Tue, 21 May 2019
It's a week of political limbo as we wait for Theresa May's "big" announcement on her reshaped EU Withdrawal Bill and the EU elections on Thursday.
The latest polls for those elections showed growing support for the Brexit Party right across the UK. In Scotland the SNP is still way ahead but it could be meltdown for both Labour and the Tories as the Brexit Party is in second place. On these figures the SNP could gain one seat, rising to three MEPs, the Brexit Party two MEPs, and a straight fight between the Greens and the Lib Dems for the sixth spot.
Lesley tries to make sense of that surge.
The latest edition of Question Time from Elgin caused yet more controversy here in Scotland. Lesley's latest column in the Scotsman focusing on this has proved no less controversial in certain quarters and she argues that unless Donalda MacKinnon gets a firm grip on QT it will continue to go rogue.
SNP MSP George Adam will be bringing a motion to the Scottish Parliament, with cross party support from Labour and the Greens, criticising Ofcom's recent decisions to further deregulate local commercial radio. I examine the new Ofcom regulations and why we should be worried about them.
The Nordic Horizons group has decided to have a year's sabbatical and evaluate their activities. Lesley gives the background to that decision.
As per usual there's other stuff but I'll let you find that out for yourselves.
Wed, 15 May 2019
Andrew Marr interviewed Damian Hinds (he’s the current Education Secretary-nope me neither) and Nigel Farage on his show this Sunday.
Both were on to talk about the European Parliamentary elections. Both had to try and do this without the benefit of their parties issuing manifestos.
Lesley picks apart the significance of this and the flaws at the heart of the UK's political system which mean the party of government and the party leading in the polls for that election can get away with it.
Sticking with the Euro elections, the Sunday Mail recently endorsed the Scottish Green Party, breaking a long tradition of supporting Labour.
We discuss, even if this was a cynical vote splitting move by the Sunday Mail, why Yes supporters could vote Green, and how quickly the political landscape on the climate emergency has changed.
As the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the return of the Scottish Parliament roll on two former First Ministers, Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish both came out in favour of reform. McConnell, perhaps seduced by his time in the Lords, wanted the creation of a non-elected second chamber. McLeish, hankering after a more European style assembly, suggested moving to an increased number of MSPs by bringing in the Single Transferable Vote system.
We reflect on both these proposals, more favourably on one than the other.
Theresa May will be bringing back the EU Withdrawal Bill to Westminster on June the third. This " Great Repeal Bill" is the one that enshrines the power grab from Holyrood. We return to, not just to the specifics of the bill, but the underlying message it contains about Scotland's place in the UK.
As per usual there's a smattering of other nonsense, mainly on Highland League football, Chinese takeaways and clip on sunglasses.
Wee note from Lesley; I checked on who controls Oil and Gas Licensing and I was wrong. It's still the UK Government via the Oil and Gas Authority quango they set up — it's licensing for onshore oil and gas (basically fracking) that was devolved in 2018. Apologies.
Fri, 10 May 2019
Saturday saw over 100,000 supporters of Scottish independence march through Glasgow. Lesley was there and gives her impressions of what it was like out on the streets and the reflects on the continuing commitment to the cause of the grass roots movement. All of this despite brickbats from some obvious, and some surprising, sources.
We both tuned into the latest edition of Question Time, featuring yet again Nigel Farage. We wonder if the shambles we witnessed was simply a show that Fiona Bruce let get out of hand or was it just the spectacle that the producers wanted.
It's the 20th anniversary of the return of the Scottish Parliament and Lesley reflects on its achievements, with praise for Labour First Ministers Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell, and the new Scottish social security system.
I'm not sure if this makes up for my less than complimentary remarks on Richard Leonard's European election video, or Paul Sweeney's latest podcast gaffe.
We try and figure out just why the Tory Party leadership candidates all decided to chuck their hats in the ring next and pick apart the latest European election polls. Spoiler alert, bad news for Labour, but disastrous for the Tories.
