The Bunker

40 Episodes

By: Podmasters

News and politics unlocked, from the producers of Oh God, What Now? The Bunker is fearless, independent politics talk for Britain and beyond. Seven days a week we examine the big issues with humour and expertise, cutting through the claptrap to make sense of what’s really going on. Every day we release explainers, penetrating interviews, fresh perspective and under-reported stories to rescue you from everyday Punch & Judy news coverage. It's the only way to start the day… Our regulars include: Alex Andreou • Gavin Esler • Miatta Fahnbulleh • Andrew Harrison • Ayesha Hazarika • Marie le Conte • Yasmeen Serhan • Ahir Shah • Naomi Smith • Arthur Snell • Siân Patte...

Bunker USA – Donald Trump is going down (in history)
Today at 3:00 AM

Trump has been indicted and his arrest looms – what the hell is going on? Will this be his downfall or a boost to the former president? Brian Klaas, Washington Post columnist and associate professor at UCL, joins Alex Andreou to discuss what we know now, the fallout and how this all might play out. 

“There’s a viewpoint that Trump has stoked that any sort of criminal investigation involving him is automatically a witchhunt.”  “The only question that matters to Republicans is, ‘Do you think this is a crime?’” “I expect more indictments will arrive – because people had put the breaks on them...

Great Danes: How does Denmark quash corruption?
Yesterday at 3:00 AM

Denmark is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. Gert Tinggard Svendsen of Aarhus University explains how Danes routinely hold each other to account for their actions so that political corruption is not tolerated. Wrongdoers find themselves outcast from Danish society, which acts as a powerful incentive to do the right thing. With Ros Taylor.

“If you lie in Denmark, your reputation will be severely damaged. There’s no way back. You really have to do something extraordinary to compensate.” “There’s a saying, if two Danes meet they shake hands, if three Danes meet they form an as...

The Knackered Lunch: Henry Dimbleby on fixing the Govt’s food fiasco
Last Thursday at 3:00 AM

Did Henry Dimbleby really quit his role as the Government’s food policy advisor “in disgust”? Why have its attempts to create a healthier nation through our diet proved such a failure? And what should they be doing instead? Ros Taylor talks to the founder of LEON and the author of Ravenous: How To Get Ourselves And Our Planet Into Shape about the salad shortage, changing Britain’s food culture, the dark side of Bake Off… and why we still depend on celebrity intervention to get kids eating decent school dinners. 

“Politicians are out of step with the...

That Show Isn’t Funny Anymore: Why GB News is no joke
Last Wednesday at 3:00 AM

GB News launched with much fanfare two years ago and was swiftly mocked for the seeming ineptitude of its entire team. But, it’s still going – and getting more popular. And the questionable output is cranking up to be more extreme too… Should we be taking it more seriously? Jacob Jarvis asks William Turvill, associate editor of Press Gazette and media correspondent for New Statesman. 

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Presented by Jacob Jarvis. Assistant Producer: Kasia Tomasiewicz. Music by Kenny Dickinson. Audio production: Jade Bai...

A losing battle: How Brexit fallout tore Parliament apart
Last Tuesday at 3:00 AM

Brexit is done — insofar as it ever will be. But the Brexit we got was not the one most Britons wanted. Years of bad-tempered Parliamentary battling only came to an end when Boris Johnson purged his MPs and stopped the Commons from sitting, then called a general election. Ros Taylor is joined by Meg Russell and Lisa James, authors of The Parliamentary Battle over Brexit, to talk about the damage done, the legacy of those years — and whether we should ever have a referendum again. 

“These terms of hard Brexit and soft Brexit only really come ar...

Everything’s on Fire – Start Your Week with Hannah Fearn
Last Monday at 8:25 AM

Mass protests in Israel as secular members of society fear a theocratic takeover from the religious right. Will Netanyahu be forced to halt his controversial judicial reforms? Plus, the focus of violent protests in France moves from Macron’s pensions reform to the President himself. Plus, what will be on the new SNP leader’s to-fix list? And Kwasi Kwarteng and Matt Hancock get caught out touting their Westminster influence at £10,000 a day. Hannah Fearn gives Andrew Harrison the stories to look out for this week.

“In unprecedented scenes, Israelis are considering leaving the Jewish state.”...

Private Trauma: How we’ve let our service people down
Last Sunday at 3:00 AM

How do we support soldiers traumatised by war? And is the public too sheltered from the reality of life during and after conflict? As the 20th anniversary of Iraq reignites questions over the experience of war and care for service personnel, Arthur Snell is joined by Louise Jones, an ex-Army Officer who served in Afghanistan and an active Labour Party member, to discuss how war changes a person.

