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Talking Constitutions podcast

The Talking Constitutions podcasts explore the constitutional arrangements that frame the day-to-day affairs of politics and that affect our lives. For more on the project, see here.

The podcast is available via PodBean https://ilcr.podbean.com/ and Apple Podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/talking-constitutions/id1524474273

Details of each episode below:

Episode 1: Constitutional Thinking
The subject of this first episode is constitutional thinking: what we mean by ‘Constitution’ and ‘Constitutional’ and how the nature of the United Kingdom constitution differs from other countries. Discussants are Stephen Gethins (formerly a Westminster MP, now Professor of Practice in International Relations, University of St Andrews), John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews), Caroline Humfress (Director, Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research, University of St Andrews) and Colin Kidd (Professor of Modern History, University of St Andrews).
Episode 2: Constitutions and Emergencies
The subject of this topical episode is constitutions and emergencies, exploring how constitutions affect responses to emergencies and how emergencies lead to constitutional change. Discussants are Jim Gallagher (former Civil Servant, who headed the Scottish justice department and was the UK government’s most senior adviser on devolution and other constitutional issues), John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews) and Catherine Stihler (Chief Executive Officer of Creative Commons).
Episode 3: Second Chambers and the House of Lords
The subject of this episode is ‘Second Chambers and the House of Lords’. It explores the role – ideal and actual – of second chambers, in particular the House of Lords, across different constitutional arrangements. Discussants are Lord Duncan of Springfield (Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords), Stephen Gethins (former MP at Westminster and currently Professor of Practice in International Relations, University of St Andrews), Colin Kidd (Professor of Modern History) and Catherine Stihler (Chief Executive Officer of Creative Commons).
Episode 4: Constitutions and the Brexit Trade Negotiations
The subject of this episode is Trade, in particular the constitutional issues involved in the ongoing trade-negotiations between Britain and the European Union. Discussants are Jenni Dunmore (political advisor on international trade and ACP-EU relations at the European Parliament), Jim Gallagher (former Civil Servant, who headed the Scottish justice department and was the UK government’s most senior adviser on devolution and other constitutional issues), Stephen Gethins (former MP at Westminster and currently Professor of Practice in International Relations, University of St Andrews) and John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews).
Episode 5: Courts and Constitutions
The subject of this episode is ‘Courts and Constitutions’, considering the roles – past, present and potential – of courts and the judiciary within constitutional arrangements in the UK and beyond. Discussants are Lorna Drummond QC (Sheriff sitting at Dundee Sheriff Court and Justice of the Court of Appeal of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha), John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews) and Catherine Stihler (former Labour member of the European Parliament and Chief Executive Officer of Creative Commons), chaired by Stephen Gethins (former MP at Westminster and currently Professor of Practice in International Relations at the University of St Andrews).
Episode 6: Written Constitutions
The subject of this episode is ‘Written Constitutions’, examining the advantages and disadvantages of written and unwritten constitutions, in theory and in practice. Discussants are Lorna Drummond QC (Sheriff in Tayside, Central and Fife, sitting at Dundee Sheriff Court, Sheriff of the Sheriff Appeal Court, and Temporary High Court Judge and Justice of the Court of Appeal of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha); Jim Gallagher (former Civil Servant, headed the Scottish justice department and was the UK government’s most senior adviser on devolution and other constitutional issues); Don Herzog (Edson R. Sunderland Professor of Law at the University of Michigan) and John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews).
Episode 7: Constitutional Futures
The subject of this special episode, recorded live on the day after the 2020 USA elections, is the urgent question of ‘Constitutional Futures?’. Are we inevitably facing a series of – national, global – constitutional crises? Or can we turn our constitutional futures into something to look forward to? Join our panellists, drawn from the worlds of politics, law, business and academia, in thinking through the future of constitutionalism from the local to the global, via nation-state structures and beyond. Discussants are Malik Dahlan (Principal of Institution Quraysh for Law & Policy and Professor of International Law and Public Policy, QMUL); Jim Gallagher (former Civil Servant, who headed the Scottish justice department and was the UK government’s most senior adviser on devolution and other constitutional issues); Stephen Gethins (former MP at Westminster and currently Professor of Practice in International Relations at the University of St Andrews); and Catherine Stihler (former Labour member of the European Parliament and Chief Executive Officer of Creative Commons). The panel is chaired by John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews).
Episode 8: Devolved Powers and Emergencies
The subject of this topical episode is ‘Devolved Powers and Emergencies’, exploring how emergencies test constitutional arrangements concerning devolved powers and how such constitutional arrangements might be improved. Discussants are: Jim Gallagher, a former Civil Servant, who headed the Scottish justice department. He was the UK government’s most senior adviser on devolution and other constitutional issues, working in the Cabinet office and the number 10 policy unit under Gordon Brown. He was secretary of the UK civil contingencies committee and in charge of emergency planning in Scotland; Stephen Gethins, who worked in the NGO Sector specialising in peace-building, arms control and democracy in the Caucasus and the Balkans regions. He has been an MP at Westminster and the Scottish National Party’s Front Bench Spokesman for International Affairs and Europe; and Catherine Stihler, who was a Labour Member of the European Parliament for 20 years and is now Chief Executive Officer of Creative Commons. Chairing the discussion is Ian Duncan, who was a Conservative Member of the European Parliament and more recently the UK Government’s Climate Minister. Having been ennobled as a working peer in 2017, he is now Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.
