professor Mohan Sodhi from the Cass Business School in London and Professor William Lazonick from UMass explain why.


Tuesday 27 July   

Scots Referendum Conundrum with Brian Taylor

Brexit has provided the momentum for another referendum on Scottish independence. Scots voted overwhelming to remain in the EU and now say they have been dragged out against their will. But at the same time Brexit could make a Scots break with the UK more difficult amid fears of a hard border with England. With renewed support in Scotland’s May elections Nicola Sturgeon has made clear she wants another vote within this Scottish parliament. Boris Johnson has said he’ll block it. In reality both sides are fearful they may not have enough to secure victory. Brian Taylor discusses the ins and outs of another poll and reveals new observations gleaned from our recent tour of Scotland. Can Westminster keep saying no to #IndyRef2?


Thursday 29 July   

Coping with Covid with John McCarthy & Dr. Judith Mohring

The psychological effect of repeated lockdowns have taken a toll on us all. A year on from our last discussion with them BBC broadcaster and former hostage John McCarthy and consultant psychiatrist Judith Mohring review the impact of isolation and quarantine and what we can do to tackle it.


Thursday 3 June

Portugal: From Salazar to Success with Paul Ames

Portugal normally conjures up images of beaches and cultural breaks in the sun. It wasn’t always thus. Once the poor man of Europe the country provided cheap labour for the rest of the continent as its economy struggled in the wake of Antonio Salazar’s dictatorship and a crumbling empire. Politico editor and Frommer’s guide author Paul Ames recounts how the country has turned itself around and explains some of the complications of its legacy. He also brings us up to date with Portugal’s battle against Covid-19. Until very recently it was one of the pandemic’s worst affected regions in the EU.


Wednesday 9 June

The Queen with Matthew Dennison

Queen Elizabeth II is undeniably the most popular member of Britain’s Royal Family and most probably its most popular monarch in over a century. Yet the institution she heads is repeatedly plagued by scandal and argument. The core of the latest accusations (lobbed by Meghan and Harry from across the pond) have the echoes of the 1990s when Princess Diana left: that the very qualities for which the Queen is respected – old fashioned emotional reserve and an unwavering sense of duty – appear to be leading to the crown’s demise. Can the monarchy survive beyond her? And does Britain want it? Matthew Dennison, the author of a new best-selling biography of the Queen, gives a very British defense.


Monday 14 June

Beyond Trump? with Bob Paduchik

Now that the dust has settled since the US election, Republican campaign strategist and former co-chair of the Republican National Committee, Bob Paduchik, gives his analysis of the current state of US politics. Why did the Republican’s lose election? Was it just the pandemic? What are the repercussions from the election and the tumultuous events on Capitol Hill. Continued accusations of voter fraud and new voter legislation seems to be one immediate effect. Where do traditional Conservatives, like the likes of Liz Cheney, go now? Bob will be answering these questions and more.

*Please note: this discussion is held under the Chatham House Rule & is a live discussion for Insight Members only. No recording will be available.


Thursday 17 June

Afghan Withdrawal? with Lynne O’Donnell

An operation that was meant to last a few weeks is two decades old; the United States has spent far more time in Afghanistan than in Vietnam. Now as US troops head home and the Taliban are ever present many Afghans are worried what will happen to their country next. Former Kabul AP bureau chief, Lynne O’Donnell speaks about what is at stake as American forces and their allies leave.


Tuesday 22 June

Modi’s Gamble with Rahul Tandon

Until just a few months ago Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could do no wrong. With 80% approval rates his brand of Hindu nationalism made him appear unbeatable. But the pandemic could prove his undoing. At least a quarter of a million are dead (which is widely seen as a gross under-estimate), oxygen is lacking and an under-sourced health system is close to collapse. Despite this the PM and his cabinet have disappeared from public view for weeks at a time. BBC correspondent Rahul Tandon looks at the possible fallout.


Tuesday 29 June

Kagame’s Rwanda with Michela Wrong

President Paul Kagame’s Rwanda is a darling of the west; in power since 2000, he’s brought stability and growth after the horrors of the 1994 genocide. But woe betide anyone who gets in his way. FT correspondent Michela Wrong’s latest book “Do not disturb” traces the killing of opposition figures back to the government in Kigali. She asks why western governments continue to support an administration with such an egregious human rights record.


Tuesday 4 May

Northern Ireland at 100 with Billy Graham & other guests

The UK is one hundred years old this summer, at least in its present form. In June 1921 Britain struck a truce with the Republic, effectively creating Northern Ireland. Billy Graham questions how long the province will continue to exist.  Brexit has in part prompted new unrest that has spilled out onto the streets of Belfast. Billy will also look ahead to our upcoming tour from 20-26 June. Other guests will be announced shortly.


Thursday 6 May

Brexit; So far, so good? with Maddy Thimont Jack & Peter Glanville

Amid all the focus on the pandemic Brexit’s impact on the UK seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. While Boris and co may have “taken back control” some of the costs of Brexit are beginning to emerge – from additional customs checks and other red tape to banks moving their business overseas. Maddy Thimont Jack, who leads the Institute for Government’s Brexit team, provides an overview of Brexit’s impact so far. PT regular Peter Glanville runs an import business in the UK and gives us a brief overview of a small business trading with the EU.