“We have treated the Afghans we served with appallingly.”  “As a country, we have let down those who have protected us.” “Veterans and active soldiers are massively under-resou...

Bunker USA: Moscow Fools – Why is the Republican Party split on Russia?

The Republican Party was once hawkish in its stance towards Russia – but now some within its ranks seem sympathetic towards Putin and his regime. What’s changed? And why is there a split? Jacob Jarvis is joined by Jackie Calmes, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, to discuss. 

Presented by Jacob Jarvis. Assistant Producer: Kasia Tomasiewicz. Music by Kenny Dickinson. Audio production: Alex Rees. Lead Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. THE BUNKER is a Podmasters Production

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Inside Rwanda: The dictatorship Braverman dreams about

Suella Braverman’s plan to send refugees to Rwanda has been described as inhuman. But what is the country actually like? And what does the nation’s Government get out of the deal? Award winning journalist Anjan Sundaram joins Arthur Snell on a deep-dive into a country few of us know, but is rarely out of headlines. Anjan describes life after the genocide, the Western blind-spot to present human rights abuses and the political coercion at the heart of the present regime. 

Anjan wrote about the persecution of journalists in Rwanda in his book ‘Bad News: Last Journal...

Does the UK face extinction? – Fintan O’Toole on the Union’s future

The UK is “muddling towards extinction”, says the Irish thinker and journalist Fintan O’Toole. Neglected by a Westminster political class that’s preoccupied by Brexit, the things that once held it together are disappearing. He tells Ros Taylor how England is embracing a nationalism it can’t articulate, why the SNP has failed to get what it wants, and why the UK is not the natural union that its supporters believe it to be.

“The UK was not a natural occurrence.” “Englishness knows what it is not, but not what it is.” “With Brexit, this is always where...

NATO on my watch: Is the military alliance fit for purpose?

NATO’s power has been thrown into sharp focus amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. How does it operate – and what has it got right and wrong of late? Alex Andreou is joined by Mark Webber, a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham who is co-authoring the book What’s Wrong with NATO and How to Fix It, to discuss the military alliance.

“Whenever NATO acts it is acting as the aggregate of its members, that is its great strength.” “What NATO has done very well is it has strengthened its own defences.”  “NATO enlargement is not a project th...

The Iraq War changed everything. What have we learned?

The Iraq War began 20 years ago – what lessons have been, and what must still be, learned from this invasion? Arthur Snell, the host of Doomsday Watch who served as a diplomat in Iraq, joins Alex Andreou to discuss the mistakes that were made, the human and cultural costs of the conflict, and the arguments surrounding a conflict which fundamentally reshaped global politics.

“There was a lot of groupthink and clustering around a set of predetermined conclusions.”  “The human losses, the cultural losses, the rise of Isis, there are so many long term effects of this war – to...

Let’s get ready to grumble – Start Your Week with Gavin Esler and Alex Andreou

Both Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are in hot water – how will each try to wriggle their way out of trouble? The former PM faces the privileges committee for a grilling, while the ex-President has said he could be arrested this week. It’s also the twenty year anniversary of the second Iraq war, while bank Credit Suisse has been bought by UBS, and the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Putin. Alex Andreou is joined by Gavin Esler to give you the stories to look out for this week.

“We’re not talking about one lapse of judge...

Reasonable doubt: How society got its rules wrong

Most people consider themselves reasonable. But are they? And what rules is that notion defined by? Siân Pattenden is joined by Kirsty Sedgman, author of On Being Unreasonable, to discuss what the response to breastfeeding in public, noisy theatre audiences, neighbourhood watch indiscretions and Edward Coulston show about society today – and whether our collective rules might be wrong. 

““Being ‘reasonable’ has usually meant being a man.” “The NextDoor app shows us the dangers of thinking you are reasonable – when really you aren’t.” “We need to take acting ‘reasonably’ seriously because it involves policing and power.” “Who are the rul...

Bunker USA: America’s economy faces a Liz Truss moment

As Republicans play chicken with the debt ceiling, could America suffer a Liz Truss-esque financial meltdown? Alex Andreou speaks to Neil Malhotra, a professor of political economy at Stanford Graduate School of Business, to discuss this financial showdown being played out by Congress. 

“Republicans see it as part of a game – this is an opportunity to extract concessions.”  “It’s like Liz Truss’ financial plans, it’s hard to know what might happen.”  “As you found in the UK – what happens first is that the markets anticipate everything.”  “If you’re willing to let the country go down, you’re in a m...

