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It's Bloody Complicated - A Compass Podcast

News & Politics Podcasts

Hear from the widest range of voices in the progressive movement. Every week, host Neal Lawson, speaks with progressive thinkers, writers and politicians from the UK and beyond about current affairs and how to build the Good Society. Visit to learn more about Compass.

Hear from the widest range of voices in the progressive movement. Every week, host Neal Lawson, speaks with progressive thinkers, writers and politicians from the UK and beyond about current affairs and how to build the Good Society. Visit to learn more about Compass.


United Kingdom


Hear from the widest range of voices in the progressive movement. Every week, host Neal Lawson, speaks with progressive thinkers, writers and politicians from the UK and beyond about current affairs and how to build the Good Society. Visit to learn more about Compass.




The Future We Want #2: The Climate Crisis with Andrew Simms

In the second episode of The Future We Want, a new series from Compass and the Orwell Youth Prize, Orwell Youth Fellows Lauren DeBruin and Hugh Ludford join Andrew Simms to discuss climate, dystopia – and how we encourage each other to want a better future. Andrew Simms is the co-director of the New Weather Institute, coordinator of the Rapid Transition Alliance and co-author of the original Green New Deal. The episode begins with Lauren and Hugh reading their pieces, 'What We Lost' and...


Progressive Alliance: Will Labour Accept Sharing Power to Win? Live from Labour Conference | Ep.49

This episode of It's Bloody Complicated is brought to you from Labour Party Conference. At this year's conference, the Labour machine rejected the overwhelming wishes of party members, and the motion for the party to adopt proportional representation fell. We were joined by Labour MP Clive Lewis, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Labour for a New Democracy campaign head Laura Parker and Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith to look at the necessity and strategy of a progressive alliance following...


The Future We Want: The Poverty Pandemic with Dawn Butler

Compass and the Orwell Youth Prize have teamed up to bring you a special new series, The Future We Want. In this first episode, Orwell Youth Fellow Manal Nadeem joins Dawn Butler MP for a discussion of race, power and the pandemic. The episode begins with Manal reading her piece, 'The Poverty Pandemic'. Read 'The Poverty Pandemic' by Manal Nadeem The Orwell Youth Prize is an annual programme for students aged 12–18 culminating in a writing prize. The prize and programme introduce young...


BONUS: How to Stop Fascism with Paul Mason

We welcome writer, journalist and film-maker Paul Mason to the podcast to discuss his new book, How to Stop Fascism (Allen Lane). Paul spoke about how the rise of right-wing populism and authoritarianism has not acted as a 'firewall' against fascism, the online tactics of the new networked fascism and the lessons of the French Popular Front for a Progressive Alliance movement today. How to Stop Fascism: History, Ideology, Resistance is available now. It's Bloody Complicated is recorded...


The Future of the Greens with Jonathan Bartley | Ep.48

Recently departed Green Party Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley joins It’s Bloody Complicated. Jonathan stepped down as Green co-leader in July. He is now focusing his energy on helping to build a progressive alliance, saying to the Guardian that ‘there is a progressive majority in this country but we will have Conservative governments as far as we can see because of first past the post’. He spoke about why we need a progressive alliance – and why there must be something in it for the Greens – as...


From the Soft Left to Left Patriotism with John Denham | Ep.47

John Denham joined It's Bloody Complicated to talk nation, identity and patriotism. Is there such a thing as ‘progressive patriotism’? And against the backdrop of Brexit and a potential second Scottish independence referendum, is it finally time for progressives to talk about England? John Denham is Professor and Director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics at the University of Southampton, and co-founder of the English Labour Network. He was the Labour MP for Southampton...


BONUS: Decision Time for Deutschland, in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

This episode was recorded immediately following the initial devastating flooding across western Germany. Our thoughts and solidarity are with all those affected. Compass has teamed up with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung to bring you a German election special. Germany is poised to pick its next leader. After 16 years at the helm, Angela Merkel is stepping aside – and what comes next is anyone’s guess. Will Germans elect Armin Laschet, her successor in the CDU, after he pledged to continue...


Big Ideas Before Their Time with Anna Coote | Ep.46

Policy innovator Anna Coote joined It’s Bloody Complicated to talk about a life at the cutting edge of policy thinking – from citizens' juries to a four-day week and universal basic services. We took a closer look at the idea of universal basic services (UBS) – and any tensions that may exist with universal basic income (UBI). And we surveyed the present state of progressive politics – and how we can advocate and implement transformative policies for a good society. It's Bloody...


Brexit: Five Years Later | Ep.45

On 23rd June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU by a majority of 52% to 48%. The ensuing half-decade has seen rolling political turmoil, unprecedented realignments and questions over the future of the UK itself. To help make sense of these historic times, we welcome Labour MP Jon Trickett, Guardian journalist Zoe Williams, Zoe's dog Romeo, and writer Anthony Barnett to the show. Jon Trickett is the Labour MP for Hemsworth and a former shadow minister under the leaderships of...


