Tue, 18 February 2020
There was only one way to begin this week's podcast ,it was the bizarre claim by Jackson Carlaw, newly anointed Scottish Tory leader, that around half of the Scot's electorate were adherents of a cult.
Lesley eviscerates this ludicrous suggestion and we try and figure out what his strategy was.
Lesley's been aware over the past few weeks that groups of independence activists, from a variety of perspectives, have been planning to, and in one case actually have, set up parties to stand on the regional lists for Holyrood in 2021. We analyse why this is happening and what impact, if any this will have on the SNP and Greens come election time.
Swathes of the UK have been hit by flooding in the past couple of weeks. Folk have been calling out for increased spending on flood defences but are there more effective measures that can be taken not to protect but prevent these reoccurring catastrophes?
Grouse moors , yup those old friends of ours, are pivotal to the problem of flooding and Pete Wishart and John Swinney courted controversy when they attended an evening celebrating the end of the shooting season with the Scottish branch of the British Association of Shooting and Conservation.Was the Twitter storm that followed justified?
Andrew Sobisky, one of the weirdos who responded to Dominic Cummings, resigned after an expose on his appalling ideology by Andrew Learmonth in the National. What does his appointment say about Boris Johnson and the role of Cummings at number 10?
All this plus unashamed plugs for McGoldrick,McCusker and Doyle , and the Orkney Folk Festival.
Tue, 11 February 2020
The campaign for A Thousand Huts launched in 2011 by Reforesting Scotland– a network which has campaigned for over 20 years for a sustainable forest culture in Scotland-held a rally in Dundee last Saturday.
It'll come as no surprise to you that Lesley was there, and she gives her thoughts, not only on the event, but also on the wider issues surrounding hutting and the campaign itself.
Thursday should have seen Derek MacKay launching this year's Scottish budget in Holyrood. We reflect on his fall from grace and what it might say on power and men who wield it.
The so called "Boris Bridge" between Scotland and Northern Ireland has been filling the papers and the airwaves. Lesley reckons that this may just be yet another sleight of hand by the UK government to distract from the empty promises of the Brexiteers.
Priti Patel walked out of the Westminster debate on deportations and the first of these were carried out this morning. What do these two events say about the nature of the Tory government and its electoral base?
The British commentariat haven't been slow to "tansplain" Irish politics and the Irish General Election. I do my best to give some balance to this and, as usual, link it to the independence campaign.
Along the way there's also chat about the coronavirus, Dirty Harry, and Mr Rogers.We're nothing if not eclectic.
Tue, 4 February 2020
Last Friday when it would have been easy to have shut the door and try and forget the UK dragging Scotland out of the EU against our democratic will,thousands of Scots took themselves out on a dreich night to sing, dance, and celebrate.
Lesley pays tribute to the folk who organised these events and reflects on what we can learn frae fowk daein fir thimsels, and the media coverage it gathered.
Friday also saw Nicola Sturgeon make her, much trailed, speech on indyref2. As the three latest opinion polls show a significant shift to Yes, we give our takes on them and the speech.
We look at the latest Brexit, we're still saying it, utterings from blustering Boris, and the fall out from the attempt to ban members of the Lobby from the subsequent,official number 10 briefing.
Claire O'Neil, the recently sacked organiser of the COP26 climate change conference, appeared on the R4 Today programme, and if Johnson didn't have his troubles to seek after the journalists walk out he certainly did after her interview.
It's the Irish elections to the Dail this Saturday and,after polls showed a dramatic drop in support for Leo Varadkar's Fine Gael party,our pal Andrew Neil thought he'd give us the benefit of his informed insights into Irish politics.
The Iowa Democratic caucus descended into farce this morning. Cock up or anti Sanders conspiracy?
Along the way we also mention,David Copperfield,hot socks and Laurence Fox.
Tue, 28 January 2020
Lesley was part of the final, for now, Scottish press corps briefing with the EU in Brussels last week.
She's back with some genuinely jaw dropping information from the event.That light at the end of the Brexiteers' tunnel looks ever more like the express train heading towards us at breakneck speed.
Monday was the funeral of Seamus Mallon, ex MP,former N Ireland Deputy First Minister, and one of the principle architects of the Good Friday Agreement. We reflect on his life, and legacy.
Tory Education spokesperson Liz Smith was outspoken in her criticism of the decision to make Gaelic the default language for P1 pupils in the Western Isles. She was met with a wave of condemnation, not least from one of her Highland and Island Tory MSP colleagues.We question the antipathy towards Gaelic and look at the growth of Scots learning the language.
Emily Thornberry was the latest Labour leadership contender to dip her toes into Scottish political waters. Just how tone deaf is Labour on the Scottish Question?
Finally we pay tribute to the incomparable Nicholas Parson who died today.
Mon, 20 January 2020
Lesley and I swore that we'd never do another evening recording session.Yet here we are as she's off to visit the European Union tomorrow. More of the EU later.
We begin with the annual resurrection of the Broon frae Kirkcaldy who made another , well trailed,"keynote"speech today on the perils of divisive nationalism and his plan to keep the UK together. Needless to say we were not impressed.
Back to the EU and Lesley brings you an exclusive on plans to demonstrate our opposition to Brexit on January 31st.Remember, you heard it here first folks.
Joanna Cherry, Patrick Harvie, Kevin Pringle,Denis Canavan, and Colin Fox have all come out in support for setting up another Yes campaign group. We question the how, and why, of this move.
Tony Hall's resignation as Director General of the BBC sets us off on a critique of Aunty both in the past,and over the last week.
It's January and it's Celtic Connections in Glasgow time.Lesley has, just about, recovered from an amazing gig at Barrowlands featuring the incredible musical heritage of Marty Bennett. I, on a more than slightly,less elevated level won a prize on Off the Ball.
There's the usual highways and byways plus a computer that won't keep schtum....
Mon, 13 January 2020
Lesley is fresh from Saturday's AUOB march in Glasgow and is still buzzing from the carnival atmosphere. As is right, and fitting, we begin this week's podcast with this, yet another, fantastic day.
Alister Jack, the Secretary of State for Scotland appeared on Sunday Politics Scotland and retreated from his previous position on indyref2. We reckon "Union" Jack, and his no mandate mantra will turn out to be the best recruiting sergeant we've seen for the Yes movement.
Not to be left out by the Tories, the Labour Party, north and south of the border, continues to tie itself in knots over Scottish independence and its perennial cri de coeur of federalism.
Despite our best attempts we haven't been able to escape the soap opera that is the House of Windsor. Feel free to fast forward over our take on it, if you, like us ,are scunnered wi the hale shebang.
