Alastair Campbell: There are no rules in podcasting

Political powerhouse talks Boris, burnout and Burnley FC

Saying that UK politics is somewhat chaotic at the moment would be something of an understatement, so it’s no surprise that political podcasts are finding a huge following. After dominating the Apple Podcast charts for almost three consecutive weeks in the UK, The Rest is Politics podcast received tremendous success and sold out a show at the London Palladium in just seven minutes.

Part of the reason behind the podcast’s success, according to co-host Alastair Campbell - former political operator, trained journalist, and activist for mental health - is that podcasting allows him to throw out the traditional media rulebook and forge his own path along with co-host Rory Stewart. Campbell joined Rhianna Dhillon and Matt Hill on the newest episode of PodPod to discuss the rise of political podcasts in the current climate, what makes the dynamic between him and Stewart successful, and what the future holds for the podcast in terms of guests and the next election. 

Editor’s note: We recorded this episode prior to both Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss’ departures from office - underlining just how much ground Campbell and Stewart have to cover from week to week.

Key Takeaways 

Be honest and fair in conversation

“We sort of have this motto that if we agree, we agree, and if we disagree, disagree agreeably,” he says. “We've had a couple of times when it's gotten quite spiky, but even when we're talking about our opponents, I think we try to be reasonable.”

Broaden out the guest list 

“I actually don't think we should be doing the people in the news and I think if somebody's doing interviews left, right and centre, we should probably avoid them,” he says. “...I think at the moment, we are focusing very much on what I would call A-list politicians, but I think we are going to broaden out.”

Balance mental health with the podcast schedule 

“I think sometimes when I am in a bit of a downward phase, forcing myself to do stuff that’s in the diary because it’s in the diary, even if I don’t do it a hundred percent to my own satisfaction, it’s good to do,” he says. “... I think on balance, the whole thing's probably good for my mental health.”