Reflections With Peter Hennessy

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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0201Sir John Major20140813

0201Sir John Major20140813

Former prime minister John Major talks about his journey from Brixton to Downing Street.

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In the first programme in this run, Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister, talks about his political journey from Brixton to Downing Street and the challenge of following Margaret Thatcher in Number 10. He discusses his difficult inheritance as Prime Minister in 1990 after the financial boom of the 1980s, the economic crisis of 'Black Wednesday' in September 1992, the divisions in his party, and how he took the first delicate steps in what became the Northern Ireland peace process.

Peter's other guests in this run are Lord Hattersley (Roy Hattersley), the former Labour Deputy Leader and now a writer; Lord Steel of Aikwood (David Steel), the former Liberal Party Leader; and Dame Margaret Beckett MP, the only woman to have been Foreign Secretary and the first woman to lead the Labour Party (in 1994), and former Deputy Leader of her party. The producer is Rob Shepherd.

0201Sir John Major20140813

Former prime minister John Major talks about his journey from Brixton to Downing Street.

0201Sir John Major20140813

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In the first programme in this run, Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister, talks about his political journey from Brixton to Downing Street and the challenge of following Margaret Thatcher in Number 10. He discusses his difficult inheritance as Prime Minister in 1990 after the financial boom of the 1980s, the economic crisis of 'Black Wednesday' in September 1992, the divisions in his party, and how he took the first delicate steps in what became the Northern Ireland peace process.

Peter's other guests in this run are Lord Hattersley (Roy Hattersley), the former Labour Deputy Leader and now a writer; Lord Steel of Aikwood (David Steel), the former Liberal Party Leader; and Dame Margaret Beckett MP, the only woman to have been Foreign Secretary and the first woman to lead the Labour Party (in 1994), and former Deputy Leader of her party. The producer is Rob Shepherd.

0202Roy Hattersley20140820

0202Roy Hattersley20140820

Peter Hennessy asks Roy Hattersley to reflect on his life and times.

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In this second episode, Roy Hattersley, the former Labour Deputy Leader, tells how a teacher inspired his belief in equality and recalls what he learned about attitudes to poverty while delivering milk on a vacation job.

Roy Hattersley's vivid recollections of an eventful career at the heart of the Labour Party are spiced with insights into its leading characters and also into its setbacks and triumphs. His commitment to comprehensive education remains undimmed and he regrets never having been Education Secretary.

The first episode in this series featured Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister.

Peter's other guests in the current series are: Lord Steel of Aikwood (David Steel), the former Liberal Party Leader, and Dame Margaret Beckett MP, the only woman to have been Foreign Secretary and to have led the Labour Party (in 1994), and former Deputy Leader of her party.

The producer is Rob Shepherd.

0202Roy Hattersley20140820

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In this second episode, Roy Hattersley, the former Labour Deputy Leader, tells how a teacher inspired his belief in equality and recalls what he learned about attitudes to poverty while delivering milk on a vacation job.

Roy Hattersley's vivid recollections of an eventful career at the heart of the Labour Party are spiced with insights into its leading characters and also into its setbacks and triumphs. His commitment to comprehensive education remains undimmed and he regrets never having been Education Secretary.

The first episode in this series featured Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister.

Peter's other guests in the current series are: Lord Steel of Aikwood (David Steel), the former Liberal Party Leader, and Dame Margaret Beckett MP, the only woman to have been Foreign Secretary and to have led the Labour Party (in 1994), and former Deputy Leader of her party.

The producer is Rob Shepherd.

0202Roy Hattersley20140820

Peter Hennessy asks Roy Hattersley to reflect on his life and times.

0203David Steel20140827

0203David Steel20140827

David Steel reflects on his role in shifting Britain away from two-party politics.

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks a senior politician to reflect on his or her life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In this third episode, David Steel (now Lord Steel of Aikwood), the former Liberal Party Leader, reflects on his role in shifting Britain away from two-party politics towards multi-party politics and coalition government. He was nicknamed 'Boy David' after becoming an MP in 1965 at the age of 26, but soon established his national reputation by piloting reform of the abortion law through Parliament. He discusses his reasons for forming the 'Lib-Lab Pact' with Labour's Jim Callaghan in the late 1970s and talks about his role in encouraging the 'Gang of Four' to quit Labour and form the SDP. As a senior Liberal Democrat with strong sympathy for social democratic ideas, he reflects candidly on Nick Clegg's leadership and his party's coalition with the Conservatives.

Peter's earlier guests in this series were Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister and Roy Hattersley, the former Labour Deputy Leader. Next week's guest is Dame Margaret Beckett MP, the first woman to have been Foreign Secretary and to have led the Labour Party (in 1994) and the first woman to have been Deputy Leader of her party.

The producer is Rob Shepherd.

0203David Steel20140827

David Steel reflects on his role in shifting Britain away from two-party politics.

