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Do we need another political podcast?

The Power Test, co-hosted by Ayesha Hazarika and Sam Freedman, will delight Westminster obsessives.

By Rachel Cunliffe

I know what you’re thinking – another political podcast? Don’t we have enough, given the classic Radio 4 shows have been facing stiff competition from The Rest Is Politics, The News Agents, Oh God, What Now, Rock & Roll Politics and, of course, The New Statesman Podcast (to name but a few) for quite some time now? But for political junkies, you can’t have too much of a good thing, and it isn’t as if there’s a shortage of subject material, with the Conservatives’ 13-year hold on the nation looking increasingly shaky and Labour waiting in the wings to take over.

This is the premise of The Power Test, co-hosted by Ayesha Hazarika (a former spad to Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband, she’s now an Evening Standard columnist and presenter on Times Radio) and Sam Freedman (a government adviser from the Tory side, who worked with Michael Gove at the Department for Education, and whose political commentary can now be found across the media, including here at the NS). They are unapologetically “crying out for a new government and a new start” (despite Freedman’s prior Conservative affiliation), focusing on how Labour can win power, and what it should do with it if it does.

Like all podcasts these days, there are guests. Episode one features Alastair Campbell taking a break from The Rest Is Politics (though what he says – particularly on how Labour should be more hard-line in opposing Brexit – isn’t exactly unfamiliar) and Claire Ainsley, a former close aide of Keir Starmer’s. They have a lively chat about the local election results, how Labour might cope with the prospect of a coalition, and whether Britain needs a new voting system.

Hazarika and Freedman make a fun pairing: they both delight in being self-confessed policy wonks, and the broader thematic scope of their podcast enables them to drill down into detail in more depth than a straight review of the week’s news would allow. But it’s still at heart just a group of political obsessives obsessively talking about politics. If you’re a political obsessive too, you’ll adore it.

The Power Test
Apple Podcasts/Spotify

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This article appears in the 17 May 2023 issue of the New Statesman, The Left Power List