Stormont is about to sit after a hiatus of three years. What has happened to break the deadlock?
The citizenry of Edinburgh is up in arms over the activities of Underbelly over the Christmas and New Year period.
What can we learn from the shenanigans over the Christmas market, Hogmanay celebrations and the Looony Dook?
We end on the last two movies we've seen, 1917, and Jo Jo Rabbit. We loved them both but, there's always a but, with some reservations.
Finally, I couldn't resist mentioning the Terrors of Tannadice stretching their lead to 17 points and the perfect hat trick from Lawrence of Arabia himself.
Tue, 7 January 2020
The, not so, dynamic duo make our return after the Christmas and Hogmanay break, having just about survived our bouts of lurgy.
The recriminations and "period of reflection" in both Scottish and UK Labour,post the General Election defeat,have been brought into even sharper focus with the announcements of candidates for the leadership.
Lesley kicks off 2020 by asking just what Labour in Scotland actually stands for and whether it can rediscover its principled roots.
I,as only a ex Labour activist can, stick the metaphorical boot into the Bain principle, Ian Murray, Ayesha Hazarika,Jess Phillips, and as many other Labour folk as I can fit in.
Christmas saw the "reimagining"of Dracula and A Christmas Carol. This endless recycling of "classics" sets us off on a consideration of what this tells us about the state of British culture?
Tim Montgomerie, erstwhile social justice advisor to Boris Jonson has claimed the UK will have a "special relationship" with the authoritarian Hungarian government post Brexit. I decided to have a wee keek at what Viktor Orban's government has been up to with illuminating, and definitely concerning, results.
Along the way we also cast our beady eyes over, political satire, Star Wars, the Golden Globes, and the passing of Alasdair Gray, and Neil Innes.
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, 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.
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
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, 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
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.
Mon, 17 December 2018
I had, as is my wont, my wee notebook with a plethora of end of year topics for us to discuss. However, Lesley has just come back from down south where she met up with supporters of Lexit. Folk on the left who are in favour of Brexit, and there are more of them than we up here would think.
All this meant that we threw the notebook, metaphorically, oot the windae and let this take us to some quite surprising places.
Rather than try and encapsulate this I'll let you embark on the voyage of discovery without a map, much as we did.
As this is the last podcast of 2018, we reflect on the year that's gone and the year to come, and I preview this Friday's big fight on Radio 4's Any Questions, featuring oor ain Joanna Cherry v Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Mon, 10 December 2018
It will come as no surprise to you that we begin with, and spend most of the podcast on, Brexit.
The ECJ's ruling on the "Scottish Case" has suddenly sent the media into a frenzy on something that they've been dismissing as fringe nonsense for the past year. Lesley considers the shining light of cooperation across party lines as Labour, SNP, and Green politicians fought the good fight with the support of Jolyon Maugham QC.
Just to prove that there is political life beyond Brexit, the Scottish Budget is due this week. Will Derek MacKay be able to reach an agreement with the Greens on the replacement of the Council Tax to get it through Holyrood?
Revive, the campaign to reclaim and rejuvenate Scotland's grouse moors, has produced its "Back to Life" report with stunning findings on the social and economic potential for alternative uses of this "wilderness" land.
Lesley's appearance on Sunday Morning with Cathy McDonald was terrific stuff ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0001gqp).
Her interview leads both of us to reflect, unashamedly, emotionally, on our land, our heritage, our music, and the influence of our mothers.
All of the above plus the usual highways and byways chums.
Mon, 3 December 2018
It's been a week of touring. Lesley visiting the four corners of Scotland with her film on Norway, and Theresa May punting her Brexit deal to her "precious union".
We try and get our heads around just what the PM was trying to achieve with her carefully managed charm offensive.
The National, of course, was barred from the Bridge of Weir extravaganza, a genuine own goal as the decision was roundly condemned by journalists of all persuasions. But was this yet another example of Scotland's voice being marginalised over Brexit?
Gordon Brown, yes, it's that man again, emerged from the mists of his Fife haven to lambast the Scottish government's handling of the NHS.
I, as is my wont, chip in with a few wee reminders of the PFI burden Gordon and his pals have saddled the Scottish public sector with. (Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition).
Finally, we consider the recent sightings of Tory politicians at local foodbanks. Here's a hint, we're not best pleased.
All the above plus digressions for sightings of windsurfers, payment of window cleaners and memories of 1970s pro-celebrity golf. Prizes, as usual, for spotting the musical allusion in this week's title.
Mon, 26 November 2018
Yup after a two-week break, during which time nothing politically significant at all has happened, the podcast has returned. Please read that last sentence with a note of irony, of course.
As you might be aware our absence was down to my better half's close encounters with the NHS and that's where we begin.
Lesley recently went to see Nae Pasaran, the movie about the Scottish workers who defied Pinochet's fascist dictatorship in Chile. What lessons can we draw from this amazing true story for today?
We, unashamedly, spend the rest of our time focusing on whether independence is the cause that dare not speak its name amongst the SNP leadership, the role of SNP MPs at Westminster, and the role of Holyrood.
As well as all that, and there's a lot of all that, we muse on tablet, visits to Skye and Belfast, and David Mundell ecdysiast.
Thu, 8 November 2018
Lesley and I were both enthralled by the US midterm elections. I followed them on CNN and she on C4. Still her go to news channel despite the Nicola Sturgeon Brexit debate debacle.
The blue surge in the States ushered in a swathe of new, progressive Democrats to the House of Representatives,but has Donald Trump managed, with typical sleight of hand, another master stroke of deflection with his sacking of Jeff Sessions and attack on CNN's Jim Acosta?
Lesley's most recent column in the National focused on the report for the Revive Coalition by Dr Ruth Tingay and Andy Wightman on Scotland's driven grouse moors. Lesley asks if there can be a united campaign to rewild and repopulate this barren 20% of Scotland's land, and how radical will the Scottish Government be prepared to be in challenging land owners.
Just when Dundee seems to be breaking free of its post-industrial gloom Michelin has announced the closure of its tyre factory with the loss of over 800 jobs. Is it a case of two steps forward, three steps back for the city, or can government, unions, and the workers save the plant?
The BBC made the controversial decision to interview Leave. EU’s Arron Banks after his referral to the National Crime Agency. Was this the right decision? And was Andrew Marr the right man?
We also take time for personal reflections on loss as we approach the centenary of the Armistice.
Thu, 1 November 2018
Last night was Halloween but there's no trick or treating in this all genuine, all traditional, Scottish podcast.
Lesley turns her gimlet gaze on Scotland's less than glorious witch hunting past and explodes some myths.