Sticking with the Euro elections Lesley returns to Catalonia, the plight of the jailed leader of the ERC party Oriol Junqueras, and former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.
Along the way there's also the usual badinage, and maybe a wee mention of football.
Tue, 30 April 2019
Lesley made her first appearance on BBC Scotland's Debate Night last Sunday and she wonders if, in trying not to be the bear pit of Question Time, it has become too staid.
This leads us neatly, well in my mind anyway, into Nicola Sturgeon's declaration, at the SNP Party Conference, of a Climate Emergency. We try and pick apart the implications of this and the possible motivations behind it.
Lesley was at the Conference and tries to give a flavour of the atmosphere, and in particular the major debate on the Growth Commission Report. Despite the big guns being wheeled out to support the Commission's position on an independent currency Dr Timothy Rideout's Amendment D was passed. Was this a defeat for the Commission's 6 tests or not?
In a week which saw Ofcom censure Andrew Neil, the return of Ruth Davidson, and David Lidington venturing north of the border, I question, not for the first time, the professionalism of BBC journalists.
Lesley continues the theme in the light of the reporting of the Spanish election results.
Finally, Lesley pays tribute to the late Dennis Macleod of Helmsdale who died this week. A truly remarkable man.
Fri, 26 April 2019
Lesley was in Catalonia last week for the Books and Roses Festival.
What she found there was so important that we thought we'd create a wee Aftermath special. So, here it is.
Fri, 26 April 2019
It's an extra-long (time for two sets of ironing) podcast this week and we spend most of it discussing Nicola Sturgeon's statement on Indyref2 in Holyrood this Wednesday.
While we look at the reaction to it from across the political spectrum Lesley focuses on the questions arising from the broader Yes movement. In particular how can a narrative be created which moves the debate away from aridity to positivity and the role of a Citizens' Assembly.
Scotland in Union published a poll which the right-wing press claimed as a "bombshell blow" to the SNP. Lesley drills down into the actual figures to reach a somewhat different conclusion. I pitch in on the European Parliamentary elections and the latest Survation Westminster voting intentions statistics.
This week saw the loss of Billy McNeil, and Lyra McKee and we reflect on what we can learn from their life and death.
Along the way we both regret our early morning BBC radio listening and get quite irate about pronunciation.
Thu, 18 April 2019
Lesley went to a fringe meeting at the STUC annual conference on local government finance reform and we kick off this week's podcast with this. And if you thought I was an anorak on the D'Hondt Formula......
Seriously, Lesley goes on to explore the nature of local democracy in the light of recent revelations regarding the English local elections.
We've been promising to focus on climate change for weeks and the recent appearance of George Monbiot on Frankie Boyle's New World Order, plus tonight's David Attenborough documentary on BBC, provide the opportunity.
Like death and taxes, we can't escape Brexit and with the recent polls showing Nigel Farage's Brexit Party in the lead across the UK we discuss this, and the ever "interesting" political positions of George Galloway.
Along the way there's more than a mention of Dundee United, that defamation case, and the gabbiness of Lawside Academy FPs
Tue, 9 April 2019
It was the Scottish Greens' party conference last weekend and we spend a fair amount of time looking at Tommy Sheppard's suggestion that some form of electoral pact be reached between them and the SNP in the 2021 Holyrood elections. How far should the Greens, their supporters, and other nonaligned "Yessers", subsume their values within an SNP dominated drive for independence?
This leads us on to the, seemingly inevitable, European Parliamentary elections. Lesley believes that we are crying out for a move beyond simplistic sloganeering during the campaign and that real, detailed exposition of key ideas, in particular freedom of movement, is required. I ask what hope might there be of a united, progressive, electoral Yes front.
The recent Hansard Society report has shown a majority of those surveyed would favour a strong leader willing to break the rules in order to get things done. Lesley reflects on this, not merely on a UK/Brexit basis, but in terms of Scottish independence.
