Tue, 17 December 2019
It's the last podcast of 2019 and the new Westminster Parliament reconvenes with Boris Johnson's election pledge to "Get Brexit done"still ringing in our ears.
And we begin with discussing Johnson's latest moves on the EU Withdrawal Bill and what attitude the EU might take to the prospect of an independent Scotland. Lesley asks what impact an unequivocal welcome from someone so outspoken as Michel Barnier might have.
Just when you think you've heard all you can take of EU jargon,I chip in on "Level playing fields" and "Dynamic alignment".
Civil war on several fronts has broken out in the Labour Party, north and south of the border. Can Labour find a place in the completely reshaped Scottish political landscape? Can it survive as a single, unitary party?
But it's not just Labour how have to react to the SNP's stunning electoral victory.Nicola Sturgeon's anti Tory, progressive alliance throws the gauntlet down to not only Labour but the Lib Dems.
As for the Tories they too will have to decide just how Scottish they are.
We also look back on the highs and lows of 2019 and Lesley breaks some fantastic news on a brilliant new film project.
Fri, 13 December 2019
It's the afternoon after the late night before and Lesley and I try to make sense of the results of the General Election.
Lesley,unashamedly, starts by looking at the tremendous showing by the SNP, and, in so doing,gives me the telling off I deserve.
The rest of the podcast is taken up with attempting to explain just what happened and examining the impact of the election on all of the main parties across the UK.
Naturally we also focus on what it all means for the Scottish independence campaign.
I'll let you judge how successful we are, given our late, late night, and very early morning.
Tue, 10 December 2019
It's two days until polling and we kick off with trying to work our way through yesterday's big stories around gaffes,punches, and gaming the media.
However we move on to go behind the headlines and question if this focus is obscuring the real issues, and if the resulting loss of public trust in the BBC and other institutions is fuelling the apparent drift towards the Tories in England.
Lesley was up in Cromarty where she spoke with Jon Snow of Channel 4. The London media seem to think that the next big story is Scottish independence. But Lesley asks what if the Tories win on Thursday, where can we go if Westminster says no to indyref2? Some surprising voices, including us, are saying that non violent civil disobedience would be justified.
We've championed Emma Barnett of the BBC but did she "jump the shark" on the BBC QT under 30s debate with her "nationalised sausages", and last minute "7% deficit" questions to Angela Rayner and Humza Yousaf?
Nicola Sturgeon has continually been grilled on the Scottish government's record during the campaign.Boris Johnson has tried to paint himself as an outsider hamstrung by a "Remoaner" Parliament. Lesley wonders who he'll blame if/when he wins on Thursday with an entirely Brexiteer set of Tory MPs.
I chip in on how can this new, reactionary Conservative Party, keep its northern English, working class base onside.
Tue, 3 December 2019
Lesley took a few days out in Rotterdam to recharge her batteries at a Sibelius concert. She also attended a service at the Scots Presbyterian Church. Though not a practising Christian, she didn't realise how much spiritual sustenance she needed.
She also spent time with former Labour minister,Les Huckfield, who's now campaigning vigorously for Pete Wishart.
These two, seemingly, contrasting but actually complementary experiences take up the first part of this week's podcast.
As the polls still, despite recent shifts, show the likelihood of a Tory majority government we ask, yet again, what next for the independence movement in that scenario.
Jackson Carlaw appeared on the Call Kaye Show yesterday, and my spirits, which definitely needed raising, were lifted by the incredible "Mo from Glasgow".
I have a wee pet theory about the impact of Nicola Sturgeon's performances on TV and I try it out on Lesley.
The Brexit Party were campaigning in Dundee last Saturday, and Lesley manages to make something quite noble and rational from my less than diplomatic reaction to them.
It's PISA time,again, and once again Scottish education comes under scrutiny for our standings in the league table.Lesley looks at the outstanding Estonian system, and I question not only PISA itself but the validity of its results and methods.
There's all the usual highways and byways plus a plug for the Oor Wullie musical at Dundee Rep.
Tue, 26 November 2019
As Boris Johnson flew up to Scotland to launch the Scottish Tory manifesto has the SNP pulled off a master stroke by announcing its ground breaking, in UK terms, extension of paternity leave?
Labour has also been forcing the issue on WASPI women but is it too late to the party and can it be trusted on matters of equality given the record of Labour controlled Glasgow City Council?
It's been a busy old week for the party leaders facing both the public and political commentators. We focus on last night's Andrew Neil interview with Nicola Sturgeon and that Question Time leaders' special.
This takes us quite naturally into Dr Philippa Whitford's QT appearance in Bolton and Lesley turning down an opportunity to appear on a national current affairs panel in London.
Richard Leonard was on the Call Kaye Show yesterday and got a grilling on the,apparent, rift between Scottish and UK Labour on nuclear disarmament. He also laid out Labour's 2021 date for a potential indyref2 but does its 50% of the electorate voting Yes show that its running scared?
The Orthodox Chief Rabbi of the UK stepped firmly into the political arena today with his pronouncements on the fitness of Jeremy Corbyn to be PM. This followed closely on the Pope's statement on nuclear weapons and the Scottish Catholic bishops' letter to parishioners on matters they should consider when casting their votes. Just how involved should religious leaders become in politics?
Along the way we also discuss, Oor Wullie,Sibelius, the incredible disappearing Jacob Rees-Mogg, and the power of song.
Tue, 19 November 2019
As the General Election campaigns pick up pace we take a,somewhat sceptical, look at how Labour's policies are being ignored,particularly on the BBC, in favour of highlighting party in fighting.
Lesley focuses on Labour's plan for public sector broadband and wonders if it could be a game changer.