I chip in with a wee bit on the roots of Samhain and memories of the 1950s.
We both reflect on what the witch hunts of the 17th century mean to modern Scottish society.
Lesley's recent column in the National on the People's Vote, sparked by Pete Wishart's warnings over it, has certainly sparked some debate. She considers not only the importance of the vote itself for the cause of independence but also how the decision by Nicola Sturgeon to support it was apparently taken.
The next section on the changing nature of the UK tax system and income inequality is all the fault of Iain McWhirter. As he's done to Lesley so often, he got in first with what I was going to say. So, blame him!
Finally, it's hats off to Stuart Cosgrove and the team for bringing C4's new Creative Hub to Glasgow.
Thu, 25 October 2018
You'll be able to get a wheen o' ironing done this week chums as we offer up an extended, hour long, podcast.
Westminster takes up the first section with thoughts on Sir Paul Beresford's " I can't understand your accent" nonsense; Ian Blackford's sterling performances at PMQs, and the unsinkable Theresa May's "Christianity".
We move on to Nicola's Sturgeon's refusal to take part in the EBU's NewsXchange event after it was confirmed that Steve Bannon would also be attending. The BBC justifying his participation on his leading an "anti -elite" movement. Lesley reflects on this notion of the elite and how Trump and Farage have successfully articulated a reactionary ideology which has tapped into justified grievances.
The strike action by Glasgow City Council women workers over the 12-year equal pay scandal, not unsurprisingly, takes up a significant part of the podcast.
Lesley and I try to work our way through the competing narratives and reach different conclusions. Before you shout"Fight, fight!", it's all very civilised.
This is in stark contrast to my reaction to the news that she's planning on going to see the Queen movie, Bohemian Rhapsody.
Wed, 17 October 2018
Writer Gabriella Bennett has just published her new book, “The Art of Coorie", inviting her readers to "embrace all things Scottish".
Lesley and I cast our sceptical, though not cynical eyes, on her interpretation of coorie and Caledonian cool.
We stick with the land and the new twists in the fight of tenant farmers Alison and David Telfer of Cleuchfoot farm to stop Buccleuch estates removing them to make way for planting trees.
As deadlines on Brexit loom ever nearer the BBC has suddenly shown an interest in what the Irish government's position on the Irish backstop is. Neale Richmond, who Lesley spoke to last week, and Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney have both made impressive appearances in the past couple of days in the face of "interesting" questioning, in particular from John Humphrys.
The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has turned the spotlight on Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the humanitarian disaster in the Yemen. Will his brutal death prove a turning point in the West's relationship with Saudi Arabia?
In addition to all this, Ross Thomson gets telt, twice, Andrew Bridgen gets cut off the knees, and I do anagrams.
Here's the link to the Corries version of Coorie Doon.Well worth a wee listen.
Thu, 11 October 2018
Senator Neale Richmond was elected to Seanad Éireann in April 2016 to the Labour Panel. He is the Fine Gael Spokesperson on European Affairs in the Seanad.
Senator Richmond gave this short interview to Lesley after his recent appearance at the 2018 SNP conference.
Thu, 11 October 2018
It may come as a shock to you but we begin each podcast with a list of topics, all in my wee blue notebook. This week we break with tradition and open with a continuation of our off-mic conversation on the nature of being who we really are. How does the putting on and shedding the masks we wear affect us personally, politics, and society.
This, to our surprise, leads us, quite naturally, to both the SNP conference and the huge All Under One Banner march in Edinburgh.
Lesley wonders if the SNP leadership can relax its hold on the reins and release the talent she saw on display, particularly at fringe meetings. Can they also allow the space for that talent to speak with its own, authentic, voice?
The AUOB movement perhaps shows in its flawed, human, joyous way how this can be done.
We do turn to my infamous list and discuss the recent rumblings of rebellion from the DUP over Brexit, its implications for the peace process and the potential for a referendum on Irish unity.
As usual there's lots of other asides including, in no particular order, hockey, an Arsenal football legend, and the collected works of James Joyce.
And prizes are still available for spotting this,and last ,week's musical reference in the title.
Thu, 4 October 2018
We can't ignore the Tory party conference, try as hard as we might, and we kick off this week's podcast with our reflections on Theresa May's moves.
Ruth Davidson has been on a PR offensive for her new book while ignoring requests for serious political interviews. Gordon Brewer of the BBC and STV's Colin McKay finally got the chance to grill her, with very different results.
Lesley has had a long commitment to justice for Scotland's tenant farmers and her steely gaze turns on the scandal of the impending removal of the Telfer family from their border farm by the Duke of Buccleuch. She also reflects on Nicola Sturgeon's response to Joan McAlpine's question on this in the Scottish Parliament.
Historic Environment Scotland have been all over the news and social media with their refusal to allow the All Under One Banner marchers to congregate in Holyrood Park and the Yes walkers entry to Stirling Castle. Who are the HES's board and what influence do the great and good who populate similar civic institutions have in modern Scotland?
We return to, Donald Trump, and the DUP's Arlene Foster, and, as they both face serious questions on their future, their recent rallying cries to their base.
As usual I shoehorn in some musical and football references. Check out this week's title as well.
Thu, 27 September 2018
We return, after some time, to the murky world of Trump and US politics as Christine Blasey Ford appears in front of the Senate Judiciary about the alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Lesley asks if Kavanaugh can survive Blasey Ford's compelling testimony and that of his other accusers.
Trump defended Kavanaugh during his recent rambling, shambling, press conference. So bad that James Kelly sat with his head in his hands throughout most of it and Jared Kushner was caught on camera describing it with a word one expletive.
In complete contrast, Lesley was impressed by Jeremy Corbyn's closing speech to the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. Has a radical gauntlet been thrown down for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP?
I chip in on remarks made by Ian Lavery and Andy Kerr at the conference and wonder if a blanker "Labour bad" approach is smart politics from independence supporters.
We've avoided Brexit for a wee while but can no longer given what happened in Salzburg. Is No Deal now inevitable? Will there be a General Election in November? Can Theresa May survive? And, given the RHI scandal, can her confidence and supply partner Arlene Foster hang in there with her?
All the above, and more, plus a wee bonus announcement about the new Nation film on Norway right after a false ending.
Thu, 20 September 2018
We're back after our three week break and unashamedly spend the first part of the podcast singing the praises, with a few caveats, of the brand-new V&A Dundee. Many thanks to Jenny, V&A Dundee press officer for her help in organising our visit.
However, we get back to grim reality with the recent controversy over P1 assessments, yesterday’s defeat for the Scottish government over them, on a Tory led motion, and the reaction to it among independence supporters. Lesley's thoughts, as always, are well worth a listen.