As promised last week I try my darndest to unravel the complexities of the #weareirish controversy.
We also manage to shoehorn in Damascene conversions, SNP bungs, and Scotland beating Brazil at football.
Tue, 2 April 2019
Yet again it's another morning after the Westminster night before and Lesley and I attempt to unpick the Gordian knot of indicative votes on Brexit.
I won't try and unravel what we cover in this episode in detail but we range across who voted for what; the arcane and archaic House of Commons voting procedures; whether the SNP MPs should simply up sticks and come home; and as usual what all this means for Scottish independence.
You also find out why I was angry and Lesley wasn't, plus an update on meh beein aff on the seek.
Thu, 21 March 2019
The astonishing twists and turns of the events of the past couple of days over Brexit fill this week's entire episode .
Rather than my usual set of meanderings here I'll let you listen to the podcast as we don't half cover a whole lot of ground.
Our conclusions? Well, our final duet statement, is genuinely where we're at today,Thursday.
Wha kens whaur we'll be the morn!
Mon, 11 March 2019
As is so often in our podcasts Lesley has just returned from one of the Nordics. This time it's Iceland where she was attending a three-day (well it was three days for most delegates Ms Riddoch) conference on how they solved the substance abuse and anti-social behaviour epidemic among its young people.
Lesley discovered what we might learn from the Icelandic experience and some surprising, and heartening, facts about Scotland, particularly in the ongoing soul searching over knife crime in England.
I say my piece on the tragic death of Shamima Begum’s wee boy Jarrah in a Syrian refugee camp and the moral responsibility of the UK government. Was he merely a piece in the ongoing power struggle in the Tory Party?
This is the week of the three votes on Brexit and we focus specifically on the SNP amendment to tomorrow’s(currently) meaningful vote asking for the power to hold an independence referendum if the UK leaves the EU.
If it fails, as inevitably it will, where does this leave the SNP's leadership in terms of Indyref2?
Friday was International Women's Day and we manage to link the release of Captain Marvel, the 5000 women of the Kurdish YPJ brigade, and strike action by the Icelandic Efling union.
Finally, it was Scottish Labour's annual conference in Dundee over the weekend. Once again the promise of federalism was waved tantalisingly to Scotland. We both have our opinions on that. Again.
Mon, 4 March 2019
After I begin by giving far too detailed an explanation of why we're now podcasting on Mondays, Lesley gets stuck into what looks like a bidding war between the EU and EFTA for a post-independence Scotland.
She also considers, what appears to be, growing indications of the launch of Indyref2 and asks will any Tory PM agree to a Section 30 order and just who will decide who gets to vote, and the question on the ballot paper. In the light of Richard Leonard's car crash interview on Sunday Politics Scotland we also examine what difference a Corbyn government dependent on SNP support might make.
I chip in on the recent announcement by the SNP of a change in currency policy and we ask just how radical will that change be, and what can we learn from both Bernie Sanders and the Swedish Social Democrats of the 1950s?
Recent statistics from England and Wales show a steep decline in the study of foreign languages at GCSE and A level in both those countries. Lesley explores what deep rooted reasons might be behind this worrying trend, the differences in Scotland, and can we afford to be complacent.
All the above plus David Mundell's limited grasp of reality, Bill Jack's double-breasted blazer, our post Brexit names and a wee tribute to the late Merv Rolfe.
Tue, 26 February 2019
It was "Hold the front page" time this afternoon as Theresa May made her much trailed statement to the Commons after a fractious Cabinet meeting.
We give our initial reactions to her last-minute Brexit manoeuvring.
Lesley returned to her alma mater at the end of last week to attend a conference organised by the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at Oxford University on remaking the UK constitution.
Lesley and Joanna Cherry turned out to be the only journalist and MP to attend and both returned convinced of the central role of Citizens' Assemblies in shaping not only the independence campaign but a future Scottish constitution.