Tuesday 11 May

Scottish Elections with Brian Taylor

The SNP’s is expected to strike a resounding victory on May 6th parliamentary elections in Scotland adding momentum to calls for another Scottish referendum on independence. Brian Taylor, formerly the BBC’s political editor in Scotland and the leader of our upcoming political tour (June 27- July 3) reviews the outcome of the vote and assesses where the nationalists are likely to go from here. Can Westminster keep saying no to #IndyRef2?


Thursday 13 May

The Ratline with Philippe Sands

Phillipe Sands is a barrister and an expert on international human rights law. But it is his books on the holocaust, East West Street and most recently The Ratline that have brought him even greater renown. East West Street won the 2016 Bailie-Gifford Prize for non-fiction. His latest book looks at the life of the Nazi fugitive, Otto Wachter on the run in Italy and aided in part by Vatican connections. Both are gripping reads. Phillipe speaks with us about his latest book and bringing war criminals to justice.


Tuesday 18 May

We need to talk about Putin with Prof. Mark Galeotti

Earlier this month Russia amassed over 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border. Merely sabre rattling or preparation for an invasion of the breakaway Donbass region? Mark Galeotti, one of the world’s best known Russia watchers says President Putin is trying to find his footing with a new White House administration. Does this mean we headed for a more stable period of US-Russia relations?


Wednesday 19 May  

Israel update with Gershon Baskin

By the time this talk takes place Benjamin Netanyahu may be Israel’s Prime Minister once again – and on trial for corruption charges at the same time. He’s clinging on to power with a shaky coalition of right-wing parties and a Palestinian Islamist group; it would be the first government to be created with Arab-Israeli support. If that breaks down Israel faces another election, the fifth in two years. Veteran left-winger and peacenik Gershon Baskin gives his take on Bibi’s future and Israeli politics in general.


Thursday 27 May 

Moneyland: Illicit Finance – Part 2 with Oliver Bullough

Banks, law firms, professional services and our governments are facilitating a system that robs the poorest then recycles it in the centres of global finance. Oliver Bullough’s book Moneyland looks at London in particular and its role in washing the funds of kleptocrats and criminals threatening our democracies in the process. Expect a frank discussion. This session follows on from our previous briefing with Tom Keatinge from the Royal United Services Institute.


Tuesday 6 April

‘British colonialism, antisemitism, and Palestinian rights’ with Prof. Avi Shlaim

Avi Shlaim talks about Israel’s history, his own upbringing, Britain’s role in the Middle East and Palestinian rights. Professor Shlaim’s research has challenged perceived notions about Israel. He argues it has become “an ethnocracy, a political system in which one ethnic group dominates the other.” At the same time, he says, critical discussion of Israeli policy is being closed down in both the UK and US.


Monday 12 April

Carbon Capture with Kim Bye Bruun & Dr. Gabrielle Walker

If the world is to have any success in cutting global carbon emissions it needs to master carbon capture. An experiment is underway on Norway’s North Sea coast that could offer a way out for energy hungry industries; machines that simply filter CO2 from the air. Some environmentalists say it lets industry off the hook. Broadcaster and environmental author, Dr Gabrielle Walker, and Kim Bye Bruun from Norlights, one of the companies behind the Norwegian program, explain the theory behind carbon capture and the controversy surrounding it.


Thursday 15 April

The End of Populism? In discussion with Peter Kellner

From Trump to Brexit there’s no doubt we have been living through unprecedented times where populism and identity politics have reigned. But is this drawing to a close? Peter Kellner, the renown political commentator and founder of the global polling group YouGov says the pandemic is forcing a change. He outlines the choices faced by leaders confined by budget deficits and increased taxation. Voters too may want more stable government. The focus is on Boris Johnson’s Britain but the parallels are there for governments around the world.


Thursday 22 April

Asma al-Assad: Banker, First-Lady, and War Criminal? with Nicolas Pelham

Asma Akhras was once a demure banker from suburban London destined for a stellar career in high-finance. All that changed when she fell in love with a tall ophthalmologist from Damascus. Mrs al-Assad, AKA the First Lady of Syria, became a beacon of reform promising economic change and even human rights. But then the Arab Spring erupted and Syria fell into civil war. A decade later Asma is now accused of war crimes. How did it all come to this? Nicolas Pelham, The Economist’s Middle East Correspondent charts her rise and fall.


Tuesday 27 April

Illicit Finance with Tom Keatinge

Over the past two decades London has become a global center for organized crime groups, oligarchs and kleptocrats bent on undermining democracy. It has become all to easy for them to wash their money here according to Tom Keatinge, Director, Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He says it is time for change and what’s more Washington knows it. Tom outlines the growth of illicit finance and the measures needed to tackle it.


Thursday 29 April

Colombia’s Coca with Joe Parkin Daniels & Tom Laffay

Cocaine is back. After years of success wiping out the growth of cocaine production (it moved to Peru) it is back in Colombia with a vengeance. Spraying coca crops with carcinogenic chemicals is out, and the measures aimed at providing farmers with an alternative have failed. At the same time Colombia’s peace-process that ended the decades long civil war with leftist guerillas appears in tatters. Joe Parkin Daniels, the New York Times and Guardian’s reporter in Colombia, and documentary maker Tom Laffay highlight the dilemmas faced by the government in Bogota as well as ordinary farmers trying to make a living.


