Whitehall Sources

Whitehall Sources

Top advisers to our significant political leaders analyse the successes and failures of today's politics, sharing their experiences of working in Whitehall. They are your Whitehall Sources. Kirsty Buchanan worked with Theresa May as PM, and Liz Truss when she was Secretary of State. Frankie Leach advised Jeremy Corbyn when he was Labour Leader. Journalist and broadcaster Calum Macdonald manages their in-tray of talking points, U-turns and crises. From parties in Westminster to the tactics of SpAds, this is your exclusive insight into how politics is done and how politicians work.


January 26, 2023 51 min

Kirsty and Frankie assess the state of Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer's "political capital." Where does it come from, where's it going? Will the Prime Minister have any left by the time the Nadhim Zahawi furore is cleared up? Kirsty tells us about her time working with Theresa May in Number 10 when Damian Green had to be fired as first secretary of state and the challenge that was at the time. Frankie assesses where t...

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Kirsty and Frankie discuss how to handle shock resignations from your party, as Jacinda Ardern announces she's standing down as Prime Minister of New Zealand. Kirsty tells us about being on resignation watch when she was "Head of the Weekend" - which is dreamy. Frankie describes the morning of defections from the Labour Party to a new political party. We also dive into why Jacinda Ardern has stood down and whether polit...

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January 12, 2023 50 min

Welcome to a brand new year on Whitehall Sources! (12th January is also Frankie's birthday). Calum Macdonald, Kirsty Buchanan (Former Special Adviser to Theresa May) and Frankie Leach (former adviser to Jeremy Corbyn) are refreshed and raring to go with analysis, inside stories and insight into life in Whitehall. New year, same strikes - but is this the week progress is being made? Kirsty and Frankie assess the strategies of th...

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January 5, 2023 42 min

Join Calum Macdonald to relive some of our podcast's biggest moments of the year on social media. After 15 episodes and more than one million hits online, it's time to relive what went viral which, very helpfully, tells the story of the unravelling chaos of the last ten weeks since the podcast started. You can also watch this full episode on our YouTube Channel.

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December 29, 2022 33 min

We're old enough to remember when parties in Downing Street were still legal. On this festive episode, Kirsty Buchanan, Special Adviser to Theresa May when she was Prime Minister, and Frankie Leach - adviser to Jeremy Corbyn when he was Leader of the Opposition for Labour - reminisce about their *legal* Whitehall Christmas parties. Kirsty shares her memories of trying to do a Brexit deal in No 10 while staff sung karaoke in the...

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December 22, 2022 54 min

Join Calum, Kirsty and Frankie to review some of the most jawdropping moments of 2022. Also on this episode: Chris Mason (BBC Political Editor), Robert Peston (ITV Political Editor), Lucy Fisher (Times Radio Chief Political Commentator), Pippa Crerar (The Guardian Political Editor), Ben Nunn (Former Director of Communications for Sir Keir Starmer) and Jake Richards (Former adviser to Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves). They discuss t...

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December 15, 2022 64 min

This week's episode is a special one - we're joined by a new co-host, our new third person. Who is it? There's drama and suspense galore. Listen in to find out. Also this week: strikes and immigration. Nurses have walked out on strike. We discuss whether government strategy should differentiate between the different groups that are currently striking. On immigration, Kirsty and... our new co-host... decide this is no lo...

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December 8, 2022 43 min

On every day until Christmas, someone, somewhere is on strike. That, combined with colder weather and the need for more heating making the cost of living crisis very real for many thousands of us, means the Government's advent calendar is like no other. Kirsty Buchanan, a former special adviser to Theresa May, compares this run up to Christmas to what is usually calm and traditionally a period that's a little easier to allo...

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December 1, 2022 61 min

Nope, not the name of Matt Hancock's memoir - but a reflection on Rishi Sunak's first month as Prime Minister. Calum Macdonald hosts; Kirsty Buchanan, who used to advise Theresa May as PM, is joined by Frankie Leach who was an adviser to Jeremy Corbyn when he was Labour Leader of the Opposition. The Conservatives have lost a year due to in-fighting - did Rishi Sunak end up getting any "honeymoon" period when he beca...