Inevitably this leads us on to the electoral debates, not just the exclusion of all parties other than Labour and the Tories, but ITN's stance if they'd lost court case taken out by the SNP and Lib Dems .
In case you think we've gone soft we do get stuck into Corbyn and Scottish Labour's 1979 " SNP ushering in Thatcher" claims.
Unfortunately we can't escape that Prince Andrew interview and we have our say on the sorry,sordid affair.
Lesley is once again in demand for informed commentary on BBC Scotland's "Campaign". But only if she's willing to howk her way through to Pacific Quay when there's a studio just across the Tay,in Dundee. She wonders if this symptomatic of the BBC's exclusion of the diverse voices of Scotland.
Along the way we also discuss the National Lottery, spam, and Catholic rap.
Tue, 12 November 2019
After some merry badinage regarding Jo Swinson's strangled vowels and ever shifting accent, we get down to serious business.
The BBC has come under fire over Wreathgate, we discuss just what might have happened and the "robust" defence of the BBC position by Rob Burley. Lesley wonders if you can get away with anything, if your accent is posh enough.
Coverage of this debacle seemed to have crowded out the non publication of the report on Russian interference in UK politics.That is until Hillary Clinton's intervention this morning.And if anyone should know about Russian interference in the democratic process, it's Hillary.
Electoral pacts, standing aside, and tactical voting have grabbed election headlines this week and we examine the implications of all three across both Scotland and England.Lesley also takes the opportunity to criticise not only our archaic First Past the Post voting system but also Holyrood's version of PR.
The latest Spanish elections saw the Socialists emerge as the largest party but with no overall majority. But this second election in just seven months has seen the emergence of Vox, an avowed fascist party, as the third largest in the Spanish lower house.
It was the centenary of the birth of the great Hamish Henderson on Sunday and,as I try and give some sense of his importance as poet, folklorist, and radical intellectual,Lesley shares some very personal memories.
Tue, 5 November 2019
A European Arrest Warrant for Clara Ponsati,on charges of sedition, was issued by Spain just before we recorded today's podcast.We give our initial reactions to the shocking news.
Lesley was at the National's Yes rally in George Square last Saturday and she reveals who she thought was the most impressive speaker. The BBC has responded to criticism of its coverage, to be honest we're sceptical, to say the least, to its reply.
This leads, neatly I reckon, to the exclusion of the SNP from the televised election debates. Lesley has some interesting thoughts, not just on this, but the whole framing of political debate on our screens.
The Scottish Greens have decided to field at least 20 candidates in the General Election. I question why, and consider what impact this might have on marginal,SNP held, constituencies. We compare and contrast this with Sinn Fein's decision not to stand in three Northern Irish seats and electoral pacts in England and Wales.
Our last "big bit" is on Lesley's analysis of Boris Johnson's attempts to position himself as a "One Nation Tory" .Will it work in Leave voting traditional Labour areas?
Along the way we also look at Jacob Rees Mogg's statements on Grenfell, and the government cover up on Russian interference in UK politics.
Wed, 30 October 2019
Well chums a week was definitely a long time in politics because after yesterday's votes at Westminster we're now heading for a general election on December the 12th. We try and examine the myriad of permutations over voting intentions and party stances and wonder if the real issues such as climate change and austerity will break through the dominant narrative of Brexit.
We also turn our attention to the prospect of indyref2 and the need for Yessers to rally round the SNP electoral machine, putting aside our differences, over the course of the election campaign.
I chip in on the harsh realities behind the sloganeering of the Tories on leaving the EU as shown by the exposure of trade talks between the UK and the USA and the shelving of workers' rights and environmental standards in the Johnson deal.
Lesley attended ,and spoke at, the Radical Independence Campaign meeting in Glasgow last Saturday and came away enthused at the energy and collegiate enthusiasm of the folk who were there.
The first inquiry report into the Grenfell Tower fire has now been released and it focuses blame on the London Fire Brigade. Boris Johnson claims that the survivors will now know the truth behind the tragedy.Is this yet another establishment cover up?
Along the way we also discuss, amongst other things, Jo Swinson's wandering vowels , but not Dundee United's win v Partick Thistle last night.
Tue, 22 October 2019
This was yet another in the long list of "the most important days yet" in the Brexit saga. Both Lesley and I spent the vast majority of the day following the blethering skites in Westminster waiting for the two votes at 7 and 7.30 tonight.
The government won the first to secure the second reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill, but lost the second on the truncated timetable for scrutiny and amendment. We try and work out what it all means, we'll let you judge just how successful we are.
Thousands of women who were awarded pay outs after winning their equal pay case v Glasgow City Council were stunned to discover that legal fees had been removed despite promises from their unions. Lesley examines the history of the case and the ongoing fight the women are putting up for justice.
Finally we focus on the violent clamp down on Catalonian protestors, the plight of their imprisoned leaders, and the brutal slaughter of Kurds on the Turkey/Syria border. We ask, why the international complicity in and media silence on both these appalling situations.
Fri, 18 October 2019
While I was away sunning myself in Madeira Lesley was attending the SNP annual conference in Aberdeen where she may have mentioned setting up a new political party. Lesley gives the background to this and vents her frustrations at the SNP's timidity in tackling burning issues of domestic policy.
The struggle of Staffin Community Trust (SCT) to pay for six new family homes, a medical clinic and business units on Skye to try and secure the future of its community throws this lack of ambition into sharp relief.
We're all on tenterhooks waiting for the big vote on Brexit on "Super Saturday".
Once again we try and pick our way through the minutiae of this latest deal and figure out the political permutations and ramifications.Lesley indulges in some, well deserved, "Eh telt yis".