Tuesday 2 March

Anti-semitism vs Anti-zionism with Professor Avi Shlaim

Can you be critical of Israel and not be an anti-semite? An argument is raging in British universities and elsewhere as they are being urged to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-semitism. Critics of the definition say it has been designed to curb criticism of Israel. But its defenders say without it anti-semitism will rage on campuses and elsewhere. A discussion with the Oxford based Israeli academic and self-professed anti-zionist Professor Avi Shlaim and other guests (additional speakers tbc).


Tuesday 9 March 

Killing Iraq with Ramita Navai

Iraq’s Shiite militias were credited with routing Isis but now the country is paying a heavy price. Human rights activists, politicians, Sunnis and fellow Shia alike are being picked off in a wave of killings attributed to Iranian backed groups. Can anyone stop them? Film-maker Ramita Navai and Iraqi producer, Mais Al-Baaya, speak about this new reign of terror and the politics behind it. Their latest film Iraq Uncovered airs on BBC and PBS.


Thursday 11 March

Putin Forever with Prof. Vladislav Inozemtsev

Vladimir Putin’s grip on power in Russia seems unshakeable. Why then has he taken such drastic measures against Alexei Navalny and allied opposition groups (let alone attempt to kill him)? Russian academic Vladimir Inozemtsev, a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, outlines why Putin views this latest round of protests differently. We get an update on Russian’s multiple foreign excursions and Russia’s handling of Covid-19. President Putin isn’t going away anytime soon.


Wednesday 3 February

Covid Frontline 2nd wave with Dr. Victoria Whitford

Victoria Whitford returns to Insight to give us an update on her work on the covid ward of a London hospital. Last July she was skeptical that both the government and the NHS would learn the lessons from the first wave of the pandemic. Before training to be a doctor Victoria was a British diplomat and was posted to Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as the UK’s Embassy in Washington. Expect a frank discussion.


Thursday 4 February

What works? with Richard Howard & Nicola Gillen

The office is dead, long live working from home… or not. Ten months into the pandemic many of us are fed up with zoom calls and teams, and countless families and employees are itching for offices to open up again. Others are quite happy to be working at home. Whatever everyone’s feelings there’s no doubt the way we work has changed; Richard Howard and Nicola Gillen from one of the world’s largest commercial property agents, Cushman and Wakefield, discuss the future.


Tuesday 9 February

What next for the G.O.P? with Colonel Larry Wilkerson & Malcolm Brown

Just before the mob stormed the Capitol, Don Trump Junior declared “this isn’t their Republican party anymore, this is Donald Trump’s Republican party.” Out of office Trump remains the most popular and at the same time the most divisive figure in the party and is likely to shape its politics for some time to come. Former Republicans want to create a new party. Trump himself threatens his own breakaway movement. Where next for the G.O.P? With Trump critic Col. Lawrence Wilkerson from the Lincoln Project and a former member of the 2020 Trump campaign (details to follow) as well as Political Tour’s Washington expert, Malcolm Brown.


Thursday 18 February

China’s US foreign policy with Professor Steve Tsang

Will President Biden provide a more stable platform for US relations with China? It’s still not yet clear what the new administration’s approach to China will be. But we can probably say more about how China sees the US. Professor Steve Tsang from the School of Oriental and African Studies outlines the views of the Chinese Communist Party under the increasingly firm grip of Xi Jingping.


Tuesday 23 February

Warfare with Tim Ripley

It’s a cliché that generals prepare to fight the last war. Events over the last decade and even the last year show that modern warfare has undergone a drastic revolution; drones, UAV’s, little green men and the clever use of social media may have rendered conventional weaponry redundant. Author and longtime editor with Jane’s Defence, Tim Ripley, takes us through a myriad of frightening changes. Fittingly his next book is called “Little Green Men”.


Thursday 25 February

The Third Reich is Listening with Christian Jennings

Books and films about the Second-World War are dominated by the tales of derring-do by the Brits and their allies. Far less attention is devoted to the other side of the story. Historian and reporter Christian Jennings’s account of German military intelligence tells a rather different story to that of Bletchley Park, Enigma and the brilliant Alan Turing. German intelligence ran circles around most other services throughout Europe well into the war. A diversion from our usual diet of politics.


Tuesday 5 January

7 Lessons from Pandemics with Iain King

Iain King, is a British diplomat and defence strategist, who has served in the British Embassy in Washington, Libya, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Northern Ireland. He now works at the Royal College of Defense Studies. In May last year while at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington he made 7 predictions based on historic precedent. Militarism declines, beliefs are challenged and governments slammed. That much seems obvious but there are some surprises here also. Eight months later, this Tuesday at 8.00 pm GMT we’ll be asking him how much holds true.


Thursday 7 January

“Mummy est morte” with Christopher de Bellaigue

Christopher de Bellaigue was only 13 and at Eton when he was told his mother was dead.  Nobody dared to mention the word suicide; stiff upper lips were still de rigueur in 1980s England. Many will know Christopher from our tours to Iran or may have read his books on Persia, Turkey and Islam. But over the past year he has turned his mind and his pen back to the events that defined his childhood. We speak to him about that dreaded day and how it has shaped his life and writing ever since.

It is worth reading Christopher’s recent diary in the London Review of Books below and listening to a podcast interview with his aunt, on the BBC ahead of our talk. Please contact us for links to these. Tough stuff but worth tuning in for.