0203David Steel20140827

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks a senior politician to reflect on his or her life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In this third episode, David Steel (now Lord Steel of Aikwood), the former Liberal Party Leader, reflects on his role in shifting Britain away from two-party politics towards multi-party politics and coalition government. He was nicknamed 'Boy David' after becoming an MP in 1965 at the age of 26, but soon established his national reputation by piloting reform of the abortion law through Parliament. He discusses his reasons for forming the 'Lib-Lab Pact' with Labour's Jim Callaghan in the late 1970s and talks about his role in encouraging the 'Gang of Four' to quit Labour and form the SDP. As a senior Liberal Democrat with strong sympathy for social democratic ideas, he reflects candidly on Nick Clegg's leadership and his party's coalition with the Conservatives.

Peter's earlier guests in this series were Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister and Roy Hattersley, the former Labour Deputy Leader. Next week's guest is Dame Margaret Beckett MP, the first woman to have been Foreign Secretary and to have led the Labour Party (in 1994) and the first woman to have been Deputy Leader of her party.

The producer is Rob Shepherd.

0204 LASTMargaret Beckett20140903

0204 LASTMargaret Beckett20140903

Peter Hennessy asks Dame Margaret Beckett MP to reflect on her life and times.

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks a senior politician to reflect on his or her life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In the final episode of the current series, Dame Margaret Beckett MP, the former Foreign Secretary and Labour Deputy Leader, reflects on her transition from trainee engineer to Labour MP, and subsequently to a minister who served four Labour Prime Ministers between 1976 and 2009. She talks about becoming a minister at a time when there were few women in national politics. Discussing her loyalty to Labour since the 1960s, she explains her opposition to British membership of the European Community in the 1970s and her reasons for having voted for Michael Foot as Labour Leader in 1980 and Tony Benn as Deputy Leader in preference to Denis Healey. Looking back on her senior role in the Labour Party from the 1990s, she tells how she became Deputy Labour Leader to John Smith and discusses her time in Tony Blair's Cabinet, including during the Iraq War, and recalls that when she was appointed Foreign Secretary in 2006 she was 'stunned'.

Peter's guests earlier in this series were Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister; Roy Hattersley, the former Labour Deputy Leader, and David Steel, the former Liberal Party Leader.

The producer is Rob Shepherd.

0204 LASTMargaret Beckett20140903

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks a senior politician to reflect on his or her life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In the final episode of the current series, Dame Margaret Beckett MP, the former Foreign Secretary and Labour Deputy Leader, reflects on her transition from trainee engineer to Labour MP, and subsequently to a minister who served four Labour Prime Ministers between 1976 and 2009. She talks about becoming a minister at a time when there were few women in national politics. Discussing her loyalty to Labour since the 1960s, she explains her opposition to British membership of the European Community in the 1970s and her reasons for having voted for Michael Foot as Labour Leader in 1980 and Tony Benn as Deputy Leader in preference to Denis Healey. Looking back on her senior role in the Labour Party from the 1990s, she tells how she became Deputy Labour Leader to John Smith and discusses her time in Tony Blair's Cabinet, including during the Iraq War, and recalls that when she was appointed Foreign Secretary in 2006 she was 'stunned'.

Peter's guests earlier in this series were Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister; Roy Hattersley, the former Labour Deputy Leader, and David Steel, the former Liberal Party Leader.

The producer is Rob Shepherd.

0204 LASTMargaret Beckett20140903

Peter Hennessy asks Dame Margaret Beckett MP to reflect on her life and times.

030120150713

030120150713

03012015071320160102 (R4)

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In the first episode of this series, David Owen, the former Foreign Secretary and SDP Leader, discusses the transition from his early days as the son of a Welsh doctor in Plymouth to his election as a Labour MP while still in his twenties, and his meteoric rise in politics. His appointment as Foreign Secretary in 1977, aged only 38, marked him out as a possible future Labour leader.

After Labour's defeat in 1979 Owen and other leading social democrats became increasingly frustrated by the party's left-wing stance. With other senior figures he broke from Labour and formed the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In alliance with the Liberals it took 25 per cent of the vote in the 1983 election, but only 23 seats.

After Owen succeeded Roy Jenkins as leader, he maintained its distinctive, radical stance. However, policy divisions between the SDP and the Liberals undermined the Alliance's credibility. It won 23 per cent of the vote at the 1987 election, but again failed to break through in seats. The tensions between Owen and his colleagues became evident. Owen stood aside from a merger of the SDP with the Liberals and soldiered on with a rump of social democrats until 1990. He stood down as an MP in 1992. Owen continues to speak on foreign affairs. He also writes on diplomacy and the relationship between illness and politics.

Peter's other guests in the series are Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor, and Clare Short, the former International Development Secretary.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

030120150713

Peter Hennessy invites David Owen to reflect on his life and times.

0301David Owen20150713

0301David Owen2015071320160102 (R4)

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In the first episode of this series, David Owen, the former Foreign Secretary and SDP Leader, discusses the transition from his early days as the son of a Welsh doctor in Plymouth to his election as a Labour MP while still in his twenties, and his meteoric rise in politics. His appointment as Foreign Secretary in 1977, aged only 38, marked him out as a possible future Labour leader.