BBC Scotland seems to be on a run of outstanding documentaries on Scotland's social history. The latest of these is on the Timex strike in Dundee. It's a subject close to my heart and hurt and pride still runs deep in the city 26 years later.
Along the way there's also, praise for Dr Philippa Whitford's appearance on Question Time, my pre university job adventures, and Dundee United losing to St Johnstone in the 2014 Scottish Cup Final.
Fri, 4 October 2019
Paddy is on holiday and it hasn't been a quiet week. Between Brexit, Rory the Tory, Joanna Cherry, the EU extending, Land and Housing on Skye, a brief detour into Facebook and smacking bans; it has been hard to keep up with the flood of new developments. Recorded early on Friday morning after Rory's resignation and in the hour before he announced his mayoral ambitions; there was the proof. It is hard to keep up.
However, Lesley invited an old voice back into the pod to try and make sense. And hopefully, it did.
Also worth pointing out, Lesley is going to be out on the road, talking to the audiences at a number of gigs. Details are all given in the pod.
Direct download: It_is_hard_to_keep_up.mp3
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Tue, 24 September 2019
The Supreme court's unanimous decision to declare Boris Johnson's prorogation of Parliament not only unlawful but null and void takes up the majority of this week's podcast.
We consider the central role of the "Scottish case", brought by Joanna Cherry QC MP and others in this momentous ruling.
We also try and predict, you can be the judge of how successfully in the next few days, what ramifications it will have for Johnson's future, a General Election, and Scottish independence.
Great Thunberg made an impassioned speech to the UN this week on the climate emergency. Lesley reflects on the burden that this young woman seems to be bearing for the whole of the planet and asks are we as individuals,and governments, including the Scottish,talking the talk but not doing the walk.
We both chip in on two very emotional experiences this past weekend.
Lesley at the Lismore book festival where Mairi Campbell ,a pioneering musician gave a remarkable concert that pushed the boundaries of Scottish traditional music.
Me, rather more mundanely, at Tannadice with Lawrence Shankland's two late goals.
Tue, 17 September 2019
On the morning that the Supreme Court convened to hear the appeals on the Joanna Cherry and Gina Miller cases Lesley reminds us that climate change is still the big issue.
However we can't resist the siren call of prorogation and the constitutional crisis for long and we do discuss the Supreme Court hearings. Be warned, in depth.
It's the Lib Dem conference, the first party conference of the season, in Bournemouth and we try to get our heads round their electoral strategies and targeting of the electorate. Neither of us shy away from highlighting either Jo Swinson's record in government nor the Lib Dem hypocrisy on another Scottish referendum on independence.
Lesley attended a terrific Business for Scotland event and previews the launch of its exciting pro indy materials.
We ,yet again, wonder, in the light of the failure of Angus Brendan MacNeil and Christopher McEleny's Plan B motion to be heard at the SNP annual conference when will the SNP make independence the main plank of their General Election platform.
Finally,as Dundee V&A celebrates its first birthday we reflect on "Dundee's living room".
Tue, 10 September 2019
In,yet another in the series of,most momentous weeks for the UK Parliament we inevitably begin with last night's events at Westminster.
Lesley,wisely,was in her bed as they unfolded.Daft lad here could not resist the siren call of "Division" from Speaker,John Bercow. As per usual we try and make sense of it all and consider the now inevitable General Election from both a UK and Scottish perspective.
Perth was the venue for the latest AUOB march and Lesley was there.
The BBC,however,most definitely wasn't. Lesley questions why they were absent and looks forward to October's mass rally in Edinburgh.
Theresa May announced her Honours list earlier today. I have my say on Geoffrey Boycott's knighthood.
And, no surprise, there's lots of other incidental, but no less important meanderings, including why you should never buy sliced bread on a dark rainy night.
Tue, 3 September 2019
On a day which began with Nicola Sturgeon presenting the Programme for Government with the climate emergency and indyref2 at its core and ended with senior Tories like Kenneth Clarke and Philip Hammond being expelled from the Tory Party, Lesley and I try to make sense of it all.
We recorded the podcast just after the momentous vote ,lost by Boris Johnson, which meant that MPs took control of Parliamentary business to try and rule out a No Deal Brexit. The result of which lead to the PM confirming his intention to call a general election if MPs block No Deal.
And, as always, we examine the events through the prism of their impact on the campaign for Scottish independence.
Tue, 27 August 2019
After an opening salvo on the perils and dubious pleasures of digital technology and assembling hose systems (trust me it's more interesting than it sounds) we move on to discuss the modern phenomenon of so-called dirty camping. A symptom of our disposable culture or something more?
As Corbyn gets ready to meet the leaders of the other opposition parties I reckon this is all just positioning for a snap General Election. Lesley disagrees.
It's the Shetland by election on Thursday. Are the Lib Dems running scared of the SNP's Tom Wills and is there an upset on the cards?
Nicola Sturgeon seems to think so, and she and other SNP big guns have been campaigning hard up there.
The FM ran into criticism for being "away from the mainland" when the GERS figures were announced. We question the obsession, on all sides of the independence divide, with this annual event.
As per usual there's lots of other stuff plus, with Lesley's approval, I get to talk about cricket.
Tue, 20 August 2019
We spend the first part of this week's podcast on the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe.
You'll find out what Lesley liked,why I don't go,very often,and the part it plays in Scotland's culture,for good or ill.
Fans of the Tattoo should probably look away now.
Iain Duncan Smith, he of welfare reforms and Universal Credit fame, announced the Centre for Social Justice's plans to hike the state pension age to 75. I take a wee peek behind the statistics on UK life expectancy and it's not very pleasant.