Tuesday 12 January

Throwing it all away with Vivienne Walt

Vivienne Walt is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has written for TIME and Fortune Magazine since 2003. Vivienne and photographer Sebastian Meyer were commended by the Pulitzer Prize committee for their work on recycling. Their article in Fortune shows how the vast majority of US trash is no longer being recycled in the US anymore but shipped 8000 miles to countries such as Malaysia where the majority is thrown away. Even in environmentally conscious Europe just 30 per cent of plastics are being fully recycled. At the same time the plastics industry is pumping more and more into the system. Viv will be speaking about the story.


Tuesday 19 January

Brexit with Prof. Jeremy Jennings

Brexit’s done and dusted and we can all move on. Think again. It’s far from clear what role Britain seeks for itself having left the EU and there is a looming constitutional crisis as Scotland pushes for independence. Northern Ireland too may follow. Professor Jennings, head of Political Theory, Social Science and Public Policy at King’s London is joined by fellow speakers for a discussion on where the UK goes next.


Tuesday 26 January

Nagorno-Karabakh with Daniella Peled, Richard Giragosian & Emin Milli

Armenia and Azerbaijan have tussled over Nagorno-Karabakh since the breakup of the Soviet Union. It was dubbed a frozen conflict but in September Azeri forces seized ground lost decades earlier to the Armenian backed enclave. After many lives lost, mostly Armenian, both sides have agreed to a Russian peace-keeping force. What next and what does the conflict say about the balance of power in the region?


Thursday 28 January

Nation Building – Somalia with Simon Haselock & Yasmin Kemal

For decades Somalia has contended with conflict and political instability. Al Shabab Militants still dominate part of the country and African Union troops support a shaky government. In one of his last acts in office, President Trump recently ordered the withdrawal of US troops from the region despite government pleas for them to remain. Simon Haselock, who leads a team of advisors working with the Somali government, speaks about nation-building in one of the trickiest areas in Africa. For several decades Somalia has been gripped by gripped by conflict, competing militias and more recently an islamist insurgency. Simon and colleague Yasmin Kamel outline their work.


Thursday 3 December

Jihadi Brides with Åsne Seierstad

Åsne Seierstad is an award-winning Norwegian journalist and writer known for her work as a war correspondent. She is the author of The Bookseller of Kabul, One Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal, and Angel of Grozny: Inside Chechnya. Her books One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway and Two Sisters: A Father, His Daughters, and Their Journey Into the Syrian Jihad focus her attention on her native land. We discuss the story of two Norwegian teenagers flight to join Isis in Syria and other work.


Thursday 10 December

A Retrospective: Ethiopia with Éric Lafforgue

Éric Lafforgue is a professional photographer who travels for well-known magazines, documenting people in situations that most of the world doesn’t get to see or want to witness. He’s taken photos in areas that many would consider off-limits to travel, such as Somalia and North Korea, where he documents his subjects with a friendly intimacy that challenges our preconceptions about their culture and their lives. His photos from around the world capture unscripted moments.  We look at his work in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia.


Tuesday 15 December

US Foreign Policy & Palestine with Tareq Baconi, International Crisis Group

Donald Trump’s White House did more than any previous US administration to back Israeli expansion in the West Bank – to the extent that many observers say the two-state solution is now dead. Will a Biden administration make any difference?


Thursday 17 December

Who runs Iran? with Kelly Golnoush Niknejad, The Tehran Bureau

Media coverage of Iran tends to leap from one crisis to the next obscuring what is a highly complex and diverse society. The Tehran Bureau, an independent research group based in Paris provides complex and in-depth news stories on the country. In this interview we ask who runs Iran beyond the mullahs. Kelly Niknejad and her team outline the key groups and families and officials that dominate Iran’s economy.


Monday 28 December

Brexit – The Final Gambit with Alex Pigman, Agence France Presse, Brussels & David Gavaghan, Northern Ireland

On January 1st the UK will finally leave the EU’s single market – and if no deal is in place some very long queues are likely to build up to Britain’s ports. Alex Pigman has been following UK-EU negotiations from the outset and takes a broader look at relations between the two sides and where they are likely to go from here. David Gavaghan, one of Northern Ireland’s best known businessman, gives us an Irish perspective from Belfast.


Wednesday 4 November

US Election Results with Professor John Green, University of Akron Ohio

Less than 24 hours after the polls close we take a look results. The ballot count won’t have finished but a winner may already be clear. Renown political expert John Green (who spoke to PT in Ohio in 2012 & 2016) will be on hand to interpret the results. Professor Thomas Baldino joins later in the program from Pennsylvania, 2020’s key swing state.


Tuesday 10 November

Middle East Democracy with Sarah Leah Whitson

Before his death at the hands of the Saudi Embassy in Turkey Jamal Kashoggi established an NGO with the aim of bringing democracy to the Middle East. We speak with Sarah Leah Whitson executive director of the Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) about Kashoggi’s legacy and the NGOs novel attempts to hold regimes like Saudia Arabia to account.


Wednesday 11 November

Taiwan & China   with Professor Steve Tsang & Oriana Skylar Mastro

Under Donald Trump relations between the US and China reached new lows. But could they get worse? We look at the expansion of Chinese military power and possibility of a conflict over Taiwan.


Tuesday 17 November  

Tibet – Eat the Buddha with Barbara Demick

Former LA Times Beijing bureau chief’s latest book tells the story of Tibet and its demise. It’s been widely praised by newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic and follows her previous best seller Nothing to Envy, an account of the lives in a North Korean town. She’ll be speaking about the book and China today.