Ruth Davidson's revelations concerning her mental health issues and her lack of desire to become UK PM have definitely caused controversy and we give our, different, perspectives on them.
Theresa May's recent comments to EU leaders on the Irish border question provide the ideal introduction for Lesley to reflect on her recent visit to Belfast and the mood of both nationalists and unionists over Brexit.
All of this plus fire-raising suffragettes, Bobby Gillespie, and McVities Rich Tea Biscuits (other brands are of course available).
Fri, 31 August 2018
If a week's a long time in politics the past two have seemed like an eternity and it should be no surprise to anyone that we begin and end this podcast focusing on the ongoing controversy surrounding Alex Salmond.
The majority of our time is spent trying to unpick the story and reach our own conclusions on its importance to the SNP, the broader Yes movement, and the rights of folk, in particular women, at work.
Lesley's trip to Finland reignited her commitment to the reform of the current toxic Welfare state and the introduction of Universal Basic Income. We explore how it might release so much potential for so many people and just how it might be funded.
In between times I manage to slip in references to the BBC series "Rip It Up", the legendary Dundee band St Andrew and the Woollen Mill, and my granny
Thu, 16 August 2018
After a shock opening, where Lesley blows my cover as the essence of cool by revealing my in-depth knowledge of Friends, we get down to this week's business.
As we get ready for this Saturday's AUOB march in Dundee, Lesley’s been out and about at showings of the first two movies in her Nation series and loves the feeling of almost religious solidarity folk get from sharing these communal events.
Me being me, an RC (Recovering Catholic) I cast a somewhat sceptical eye over where an overzealous attachment to SNPGood v SNPBad may lead us.
Lesley also visited the fantastic Re Use Hub in Dunbar and as well finding some great maps may have unearthed the future of recycling.
Keith Brown announced that the SNP was launching its own fact check account and we, respectfully, question whether this should be left up to independent organisations like the Ferret Fact Check Collective.
Finally, can we learn lessons from Don Jorgensen's of the Danish SDP’s gentle, witty, riposte to Fox News's Trish Reagan's attack on Denmark's social democracy?
After a shock opening, where Lesley blows my cover as the essence of cool by revealing my in-depth knowledge of Friends, we get down to this week's business.
As we get ready for this Saturday's AUOB march in Dundee, Lesley’s been out and about at showings of the first two movies in her Nation series and loves the feeling of almost religious solidarity folk get from sharing these communal events.
Me being me, an RC (Recovering Catholic) I cast a somewhat sceptical eye over where an overzealous attachment to SNPGood v SNPBad may lead us.
Lesley also visited the fantastic Re Use Hub in Dunbar and as well finding some great maps may have unearthed the future of recycling.
Keith Brown announced that the SNP was launching its own fact check account and we, respectfully, question whether this should be left up to independent organisations like the Ferret Fact Check Collective.
Finally, can we learn lessons from Don Jorgensen's of the Danish SDP’s gentle, witty, riposte to Fox News's Trish Reagan's attack on Denmark's social democracy?
Thu, 9 August 2018
We're back after our two week break where Lesley had a braw time on Barra and I struggled with my less than stellar DIY skills.
It's results time for our senior school pupils but Lesley examines whether it makes any sense at all to conduct national tests on five year olds and asks what, if any, evidence exists for doing it.
As deadlines approach on Brexit deals and the wave of All Under One Banner marches goes from strength to strength is it time for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP to embrace the groundswell of popular opinion and go for Indyref2 before it's too late?
After his recent controversial article in the Daily Telegraph is this the end of Boris Johnson or another step on his way to becoming leader of an overtly reactionary Tory Party?
All of the above plus daft twitter nonsense and dark days at Tannadice.
Thu, 26 July 2018
Lesley's latest Scotsman article on berries rotting in the fields sparked some controversy among its readership. But just what are the causes of this farming disaster?
Talking of controversy, Tommy Sheppard became headline news with his reply to Labour MP Ian Murray that, in retrospect, he would vote to bring down the Labour government of 1979 just as his SNP colleagues did back then. For those of you too young or too sensible to get the symbolic nature of that exchange I launch into a history lesson. Feel free to fast forward!
As the "dark money" scandal continues to rumble on just what are the connections between the think tanks which appear constantly in the media and what, if anything, can be done to increase transparency over their funding?
After a flurry of thoughts on the new batch of Tory ministers, Brexit chaos, and the threat of a No Deal, Lesley shines a laser like light on climate change, the real headline issue.
All of this plus, a story I spotted you'll all go and google, the great raspberry v strawberry debate, and the pleasures of getting out of the car.
Fri, 20 July 2018
We begin with the stushy that Lesley's latest article in the Scotsman commenting on Nicola Sturgeon's stance on Donald Trump's visit caused. Never read the comments section is our sage advice.
Hard on the heels of the Donald's departure for his infamous Helsinki meeting with Putin our very own populist wannabe, Boris Johnson, made his resignation speech in the House of Commons. Lesley reflects on just why this wasn't a Geoffrey Howe moment and what the former Foreign Minister's behaviour says about the state of present day political discourse.
I chip in on the pairing scandal before escaping to the world of women's sport, the career of Billie Jean King, and des Elles au velo in particular.
Lesley has been spending time among the chilled out Buckfast bees which gave me the opportunity to drop in the pub rock referencing episode title.
We nearly make the end of the episode without mentioning Brexit but.......
Sun, 15 July 2018
Benjamin Franklin famously said that there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. Politically we can add Trump and Brexit,especially after this week.
Lesley, hotfoot from her appearance on Sky News, takes on both these inescapables with her take on Trump's visit to Scotland. What does Nicola Sturgeon's refusal to engage with the self-proclaimed master of the deal tell us about a future independent Scotland?
Having spent my morning watching Theresa May fighting for her future on the Marr show I insist on telling you and Lesley all about it, at far too much length.
The BBC is set to "revamp" its politics output on television, axing The Sunday Politics show, and reshaping The Daily Politics and I get Lesley's perspective on these moves to attract a younger, more digitally aware audience.
There's also the usual baloney, initiated by me, which this week includes my appreciation of the great Fred Quimby.
Thu, 5 July 2018
Lesley's article in today’s National on the ABE theory of football, Anybody But England, sparked a Twitter war this morning featuring none other than JK Rowling. And this kicks off (couldn’t resist it) this week's podcast.
I then tell you more than you genuinely ever wanted to know about yesterday's SNP Opposition day debate on the Claim of Right. To use Lesley's favourite word, it got a wee bit feisty.