The Herald and Sunday Herald have been punting major stories of Community buy out "failure" and the "success" of HIE in reversing depopulation. Lesley wonders just their agenda is ,and what exactly is this success.
The Electoral Commission is planning to examine the question ,this apparently taking 12 weeks,to be put in any future Scottish independence referendum ,much to the delight of Murdo Fraser. We question the question.
There's,as always,other stuff including bizarre encounters with Gordon Brown,and my love of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads.
Mon, 12 August 2019
There has been a slew of articles by journalists and commentators down south supporting Scottish independence. Lesley tries, and succeeds, to tease out just what's going on.
Gordon Brown, in stark contrast, remerged to issue dire warnings about "disruptive and divisive nationalism". We question what, if any, relevance the ex PM’s intervention has in the current political climate.
Wings over Scotland has announced his intention, under specific circumstances, to launch a new pro Indy party to stand for list seats in the next Holyrood election. This prompts a discussion not only on why, but also the best way to "game" the Additional Member voting system to ensure a pro-independence parliamentary majority.
It's the "glorious 12th", the start of the grouse shooting season. Labour has announced plans to consider banning the practice and the Revive Coalition is running a vigorous campaign to eliminate it in Scotland. Lesley considers what the defence of the industry says about aspects of the Scottish psyche.
Along the way we also look at the current in-fighting between Scottish and UK Labour, and within Scottish Labour itself, and certain folk win their bet on hockey rearing its head.
Mon, 5 August 2019
We return after a three week hiatus as a survey by pollster Lord Ashcroft put backing for Scottish independence at 46 per cent, with 43 per cent against.
Support for independence rose to 52 per cent, with 48 per cent against, when those who said they did not know how they would vote or said they would not vote were removed.
Lesley considers the significance of this reverse Boris bounce and just where this leaves not only the Yes movement but the SNP leadership.
Ruth Davidson's popularity among English Conservatives has plummeted. We ask what kind of future she and the Scottish Tories face with Johnson as PM and party leader.
It's just over two years since the Grenfell Tower fire and after my recent stay in London I examine what, if anything, has changed in Kensington and Chelsea.
Along the way we discuss the appointment of Alister Jack as Scottish Secretary, Liz Truss's meeting with right wing US "think tanks", and the potential for a snap ,pre Brexit, General Election.
There might be a wee mention of Dundee United in there as well.
Tue, 16 July 2019
Lesley found herself at the centre of a Twitter pile on when she raised how cold the working conditions were for staff at her local Tesco store. She discovered there was a lot more to it than face value when she responded to the criticism, not only in terms of the treatment of workers but the climate emergency.
SEPA has also come in for some stick this week for its use of short haul air flights to the Scottish islands. Again, Lesley probes beneath the presenting issue to examine the potential for technological solutions and the underlying problem of our top down, centralised systems.
Sticking with climate, Ursula von der Leyen, German Minister of Defence & Candidate for President of the European Commission, has promised a Green Deal in order to secure left votes for her candidacy. In the same speech she also reiterated the EU's complete support for the Irish backstop. This in stark contrast to the latest utterances form both Johnson and Hunt, who have both declared the backstop "dead".
The two Tory leadership contenders did condemn the latest tweets from Donald Trump telling the four Democratic members of the House of Representatives to go back to the countries they came from but refused to label the comments as racist. As Trump doubled down on his attacks last night, just what does this say about the current state of the USA and the UK.
The latest set of drug death figures for Scotland are about to be released and they're expected to show yet another horrific rise. Just what can the Scottish Government do, given that drugs policy is a reserved matter?
There's also a wee bit of chat on the importance of sporting events being free to air, my cricket listening habits, and our obsession with turning off taps.
Tue, 9 July 2019
The Women’s World Cup in France was an unprecedented success in terms of media coverage and popular interest but Lesley questions just what the legacy, if any, will be for the women’s game in Scotland.
Lesley was one of the distinguished panel, which sat in Edinburgh, courtesy of the Electoral Reform Society, to answer questions from the press and public on the potential role of Citizens Assemblies in determining Scotland’s democratic future. How did it go?
Today sees the introduction of the clunkily named Northern Ireland Executive Formation Bill in Westminster. The absence of the Northern Ireland assembly has provided the opportunity for two Labour MPs, Conor McGinn and Stella Creasey, to introduce amendments to bring the province into line with GB legislation on same sex marriage and abortion. We consider what position SNP MPs should take on these devolved matters.
Tue, 25 June 2019
Lesley’s just back from the Community Land Scotland conference at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye where the rural housing crisis, facing young people in particular, was the key topic.
Lesley questions whether the Scottish government is doing enough to tackle the desperate situation particularly, in the light of its opposition to the Andy Wightman amendments to the Planning Bill.
We just can’t escape from Brexit and I have a wee look at the UK government’s proposed replacement for the EU structural funds which will be administered, not from Edinburgh, but London. This takes us, surprisingly, into a more complex area of “power grabs” than you might imagine, and wondering when, and if, the Scottish Greens can emulate the campaigning success of their European sister parties.
By way of the Northern Powerhouse and City deals, it all made sense as we went along, we finish up discussing the great article by Fintan O’Toole on the potential of Scotland to be a new kind of state.
And we just couldn’t let the Tory Party leadership election go unmentioned, try as hard as we might.
Wed, 19 June 2019
It's the morning after the night before and, as we promised, we try and dissect the Tory party leadership debate on BBC 1.
We focus, not just on the performances of the candidates, but the format and the poison chalice of chairing handed to Emily Maitliss.