After Labour's defeat in 1979 Owen and other leading social democrats became increasingly frustrated by the party's left-wing stance. With other senior figures he broke from Labour and formed the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In alliance with the Liberals it took 25 per cent of the vote in the 1983 election, but only 23 seats.

After Owen succeeded Roy Jenkins as leader, he maintained its distinctive, radical stance. However, policy divisions between the SDP and the Liberals undermined the Alliance's credibility. It won 23 per cent of the vote at the 1987 election, but again failed to break through in seats. The tensions between Owen and his colleagues became evident. Owen stood aside from a merger of the SDP with the Liberals and soldiered on with a rump of social democrats until 1990. He stood down as an MP in 1992. Owen continues to speak on foreign affairs. He also writes on diplomacy and the relationship between illness and politics.

Peter's other guests in the series are Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor, and Clare Short, the former International Development Secretary.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

Peter Hennessy invites David Owen to reflect on his life and times.

0301David Owen20150713

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In the first episode of this series, David Owen, the former Foreign Secretary and SDP Leader, discusses the transition from his early days as the son of a Welsh doctor in Plymouth to his election as a Labour MP while still in his twenties, and his meteoric rise in politics. His appointment as Foreign Secretary in 1977, aged only 38, marked him out as a possible future Labour leader.

After Labour's defeat in 1979 Owen and other leading social democrats became increasingly frustrated by the party's left-wing stance. With other senior figures he broke from Labour and formed the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In alliance with the Liberals it took 25 per cent of the vote in the 1983 election, but only 23 seats.

After Owen succeeded Roy Jenkins as leader, he maintained its distinctive, radical stance. However, policy divisions between the SDP and the Liberals undermined the Alliance's credibility. It won 23 per cent of the vote at the 1987 election, but again failed to break through in seats. The tensions between Owen and his colleagues became evident. Owen stood aside from a merger of the SDP with the Liberals and soldiered on with a rump of social democrats until 1990. He stood down as an MP in 1992. Owen continues to speak on foreign affairs. He also writes on diplomacy and the relationship between illness and politics.

Peter's other guests in the series are Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor, and Clare Short, the former International Development Secretary.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

0302Nigel Lawson20150720

0302Nigel Lawson20150720

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, Peter invites his guest to explore the impact of formative influences, experiences and people in his or her life.

In this programme, Nigel Lawson, a self-proclaimed Tory radical and a key ally of Margaret Thatcher in challenging and reforming the post-war economic consensus, discusses his transition from an enjoyable existence at Oxford to journalism and eventually to front-line politics.

Lawson joined the Financial Times in 1956 and five years later became City Editor of the new 'Sunday Telegraph'. His appetite for politics was whetted in 1963, when he was recruited to work in Number 10. After the Conservatives lost power, he returned to journalism and in 1966 became editor of 'The Spectator'. He narrowly failed to win election to parliament in 1970 and finally entered the Commons in 1974.

Lawson found that his radical economic ideas chimed with those of Margaret Thatcher, who won the Conservative leadership in 1975. He became a key architect of Tory economic policy and after the 1979 election was appointed to the Treasury. But it was as Chancellor in the 1980s that Lawson made his greatest impact by extending and entrenching Thatcher's reforms with dramatic cuts in income tax rates, an ambitious programme of privatisation and extensive de-regulation. However, he opposed the poll tax and then in 1989 resigned over the role of Thatcher's special adviser, Alan Walters.

Lawson now sits in the House of Lords. His radicalism on the economy and Europe extends to what he sees as a misguided consensus on global warming policy, of which he is a trenchant critic.

0302Nigel Lawson20150720

Peter Hennessy invites Nigel Lawson to reflect on his life and times.

0302Nigel Lawson20150720

Peter Hennessy invites Nigel Lawson to reflect on his life and times.

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, Peter invites his guest to explore the impact of formative influences, experiences and people in his or her life.

In this programme, Nigel Lawson, a self-proclaimed Tory radical and a key ally of Margaret Thatcher in challenging and reforming the post-war economic consensus, discusses his transition from an enjoyable existence at Oxford to journalism and eventually to front-line politics.

Lawson joined the Financial Times in 1956 and five years later became City Editor of the new 'Sunday Telegraph'. His appetite for politics was whetted in 1963, when he was recruited to work in Number 10. After the Conservatives lost power, he returned to journalism and in 1966 became editor of 'The Spectator'. He narrowly failed to win election to parliament in 1970 and finally entered the Commons in 1974.

Lawson found that his radical economic ideas chimed with those of Margaret Thatcher, who won the Conservative leadership in 1975. He became a key architect of Tory economic policy and after the 1979 election was appointed to the Treasury. But it was as Chancellor in the 1980s that Lawson made his greatest impact by extending and entrenching Thatcher's reforms with dramatic cuts in income tax rates, an ambitious programme of privatisation and extensive de-regulation. However, he opposed the poll tax and then in 1989 resigned over the role of Thatcher's special adviser, Alan Walters.

Lawson now sits in the House of Lords. His radicalism on the economy and Europe extends to what he sees as a misguided consensus on global warming policy, of which he is a trenchant critic.