The Budget that wasn’t – Hunt’s plans explained

Tax breaks for the 1%, business giveaways that won’t make a difference, free child care that turns out to be a fraction of what’s needed, and nothing for public services. Does Jeremy Hunt’s Budget make sense? Is he loading the pain onto the next government because he knows it won’t be Conservative one? And can he put the post-Truss tax-cutting headbangers back in their box? New Economics Foundation chief exec and Bunker regular Miatta Fahnbulleh takes the Budget apart for Andrew Harrison. 

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Who’s pushing all these Russians out of windows?

The unexpected “accidental” deaths of prominent Russians have become a dark joke in the West. But the truth about ‘Sudden Russian Death’ syndrome is even darker.

Bill Browder campaigned for the Magnitsky Acts against Russian corruption and wrote Freezing Order: A True Story of Russian Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath. He tells Andrew Harrison about the chaos within wartime Russia; what turned Putin from a reformer into a despot; and why Ukraine must win this war. 

You can get Bill's book here:

The external forces warping Syria’s civil war

The war in Syria began twelve years ago today. But who are the key players in this complex conflict? And how have changes of leadership in neighbouring countries and the recent earthquake changed how the war is being fought? Alex Andreou is joined by Christopher Phillips, professor of international politics at the Queen Mary University of London and author of The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East, to discuss the current status of the conflict.

“Things have settled into a familiar if miserable pattern.”  “Iran and Russia propped up Assad through money a...

Polycrisis? What polycrisis? – How we’re reacting to a world in turmoil

We are going through a polycrisis – with multiple catastrophes playing out at once. But despite fuel costs, war and climate change – many remain optimistic. Is this a sign of delusion or pragmatism? Hannah Fearn is joined by Ben Page, CEO of market research leaders Ipsos, to unpack the psychological impact of our current crises, and why some look on the brighter side.

“Lots of inequalities have been exposed by the pandemic – you can’t move for crisis.” “People have a tendency towards optimism bias.” “If you’re a Western European, your mid-40s seem like the worst years of your life.”

The Revolution could not be televised – Start Your Week with Arthur Snell and Jacob Jarvis

With the illegal migration bill set for its second reading – how will Braverman and Sunak feel now it faces some serious scrutiny? And with the BBC in crisis over the Gary Lineker debacle, will anyone take the fall? Plus it’s budget week – we discuss why Hunt might be happy for this to be a dull announcement… Arthur Snell joins Jacob Jarvis to outline the stories to look out for this week.

“The question now isn’t if Lineker broke the rules, but why the BBC can’t handle the decisions it makes.” “You can tell that Boris Jo...

Can YouTubers save the world? MrBeast thinks so

Good samaritans or narcissistic egotists: what is behind the rise in YouTube philanthropy? Ros Taylor is joined by Rhodri Davies, the founder and director of ‘Why Philanthropy Matters’, to discover why influencers like MrBeast are turning to charitable causes – and how their realm of influence could expand.

“YouTube philanthropy videos generate unimaginable amounts of money.”  “Many YouTube stars have maintained their fandom through charity videos.” “We are witnessing a transformation in how philanthropists raise money.” “There is a fine line between cynicism and celebration.”

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Bunker USA: Can the Republican Party come back from the brink?

Donald Trump twisted the GOP beyond recognition during his time as president. What did it stand for before this aberration – and could it ever revert to a sane, sensible and serious party again? Jacob Jarvis discusses with Julie Norman, co-director of UCL’s Centre on US Politics.

“Many in the party recognise the GOP doesn’t have a strong message – so they are trying to limit the role of the state.”  “Trump’s voters are very concerned about election integrity, fears he manipulated expertly.” 

Presented by Jacob Jarvis. Assi...

Oliver’s Army: Can Revolutionary England explain our modern mess?

In the 17th Century the English slaughtered one another, beheaded their king, fought bitterly over religion and politics, and acquired a taste for coffee and newspapers. Jonathan Healey, Associate Professor of Social History at the University of Oxford, tells Andrew Harrison how their world turned upside down shapes our own in his new book THE BLAZING WORLD: A New History of Revolutionary England.

Includes Cromwell, cross-dressing, regicide, seditious libel, the New Model Army (not that one), the Levellers (not those), the ‘Blazing World’ itself (perhaps the first science fiction novel) and the Roundhead-Cavalier rivalry explained in terms of H...