Yesterday also saw the launch of Lesley's second film, in association with Phantom Power, Iceland; The extreme nation, in Glasgow. Can we learn that small is indeed beautiful from our northern neighbour?
Gordon Brown decided in this week which celebrates the 70th anniversary of the NHS to re-enter the political stage claiming that independence would lead to its complete meltdown. Just what is it that forces former political heavyweights to make these comebacks?
All this plus The Bridge, Doris Day and why I don’t wear shorts.
Sat, 30 June 2018
After musings on German versions of fairy tales, the World Cup, and Lesley's sweariness watching football we begin with the recent reshuffle of Scottish government ministers. The faces may have changed but what about the policies?
This and Lesley's recent wee trip up to Lismore sparks her thoughts on local democracy, the price of land and rural depopulation.
While in Ireland I took the opportunity to listen to Irish opinion on Brexit, in particular the excellent Tony Connelly and Colm O'Mongain's RTE Brexit podcast. I reflect on their interviews with Amanda Kramer and Lord Patten.
Lesley gives her thoughts on why swathes of England are still wedded to Brexit despite the mounting evidence of its disastrous economic impact. I attempt to lift the gloom after the surprise Democratic primary victory of Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. Is this the signal of a US left response to Trumpism or will it be strangled at birth by the party machine?
There's also T20 cricket and the latest on Willo Flood.
Fri, 22 June 2018
After bemusing Lesley with my opening homage to last week's star guest, Katrin Odsdottir, we return to relative sanity with Lesley's reflections on her recent film trip to Iceland.
Some of you may just have noticed that there's a World Cup happening in Russia, and Iceland, population around 300,000, have qualified drawing their opening game against Argentina, Messi and all. What have the Icelanders got so right and can we in Scotland learn from their success?
We just cannot escape the ongoing saga (that Iceland keeps popping up) that is Brexit, and Kirsty Hughes, founder of Scotland for Europe, has written a thought provoking article asking why the SNP is not loudly demanding an end to the UK's withdrawal. I chip in my tuppence worth on why I believe the SNP is actually playing the long game in terms of securing a majority when Indyref2 comes around.
We get so intensely involved in our chat that we miss the first seven minutes of Iceland v Nigeria and we dash off to don our scarves and baseball caps. HU.....HU.....HU!!!
Wed, 13 June 2018
On the day that Ian Blackford led a walk out of SNP MPs at PMQs in protest at the Westminster Brexit power grab Lesley spoke with Katrin Oddsdóttir, who features in Lesley's latest film in the Nation series.
Katrin was one of 25 members of the Constitution Council of Iceland, which drafted a new constitution for the country in 2011.
Katrin has been a political activist from early age, but became known in Iceland after delivering a radical political speech at mass protests in 2009 while still a law student. She now works as a human rights lawyer.
This week's recording is courtesy of the inimitable Al of Phantom Power. Cheers chum.
Thu, 7 June 2018
After, in my mind at least, the best intro I've ever done, Lesley tries to make sense of the recent YouGov poll which showed Scots to be more optimistic about the future than either the Welsh or English.
She's "assisted" in this by the revelation that I was part of the group of Scots surveyed.
We can't escape Brexit, no matter how much we want to, and today's announcement of the UK's "backstop" proposals and the Irish government's reaction to it, is our next talking point.
Closely followed by our thoughts on the leaked "Doomsday" document drawn up by senior civil servants predicting that Britain would be hit with shortages of medicine, fuel and food within a fortnight if the UK tried to leave the EU without a trade agreement.
It's the 150th anniversary of the birth of James Connolly and as commemorative events are held here in Scotland I muse on the irony of, arch unionist "left wing firebrand", George Galloway speaking at one in Edinburgh.
All of this plus the usual nonsense including Lev Yashin's link with Father Ted, my Iceland football top, and an extra secret track.
Tue, 29 May 2018
Once again Lesley has returned from another trip away. This time it's the Orkney Folk Festival and, once again, we’re struck by the power of music to inspire and move.
Monday night saw the launch of Lesley's newest project, “Nation", a series of films on our nearest, northern neighbours, made in association with the fantastic Phantom Power.
And we begin the podcast with a review and discussion on the first of these, Faroe Islands-the connected nation.
Here's the link; https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/nation
It was a momentous week in Ireland as the nation voted overwhelmingly to repeal Section 8 of the constitution.
We reflect not only on the importance of this decision but its potential impact on Irish reunification given the stance on social issues of the DUP.
Next you hear our surprising take on the Scottish Growth Commission Report.
Finally, Lesley returns to Orkney and its innovations in green energy generation driven by the necessity of being ignored by the big energy providers.
Sun, 13 May 2018
We begin this podcast with my flummoxing Lesley by referencing obscure 60's novelty R n B and my great week of live gigs.
The sad death of Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit and the reaction of Prof Tom Gallagher to Nicola Sturgeon's message of condolence means we take a more serious tone and I reflect on decency in public discourse.
Lesley turns her attention to that front-page photo and article on the AUOB march in last Sunday's Herald and wonders if it's three strikes and you're out after Angela Haggerty's ill judged "outing" tweet.
It's Brexit, yet again, with appearances on the Sunday shows by Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Brexiteer Ian Duncan-Smith. The delusion that all will be well in the best of all possible post EU worlds for the UK gets a real "doing" by Lesley.
It's all promises, promises by Richard Leonard and Labour as they arrive late to the protect devolution party and trot out their federal solution to the crisis of the British state.
The second half of the podcast is a conversation between Lesley and Angus Brendan MacNeil at the Arctic Circle Faroe Islands Forum. What can we learn from this other devolved region?
Thu, 3 May 2018
I open by stunning Lesley with Chris McEleny's "dream team" Yes campaign leadership suggestion. This leads Lesley into her thoughts on just what shape any future independence campaign should and could take and what role any "leader" would be permitted by the media.
It's the local elections in England and I succeed, yet again, in surprising Lesley with my revelations on the voting system used. Both of us try to get to grips with the arcane structure of local government down south, and the complexities of making sense of the results.
We return to independence and we've often speculated on just how No voters could be convinced to change their minds. I try to explain the research of neuropsychologist Professor Tali Sharot and what, if anything, it can contribute to strategies on how to do this. Judge for yourselves how successful I am.
Kevin McKenna's thought provoking article in the National on the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol provides a springboard for a discussion on the role of drink in Scottish society, the impact of its abuse in working class communities, and whether this is simply another nanny state measure enacted by the middle classes.
Finally, we review FMQs, in particular Miles Briggs' attack on the Baby Box scheme, and David Mundell's appearances before two committees at the Scottish Parliament.