0303Clare Short20150727

0303Clare Short20150727

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, Peter invites his guest to explore their formative influences and experiences, and the impact on their lives of people they have known.

In the final programme of this series, Clare Short, the former International Development Secretary, discusses how her values reflect her Catholic upbringing in Birmingham and her father's sense of injustice at Britain's treatment of Ireland. After university, she joined the civil service, but her policy work at the Home Office prompted her to enter politics instead of continuing to advise others.

She became MP for Birmingham Ladywood in 1983 and courted controversy by criticising Alan Clark, then an employment minister, for being incapable in the Commons, and also by calling for a ban on Page 3 pin-ups. After Labour's 1992 defeat, she was appointed Shadow Minister for Women by John Smith, the Labour Leader, and was instrumental in seeing that Labour adopted more women as parliamentary candidates.

After Tony Blair appointed her to the Cabinet in 1997 as International Development Secretary, she played an important role in establishing the UN's Millennium Development Goals on tackling extreme poverty and achieving basic human rights. However, she later disagreed with Blair over the Iraq war, and after resigning from the Cabinet in May 2003 she criticised the absence of proper debate and democratic process in Blair's government.

Clare Short resigned the Labour whip in 2006 and sat as an independent MP until 2010. She continues to work on global development, including the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, the urbanisation of the poor, and humanitarian issues.

0303Clare Short20150727

Peter Hennessy invites Clare Short to reflect on her life and times.

0303 LASTClare Short20150727

Peter Hennessy invites Clare Short to reflect on her life and times.

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, Peter invites his guest to explore their formative influences and experiences, and the impact on their lives of people they have known.

In the final programme of this series, Clare Short, the former International Development Secretary, discusses how her values reflect her Catholic upbringing in Birmingham and her father's sense of injustice at Britain's treatment of Ireland. After university, she joined the civil service, but her policy work at the Home Office prompted her to enter politics instead of continuing to advise others.

She became MP for Birmingham Ladywood in 1983 and courted controversy by criticising Alan Clark, then an employment minister, for being incapable in the Commons, and also by calling for a ban on Page 3 pin-ups. After Labour's 1992 defeat, she was appointed Shadow Minister for Women by John Smith, the Labour Leader, and was instrumental in seeing that Labour adopted more women as parliamentary candidates.

After Tony Blair appointed her to the Cabinet in 1997 as International Development Secretary, she played an important role in establishing the UN's Millennium Development Goals on tackling extreme poverty and achieving basic human rights. However, she later disagreed with Blair over the Iraq war, and after resigning from the Cabinet in May 2003 she criticised the absence of proper debate and democratic process in Blair's government.

Clare Short resigned the Labour whip in 2006 and sat as an independent MP until 2010. She continues to work on global development, including the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, the urbanisation of the poor, and humanitarian issues.

040120160802

040120160802

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. In this first programme, Michael Heseltine, one of Britain's most charismatic, controversial and dynamic politicians, reveals the experiences and motivation that fuelled his life's journey from a comfortable childhood in Swansea and student days at Oxford, to his turbulent time at the top of politics.

Never one to shun the limelight, Heseltine recalls how, as a would-be MP in his native South Wales, he engineered a clash with Aneurin Bevan, the legendary Labour orator. He also tells why he was wary of revealing that his political hero is another great Welsh radical, Lloyd George. Heseltine's hero among Conservatives is Harold Macmillan, who inspired his beliefs in 'One Nation' Toryism and Britain's role in a united Europe. After becoming an MP in 1966, he served in Edward Heath's Government in the early 1970s. He sheds fresh light on Heath's defeat and tells why, despite agreeing with Heath's pro-Europeanism and moderate Toryism, he could no longer support him in 1975.

Although Heseltine will be remembered for his part in Thatcher's fall, he casts her premiership in fresh perspective by emphasising the continuity with earlier Tory efforts to reform Britain. He explains how she was persuaded to accept his plans to regenerate London docklands and inner-city Liverpool. However, he remains convinced that he had no alternative but to resign as Defence Secretary in 1986 over Westland's future, because the Cabinet meeting had been a 'set up'.

His commitment to 'the forgotten people' in deprived areas remains undimmed, but he suspects that his legacy will be the arboretum that he and his wife, Anne, have worked on for 40 years.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

040120160802

Peter Hennessy invites Michael Heseltine to reflect on his life and times.

0401Michael Heseltine20160802

Peter Hennessy invites Michael Heseltine to reflect on his life and times.

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. In this first programme, Michael Heseltine, one of Britain's most charismatic, controversial and dynamic politicians, reveals the experiences and motivation that fuelled his life's journey from a comfortable childhood in Swansea and student days at Oxford, to his turbulent time at the top of politics.

Never one to shun the limelight, Heseltine recalls how, as a would-be MP in his native South Wales, he engineered a clash with Aneurin Bevan, the legendary Labour orator. He also tells why he was wary of revealing that his political hero is another great Welsh radical, Lloyd George. Heseltine's hero among Conservatives is Harold Macmillan, who inspired his beliefs in 'One Nation' Toryism and Britain's role in a united Europe. After becoming an MP in 1966, he served in Edward Heath's Government in the early 1970s. He sheds fresh light on Heath's defeat and tells why, despite agreeing with Heath's pro-Europeanism and moderate Toryism, he could no longer support him in 1975.