“Westminster is failing us” – Mhairi Black on the SNP’s future

Mhairi Black joins The Bunker to discuss the future of Scottish independence, her party’s ne leader and the quirks of Westminster. Following Sturgeon standing down as SNP leader and Scotland’s first leader, she joins Marie Le Conte to speak about what will come next – and what might happen under her successor, whoever that may be. 

“If you’re in a democracy and you can’t get a reply from a minister, then your democracy’s not very good.”  “I still think Sturgeon is head and shoulders above pretty much any politician in the UK. She understands...

Lights! Camera! Faction! Inside the warring Tory tribes

From the ERG to the CGG, the different factions within the Conservatives build up a picture of the divisions within the party. But what do all of the different groups stand for, and why don’t we seem to see the same splintering within Labour? Professor Tim Bale, author of The Conservative Party After Brexit, joins Marie le Conte to find out. 

“Tendencies mean that the party is more easily managed, factions make it much harder to manage, and they make governing much harder as well.” “There’s a lot of groups that got go...

Major Upset? Will the next election be a 1992 or a 1997?

Labour’s shock General Election loss in 1992 still haunts the party – and nobody wants to tempt fate by mentioning 1997’s landslide victory either. Will the next Election be a ’92, a ’97 or something else entirely? Steve Richards of the Rock & Roll Politics podcast explains what lay behind Neil Kinnock’s defeat and the trauma it inflicted on Labour; how it created the control freakery of the New Labour era; and what it all means for Keir Starmer. 

Listen to Rock & Roll Politics with Steve Richards on all platforms: 

The Grateful Dad – Start Your Week with Hannah Fearn

Sunak tries to dish out some hard right catnip on small boats – but then here’s Johnson offering his rancid father a knighthood. Can’t Rishi catch a break? Also, is the Hancock/Oakeshott WhatsApp epic really persuading Britain that lockdown was a disaster? Or just reminding them of how awful the Cabinet are? Plus Sue Gray, strikes latest, Raab in firing line and more. Hannah Fearn sets out the week ahead with Andrew Harrison. 

“Boris nominating his father for a knighthood shows he’s the ultimate reverse nepo baby.” “From cronyism in Westminster to small boats in...

Interview: Ex-C4 News head Dorothy Byrne on women in education and the future of news

Lambasted by the Tory press for calling Boris Johnson a “known liar” at the Edinburgh TV festival when she was head of news at Channel 4, Dorothy Byrne is now President of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. She talks to Ros Taylor about the pressures facing young female students, the future of C4, why we’re not treating violent porn seriously enough, and how ITV and Sky breached key broadcasting standards during the search for Nicola Bulley. 

“The ones who tell you ‘people don’t trust TV news any more’ are the ones who don’t WANT you to trust it.”...

Bunker USA: Why is Florida so weird?

Florida could well be America’s future. Governor Ron Desantis presides over an increasingly right-wing and combative “loudocracy” and he thinks he can become President by out-Trumping Trump. So why is the Sunshine State so notoriously bizarre? FLORIDA MAN Craig Pittman, author of The State You’re In: Florida Men, Florida Women, and Other Wildlife, tells Andrew Harrison about Matt Gaetz, socialised mermaids, and why Florida produces more madness than it can consume. 

“You put that many people in a confined space and they’re bound to start ramming each other’s cars and chasing each other with...

Better the Kremlin you know: Germany reckons with its Russia problem

Germany seems to have had a blind spot over Russia – why is that? And how has their relationship changed following the war in Ukraine? Alex Andreou is joined by John Lough, author of Germany’s Russia Problem, to unpack when their relationship changed, what it means for Europe, and why the Berlin Wall still casts a long shadow over German politics.

“Russia changed direction in 2005 but Germany didn’t take note.” “Despite knowing a lot about Russia, Germany has been very naive.”

Written and presented by A...

“I know how much is at stake” – Stella Creasy talks

Stella Creasy, who feels like a Labour grandee these days, talks to Ros Taylor about Brexit, Tory negligence and removing barriers to get more mothers into politics. Creasy discusses the work she’s done from opposition, and talks tentatively about a future where Labour might be in Government…

“Women have always wanted to be involved in politics, but it’s about the environment we create for them.” “We’ve really struggled as a country because of austerity… imagine how much stronger we could have been.” “I know how much is at stake. I think the British people want...

You’re his-Tory: Why aren’t young people turning Conservative?