Johnson and Gramsci: Tackling the Tories Today | Ep.44

What are the strategy, ideology and aims of the modern Conservative Party? To beat them, we have to understand them – and maybe even learn from them. Professor Ken Spours applies the thinking of Antonio Gramsci to help us get to grips with today’s shapeshifting Tories. Ken has provided some additional notes to accompany the show. Find them here: Discussed on the show: Antonio Gramsci – Prison Notebooks Stuart Hall – 'New Labour's Double Shuffle' Ken Spours –...


The Dignity of Labour with Jon Cruddas | Ep.43

Jon Cruddas MP joins It’s Bloody Complicated to mark the launch of his new book, The Dignity of Labour (Polity). Does work give our lives purpose, meaning and status? Or is it a tedious necessity that will soon be abolished by automation, leaving humans free to enjoy a life of leisure and basic income? Jon Cruddas is Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham. The Dignity of Labour is available from Polity. It's Bloody Complicated is recorded every second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Become a...


Election Special | Ep.42

Election results across England, Scotland and Wales showed more than ever why progressives need to work together – and what can happen when they do. We're joined by a stellar lineup to survey the aftermath, and work out where we go next: Sir John CurticeCaroline LucasBeth WinterLayla MoranTommy SheppardClive LewisFrom Hartlepool to Holyrood, we analyse the outcomes for the different progressive parties, as well as, crucially, what the results mean for the prospect of a Progressive Alliance...


In Conversation with Mandu Reid | Ep.41

Leader of the Women's Equality Party Mandu Reid joined the podcast to talk about why the pandemic has not been a gender-neutral crisis, how her 'politically polyamorous' party is shaking up the system and why she's working to put herself out of a job. Mandu Reid is Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, the party’s candidate for Mayor of London and the first Black leader of a national British political party. It's Bloody Complicated is recorded every second and fourth Tuesday of the month....


In Conversation with Vince Cable | Ep.40

Former leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Vince Cable joins It’s Bloody Complicated to share the lessons of his long and varied political life and tell us about his new book, Money and Power. In uncertain times for progressives of all stripes, not least the Lib Dems, it was great to get Vince's unique perspective. Vince Cable was MP for Twickenham from 1997 to 2015 and from 2017 to 2019, and as leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2017–19. He served in the Conservative–Lib Dem coalition...


Starmer's First Year with Paul Mason | Ep.39

It’s a year since Keir Starmer was elected leader of the Labour Party – a year that has seen the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, internal divisions within the party and vocal debates about the best way forward. We welcome writer, journalist and film-maker Paul Mason to It’s Bloody Complicated to discuss Keir Starmer one year on, the prospects for a Progressive Alliance, strategies for the left and his fascinating political life. Paul Mason is the author of six books, the most recent of...


Out of the Ordinary with Marc Stears, Jon Cruddas, Sue Goss and John Harris | Ep.38

Special guest host John Harris is joined by Marc Stears to discuss Marc's new book, Out of the Ordinary: How Everyday Life Inspired a Nation and How It Can Again. Joining John and Marc are Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, and Sue Goss, author of Open Tribe and the Compass report Garden Mind. In Out of the Ordinary, Stears describes how, in a period of intense political turmoil from the 1920s–50s, a group of British writers and artists showed a way forward by shining a light...


Belonging, Place and the Nation with Clive Lewis, Francesca Klug and Stuart White | Ep.37

On this very special edition of It’s Bloody Complicated, we're joined by Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South; academic and advocate for human rights Francesca Klug; and political theorist Stuart White to celebrate the launch of Belonging, Place and the Nation, Compass’s new report into nationalism and patriotism. Should we try to confront the Right with our own, more progressive, patriotism and nationalism? Or should we abandon these terms and instead try to build something else? In...


Progressive Alliance: The Reunion | Ep.36

On this edition of It’s Bloody Complicated , we're celebrating a very special reunion. Neal Lawson is joined by 2017 Progressive Alliance veterans Andrée Frieze, Barry Langford, Stephen Clark, Remco van der Stoep, Jana Mills, Steve Williams and Frances Foley to look back on the successes and lessons of that election, and look forward to how we can build a formidable Progressive Alliance next time. Results analysis suggests that, in 2017, the Progressive Alliance made a difference in dozens...


Re-imagining Democracy with Peter MacFadyen and Indra Adnan | Ep.35

On this episode of It's Bloody Complicated, Frances Foley is joined by another great double bill – this time Peter MacFadyen who has inspired the Flatpack Democracy movement and Indra Adnan one of the co-founders of the new politics champions The Alternative UK. Flatpack Democracy is an independent movement which started in Frome, inspired by frustration with missed opportunitities the way local government usually works. Since then, the group has taken control of the local council and...


The Year Ahead with Yasmin Khan and Tom Clark | Ep.34

We’re diving straight into 2021 with a conversation about what the next year might hold for us and what it all means for progressive politics. Our guests, Tom Clark (Editor of Prospect Magazine) and Yasmin Khan (human rights campaigner), were on hand to help us chart a course through what is likely to be an extraordinarily challenging year for us all. We covered the pandemic, the economy, the Tories, Labour, Scotland, Biden, and more. And as ever, we took questions live on the call from...