The latest YouGov poll revealed that Tory party members were quite willing to see the breakup of their precious union, damage to the economy, and the destruction of their party rather than fail to achieve Brexit. Lesley tries to figure out what this means to the Conservative and Unionist Party and where it leaves Ruth Davidson.
The questions, chair, and format of Scotland's first Citizens Assembly has been announced. Is this a welcome development or a missed opportunity for a genuinely radical first step towards independence?
Planning isn't a headline grabbing topic, just ask Lesley who's trying to get an article commissioned by any Scottish newspaper, but stage 3 of The Planning Bill (Scotland) is currently making its way through Holyrood. What does the reaction of the Scottish government to the raft of amendments say about its relationship with the Scottish business establishment?
We end with some reflections on the Scottish women's final group game in the World Cup, and I chip in on the fairy tale story of the Afghan cricket team.
Tue, 11 June 2019
We kick off this week’s podcast with the unavoidable bunfight that is the race for the Tory party leadership (I defy you to name the 10th contender without Googling him).
Lesley focuses on the broadcast media’s coverage of what is an entirely internal Conservative party issue but one with major implications for the wider public.
Almost seamlessly we switch to examining Ruth Davidson’s support for Sajid Javid, has she backed the wrong candidate given Boris Johnson’s early lead amongst Conservative MPs and what will the impact be on the Scottish branch if he’s elected?
We also touch on Richard Leonard’s recent announcement of Scottish Labour’s u turn on a second EU referendum where they’d argue for Remain.
My tweet on the birthday honours list certainly got Twitter excited and as Lesley lets us know, in no uncertain terms, her views, I consider why the actions of our” heroes” resonate so strongly with some of us.
Last week’s section on Mondragon and cooperatives led to some great feedback and after that I decided to look into what was happening in Scotland in a wee bit more depth with some surprising results.
Lesley visited the fantastic Shieling Project, an off-grid learning centre in Glen Strathfarrar. The project is all about outdoor living and the tradition of the shieling where folk lived outdoors all summer herding the cattle.
Naturally we couldn’t ignore the Scotland Women’s World Cup campaign and Lesley returns to its coverage across the media.
Tue, 4 June 2019
Lesley has just submitted her, nine years in the making, PhD thesis on the Norwegian and Scottish hutting movements. She reflects on what these two very different experiences can tell us about the economics of power lying beneath the surface of UK democracy.
This leads us, neatly I reckon, into the Preston Model of local economic democracy and the story of the Mondragon Cooperative.
Trump has landed in London for his state visit. Just what can the coverage of the event by both the British and US media tell us about our democracies in the "post-truth" era.
Sir Ed Davey and Jo Swinson are the two candidates to replace Vince Cable of the resurgent, in England anyway Dems. Lesley wonders, once Brexit is stripped away, just how progressive is the party of the austerity coalition.
We finish with a shameless plug for the new movie about Elton John, Rocketman, not too many spoilers, and congratulations to Liverpool on winning the Champions League.
There’re the usual meanderings along the way plus Tory leadership hopeful gaffes.
Tue, 28 May 2019
Unsurprisingly the European Parliament elections take up most of this week's podcast.
We try and analyse the results across the UK and Europe not only in terms of Brexit but their implications for our domestic political parties and Scottish independence.
Along the way I might just touch on media spin and Lesley surprises me with why the Scottish Tories faring marginally better than their English counterparts is positive news for Yessers.
We couldn't escape the car crash that is the Conservative Party leadership beauty contest and what it says about the state of the party and of UK democracy.
Along the way we revisit Citizens' Assemblies and ask, given the commitment by Nicola Sturgeon to Indyref2 before 2021, when will they happen. I, despite personal grief, reflect on Dundee United losing on penalties to St Mirren, and what we independistas can learn from it.
Lesley made an emotional pilgrimage to Croick Kirk, scene of one of the most infamous incidents of the Clearances. If, like me, you were unaware of this Lesley's tale is a powerful reminder of why land reform should be at the heart of Scottish politics.
To find out more click the link below
Tue, 21 May 2019
It's a week of political limbo as we wait for Theresa May's "big" announcement on her reshaped EU Withdrawal Bill and the EU elections on Thursday.
The latest polls for those elections showed growing support for the Brexit Party right across the UK. In Scotland the SNP is still way ahead but it could be meltdown for both Labour and the Tories as the Brexit Party is in second place. On these figures the SNP could gain one seat, rising to three MEPs, the Brexit Party two MEPs, and a straight fight between the Greens and the Lib Dems for the sixth spot.
Lesley tries to make sense of that surge.
The latest edition of Question Time from Elgin caused yet more controversy here in Scotland. Lesley's latest column in the Scotsman focusing on this has proved no less controversial in certain quarters and she argues that unless Donalda MacKinnon gets a firm grip on QT it will continue to go rogue.
SNP MSP George Adam will be bringing a motion to the Scottish Parliament, with cross party support from Labour and the Greens, criticising Ofcom's recent decisions to further deregulate local commercial radio. I examine the new Ofcom regulations and why we should be worried about them.
The Nordic Horizons group has decided to have a year's sabbatical and evaluate their activities. Lesley gives the background to that decision.
As per usual there's other stuff but I'll let you find that out for yourselves.
Wed, 15 May 2019
Andrew Marr interviewed Damian Hinds (he’s the current Education Secretary-nope me neither) and Nigel Farage on his show this Sunday.
Both were on to talk about the European Parliamentary elections. Both had to try and do this without the benefit of their parties issuing manifestos.
Lesley picks apart the significance of this and the flaws at the heart of the UK's political system which mean the party of government and the party leading in the polls for that election can get away with it.