Tuesday 24 November

Peace In Bosnia? With FT Correspondent Valerie Hopkins & Louie Sell

It’s 25 years to the month since the Dayton Peace agreement was signed ending the war in Bosnia. Despite all that time the country remain bitterly divided. Worse still Serbian nationalism the force that tore the country apart is on the rise. Louie Sell and Valerie Hopkins are joined by speakers from the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.


Friday 27 November

Trump’s 73 Million with Professor Thomas Baldino & Doug Preisse

Doug Preisse, a Republican strategist closely associated with former Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Professor Thomas Baldino, former head of politics at Wilkes University Pennsylvania join us for an extra briefing. Despite four chaotic years in power and a pandemic Trump was able to get swathes of new voters out to back him. Our guests will be looking at the future of the Republican Party and populist politics in America.


Monday 30 November

Ukraine – Murder, Corruption & The Courts with Leonid Ragozin & Guests

In 2016 the independent journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in a car bomb in Kiev. Three men accused of his murder are now on trial but critics say it’s a sham. At the same time Ukraine’s reformist president is controversially seeking to dismiss the supreme court for throwing out anti-corruption measures. A mighty battle is underway and it’s not in Donbass.


Thursday 1 October 

Turkish Conundrum with Ayla Jean Yackley – FT Istanbul

Ever since the 2016 coup against leader Recep Tayep Erdoan, Turkey has taken an ever more assertive stance intervening in Syria, Libya, and most recently Armenia over Ngorno Karabakh. At home he has sidelined the opposition, imprisoned 1000s and clamped down even further on the press. Is it just Erdogan flexing his muscles? There’s more to it than that says Ayla Jean Yackley, an Istanbul based correspondent for the FT and others.


Monday 12 October

Election 2020 Preview with Dante Chinni, Dave Swenson & Malcolm Brown.

Biden leads the polls by an average of 8-10 points nationally but it’s the state polls that matter most. NBC and the Wall Street Journal’s Dante Chinni plus our reporter Malcolm Brown on the ground and academic Dave Swenson gives us a preview of our US election series and highlight the key groups and states to watch in the run up to polling day.


Tuesday 13 October

Confined Design with Freya Simms

Lockdown has undoubtedly changed the way we live – and many of us are now devoting more time to our own immediate surroundings. In a break from our diet of politics and global affairs we’ve asked Freya Simms the director of LAPADA, the UK’s elite association of antique dealers, and a leading designer to take a look at how people are changing their homes. What’s in, what’s out and what you can do if you are “rejigging” your home. This should be a lively a fun diversion from our normal discussions.


Wednesday 14 October

Wisconsin – The Swing State with a leading Republican Strategist

Wisconsin had been reliably Democratic until 2016 when Donald Trump upset predictions and took it. Trump seems to be doing well still among the state’s predominantly white voters- but the margins here are wafer thin. It’s also been consumed by the black lives matter debate after the killing of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, in the South East of the state. We are joined by a leading Republican strategist and other guests.


Monday 19 October

Florida – The Swing State with Ryan Tyson & David Rancourt

There are a few scenarios in which either candidate can lose Florida and then win the White House. Former Florida Secretary of State and political strategist, David Rancourt, and renown pollster, Ryan Tyson, take us through the different voting blocs in the state and how they could vote. It’s neck and neck.


Tuesday 20 October

Why the Germans do it Better  – with John Kampfner

From dealing with its own past, to tackling the coronavirus let alone it’s industrial prowess, Germany just does it better, argues John Kampfner, former New Statesman editor in his recently released book. The question is why? He also goes onto say Britain could learn a lesson or two. Expect a lively debate.

6am PDT (San Francisco), 9am EDT (New York), 2pm BST (London), 12pm AEDT (Sydney), 2am NZDT (Wellington +1)


Tuesday 27 October

Hungary Update – The Soros Conspiracy with Gerald Knaus

We also catch up with Gerald Knaus again whom we talked to in April, to look at Hungary’s media campaign against him. We’ll talk about immigration and anti-Soros conspiracy theories. Viktor Orban has made criticism of Mr Soros and the EU the core of his political message. Gerald has been compared with Soros recently in Hungarian press.

1pm PDT (San Francisco), 4pm EDT (New York), 8pm GMT (London), 9pm CET (Berlin), 7am AEDT (Sydney +1), 9am NZDT (Wellington +1) 


Tuesday 1 September

Lukashenko’s Fix – with Leonid Ragozin & Igor Kuley

Alexander Lukashenko has managed to remain in power for 26 years almost unchallenged. Now it looks as though he’s in trouble. Will Putin come to his rescue? Former BBC Russia correspondent Leonid Ragozin with guests from Minsk.


Thursday 3 September

Pakistan Power Struggle – with Owen Bennett-Jones

The Bhutto family have been at the center of power in Pakistani politics for over a century. Former BBC correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones is releasing a book later this month on the family’s trials and tribulations, culminating in the tragic death of Benazir in 2007. It’s a story of murder, intrigue, and bitter family rivalries. Interview with Owen Bennett-Jones.


Monday 7 September

US Election 2020 – The Conspiracy  – with Michael Isikoff

Michael Isikoff, one of America’s best known investigative reporters joins us to talk about how conspiracy theories are being used to affect the election. Michael’s last book Russian Roulette, looked at Russian interference in the 2016 election. He looks at the use of such stories in social media including Qanon followers who believe a group of satanic worshiping celebrities and businessmen are conspiring to get President Trump out of the White House. What impact are these groups having on the election this time around.