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November 24, 2022 70 min

This week on Whitehall Sources, we take you behind the door of Number 10 Downing Street and discuss Britzerland. It's Brexit-related and it's all about The Chequers Deal: what is it, what does it mean, why is it back four years after it was first discussed, and what should it do to the messaging around Brexit policy from here on? Kirsty Buchanan - who was a Special Adviser to Prime Minister Theresa May - and Oscar Reddrop -...

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November 17, 2022 73 min

Whitehall Sources takes you behind the door of Number 10 Downing Street to understand life behind politics. Today, a podcast special - we’re doing something slightly different to bring you snap reaction and analysis of the autumn statement from those who have advised prime ministers, cabinet secretaries and opposition leaders. Kirsty Buchanan is here throughout - PLUS we’ve got Ben Nunn, who was Sir Keir Starmer’s Director of Commu...

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Kirsty Buchanan OBE and Lord Reddrop (*Tbc) join man-of-the-people Calum Macdonald to take you behind the door of Number 10 Downing Street and unpack all that's going on. Is it valid to use someone as the "enforcer" in a political party? Gavin Williamson had to resign because of his conduct and how he dealt with others in the Conservative party. Kirsty and Oscar explain what the Chief Whip does and whether "good-cop...

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November 3, 2022 75 min

Welcome to Whitehall Sources where we take you behind the scenes at Number 10 Downing Street. This week: what do we know so far about the plans Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt have for the economy? We discuss "test balloons" (also known as kite-flying) and why this strategy is effective. In Chequers and Balances - where we speak to an opposition adviser - we hear from James Meadway who advised John McDonnell who was Shadow Chan...

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October 27, 2022 68 min

Welcome to Whitehall Sources, where former advisers to UK Prime Ministers take you behind the door of Number 10 Downing Street to analyse events today. On this week's episode: just how much trouble as the re-appointment of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary caused the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak? Kirsty Buchanan - former adviser to Theresa May at No. 10, and to Liz Truss - and Oscar Reddrop - former adviser to Boris Johnson ...

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Stop It and Roll It is where we play you a bit of political theatre and drama - in this case, a speech - and stop it, analyse it, then roll it. Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister on Tuesday 25th October and delivered his first speech on the steps of No 10. Downing Street. Calum, Kirsty and Oscar listen to the speech, stop it, comment on it and contextualise it, and roll it again. Did Rishi Sunak make you feel calmer? Email us: hello...

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October 25, 2022 70 min

This is episode one of a two-part special analysing Rishi Sunak taking over as Prime Minister. In this episode: what is the state of the Conservative Party? He's inheriting a mess - we assess who's been behaving badly. Kirsty and Oscar share their experiences of meeting Rishi Sunak and working with him - what's he really like? We find out about steps he took when he was meeting farmers despite not being a meat-eater, an...

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October 20, 2022 27 min

Liz Truss has resigned. Today on Whitehall Sources: Calum spent the day reporting live from Downing Street - what was it like and how did it unfold? Kirsty and Oscar were as plugged into the Whitehall matrix as ever - what have they been hearing, and what is their analysis? Plus - they know what it's like to experience a day like today on the inside. We hear what it's like. This episode is slightly different to usual, given...

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October 20, 2022 66 min

Welcome to Shuffling the Shambles. On this week's episode of Whitehall Sources, as we take you behind the door of Number 10 Downing Street with those in the know: Suella Braverman's "trojan horse" resignation as Home Secretary; the staff comings and goings at Number 10 and, crucially, what they tell us about Liz Truss's leadership and authority. We introduce a new feature: Chequers and Balances where we hear fro...

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October 15, 2022 66 min

Welcome to episode 2, which is dropping for you unexpectedly soon. But then, Kwasi Kwarteng got dropped unexpectedly quickly too, didn't he? In this episode, as the dust settles following Liz Truss's remarkable press conference announcing her corporation tax U-turn, we listen back, assess the damage done, the ground made up. And we have the benefit of having heard from the new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt as well - has a grown up...

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October 13, 2022 62 min

Welcome to episode 1 of Whitehall Sources. This week, in our first charm offensive, Calum Macdonald, Kirsty Buchanan and Oscar Reddrop discuss a horrifying 1922 Committee meeting for Prime Minister Liz Truss which - it seems - is indicative of the turning of the parliamentary Conservative party - which Kirsty describes as Liz Truss's "most immediate threat." Also, we stretch a car metaphor to its limit as we discuss U-t...

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