Plus there's the usual old toot including a lesson in Dundonian and more than any of you wanted to know about the play-offs for the SPFL.
Thu, 26 April 2018
There's a definite parliamentary feel to the first part of the podcast as we spend a significant amount of time picking over the breakdown of negotiations between the Scottish and UK governments over Brexit Clause 11, the infamous "power grab".
Yesterday's Scottish and PM Questions in Westminster and today's FMQs focus Lesley on the reactions of Labour in particular to the impact of the "consent decision" amendments on the devolution settlement and the Scottish Parliament.
I chip in on the 24 powers which the UK government proposes to retain for seven years post Brexit, and we speculate on how the SNP and wider Scottish civic society can drive home what this will mean in reality to ordinary folk. And can we leave all this up to mainstream news outlets?
This feeds neatly into Lesley's recollections of her time at the BBC after the recent revelations over Auntie’s collusion with MI5 in vetting and excluding "lefties".
There are also startling marital and football revelations and my take on Jackson Carlaw.
Thu, 19 April 2018
After the two week break for my being "awfy no weel" we're back.
In the opening salvos of our return you'll hear far too much about my illness and lots about our overheard conversations in Fife.
When we finally get down to business Lesley focuses on what we can learn from the BiFab crisis for the future of Scottish innovation and manufacturing, And, yet again, Norway can be the model.
Henry McLeish's return to the independence debate leads us into a discussion on what impact he can have on any future referendum among Labour "No's".
I watched FMQs today, just so you don't have to chums, and we discuss Ruth Davidson's and Richard Leonard's contrasting contributions.
It wouldn't be our podcast if we didn't examine the BBC's role in driving the news agenda and cycle and turn our attention to the "Windrush Generation" scandal. Lesley skewers the Tory "look over there, shiny shiny" diversionary tactics.
I finish with my reaction to the BBC's "Rivers of Blood" broadcast on Radio 4.
All this plus the usual verbal highways and byways.
Thu, 5 April 2018
Strangely neither of us are returning from anywhere this week, but we're both off, separately, to Edinburgh.
We unashamedly spend most of our time reflecting on the Novichuk poisoning story and what it says not only about Boris Johnson and the Conservative government but also the state of BBC journalism. Here's a hint, neither of us are exactly tap dancing about any of them.
Lesley wonders if Jeremy Corbyn is the only political leader to have gone with his gut instincts and been proven correct.
Once again it seems to have been the "non mainstream" media, with the honourable exception of Skynews, which has done the heavy journalistic lifting.
We return to the theme of empathy from last week and revisit the Clara Ponsati situation with Lesley's insights into the European Arrest Warrant.
I make a plea to avoid gloating about the media turning on the Labour Party and Remainers from those of us who went through the smears of Indyref.
Finally, we reflect on the enduring radical legacy of Dr Martin Luther King on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.
Fri, 30 March 2018
We return after the two-week hiatus, caused by my bout of "man flu, and kick off, after a few moans from me, with the fight to save Professor Clara Ponsati from extradition to Spain. We discuss just what the Scottish Government or indeed Parliament could do to assist her, and the law surrounding the European Arrest Warrant.
Lesley reflects on what the case says not just about Scottish society but also about the reaction of most unionist politicians to Clara's plight. I reveal another dark secret of my past when holding forth on Natural Law.
Lesley's trip to Islay, courtesy of Loganair, returns us to some of the key topics she's been focusing on over the past 18 months. Land ownership, the plight of island and rural communities, and Scotland's broken system of local government.
It wouldn't be a podcast without discussion on the role of the media and I recount my exposure to the Jeremy Vine Show (the things I suffer for you folk) and Lesley sheds some interesting light on the HOOP demonstration at Holyrood.
As usual there are other random nuggets of nonsense.
Wed, 7 March 2018
This day early podcast is brought to you courtesy of my gallivanting off to Wales tomorrow(Thursday) morning.
Lesley returns to the continuing story of land ownership in Scotland and the rights (or lack of them) of tenant farmers.
Labour's Scottish conference in Dundee and the potential rebellion of Kezia Dugdale and Ian Murray leads us down the byways of speculation over Brexit, Labour's squaring of electoral circles north and south of the border and allotments (trust me it made sense at the time). Plus, I have my say on Labour voting independence supporters, like Cat Boyd.
A beautifully written article in Bella Caledonia by Clare Galloway allows us to discuss the role, impact, and cost of alcohol in Scotland.
We ask will Sky come to regret its poll on the most influential women in British history as Nicola Sturgeon and Mhairi Black lie first and third with only two hours left to vote?
Tomorrow is International Women's Day and we finish with reflections on Mhairi Black's passionate, articulate, and deeply personal speech on misogyny at Westminster earlier today.
Thu, 1 March 2018
It's good to be back after our wee break and, after we ruminate on the weather, I reveal just what that" hockey business" Lesley alluded to last week was all about.
Lesley's recent visit to Skye revealed the crisis in housing afflicting the island as more and more homes are turned into short term holiday lets. There are solutions, but will the Scottish Government be bold enough to take them?
Despite my being in a sporting bubble last week I just couldn't escape the latest in the never-ending Brexit saga, the EU'S draft legal agreement, and the impact on Ireland, North and South.
Lesley picks up on this theme with its knock-on effect on the timing of YES2.
We return after "ending" to the growing row over tenant farmers being evicted from Buccleuch estates to make way for grant-aided forests.
There’s, as usual, other meanderings including my potential career as a local radio DJ and a sneaky admiration for Alex Massie (yup THAT Alex Massie)
Thu, 15 February 2018
This week, it's me who's returned from a stravaig abroad. And you're about to find out more than you ever knew or wanted to know about the Vienna Settlers Movement, Red Vienna and the impact of them both on housing, culture, and democracy right through until the present day. What can it teach us about the relationship between popular movements and progressive local governments?
We can't escape from Brexit, in so many ways, and Lesley ruthlessly dissects the recent Boris Johnson " Reach out to the Remainers" speech. She ignores his crass comments and focuses on the lack of content and blatant appeal to the emotions from Johnson and his band of Brexiteer Merrie Englanders.
We speculate on Labour's recent policy statements on cooperative nationalisation and its potential appeal north and south of the border.
The recent return of the in-proportion BBC weather map leads Lesley to discuss, well, weather forecasting.
And, by various digressions, takes me to the Scottish visits of Corbyn, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and what links them.
All of the above plus, fungi, Billy Kay on Don Roberto, and two upcoming Nordic Horizons events.
Thu, 1 February 2018
It's very definitely an early kick off this week (don't panic chums that's the only football reference).