Although Heseltine will be remembered for his part in Thatcher's fall, he casts her premiership in fresh perspective by emphasising the continuity with earlier Tory efforts to reform Britain. He explains how she was persuaded to accept his plans to regenerate London docklands and inner-city Liverpool. However, he remains convinced that he had no alternative but to resign as Defence Secretary in 1986 over Westland's future, because the Cabinet meeting had been a 'set up'.

His commitment to 'the forgotten people' in deprived areas remains undimmed, but he suspects that his legacy will be the arboretum that he and his wife, Anne, have worked on for 40 years.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

0402Vince Cable20160809

Peter Hennessy invites Vince Cable to reflect on his life and times.

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early, formative influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is Sir Vince Cable, the former Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesman, who became Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when the Coalition Government was formed in 2010. He talks movingly of his early years, and although his own views have remained consistently on the centre-left of British politics, he emerges as something of a political nomad, having belonged to the Labour Party and the SDP before joining the Liberal Democrats. After finally being elected to Parliament in his fifties, he first captured public attention with his warnings about the financial crash in 2008 and won widespread respect as a sage voice in the ensuing economic storm.

Although Vince Cable would have preferred to serve in a centre-left government, he worked with Conservative ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and tried to make a success of the coalition by focussing on the practical work of government. However, his department was responsible for higher education and he was involved in the controversial decision to abandon his party's 'pledge' to phase out university tuition fees.

Vince Cable won a place in people's hearts by demonstrating his skill as a ballroom dancer on 'Strictly Come Dancing'. He retains his passion for ballroom dancing and is also trying his hand as a writer.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

0402Vince Cable20160809

0402Vince Cable20160809

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early, formative influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is Sir Vince Cable, the former Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesman, who became Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when the Coalition Government was formed in 2010. He talks movingly of his early years, and although his own views have remained consistently on the centre-left of British politics, he emerges as something of a political nomad, having belonged to the Labour Party and the SDP before joining the Liberal Democrats. After finally being elected to Parliament in his fifties, he first captured public attention with his warnings about the financial crash in 2008 and won widespread respect as a sage voice in the ensuing economic storm.

Although Vince Cable would have preferred to serve in a centre-left government, he worked with Conservative ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and tried to make a success of the coalition by focussing on the practical work of government. However, his department was responsible for higher education and he was involved in the controversial decision to abandon his party's 'pledge' to phase out university tuition fees.

Vince Cable won a place in people's hearts by demonstrating his skill as a ballroom dancer on 'Strictly Come Dancing'. He retains his passion for ballroom dancing and is also trying his hand as a writer.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

0402Vince Cable20160809

Peter Hennessy invites Vince Cable to reflect on his life and times.

0403Margaret Hodge20160816

0403Margaret Hodge20160816

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early, formative influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is Dame Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking since 1994. Their conversation covers her controversial time as Leader of Islington Council (1982-92), her role as a minister in the Blair and Brown governments, and her performance as chair of the powerful Commons Public Accounts Committee during 2010-15, when she earned a reputation as the scourge of top bosses and Whitehall mandarins.

Margaret Hodge reflects on the impact of her childhood experience as an immigrant and how this shaped her political views. She recalls how she first became involved in politics and became a councillor in Islington in the 1980s, where she was soon embroiled in tough battles with both the far left and the Conservative Government, and how she backed Neil Kinnock's fight to reform the Labour Party. Having been a close neighbour and friend of Tony Blair's in Islington, she backed him as Labour Leader in 1994. In the same year, she entered the Commons by winning the Barking by-election. She reveals how her experience in fighting the BNP's strong challenge in Barking changed her whole approach to politics and also influenced her work on the Commons Public Accounts Committee. Reflecting on her own career, she hopes people will come to appreciate that life is a marathon, not a short sprint, and that they can take on new challenges and contribute much throughout their lives.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

0403Margaret Hodge20160816

Peter Hennessy talks to Margaret Hodge, ex-chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

0403Margaret Hodge20160816

Peter Hennessy talks to Margaret Hodge, ex-chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

In this series, Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early, formative influences, their experiences of events and their impressions of people they've known.

In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is Dame Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking since 1994. Their conversation covers her controversial time as Leader of Islington Council (1982-92), her role as a minister in the Blair and Brown governments, and her performance as chair of the powerful Commons Public Accounts Committee during 2010-15, when she earned a reputation as the scourge of top bosses and Whitehall mandarins.

Margaret Hodge reflects on the impact of her childhood experience as an immigrant and how this shaped her political views. She recalls how she first became involved in politics and became a councillor in Islington in the 1980s, where she was soon embroiled in tough battles with both the far left and the Conservative Government, and how she backed Neil Kinnock's fight to reform the Labour Party. Having been a close neighbour and friend of Tony Blair's in Islington, she backed him as Labour Leader in 1994. In the same year, she entered the Commons by winning the Barking by-election. She reveals how her experience in fighting the BNP's strong challenge in Barking changed her whole approach to politics and also influenced her work on the Commons Public Accounts Committee. Reflecting on her own career, she hopes people will come to appreciate that life is a marathon, not a short sprint, and that they can take on new challenges and contribute much throughout their lives.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

0404Kenneth Baker20160823

0404Kenneth Baker20160823

Former cabinet minister Kenneth Baker discusses his background and career.