Friday 18 September

Peace in the Balkans? Kosovo & Serbia – with Jeta Xharra & Sonja Biserko

It’s almost twenty years since the end of the last Balkan war (Macedonia 2001) but the prospect of long-term peace in the region is on hold. Serbia is flirting with Russia, and EU membership for the region, the glue that is meant to prevent another conflict is a long way off. Where’s it all going? Interview with two leading commentators in Kosovo and Serbia give their views.


Tuesday 22 September

Covid & The Rules of Contagion with Adam Kucharski

Adam Kucharski spoke to our group at our Experts Weekend in London in March. He’s widely regarded as one of the best epidemiologists of his generation and his book, The Rules of Contagion, has become a global best-seller. He speaks about what we’ve learned about the virus so far and what is still to come.


Thursday 24 September

Across the Jordan – with former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher

Already inundated with over a million Syrian refugees, Jordan is having a terrible year with covid19 and the fallout from Israel’s moves to seize parts of the West Bank. What are its options? We hear from Marwan Muasher formerly the Jordanian foreign minister and deputy prime minister.


Tuesday 4 August

The Hidden Holocaust  with Efraim Zuroff

Famed Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff’s latest book is on the holocaust in the Baltics. The book, entitled Our People was co-written with Lithuanian author Rūta Vanagaitė who discovered that her relatives had played a role in the murder of Jews. Efraim’s maternal grandparents were born in Lithuania and the great-uncle he was named after were killed in Vilnius. Together the pair uncover the terrible history of the Lithuania’s holocaust and try to convince local authorities to tell the truth amid considerable opposition.


Thursday 6 August

Election 2020 – How Trump Lost the Mid-West with Prof. David Dulio & Prof. Dave Swenson

In 2016 Trump came from behind to surprise the Democrats in states like Michigan. The so called Reagan Democrats, white working class voters turned out in droves to support him, but now it looks like he is loosing their support fast. Political experts David Dulio (Professor of Economics and Politics at Rochester University Michigan) and David Swenson (Professor of Political Economy at Iowa State University) look at what’s happening and argue that the President is fighting a losing battle in an area that once seemed his for the taking.


Tuesday 11 August

‘Ndrangheta – Italy’s Mafia with Tobias Jones & Zora Hauser

While Sicily’s Cosa Nostra continue to be highly influential, the country’s biggest organised crime group is actually based elsewhere; Calabria. Known as the ‘Ndrangheta they have surpassed the Mafia as one the most powerful criminal groups in the world. Zora Hauser is an Oxford based researcher specialising in Italian organised crime. Tobias Jones is a British writer based in Parma and author of the best seller The Dark Heart of Italy as well as Ultra: The Underworld of Italian Football (winner of The Daily Telegraph Football book of the year). Both will be leading our Southern Italy tour, 3-11 October 2020.


Thursday 20 August

Can Boris Bounce Back? with Stephen Castle

Boris Johnson was once the Teflon Don of UK politics on whom no mud could stick. But he has had a torrid time during the pandemic not least ending up critically ill with the disease himself.  Britain’s Covid19 death toll is among the worst in the world and the Prime Minister has been widely criticised for his handling of the crisis.  Can he put it all behind him and keep his ambitious plans intact?  Two leading UK journalists Stephen Castle from the New York Times and TBC assess his performance.


Tuesday 25 August

US Election 2020 – The Southern Problem with Jeff Smith & Simon Romero

The Lone Star State, long a bastion of conservative Republicans, could vote for Biden in 2020. With 38 electoral college votes at stake Trump would have little chance of staying in the White House if he loses it. How has it come to this?  Jeff Smith from the Center for Public Integrity in Washington and other experts discuss.


Thursday 27 August

Human Rights Frontline with Peter Bouckaert

How do you improve human rights in the middle of a conflict zone? Peter Bouckaert was director of the Human Rights Watch’s emergency’s team for over a decade working in areas as diverse as the Sri Lanka and Syria. He talks about his experiences.





Tuesday 30 June


Model Iceland

We hear from Iceland’s most controversial entrepreneur and genetics expert Kari Stefansson and award winning journalist and bestseller author Thordur Julliusson on how Iceland beat Covid19. Are there lessons for the rest of the world?


Friday 3 July

Iran and Exile

Kasra Naji is editor of the BBC’s Persian service and is regarded as one of the foremost commentators on Iran. Naji was forced into exile for his reporting and  is the author of a biography of Mahmoud Ahmedinajad. He speaks about Iran today and his own personal story.


Thursday 9 July

 Venezuela – Sanctioned Pandemic with Joe Parkin Daniels & Patricia Torres

Venezuela has superseded Cuba as the pariah state of the Americas. The White House has ramped up sanctions but there’s little sign of the Maduro government going soon. Will Covid-19 change that? The New York Times and The Guardian correspondents discuss.


Tuesday 14 July  

Japanese Demographics with Tom Feiling

 Japanese lifestyles – single living and small households – may be helping to slow the growth of Covid-19, but in the long-term Japan’s population is collapsing. Villages in some parts of Japan are literally dying out. Award winning author Tom Feiling looks at the long-term impact on the world’s 3rd largest economy. 