There is a generational divide between who votes Conservative and who votes Labour – and it’s a problem for both parties. It used to be thought that as people got older, they naturally became more conservative – but that pattern has broken. Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London joins Marie Le Conte to delve into why.

“Denigrating young people is an absolute constant throughout human history – we always think the current generation of young people are absolutely awful… all the way back to Socrates.” “There doesn’t seem to be a solution to int...

Come Spy With Me: An insider's look at espionage

Hollywood has shaped how we see spies – but who are these people who secretly walk among us? How hard is it to become one? Siân Pattenden unpacks the world of espionage, and discusses why the next James Bond will be a woman with Ava Glass, author of the new spy novel The Chase, who previously worked alongside spies in the civil service. 

“The highest level of security clearance takes a whole year to pass.” “Spies rarely wear tuxedos and drink martinis.”


Kind of a big deal – Start Your Week with Ros Taylor and Alex Andreou

Rishi Sunak is meeting Ursula von der Leyen to seal a new deal to get Brexit done again, again. Will the agreement get sealed? And what fallout will any such settlement spark? Plus, we return to the strikes and discuss the SNP leadership latest. Ros Taylor joins Alex Andreou to discuss the week ahead.

“It all depends on whether the DUP think they can get anything more out of it or not.” – Alex Andreou  “There’s nothing Johnson would like more than return as Prime Minister… but my sense is that the energy is moving away from him.” – Ros Taylor  “Peop...

Waiting game: What the rush to private health means for the NHS

As NHS waiting lists get longer, more people are turning to private healthcare. Is this skipping the queue accelerating a decline to a two-tier system, or will the demand for more encourage policymakers to fund the NHS properly to raise the standards? Efua Poku-Amanfo from the Institute for Public Policy Research joins Hannah Fearn in the Bunker to find out. 

“Young people 18-25 specifically… were less likely to have confidence in the NHS “There will be groups in our society who have options, whilst not ideal… the concern is for those who get left behind “For older people there’d oft...

Bunker USA: American Dreams (Are Made of This)

The USA is built on ‘the American dream’. But what exactly is it? Does it actually exist? Jacob Jarvis is joined by Jim Cullen, author of The American Dream: A short history of an idea that shaped a nation, to ask where the idea came from and why it still has such a strong hold over American life.

“The English pilgrims are central to the creation of the American Dream.”  “At the heart of the American Dream is that pure belief that society can be better.”  “The American Dream is the soft power of possibility.”  “Two streams run throu...

Volodymyr Zelensky: The comedian who wanted to be President of Peace

Zelensky’s story of a comedian turned President of Ukraine and now war leader is stranger than fiction. So who is the man we have cheered on as he stands up to the Russian invasion? Siân Pattenden is joined by journalist Steven Derix, co-author of the new biography Zelensky, to take a peek behind the curtain of a life lived in the media spotlight, before being thrown into violent conflict. 

“Ukraine is one of the countries least known to the public.” “He’s a boss everywhere he goes.” “His parents wanted him to be a diplomat, which is ironic given...

The Spirit of Freedom: A year into Ukraine’s fight for democracy

It’s been one year since the full scale invasion of Ukraine began. From fanning the spirit of freedom, to how internally displaced people are coping, through to what Ukraine needs now from its friends and allies across the West – Olga Tokariuk, freelance journalist and fellow at the Reuters Institute for Journalism, joins Alex Andreou to reflect on the last 12 months. 

“I could see the spirit of freedom and the spirit of commitment to democracy and human rights… that gave me confidence that Ukrainians would not just give up on those.” “For the moment Ukraine doesn’t have...

Time to grow up: How to boost the economy without Trussonomics

Britain is all but in recession. We’re far less productive than other European countries, and take the industries that do well for granted. Trussonomics was one idea to boost growth — and we all know how that turned out. But if cutting taxes isn’t the solution to our problems, what is? Greg Thwaites from the Resolution Foundation joins Ros Taylor in the Bunker to find out. 

“Most of the growth that we've had in the economy hasn’t come from people being more productive, it’s from people doing more work.” “What the average UK worker can pro...

Break the bank: Are we doomed to repeat our financial crises?

After the Financial Crisis, many expected a new approach to the economy to be taken. Instead, lessons were forgotten quickly and countries continued to rack up debt whilst subscribing to the old order of things. Martin Wolf, author of The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism joins Alex Andreou to discuss whether we’re destined to repeat the past. 

“After communism failed, the western leaders… came to feel that our systems had won, they were overwhelmingly successful.” “The working class which had been atomised… this story of resentment and anger against elites and immigrants is a very powerful stor...