Scottish journalist and broadcaster Carrie Gracie's appearance before the Common's select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport provides the thread that runs through the podcast.
Lesley explains just why we should care about someone who could easily be mischaracterised as a "poor wee rich girl", and what her fight for equal pay within the BBC says not only about gender inequality within that institution but also its entire culture and values.
I pitch in on a new report by Ellie Mae McDonald of the LSE on the UK government's programme of austerity and its disproportionate impact on women.
We return to the BBC and examine the expansion of its Local Democracy Partnerships with the big Scottish newspaper publishers. Just how healthy is the current relationship between the BBC and the mainstream press and how effective will these new reporters be in scrutinising local government?
We finish, as is our wont, by revisiting Celtic Connections and the power of music.
Sat, 27 January 2018
Lesley hotfoots (or is that coldfoots?) it back from the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso, via Methil, for this week's podcast.
I return tae hame groond frae the less exotic but no less exciting Glasgow, and Celtic Connections.
Lesley's plea for the Scottish establishment to turn on to what a great city Dundee is kicks us off. Unsurprisingly I'm with her all the way but are we Dundonians our own worst enemies?
Cooperation was the buzzword with the delegates in Tromso, but have the Icelanders upstaged their Scandinavian cousins with their Arctic Circles forum in Helsinki staged at their brilliantly bonkers conference centre?
And what can Scotland learn about developing our towns and cities outwith the Glasgow Edinburgh axis from the Norwegian experience?
Lesley's photos of her visit to an amazing outdoor kindergarten in Tromso really caught my attention and I'm stunned and impressed, once again, by just how right Norway seems to have got early years education.
Having made the revelation last week that I'd never been to a Burns Supper I try and explain why. This leads me, I've got that kind of mind chums, to the repeal of OBFA, and the nagging suspicion that Labour and the Tories may be playing political games over this.
All the above plus, Lesley talks in Norwegian, I reply in Finnish, and even more Celtic Connections chat.
Thu, 18 January 2018
After some merry badinage Lesley returns to the major issue of land ownership and the rights of tenant farmers.
She examines the complex situation in the Borders on the massive estates of the Duke of Buccleuch and tries to make sense of the conflicting perspectives of the locals and Buccleuch Estates. Lesley also reflects on the potential negative impacts of the Scottish Government's benign reforestation policies and the parlous position of tenant farmers who operate under limited partnerships as opposed to secure tenancies.
I, urbanite that I am, contribute little beyond silence for the most part (a blessed relief I hear you cry) until we expand on this specific issue to look at whether big is indeed beautiful.
This leads neatly into the collapse of Carillion, what this says about PFI and big state solutions, and the National Audit Office's report on the economic efficiency of Public Private Partnerships.
No week can pass without Brexit talk and we discuss the European Union Withdrawal Bill amendment votes at Westminster, the sovereignty of Parliaments and those Henry the 8th powers.
Finally, Lesley gives her considered opinion on that Van Morrison album I gave her......
Fri, 12 January 2018
Is this our most controversial podcast? I leave it to you dear listeners to decide as we kick off with our thoughts on the sainted Van the Man.
We move to much safer ground with Lesley's views on Trump as the revelations in Fire and Fury stoke the flames surrounding the Donald.
I muse on the "Oprah for 2020" buzz and what it says about the state of the USA .
The failure of the UK government to produce the amendments to Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill, the potential for a Westminster "power grab", and the, seeming, all party unanimity among Scottish MPs and MSPs is up next. Lesley speculates if this is the dawn of a new realisation, especially for the Scots Tories, of an undermining of not only the Scottish Parliament but of democracy.
I offer my cynical response, not like me....
The recent Cabinet reshuffle and the stooshie over diversity gives me the chance to court more controversy with my perspective on what jot of difference more BEM or women in a Tory Cabinet makes to equality.
We end almost we began with movies and music. However, after Falkirk, nae Dundee United
Fri, 5 January 2018
A guid new year tae yin an aw and welcome to the first podcast of 2018.
We begin by focusing on the winter "crisis" in the NHS and Lesley questions the "SNPbad" coverage across the press and broadcast media. This leads us to speculate not only on this but the softly softly response by the Scottish Government in its seeming failure to compare our NHS with that in England.
Neil Oliver's appointment as President of the National Trust for Scotland has more than annoyed Yes supporters given his stance on Scottish independence.However Lesley argues that there just may be a progressive aspect to it in terms of the role of the Trust and land ownership.Note the "may" chums.
I pitch around the edges on Scotland in Union, Prof Hugh Pennington, creeping NHS privatisation in England, and the Trans Pacific Partnership.
All this plus the usual meanderings.
Fri, 22 December 2017
In this ,the final, podcast of 2017 we return to some old favourite topics and hae a wee keek at what we're looking forward to in 2018.
Lesley kicks off with the latest reports from Business for Scotland on how Scottish industry and commerce is reacting to the Brexit shambles. Is this, almost, solid unionist block coming round to independence? And is the UK government willing to sell out Scotland"The Brand" in pursuit of trade deals?
The Brexiteers claim that leaving Europe will mean that we're free of so called red tape. I examine the possibility( probability) that the European Working Time Directive may be the first casualty of this policy and what it might mean for workers' rights.
The saga of the empty Inchgreen dry dock in Greenock and the importance of the Scottish government getting the much needed Compulsory Sale Order legislation drafted and passed is subjected to the Riddoch gimlet gaze.
It's numbers all the way for me with questions being raised about Tom Gordon of the Herald's maths when it comes to Baby Boxes and why Murdo Fraser should tak tent on where Scottish tax payers' cash is actually being wasted.
As usual we frame everything within the framework of the drive towards Scottish independence and we also meander down some unexpected by ways.
Fri, 15 December 2017
Brexit,Budget,BBC, and Bolton are the bees on oor bunnits this week.
However we buck the trend and begin,not with yesterday's Draft Scottish Budget, but the annulment and rerun of the election for Aberdeen University's rector.Trust me folks it's of more importance than we might think at first glance.
However the budget can't be ignored and Lesley examines not only the facts and figures but what the reaction to, and coverage of, it says about Scotland. Plus we examine the performance of the key players during after the Parliamentary debate.
This leads us neatly into our thoughts about BBC Scotland and does it live up to its pledge of not only entertaining but informing and educating?
No week is complete without our two go to topics of Brexit and Trump( I could have slipped another B in there but fill in the blank yirsels).
Adam Bolton's "You Irish" comments and flag issues frame our chat on Brexit and we heave a sigh of relief at Trump's pal Roy Moore's loss in the Alabama Senate election.