Sticking with the Euro elections, the Sunday Mail recently endorsed the Scottish Green Party, breaking a long tradition of supporting Labour.
We discuss, even if this was a cynical vote splitting move by the Sunday Mail, why Yes supporters could vote Green, and how quickly the political landscape on the climate emergency has changed.
As the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the return of the Scottish Parliament roll on two former First Ministers, Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish both came out in favour of reform. McConnell, perhaps seduced by his time in the Lords, wanted the creation of a non-elected second chamber. McLeish, hankering after a more European style assembly, suggested moving to an increased number of MSPs by bringing in the Single Transferable Vote system.
We reflect on both these proposals, more favourably on one than the other.
Theresa May will be bringing back the EU Withdrawal Bill to Westminster on June the third. This " Great Repeal Bill" is the one that enshrines the power grab from Holyrood. We return to, not just to the specifics of the bill, but the underlying message it contains about Scotland's place in the UK.
As per usual there's a smattering of other nonsense, mainly on Highland League football, Chinese takeaways and clip on sunglasses.
Wee note from Lesley; I checked on who controls Oil and Gas Licensing and I was wrong. It's still the UK Government via the Oil and Gas Authority quango they set up — it's licensing for onshore oil and gas (basically fracking) that was devolved in 2018. Apologies.
Fri, 10 May 2019
Saturday saw over 100,000 supporters of Scottish independence march through Glasgow. Lesley was there and gives her impressions of what it was like out on the streets and the reflects on the continuing commitment to the cause of the grass roots movement. All of this despite brickbats from some obvious, and some surprising, sources.
We both tuned into the latest edition of Question Time, featuring yet again Nigel Farage. We wonder if the shambles we witnessed was simply a show that Fiona Bruce let get out of hand or was it just the spectacle that the producers wanted.
It's the 20th anniversary of the return of the Scottish Parliament and Lesley reflects on its achievements, with praise for Labour First Ministers Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell, and the new Scottish social security system.
I'm not sure if this makes up for my less than complimentary remarks on Richard Leonard's European election video, or Paul Sweeney's latest podcast gaffe.
We try and figure out just why the Tory Party leadership candidates all decided to chuck their hats in the ring next and pick apart the latest European election polls. Spoiler alert, bad news for Labour, but disastrous for the Tories.
Sticking with the Euro elections Lesley returns to Catalonia, the plight of the jailed leader of the ERC party Oriol Junqueras, and former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.
Along the way there's also the usual badinage, and maybe a wee mention of football.
Tue, 30 April 2019
Lesley made her first appearance on BBC Scotland's Debate Night last Sunday and she wonders if, in trying not to be the bear pit of Question Time, it has become too staid.
This leads us neatly, well in my mind anyway, into Nicola Sturgeon's declaration, at the SNP Party Conference, of a Climate Emergency. We try and pick apart the implications of this and the possible motivations behind it.
Lesley was at the Conference and tries to give a flavour of the atmosphere, and in particular the major debate on the Growth Commission Report. Despite the big guns being wheeled out to support the Commission's position on an independent currency Dr Timothy Rideout's Amendment D was passed. Was this a defeat for the Commission's 6 tests or not?
In a week which saw Ofcom censure Andrew Neil, the return of Ruth Davidson, and David Lidington venturing north of the border, I question, not for the first time, the professionalism of BBC journalists.
Lesley continues the theme in the light of the reporting of the Spanish election results.
Finally, Lesley pays tribute to the late Dennis Macleod of Helmsdale who died this week. A truly remarkable man.
Fri, 26 April 2019
Lesley was in Catalonia last week for the Books and Roses Festival.
What she found there was so important that we thought we'd create a wee Aftermath special. So, here it is.
Fri, 26 April 2019
It's an extra-long (time for two sets of ironing) podcast this week and we spend most of it discussing Nicola Sturgeon's statement on Indyref2 in Holyrood this Wednesday.
While we look at the reaction to it from across the political spectrum Lesley focuses on the questions arising from the broader Yes movement. In particular how can a narrative be created which moves the debate away from aridity to positivity and the role of a Citizens' Assembly.
Scotland in Union published a poll which the right-wing press claimed as a "bombshell blow" to the SNP. Lesley drills down into the actual figures to reach a somewhat different conclusion. I pitch in on the European Parliamentary elections and the latest Survation Westminster voting intentions statistics.
This week saw the loss of Billy McNeil, and Lyra McKee and we reflect on what we can learn from their life and death.
Along the way we both regret our early morning BBC radio listening and get quite irate about pronunciation.
Thu, 18 April 2019
Lesley went to a fringe meeting at the STUC annual conference on local government finance reform and we kick off this week's podcast with this. And if you thought I was an anorak on the D'Hondt Formula......
Seriously, Lesley goes on to explore the nature of local democracy in the light of recent revelations regarding the English local elections.
We've been promising to focus on climate change for weeks and the recent appearance of George Monbiot on Frankie Boyle's New World Order, plus tonight's David Attenborough documentary on BBC, provide the opportunity.
Like death and taxes, we can't escape Brexit and with the recent polls showing Nigel Farage's Brexit Party in the lead across the UK we discuss this, and the ever "interesting" political positions of George Galloway.
Along the way there's more than a mention of Dundee United, that defamation case, and the gabbiness of Lawside Academy FPs
Tue, 9 April 2019
It was the Scottish Greens' party conference last weekend and we spend a fair amount of time looking at Tommy Sheppard's suggestion that some form of electoral pact be reached between them and the SNP in the 2021 Holyrood elections. How far should the Greens, their supporters, and other nonaligned "Yessers", subsume their values within an SNP dominated drive for independence?
