Politics, As Usual

Despite wide-spread scepticism about politics and politicians, in every country around the world there are many representatives and officials driven by purpose and principle. Their stories are rarely heard, but talking to such individuals about making change happen and how politics actually works in practice is invariably interesting, insightful, and enlightening.

The purpose of this podcast is to capture some of those stories from people working in and around politics, in some very different contexts, about what motivates them, why politics matters and what we might learn about the process of change.

Politics, As Usual is a Global Partners Governance podcast. The book ‘Politics, As Usual’ by Greg Power, will be published later this year.

Music: ‘Ikeja Roads’ by Tony Allen

Don’t forget to share and follow! If you have any questions for the podcast please email hello@gpgovernance.net.

Episode 15: Saber Chowdury


Saber Chowdhury is a Bangladeshi politician and former President of the Inter Parliamentary Union. The conversation between Greg and Saber was recorded at the UN, New York in February 2020. This discussion details Saber’s utterly fascinating journey into politics and the changes he was a part of over the course of his career.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 38:43

Episode 14: Parliaments and Populism


We have something different for you this week on Politics, As Usual. The rise of populism has reshaped politics in countries around the world in recent years. Although criticism of parliaments is not new, populist movements pose particular challenges. Appealing directly to citizens, populists have called into question the fundamental role and responsibilities of established political institutions. Recorded live at an event organised by GPG in November, we hear from Maria Ionova, Professor Roger Eatwell, Sarah Ludford and Stephen Cohen.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 1:06:53

Episode 13: Alistair Burt


Alistair Burt is a British politician and former Foreign Office Minister who served as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Bedfordshire from 2001 until 2019 having previously served as MP for his native Bury North in Greater Manchester from 1983 until 1997. Alistair was one of the 20 people to have the Conservative whip removed in the Autumn of 2019 because of his views on Europe and a no deal Brexit. Despite having the whip restored a month later he decided he wouldn’t stand in the December 2019 election. This is a fascinating interview and we hope you enjoy it.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 1:06:51

Episode 12: Stephen Twigg


This week’s episode features former MP and Government Minister Stephen Twigg. In a wide-ranging interview Stephen tells us about how he first became politically engaged, the role being gay played in defining his political beliefs, the famous election in 1997 in which he beat Michael Portillo right up to his decision to resign at the 2019 General Election.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 1:09:40

Episode 11: John Alderdice


Lord John Alderdice was the first Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly between 1998-2004. A pivotal figure in the search for peace in Northern Ireland during the 1990’s, he served as Leader of the Alliance Party and in that role did much to encourage talks with Sinn Féin when many were still resisting. In this episode Greg and John talk at length not only about what it was like being inside the politics of Northern Ireland during that period, but what it was like growing up during the 1970’s & 80’s when the violence was at its worst.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 1:00:08

Episode 10: Gordana Čomić


Gordana Čomić  is a politician in Serbia. She has served in the National Assembly of Serbia since 2001 as a member of the Democratic Party and is currently a deputy speaker of the assembly. Čomić was also a member of the Assembly of Vojvodina from 1996 to 2004.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 1:09:48

Episode 9: Ala Talabani


Ala Talabani is the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan bloc in the Iraqi Parliament and a three-time member of the Council of Representatives of Iraq. This interview, recorded over a year ago, focuses mainly on Ala’s journey into politics as well giving us a fascinating insight into the recent political history of Iraq.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 55:02

Episode 8: Baroness Valerie Amos


Valerie Amos has had an extremely interesting and diverse political career. Working in local councils, becoming Chief Executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission and being made a life peer in 1997, becoming the Leader of the House of Lords in 2003. In this episode Valerie talks about her journey from moving to the south of London from Guyana at the age of 9 to becoming interested in politics to where she is now as Director of SOAS.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 49:42

Episode 7: Helen Clark


Helen Clark served as the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008, and was the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme from 2009 to 2017. She was New Zealand’s fifth-longest-serving prime minister, and only the second woman to hold that office. In this chat with Greg we learn about how she first got into politics, her early life growing up on a rural farm and how these early experiences influenced her career in later life. This episode is brought to you with the help of Club de Madrid, an independent non-profit organisation created to promote democracy and change in the international community. Composed of 95 regular members, 64 of whom are former presidents and 39 of whom are former prime ministers (some are both) from 65 countries, the Club de Madrid is the world’s largest forum of former heads of state and government. For more information on them visit www.clubmadrid.org

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 30:36

Episode 6: London Recruits (Live)


In the late 1960’s a man named Ronnie Kasrils recruited a number of young people from the UK to travel to conduct covert missions in Apartheid South Africa. Posing as tourists, they smuggled in banned literature and pamphlets, distributing them in public places to deliver the message that the African National Congress was alive and well. The stories of those recruited will be featured in the forthcoming documentary ‘London Recruits’. Recorded at a live event in April in 2017, Greg interviews three of the recruits (Ron Bell, Tom Bell & Mary Chamberlain) on the experience of going “undercover” in South Africa, how they were recruited in the first place and how they went about distributing the ANC’s message. To find out more about the upcoming film and to watch the trailer, visit www.londonrecruits.com. The book behind the film – ‘London Recruits: Secret war against Apartheid‘ – is available to buy online and in stores.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 32:18

Episode 5: Andrew Feinstein


Andrew Feinstein is a former member of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa where he served as a member of the South African Parliament’s lower house from 1997 until he resigned in 2001 because of the ANC’s refusal to launch an investigation into the South African Arms Deal. Andrew Feinstein now chairs the Aids charity Friends of the Treatment Action Campaign, is a director of the anti-corruption organisation Corruption Watch and is the author of books ‘After the Party: Corruption and the ANC’ and ‘The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade’, the latter has been turned into a documentary, winner of the Best Documentary Feature Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016. In this episode Greg and Andrew chat about the arms trade, his career in politics, his work in anti-corruption and Greg finally gets to the bottom of the pronunciation of Andrew’s surname.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 57:07

Episode 4: David Halpern


David Halpern is a psychologist, an author and the Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT). BIT, also known unofficially as the “Nudge Unit”, was set up to apply behavioural economics and psychology (nudge theory) to try and improve government policy and services as well as to save the UK government money. In this episode David tells Greg about how he became a part of the Behavioural Insights Team and gives a fascinating insight into how they work, their unique approach to policy making and how the approach has evolved over the last 10 years.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 50:58

Episode 3: Jacqui Smith


Jacqui Smith is a former Labour Party politician who served as MP between 1997 – 2010. She was the first female Home Secretary and the third woman to hold one of the Great Offices of State. As well as working with Global Partners Governance on their project working with Parliament and political parties in Jordan, she is now Chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, a consultant, trainer, coach and broadcaster. In this episode Greg talks to Jacqui about how she began her career in politics after 11 years of teaching, how to be an effective minister and life after government.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 56:52

Episode 2: Thomas Carothers


Thomas Carothers is Vice President for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an author and one of the most noted experts on international democracy support, democratisation and U.S. foreign policy. In this episode of Politics, As Usual, Greg finds out how Tom Carothers became “Tom Carothers”.

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 45:59

Episode 1: Peter Hain


Peter Hain is a Labour Party politician who served as a Member of Parliament from 1991-2015. He served in the cabinets of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and now finds himself as a Member of the House of Lords. In this episode of Politics, As Usual, Greg talks to Peter about his start in politics, his role in the anti-Apartheid movement, his current work on reforming the House of Lords as well as how he dealt with receiving a letter bomb!

Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 01:01:41