0404Kenneth Baker20160823

Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early, formative influences, their experience of events and their impressions of the people they've known.

In this programme, Kenneth Baker, now Lord Baker of Dorking, the former Cabinet Minister in the Thatcher and Major Governments, and author of books on political cartoons, discusses his background and career. He first entered Parliament in 1968 at a by-election, and despite losing his seat in the 1970 election, he soon returned to the Commons and became a minister in the Heath Government. His role as Heath's parliamentary aide damaged his prospects when Thatcher became Conservative leader in 1975, but his business experience prompted him to write a policy paper on new technology, and in early 1981, he was appointed Minister for Information Technology.

Thatcher promoted Baker to her Cabinet in 1985 as Environment Secretary, and in 1986 he became Education Secretary, where he introduced the national curriculum and training for teachers (the 'Baker Days'). As Conservative Party Chairman in 1990, he deflected criticism of the party's poor showing in local elections by highlighting good results in Wandsworth and Westminster. He served as Home Secretary in John Major's Cabinet until 1992, but left office after the 1992 election and in 1997 stood down as an MP. He now sits in the House of Lords and continues to promote technical education. He takes a keen interest in poetry and satire, and despite his portrayal as a slug in the television series, 'Spitting Image', he retains his enthusiasm for caricature and cartoons.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

0404 LASTKenneth Baker20160823

Peter Hennessy, the historian of modern Britain, asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early, formative influences, their experience of events and their impressions of the people they've known.

In this programme, Kenneth Baker, now Lord Baker of Dorking, the former Cabinet Minister in the Thatcher and Major Governments, and author of books on political cartoons, discusses his background and career. He first entered Parliament in 1968 at a by-election, and despite losing his seat in the 1970 election, he soon returned to the Commons and became a minister in the Heath Government. His role as Heath's parliamentary aide damaged his prospects when Thatcher became Conservative leader in 1975, but his business experience prompted him to write a policy paper on new technology, and in early 1981, he was appointed Minister for Information Technology.

Thatcher promoted Baker to her Cabinet in 1985 as Environment Secretary, and in 1986 he became Education Secretary, where he introduced the national curriculum and training for teachers (the 'Baker Days'). As Conservative Party Chairman in 1990, he deflected criticism of the party's poor showing in local elections by highlighting good results in Wandsworth and Westminster. He served as Home Secretary in John Major's Cabinet until 1992, but left office after the 1992 election and in 1997 stood down as an MP. He now sits in the House of Lords and continues to promote technical education. He takes a keen interest in poetry and satire, and despite his portrayal as a slug in the television series, 'Spitting Image', he retains his enthusiasm for caricature and cartoons.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

Former cabinet minister Kenneth Baker discusses his background and career.

05Harriet Harman20170824

Peter Hennessy asks Harriet Harman to reflect on her life and times.

The historian Peter Hennessy asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early formative influences, their experiences and their impressions of people they've known. In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is Harriet Harman, the former Deputy Labour Leader, member of Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown's Cabinets, and determined champion of women's rights and their role in public life.

Harriet Harman reflects on her upbringing in London, where her father was a doctor while her mother was expected to be the housewife despite having qualified as a lawyer and standing as a Liberal candidate in the 1964 election. Recalling her rebellious streak at school and unhappy time at university, Harriet Harman tells how she finally found her 'spiritual home' in Law Centres and the women's movement in the 1970s.

She never intended to enter politics, confessing that she was 'lacking in plans but very full of causes.' However, her outrage that the House of Commons was 97 per cent male prompted her to stand for election. She recalls winning the Peckham by-election in 1982 while expecting her first child and her early days in a male-dominated Parliament.

She recalls that after promotion to Labour's front-bench, she was unable to stop taking on even more work than the men, because she felt that she always had to prove herself. She discusses her time in the Blair and Brown Cabinets and her election as Labour's Deputy Leader in 2007. She also tells why, despite having twice been Labour's Acting Leader, she decided not to stand for the leadership after Brown resigned in 2010. In conclusion, she reflects on the position of women in politics today compared with when she began.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

05Harriet Harman20170824

Peter Hennessy asks Harriet Harman to reflect on her life and times.

The historian Peter Hennessy asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early formative influences, their experiences and their impressions of people they've known. In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is Harriet Harman, the former Deputy Labour Leader, member of Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown's Cabinets, and determined champion of women's rights and their role in public life.

Harriet Harman reflects on her upbringing in London, where her father was a doctor while her mother was expected to be the housewife despite having qualified as a lawyer and standing as a Liberal candidate in the 1964 election. Recalling her rebellious streak at school and unhappy time at university, Harriet Harman tells how she finally found her 'spiritual home' in Law Centres and the women's movement in the 1970s.