Episode 9: The U.S. Electoral College
The subject of this special episode of ‘Talking Constitutions’ is the United States Electoral College, recorded to coincide with the meeting of its presidential electors on December 14th 2020. Discussants are Colin Kidd (Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and frequent contributor to the New Statesman, London Review of Books, and many other publications) and John Hudson (Professor of Legal History at the University of St Andrews).
Episode 10: Advisors and Constitutions
The subject of this episode is ‘Advisors and Constitutions’, considering why rulers – past and present – have advisors and whether special advisors pose a threat to constitutional rule. Discussants are Ali Ansari, Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews, Senior Associate Fellow at Royal United Services Institute and currently an AHRC/ESRC FCDO Fellow at the Foreign Office; Caroline Humfress, Director of the Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research, University of St Andrews; and Jacqueline Rose, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of St Andrews and co-editor of Political Advice: Past, Present and Future (I.B. Taurus, 2021). John Hudson, Professor of Legal History at the University of St Andrews, chairs the discussion.
Episode 11: Justiciability
The subject of this episode is ‘Justiciability’, exploring the relevant – judge-made – ‘rules’ with reference to recent, high-profile, litigation. Drawing on the direct experience of both discussants, the episode challenges the idea that there is a clear concept of justiciability currently in operation at either the national (UK) or international level. Discussants are Aidan O’Neill QC (Scot.), QC (E&W), BL (Ireland) and Lorna Drummond QC (Sheriff in Tayside, Central and Fife, sitting at Dundee Sheriff Court, Sheriff of the Sheriff Appeal Court, and Temporary High Court Judge and Justice of the Court of Appeal of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha). The episode is chaired by John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews).
Episode 12: Exporting Constitutions
The subject of this episode is ‘Exporting Constitutions’, considering how constitutions and constitutional ideas have been transported or transferred from their place of origin to a new one. Discussants are Harshan Kumarasingham (Senior Lecturer in British Politics, University of Edinburgh and co-convenor of Arthur Berriedale Keith Forum on Commonwealth Constitutionalism.), Anthony Lang (Professor of International Political Theory, University of St Andrews and one of the founding editors of the scholarly journal, Global Constitutionalism) and Nicola McEwen (Professor of Territorial Politics; Co-Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change, University of Edinburgh; and Senior Research Fellow with the ESRC initiaitive, UK in a Changing Europe). The episode is chaired by John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews).
Episode 13: Old Authorities and Contemporary Constitutions
The subject of this episode is ‘Old Authorities and Contemporary Constitutions’, considering how and why certain works and specific figures from the past carry authority in contemporary constitutional arrangements and arguments. Discussants are Jim Gallagher (former Civil Servant who headed the Scottish Justice Department and was the UK government’s most senior adviser on devolution and other constitutional issues), Janet McLean (Professor of Law at The University of Auckland and Special Advisor to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee of the House of Representatives, New Zealand) and Aidan O’Neill (QC (Scot.), QC (E&W), BL (Ireland). The episode is chaired by John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews).
Episode 14: Space, Law and Constitutions
The subject of this episode is ‘Space, law and constitutions’, considering the laws and institutions that shape a wide variety of activities beyond the earth. Discussants are Timiebi Aganaba (science advisory board member of the SETI institute and Assistant Professor of Space and Society in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, where she is also on the Law School Faculty), Adam Bower (Senior Lecturer in the International Relations at the University of St Andrews), and Michael Byers (Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia). The episode is chaired by John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews). Note: This episode was recorded on 15 February 2022, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Episode 15: Current debates on the UK constitution
The subject of this episode is ‘Current debates on the UK constitution’. Discussants are Stephen Gethins (Professor from Practice, University of St Andrews, and formerly the Scottish National Party’s Front Bench Spokesman for International Affairs and Europe), Nicola McEwen (Professor of Territorial Politics at the Centre on Constitutional Change, University of Edinburgh, and Senior Research Fellow with the ESRC initiative, UK in a Changing Europe), and Catherine Stihler (Chief Executive Officer of Creative Commons and formerly a Labour Member of the European Parliament). The episode is chaired by John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews).
Episode 16: Historical Constitutions
The subject of this episode is ‘Historical Constitutions’. Discussants are Jill Harries (Professor Emerita of Ancient History, University of St Andrews), Colin Kidd (Professor of Modern History, University of St Andrews) and Harshan Kumarasingham (Senior Lecturer in British Politics,  University of Edinburgh and co-convenor of Arthur Berriedale Keith Forum on Commonwealth Constitutionalism). The episode is chaired by John Hudson (Professor of Legal History, University of St Andrews).