Friday 17 July

Covid Frontline with Dr. Victoria Whitford

Victoria Whitford was one of the UK’s most promising diplomats serving in conflict zones such as Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as the US Embassy in Washington. She then gave up her career to become a doctor. For the last three month she’s faced a new battle on the wards of a London hospital; Covid-19. This is her account of fighting the virus.


Tuesday 21 July

Egyptian Clampdown with Timothy Kaldas

The Eygpt’s government has taken a firm stance against the media when it comes to reporting on the pandemic with some reporters jailed and others expelled from the country. We can an update on the country with Timothy Kaldas, non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.


Thursday 23 July

Disunited Kingdom? with Magnus Llewellin, Editor of The Times in Scotland

 The UK’s four home nations have all had differing approaches to the pandemic. Boris Johnson pushed for a more liberal approach, while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been more cautious. Magnus Llewellin, the editor of Scottish edition of The Times, argues that the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the differences between the four nations, and is a taste of things to come.  There is, however, a different case to be made, one in which devolved power goes hand-in-hand with co-operation in a united and C21st kingdom.


Tuesday 28 July

Thomas Dworzak: A Retrospective

As President of MAGNUM, Thomas Dworzak is one of the world’s leading photographers. He started taking photos aged just 16 in Northern Ireland and has covered some of the world’s major conflicts. He now lives in Paris. He gives us a retrospective of his work.


Thursday 25 June

Russia, Covid19 & The Autocrat’s Dilemma

The pandemic has been a gift to most autocrats seeking more power but things don’t seem to have gone that well for Vladimir Putin. He’s tried to keep his distance from the handling of the crisis but it may well have damaged his image among ordinary Russians. Former BBC Russian service editor, Konstantin Von Eggert, and Political Tours expert Leonid Ragozin discuss.


Tuesday 23 June

Saudi Uncertainty       

For decades Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth and conservative ruling family have ensured a stable ally for the west in the Arabian Peninsula. But a ruthless heir apparent and tumbling oil prices compounded by a looming fiscal crisis and regional instability raise huge questions about the Kingdom’s future. We are joined by the Britain’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir William Patey and Neil Quilliam an associate fellow of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa program.


Thursday 18 June

Living in Isolation   

With many countries gradually moving out of quarantine BBC broadcaster and former Lebanese hostage John McCarthy is joined by consultant psychiatrist Judith Mohring to look at what impact isolation and quarantine have had on us all and how we should cope.


Tuesday 16 June

Black Lives Matter 

What can we learn from George Floyd’s death and the wave of protests that followed it? Professor Thomas Holt is one of the most respected historians of race relations in the United States. While the civil rights movement has seen African-Americans make some significant advances since the 1960s it has not been matched by economic progress. Professor Holt gives an overview of how race relations have evolved in the US over the past 40 years.


Thursday 11 June

North Korea’s Economy   

In our third in a series of discussions on the DPRK Professor Ruediger Frank separates truth from fiction in North Korea’s economy. How do ordinary North Koreans get by? How is the economy affected by sanctions? And where does this leave Kim Jung-Un’s ambitions for the country.


Tuesday 9 June

Mandela’s Legacy

ANC leader Nelson Mandela is credited with bringing about a peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa but what of his legacy? South Africa is scarred by enormous social and racial differences and many critics suggest the ANC has squandered the two decades to bring about economic change. Former editor of The Star newspaper, Peter Sullivan and Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill assess.



Thursday 4 June

Reporting Covid19 in the UK

Reporting on the coronavirus has been a difficult task according Andrew Testa, a renown freelance photographer with The New York Times. He talks about the challenges of telling the story that has taken at least 40,000 lives and possibly over 60,000.


28 May 2020

A New Cuban Crisis – The US Embargo & Covid19

Already before the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, Cuba’s economy was struggling. After a decade of halting economic reform, GDP growth remained sclerotic, and the re-intensification of U.S. sanctions under Donald Trump was intensifying existing difficulties. Now Covid-19 has forced Cuba to shut its borders to international tourism, and hard currency reserves needed for importing foodstuffs are depleted. Beyond the public health crisis—which Cuba has responded to with considerable success compared to regional peers—what is in store for Cuba’s future? Is the island on the doorstep of an economic crisis that rivals the severe depression experienced after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s?

Michael J. Bustamante, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at Florida International University in Miami. He is co-editor of The Revolution from Within: Cuba, 1959-1980, published by Duke University Press in 2019. His commentary on contemporary Cuban affairs has appeared in Foreign Affairs and The Washington Post among other publications.



26 May 2020

You’ve Been Trumped

Documentary maker Anthony Baxter came to fame with his film on Donald Trump’s Scottish golf-course. Trump then tried to sue the BBC and prevent the film being broadcast helping the film become a major success. His most recent film is called FLINT. Made over 5 years it examiens the water pollution crisis in Flint, Michigan. In conversation with Nicholas Wood.



May 21

Annexing Palestine – Netanyahu’s Push to Seize the West Bank

Israel has a new government all the while its Prime Minister is simultaneously trying to avoid jail and annex part of the West Bank. It seems the famed-two state solution is well and truly dead. Discussion with Dahlia Scheindlin and Sam Bahour.