She never intended to enter politics, confessing that she was 'lacking in plans but very full of causes.' However, her outrage that the House of Commons was 97 per cent male prompted her to stand for election. She recalls winning the Peckham by-election in 1982 while expecting her first child and her early days in a male-dominated Parliament.

She recalls that after promotion to Labour's front-bench, she was unable to stop taking on even more work than the men, because she felt that she always had to prove herself. She discusses her time in the Blair and Brown Cabinets and her election as Labour's Deputy Leader in 2007. She also tells why, despite having twice been Labour's Acting Leader, she decided not to stand for the leadership after Brown resigned in 2010. In conclusion, she reflects on the position of women in politics today compared with when she began.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

05Michael Howard20170831

Peter Hennessy asks Michael Howard to reflect on his life and times.

In this series, the historian Peter Hennessy asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early formative influences, their experiences and their impressions of people they've known.

In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is Michael Howard, former Leader of the Conservative Party and before that a combative and controversial Home Secretary. Michael Howard reflects on his family background and upbringing in South Wales, and tells of his love of soccer, despite living in a stronghold of Welsh rugby. Howard was a contemporary at Cambridge of other future Conservative politicians, including Kenneth Clarke, Norman Fowler and Norman Lamont. In 1966, Howard, fought a safe Labour seat on Merseyside and took the opportunity when visiting the constituency to watch Liverpool 's home games.

After finally being elected as an MP for Folkestone and Hythe in 1983, Howard rose swiftly through the ranks. He discusses his image and the difficult challenges he faced as a minister - he took the legislation for the 'poll tax' (community charge') through the House of Commons, and later, as Home Secretary, sought to reverse a seemingly inexorable rise in the level of crime by taking a tougher line than his predecessors - an approach epitomised by his comment that 'prison works.'

Although he failed in his to become Tory leader in 1997, Howard subsequently became leader in 2003 after Iain Duncan Smith's resignation. However, the Tory defeat in 2005 prompted him to stand down - his successor was David Cameron, his former Special Adviser at the Home Office. Today, Howard sits in the House of Lords and is chairman of Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

05Michael Howard20170831

Peter Hennessy asks Michael Howard to reflect on his life and times.

In this series, the historian Peter Hennessy asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early formative influences, their experiences and their impressions of people they've known.

In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is Michael Howard, former Leader of the Conservative Party and before that a combative and controversial Home Secretary. Michael Howard reflects on his family background and upbringing in South Wales, and tells of his love of soccer, despite living in a stronghold of Welsh rugby. Howard was a contemporary at Cambridge of other future Conservative politicians, including Kenneth Clarke, Norman Fowler and Norman Lamont. In 1966, Howard, fought a safe Labour seat on Merseyside and took the opportunity when visiting the constituency to watch Liverpool 's home games.

After finally being elected as an MP for Folkestone and Hythe in 1983, Howard rose swiftly through the ranks. He discusses his image and the difficult challenges he faced as a minister - he took the legislation for the 'poll tax' (community charge') through the House of Commons, and later, as Home Secretary, sought to reverse a seemingly inexorable rise in the level of crime by taking a tougher line than his predecessors - an approach epitomised by his comment that 'prison works.'

Although he failed in his to become Tory leader in 1997, Howard subsequently became leader in 2003 after Iain Duncan Smith's resignation. However, the Tory defeat in 2005 prompted him to stand down - his successor was David Cameron, his former Special Adviser at the Home Office. Today, Howard sits in the House of Lords and is chairman of Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

05Tony Blair20170810

Peter Hennessy asks former prime minister Tony Blair to reflect on his life and times.

In this series, the historian Peter Hennessy asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early formative influences, their experiences and their impressions of people they've known.

In the first programme of this run, Peter Hennessy's guest is Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, who gave his name to an era following a rapid rise to power and his energetic leadership at home and abroad during ten years in Downing Street. Like other leaders whose personality creates an aura and whose name creates an 'ism', few people are neutral about Tony Blair and his legacy.

In the interview Blair reflects on his early enthusiasm for acting, 'the performance element' in his character, and the experiences that shaped his political and religious beliefs. Recalling his journey from youthful far-left politics to mainstream Labour and his dramatic path to power, he tells of his dealings with Gordon Brown.

On his premiership, Blair recalls battles against Whitehall's resistance to reform and reflects ruefully on his relations with the media. The conversation explores two of the most momentous issues during his premiership - negotiating the Northern Ireland peace agreement and the controversial decision to go to war in Iraq. On politics today, Blair re-affirms his interest in re-making the centre-left in British politics and shaping a policy agenda to address the challenge of globalisation.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

05Tony Blair20170810

Peter Hennessy asks former prime minister Tony Blair to reflect on his life and times.

In this series, the historian Peter Hennessy asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early formative influences, their experiences and their impressions of people they've known.

In the first programme of this run, Peter Hennessy's guest is Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, who gave his name to an era following a rapid rise to power and his energetic leadership at home and abroad during ten years in Downing Street. Like other leaders whose personality creates an aura and whose name creates an 'ism', few people are neutral about Tony Blair and his legacy.