Just when they thought it was all over we enter extra time as Lesley cuts loose on the barriers to community buy outs, focusing in particular on recent attempts by local folk to purchase redundant Church of Scotland kirks.
No mentions of Dundee United this week( still top of the Championship btw) , but we digress on BBC NI's The Blame Game and cinema travelogues.
Fri, 8 December 2017
We return to podcasting as Lesley recuperates from her recent hip replacement and I venture down the Tay coast to record this week's episode.
Stuck at home Lesley tuned into "Call Kaye",normally a cue to hurl the wireless oot the windae, but the discussion on the use of medicinal cannabis meant a stay of execution for the radio and food for thought for us.
You'd think at my age and with my experience nothing would shock me about the behaviour of politicians but David Davis's brass neck on the 50 odd Brexit impact assessments leaves me stunned.
As Finland's celebrates 100 years of its independence Lesley reflects on Finland's journey to become a world leader in health, education, technology and happiness and what Scotland can learn from our northern neighbours.
All of the above plus much more including , a radical Aberdonian bus driver, bats, sea eagles,eccentric Fifers and my mentioning the baby box- as Lesley reminds me gently- yet again.
Thu, 23 November 2017
We return after a two week break due to my "man flu" to a joint reaction to the last two week's events of "Ye whit!".
The overthrow of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe kicks us off and Lesley focuses on the diaspora of Zimbabwe's talented women.Will they return and what will their country be like post Mugabe?
I prove I'm no George Kerevan, as if that needed doing, as I get to grips with Hammond's Budget and its impact not just on the UK but Scotland.
Lesley picks up on the Chancellor's "new technology" mantra and reflects on last week's Arctic Circle Forum in Edinburgh.
We cannot resist the siren call of the jungle and we get stuck into Kezia Dugdale's I'm a Celebrity adventures.
All of this plus, politicians "jokes", Harris Academy alumni,the glories of Dundee by night and the great Rodney Bewes.
Thu, 9 November 2017
In this week's extended podcast we kick off with the resignation of Priti Patel as Secretary of State for International Development.
Lesley speculates on the potential implications for beleaguered Theresa May and asks has she actually been lucky despite all her recent setbacks ?
We discuss the shadowy role of Lord Polack of the Conservative Friends of Israel in Patel's fall from grace and could this be the moment for Penny Mordaunt to stake her claim for the Tory leadership?
Boris Johnson is next in Lesley's gimlet gaze as the full impact of his ill thought and poorly prepared statements give spurious legitimacy to the imprisonment of UK journalist Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe by the Iranian government.
We go into extra time for Lesley's reflections on last Saturday's Build Conference.
All this plus The Gruffalo in Scots , baby boxes,and feral cats.
Thu, 19 October 2017
Lesley returns after her bout of the lurgi and it's Riddoch in full righteous wrath mode as the injustices and human costs of Universal Credit are dissected mercilessly,and it's shown for the cruel shambles that it is.
I lurk on the wing and chip in on yesterday's debate in the House of Commons on Universal Credit and the lack of understanding of the plight of ordinary folk on the government benches.
Lesley reflects on last week's Arctic Circle Assembly ,Nicola Sturgeon's starring role, and exciting prospects for joint Icelandic Scottish cooperation on post fossil fuels energy supply.
Finally it's back to the SNP Conference, the mood of delegates , the fringe events, and are there signs that the party is slowly coming around to a more collegiate approach to its leadership allowing Nicola to "get on with the day job"?
Fri, 6 October 2017
In this week's extended podcast we delve into the ongoing crisis of democracy in Catalonia and the Tory Party conference in Manchester.
Lesley strips away the "playing for sympathy" card of the Conservative apologists and focuses on May's policies and the reaction to them amongst delegates.
I fling in my midgie magnet analogy and we both speculate on Boris and Ruth's ambitions.
By way of Nick Robinson's moan on the role of new media outlets undermining trust in the BBC we try and make sense of what's happening in Catalonia.
Lesley previews her upcoming trip to Iceland for the Arctic Circles conference.
I shamelessly plug Dundee Wanderers Hockey club.
And we both take credit for Scotland's last gasp win v Slovakia.
Thu, 28 September 2017
We kick off this week by going back to one of last week's topics as Lesley follows her journalist's nose to investigate the issues surrounding standing at work.
This leads to our considering the pros, and some wee cons, of trades unions.
The ongoing saga of the twelve year equal pay fight by women workers and the hypocritical attack on the new SNP Glasgow City Council by Joanna Baxter speeds us neatly into the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.
While Corbyn inspired his audience is he a hollow man when it comes to Scotland?
And if unity broke out on the conference floor, even Tom Watson chanted "Oh Jeremy Corbyn", it was gloves off in the fight for the leadership of Scottish Labour.
In addition to all this there's a flag inspired rant from me, Lesley wonders if Ruth Davidson has been found out, and I quote Cicero.
All this and a Riddoch bonus at the end,You lucky people( a prize for knowing the source of that catchphrase- no peeking at Google).
Thu, 21 September 2017
It's our first anniversary and we hit the ground running with dramatic scenes at today's FMQs as Alex Rowley comments that when it comes to tax the SNP always sides with the millionaires against the millions. An Alex own goal ,as Nicola pounces, or something far more interesting in the struggle between Sarwar and Leonard for leadership of Scottish Labour?
Lesley returns to the state of Scottish local government and examines how the sparkle of fantastic community projects could be harnessed to radical reform to achieve the best of both worlds.
I focus on the case of asylum seeker Samim Bigzad and the complete disregard for the law displayed by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Is this yet another example of creeping Conservative authoritarianism?
A less than happy flight experience at Stansted airport leads Lesley to thoughts on ,not only ,modern travel but also the nature of the modern workplace.
We finish on the tale of L'Oreal v The Naked Soap Co. Why? Because they're worth it.
Thu, 14 September 2017
After Lesley and I ruminate on our low tech methodologies of checking whether we're recording an interference free podcast- my nipping ben the hoose at its heart- Lesley examines the Arctic Circle's October Assembly in Iceland and the Scotland and the New North Conference taking place in Edinburgh in November.
I chip in on Radio 4's short series,"The English Fix".In particular the final episode featuring Sir Roger Scruton.
Lesley goes back to the future and reflects on Tony Blair's latest Brexit intervention and I chip in on the Common's debates on the EU Repeal Bill.
The alert among you, and that means all of you, will note the rustling of paper and my confusion during some of Lesley's contribution. This is accounted for by my accidentally flicking back to notes covering Brexit from some months ago resulting in an almost out of body state of confusion as I went back to the future.
Lesley masterfully covers my blushes.
All this and the Scottish Independence Convention Build 2 Conference.