May 14

Fleeing North Korea:  A conversation with a defector 

Eunhee Park escaped North Korea at only 18. She’s part of a new generation of defectors who have fled the north surviving on their wits and surprisingly a spirit of enterprise. In conversation with Nicholas Wood and Eunkoo Lee and Casey Lafargue from Teach North Korean Refugees.

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May 12

The Inflation Bogeyman  

David Smith, The Sunday Times Economics Editor and Luka Gakic, an investment director with Ruffer discuss the risks of the Covid19 bailouts. Central banks and governments are spending money in a way never seen before but what will the long term impact of this be. There are some who fear it will unleash massive inflation. Others are turning that economic theory on its head.



Catch 22 – Lockdown in South Africa

How do you tackle Covid19 in places where social distancing and good hygiene are near impossible? We’re joined by Thulani Madondo who runs Soweto based charity the Kliptown Youth Program, John Matisonn, author of a new biography on South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Dr. Paul Davis, who has just retired as Chairman of Aurum, South Africa’s foremost independent health charity. South Africa was quick to impose restrictions and has kept the virus in check so far but at what cost?

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April 30, 2020 1.00 PM BST 


Just How Bad Can It Get? The Global Economic Meltdown & Covid19

How much damage is being done to the global economy and what are the possible political and economic outcomes?

Prof. Jeremy Jennings from King’s College London and Tom Elliott, former market strategist with JP Morgan Asset Management  assess the damage being done to the global economy. Both suggest that this is likely to be the most significant political and economic crisis of our lifetimes. They’ll also ask how quickly we will recover.  There’s an alphabet soup of answers. Will it be a U, W or even worse a “long slow reverse J”?


Tom Elliott helps clients understand the economic and political influences that drive capital markets, which in turn drive investor returns. Tom, formerly an Executive Director at JP Morgan Asset Management, has 25 years experience in the financial sector. He is currently a visiting lecturer in the department of political economy at King’s College, London.

Professors Jeremy Jennings is Head of the School of Politics & Economics at Kings College London. Previously he served as Head of Department in Birmingham and at Queen Mary, was Vincent Wright Professor at the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques in Paris in 2006 and was also a visiting fellow at the University of Columbia Research Centre in Paris. Jeremy holds a visiting professorship with the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques.



April 28, 2020 12.00 PM BST

Art vs Propaganda; Culture in North Korea with Nick Bonner

Few outsiders know North Korea as well as Nick Bonner. As the founder of North Korean travel specialists Koryo Tours he has an unparalleled range of contacts in the hermit-like state. He also owns one of the best North Korean art collections outside of the DPRK and has worked with artists and cinematographers there for many years. It’s enabled him to build up a rich and nuanced understanding of the most authoritarian state on earth.




April 24, 2020, 11.00 a.m. BST

Power Grab; Freedom in Hungary & Covid19


Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. In Hungary Prime Minister Victor Orban now has the power to rule by decree and anyone who spreads “false rumours” can face jail time of up to 5 years. The new law has caused an outcry from civil liberties advocates who say it may have a lasting impact. Elsewhere governments around the world are introducing steps that would in normal times provoke a public outcry.

Nick Thorpe, BBC Central Europe Correspondent, based in Budapest. He outlines Victor Orban’s latest steps and describes how Hungary’s nationalist Fidesz party is hoping reshape the EU its own image.

Gerald Knaus, Founder of the European Stability Initiative, one of the most influential think tanks in the EU at the moment. The ESI says the EU needs to find a way to stop countries like Hungary undermining democracy. Its latest paper argues European financial aid for the economy after the pandemic should have strings attached.

Boris Kalnoky, Budapest based correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt who has covered central and south eastern Europe since the 1980s. He believes the criticisms made of Hungary and other states are overblown. It’s time for the preaching from Brussels and elsewhere to stop.




April 16, 2020, 8:00 PM BST

Lebanon: Debt, Revolution & Covid19

Lebanon based reporters Leena Saidi and Nicholas Blanford discussed the impact of Covid19 on a state already struggling to cope with significant problems. Before the onset of the pandemic the government in Beirut had just defaulted on part of its colosal national debt. Nationwide street protests brought the previous government to its knees. And on top of that it is home to at least 1.5 million Syrian refugees. How do measures like quarantine work in these conditions? Is there an alternative approach?



April 9, 2020, 9:00 PM BST

Tobias Jones on Italy: Life under lockdown, Life after Covid19

Author and Parma based reporter, Tobias Jones, discusses the impact of Covid19 on Italian society and looks at the implications for the country beyond the pandemic. Like much of Europe, Italy looks set to go into a deep recession. There is much anger at the EU for what many Italians see as the block’s failure to help them in their hour of need.

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April 2, 2020 3:00PM BST

From 1918 to 2020; the US response to the Flu Pandemic.

It now seems clear that the United States is set to become one of the hardest hit countries by the coronavirus despite the advanced warning it has had from China and Europe. Similarly 102 years ago the US was hit by a similar crisis. While the world has obviously changed enormously, not least in terms of medicine and technology we are interested to know what parallels there are here, and our focus here is how government at the state and federal levels have reacted.

Nancy Bristow is Professor of History at Puget Sound University and Author of American Pandemic: The lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epedemic.

David Swenson, Professor of Economics at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. We look at the emerging economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the US.

R Jeffrey Smith, Pullitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, formerly with The Washington Post and now National Security Editor at the Center for Public Integrity, Washington DC. Jeffrey will look at the divisions between state and federal government.

Discussion followed by q&a.