In the interview Blair reflects on his early enthusiasm for acting, 'the performance element' in his character, and the experiences that shaped his political and religious beliefs. Recalling his journey from youthful far-left politics to mainstream Labour and his dramatic path to power, he tells of his dealings with Gordon Brown.

On his premiership, Blair recalls battles against Whitehall's resistance to reform and reflects ruefully on his relations with the media. The conversation explores two of the most momentous issues during his premiership - negotiating the Northern Ireland peace agreement and the controversial decision to go to war in Iraq. On politics today, Blair re-affirms his interest in re-making the centre-left in British politics and shaping a policy agenda to address the challenge of globalisation.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

05William Hague20170817

The former Conservative leader William Hague reflects on his career with Peter Hennessy.

The historian Peter Hennessy asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early formative influences, their experiences and their impressions of people they've known.

In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is William Hague, the former Conservative Leader who served as Foreign Secretary in the Coalition Government. Hague recalls how he first captured the headlines in 1977 as a sixteen year-old schoolboy from a Yorkshire comprehensive, when he told the Conservative Party Conference, 'it's all right for some of you, half of you won't be here in thirty to forty years time.'

Hague reflects on his family background and upbringing in a staunchly Labour-supporting part of Yorkshire. He was an MP by the age of 28 and only six years later John Major appointed him to the Cabinet as Welsh Secretary. Recalling his time as Conservative Leader after the Tories' 1997 election debacle, he discusses his decision to stand for the leadership against more experienced candidates and his failure to dent Tony Blair's political dominance.

Hague turned to writing after the Tories' heavy election defeat in 2001, and he talks about his biographies of Pitt the Younger, Britain's youngest prime Minister, and William Wilberforce, campaigner against the slave trade. He explains why he returned to frontline politics in 2005 as Shadow Foreign Secretary, talks about his role in forming the Coalition Government in 2010, and discusses his time as Foreign Secretary, including the crises in Libya and Syria. On the future, Hague is concerned about Brexit's impact on Britain's role in the world and discusses his support for the campaign to end the use of sexual violence in conflicts.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

05William Hague20170817

The former Conservative leader William Hague reflects on his career with Peter Hennessy.

The historian Peter Hennessy asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early formative influences, their experiences and their impressions of people they've known.

In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is William Hague, the former Conservative Leader who served as Foreign Secretary in the Coalition Government. Hague recalls how he first captured the headlines in 1977 as a sixteen year-old schoolboy from a Yorkshire comprehensive, when he told the Conservative Party Conference, 'it's all right for some of you, half of you won't be here in thirty to forty years time.'

Hague reflects on his family background and upbringing in a staunchly Labour-supporting part of Yorkshire. He was an MP by the age of 28 and only six years later John Major appointed him to the Cabinet as Welsh Secretary. Recalling his time as Conservative Leader after the Tories' 1997 election debacle, he discusses his decision to stand for the leadership against more experienced candidates and his failure to dent Tony Blair's political dominance.

Hague turned to writing after the Tories' heavy election defeat in 2001, and he talks about his biographies of Pitt the Younger, Britain's youngest prime Minister, and William Wilberforce, campaigner against the slave trade. He explains why he returned to frontline politics in 2005 as Shadow Foreign Secretary, talks about his role in forming the Coalition Government in 2010, and discusses his time as Foreign Secretary, including the crises in Libya and Syria. On the future, Hague is concerned about Brexit's impact on Britain's role in the world and discusses his support for the campaign to end the use of sexual violence in conflicts.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

0501Tony Blair20170810
0502William Hague20170817
0503Harriet Harman20170824

Peter Hennessy asks Harriet Harman to reflect on her life and times.

The historian Peter Hennessy asks senior politicians to reflect on their life and times. Each week, he invites his guest to explore their early formative influences, their experiences and their impressions of people they've known. In this programme, Peter Hennessy's guest is Harriet Harman, the former Deputy Labour Leader, member of Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown's Cabinets, and determined champion of women's rights and their role in public life.

Harriet Harman reflects on her upbringing in London, where her father was a doctor while her mother was expected to be the housewife despite having qualified as a lawyer and standing as a Liberal candidate in the 1964 election. Recalling her rebellious streak at school and unhappy time at university, Harriet Harman tells how she finally found her 'spiritual home' in Law Centres and the women's movement in the 1970s.

She never intended to enter politics, confessing that she was 'lacking in plans but very full of causes.' However, her outrage that the House of Commons was 97 per cent male prompted her to stand for election. She recalls winning the Peckham by-election in 1982 while expecting her first child and her early days in a male-dominated Parliament.

She recalls that after promotion to Labour's front-bench, she was unable to stop taking on even more work than the men, because she felt that she always had to prove herself. She discusses her time in the Blair and Brown Cabinets and her election as Labour's Deputy Leader in 2007. She also tells why, despite having twice been Labour's Acting Leader, she decided not to stand for the leadership after Brown resigned in 2010. In conclusion, she reflects on the position of women in politics today compared with when she began.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.