This leads us on to the, seemingly inevitable, European Parliamentary elections. Lesley believes that we are crying out for a move beyond simplistic sloganeering during the campaign and that real, detailed exposition of key ideas, in particular freedom of movement, is required. I ask what hope might there be of a united, progressive, electoral Yes front.
The recent Hansard Society report has shown a majority of those surveyed would favour a strong leader willing to break the rules in order to get things done. Lesley reflects on this, not merely on a UK/Brexit basis, but in terms of Scottish independence.
As promised last week I try my darndest to unravel the complexities of the #weareirish controversy.
We also manage to shoehorn in Damascene conversions, SNP bungs, and Scotland beating Brazil at football.
Tue, 2 April 2019
Yet again it's another morning after the Westminster night before and Lesley and I attempt to unpick the Gordian knot of indicative votes on Brexit.
I won't try and unravel what we cover in this episode in detail but we range across who voted for what; the arcane and archaic House of Commons voting procedures; whether the SNP MPs should simply up sticks and come home; and as usual what all this means for Scottish independence.
You also find out why I was angry and Lesley wasn't, plus an update on meh beein aff on the seek.
Thu, 21 March 2019
The astonishing twists and turns of the events of the past couple of days over Brexit fill this week's entire episode .
Rather than my usual set of meanderings here I'll let you listen to the podcast as we don't half cover a whole lot of ground.
Our conclusions? Well, our final duet statement, is genuinely where we're at today,Thursday.
Wha kens whaur we'll be the morn!
Mon, 11 March 2019
As is so often in our podcasts Lesley has just returned from one of the Nordics. This time it's Iceland where she was attending a three-day (well it was three days for most delegates Ms Riddoch) conference on how they solved the substance abuse and anti-social behaviour epidemic among its young people.
Lesley discovered what we might learn from the Icelandic experience and some surprising, and heartening, facts about Scotland, particularly in the ongoing soul searching over knife crime in England.
I say my piece on the tragic death of Shamima Begum’s wee boy Jarrah in a Syrian refugee camp and the moral responsibility of the UK government. Was he merely a piece in the ongoing power struggle in the Tory Party?
This is the week of the three votes on Brexit and we focus specifically on the SNP amendment to tomorrow’s(currently) meaningful vote asking for the power to hold an independence referendum if the UK leaves the EU.
If it fails, as inevitably it will, where does this leave the SNP's leadership in terms of Indyref2?
Friday was International Women's Day and we manage to link the release of Captain Marvel, the 5000 women of the Kurdish YPJ brigade, and strike action by the Icelandic Efling union.
Finally, it was Scottish Labour's annual conference in Dundee over the weekend. Once again the promise of federalism was waved tantalisingly to Scotland. We both have our opinions on that. Again.
Mon, 4 March 2019
After I begin by giving far too detailed an explanation of why we're now podcasting on Mondays, Lesley gets stuck into what looks like a bidding war between the EU and EFTA for a post-independence Scotland.
She also considers, what appears to be, growing indications of the launch of Indyref2 and asks will any Tory PM agree to a Section 30 order and just who will decide who gets to vote, and the question on the ballot paper. In the light of Richard Leonard's car crash interview on Sunday Politics Scotland we also examine what difference a Corbyn government dependent on SNP support might make.
I chip in on the recent announcement by the SNP of a change in currency policy and we ask just how radical will that change be, and what can we learn from both Bernie Sanders and the Swedish Social Democrats of the 1950s?
Recent statistics from England and Wales show a steep decline in the study of foreign languages at GCSE and A level in both those countries. Lesley explores what deep rooted reasons might be behind this worrying trend, the differences in Scotland, and can we afford to be complacent.
All the above plus David Mundell's limited grasp of reality, Bill Jack's double-breasted blazer, our post Brexit names and a wee tribute to the late Merv Rolfe.
Tue, 26 February 2019
It was "Hold the front page" time this afternoon as Theresa May made her much trailed statement to the Commons after a fractious Cabinet meeting.
We give our initial reactions to her last-minute Brexit manoeuvring.
Lesley returned to her alma mater at the end of last week to attend a conference organised by the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at Oxford University on remaking the UK constitution.
Lesley and Joanna Cherry turned out to be the only journalist and MP to attend and both returned convinced of the central role of Citizens' Assemblies in shaping not only the independence campaign but a future Scottish constitution.
Professor Stephanie Kelton, an economic adviser to Bernie Sanders, has just joined the Scottish Modern Monetary Group, a collection of pro-independence economists. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)may seem dry and academic but, trust me chums, could be the key to a post UK, green, Scottish economy and answer all those pesky currency questions.
Sunday saw the launch of BBC Scotland, and Monday the premiere of The Nine, the long awaited, hour long, flagship news programme for the new station.
Lesley and I give our candid, but considered, opinions and what we've seen, so far.
Tue, 19 February 2019
There's only one place to begin this week and it's the, less than, surprise resignation of seven Labour MPs to form TIG-The Independent Group.
Lesley and I try to get our heads round why now, what for, and what next for this disparate group.
This speculation, inevitably for us, leads us down several highways and bye ways including proportional representation, and the founding of the Scottish Labour Party in 1888.
Just when you thought the hoo ha surrounding BBC Question Time had died down the National revealed the editing of Fiona Hyslop's reply to orange jaiket man. We draw on our past experiences in teaching, producing, and presenting to examine the ethics and editorial decisions behind it.
The Scottish Tories have been out in force across the streets and on social media fulminating about the Workplace Parking Levy. Lesley not only ripostes their arguments against it but widens the discussion to reflect on the nature of our relationships with private and public transport.
Finally, it's hats aff tae the inestimable Jim Spence new rector of Dundee University and Arab of good standing. Laborare et orare James.
Tue, 12 February 2019
Lesley's just back from a wee tour of the Western Isles and looks back on the perils, and pleasures, of travel around the Outer Hebrides.
The pleasure mainly being her discovery of the joys of the electric bike.
She also reflects on the crofting and housing crisis facing the islanders and the enduring legacy of Canon Angus MacQueen.
It may seem a long way from Lewis to the USA but Donald Trump is rarely quiet about his island heritage. I was appalled by his recent tweets on Elizabeth Warren's declaration of intent to run for the Democratic presidential nomination and consider just how deep and tragic these links are.
As the BBC prepares itself for the launch of its new BBC Scotland channel, we have to address the Question Time "orange jacket man" story and its significance for the success or failure of the new venture.
We also manage to slip in some references to Dundee United, the Killing, and the popularity of Midsomer Murders in Scandinavia.
Tue, 5 February 2019
Back in the days of Riddoch Questions we used to sit around post show and record our thoughts about the topics and podcast them as Aftermath.
Well...after today's podcast we suddenly found ourselves chatting about the meaning of identities ,specifically our own, and we decided to go back to the future and create our very own Aftermath.
We hope you enjoy this wee bonus.
Tue, 5 February 2019
It's a podcast of two halves today.The news that Celtic Connections has been awarded £100,000 from the Scottish Government's Expo Fund to commission eight new pieces of work for the Grit Orchestra sparks off part one.
Part the second moves from music to history examining the wartime nationalist narrative of Brexiters and wondering if Scotland can awake from this nightmare.
There's a wee bit of reflection on Angus Robertson's new Progress Scotland venture and lots of the other usual nonsense.
Sun, 3 February 2019
Lesley interviews Danish MP Dan Joergensen
Fri, 1 February 2019
The Irish backstop is still the hot topic of Brexit debate and Lesley examines the "Let's blame Ireland" narrative which the likes of John Humphrys and Andrew Marr are punting on the BBC.
I spent most of Tuesday glued to BBC Parliament trying to follow the series of amendments to the Brexit vote on Theresa May's latest deal. I reflect not only the fate of Ian Blackford's amendment but the disgraceful behaviour of Tory and DUP MPs towards him. We consider, again, the nature of adversarial party politics in the UK and speculate on what, if any, difference a PR system of elections would make.
This leads us, neatly, into the Scottish budget, the compromises reached between the SNP and the Scottish Greens to secure agreement in contrast to the refusal of the other three parties to engage with Derek McKay.
Lesley hosted Nordic Horizons in Edinburgh earlier this week where the hammer of Fox News, Danish MP Dan Joergensen, was the star turn.
As well as all this we pay tribute to Jeremy Hardy, praise Jackson Carlaw and Willie Rennie, and Lesley reckons I might be a hipster.
Tue, 22 January 2019
There's nothing happening with Brexit but there's nothing else we can talk about.
Well, Lesley and I hope to prove that wrong and we begin by......talking about Brexit.
We reflect on the impasse at Westminster and how the log jam might be broken by the series of amendments placed for next week.
It's been a struggle to try and understand why support for a hard Brexit is so popular, particularly in working class areas of Northern England. Lesley's conversations recently at the "Think Anew, Act Anew" Convention in London highlighted the democratic deficit these communities face.
Our attention turns back to Scotland, the Green Party and its pivotal role in any future Holyrood elections and any subsequent mandate for Indyref2.
The BBC has just published its roster of flagship programmes for the new BBC Scotland channel. Are we impressed?
Finally, as the Oscar nominations are announced, it's our version of Film 2019 after visits to the flicks to see The Favourite, and Stan and Ollie. There's controversy over Monty Python, the Goons, and Buster Keaton.
Wed, 16 January 2019
It's the morning after the night before and as the light at the end of the Brexit tunnel looks increasingly like the No Deal express thundering down the track we try and make sense of it all.
Lesley wonders just where Theresa May can now go to get some sort of parliamentary consensus and is this time for the Commons to step in and create that temporary cross-party coalition.
As Nicola Sturgeon flies down to London to meet with Ian Blackford and the SNP MPs we inevitably speculate on where this crisis of the British state takes the campaign for Scottish independence.
Along the way we discuss the Northern Irish backstop, Section 30 orders, and compare the Prime Minister to those Weebles who wobble but don't fall down (one for the kids there).
Sat, 12 January 2019
We make our first appearance of 2019 and it's our longest edition ever. I leave it you to decide if this is a good thing....
Lesley spent the last week in London and we begin by looking at her appearance on the BBC's Politics Live. I'm giving no secrets away by revealing in advance that she didn't enjoy it.
However, in stark contrast to this, Lesley spent Friday speaking and chairing sessions at "Think Anew, Act Anew", an emergency Convention on the need for a second EU referendum. The Convention was designed to draw on new voices from within and outside Parliament, with a focus on fresh thinking, and featured high profile speakers such as Caroline Lucas, Joanna Cherry, James O’Brien, and Fintan O'Toole. The big question is, should the SNP get drawn into this type of cross-party cooperation and possibly lose focus on the prize of Scottish independence?
John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, broke with Parliamentary convention earlier this week by allowing an amendment of a government business motion which lead to a defeat for the executive. He was brutally attacked for this "unconstitutional" behaviour in the Tory press. I try and give a wee bit of context.
In addition to all this there's chats about Andy Murray, Winston Churchill, Gary Lineker and Gary Mackay-Steven.