Professor Stephanie Kelton, an economic adviser to Bernie Sanders, has just joined the Scottish Modern Monetary Group, a collection of pro-independence economists. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)may seem dry and academic but, trust me chums, could be the key to a post UK, green, Scottish economy and answer all those pesky currency questions.
Sunday saw the launch of BBC Scotland, and Monday the premiere of The Nine, the long awaited, hour long, flagship news programme for the new station.
Lesley and I give our candid, but considered, opinions and what we've seen, so far.
Tue, 19 February 2019
There's only one place to begin this week and it's the, less than, surprise resignation of seven Labour MPs to form TIG-The Independent Group.
Lesley and I try to get our heads round why now, what for, and what next for this disparate group.
This speculation, inevitably for us, leads us down several highways and bye ways including proportional representation, and the founding of the Scottish Labour Party in 1888.
Just when you thought the hoo ha surrounding BBC Question Time had died down the National revealed the editing of Fiona Hyslop's reply to orange jaiket man. We draw on our past experiences in teaching, producing, and presenting to examine the ethics and editorial decisions behind it.
The Scottish Tories have been out in force across the streets and on social media fulminating about the Workplace Parking Levy. Lesley not only ripostes their arguments against it but widens the discussion to reflect on the nature of our relationships with private and public transport.
Finally, it's hats aff tae the inestimable Jim Spence new rector of Dundee University and Arab of good standing. Laborare et orare James.
Tue, 12 February 2019
Lesley's just back from a wee tour of the Western Isles and looks back on the perils, and pleasures, of travel around the Outer Hebrides.
The pleasure mainly being her discovery of the joys of the electric bike.
She also reflects on the crofting and housing crisis facing the islanders and the enduring legacy of Canon Angus MacQueen.
It may seem a long way from Lewis to the USA but Donald Trump is rarely quiet about his island heritage. I was appalled by his recent tweets on Elizabeth Warren's declaration of intent to run for the Democratic presidential nomination and consider just how deep and tragic these links are.
As the BBC prepares itself for the launch of its new BBC Scotland channel, we have to address the Question Time "orange jacket man" story and its significance for the success or failure of the new venture.
We also manage to slip in some references to Dundee United, the Killing, and the popularity of Midsomer Murders in Scandinavia.
Tue, 5 February 2019
Back in the days of Riddoch Questions we used to sit around post show and record our thoughts about the topics and podcast them as Aftermath.
Well...after today's podcast we suddenly found ourselves chatting about the meaning of identities ,specifically our own, and we decided to go back to the future and create our very own Aftermath.
We hope you enjoy this wee bonus.
Tue, 5 February 2019
It's a podcast of two halves today.The news that Celtic Connections has been awarded £100,000 from the Scottish Government's Expo Fund to commission eight new pieces of work for the Grit Orchestra sparks off part one.
Part the second moves from music to history examining the wartime nationalist narrative of Brexiters and wondering if Scotland can awake from this nightmare.
There's a wee bit of reflection on Angus Robertson's new Progress Scotland venture and lots of the other usual nonsense.
Sun, 3 February 2019
Lesley interviews Danish MP Dan Joergensen
Fri, 1 February 2019
The Irish backstop is still the hot topic of Brexit debate and Lesley examines the "Let's blame Ireland" narrative which the likes of John Humphrys and Andrew Marr are punting on the BBC.
I spent most of Tuesday glued to BBC Parliament trying to follow the series of amendments to the Brexit vote on Theresa May's latest deal. I reflect not only the fate of Ian Blackford's amendment but the disgraceful behaviour of Tory and DUP MPs towards him. We consider, again, the nature of adversarial party politics in the UK and speculate on what, if any, difference a PR system of elections would make.
This leads us, neatly, into the Scottish budget, the compromises reached between the SNP and the Scottish Greens to secure agreement in contrast to the refusal of the other three parties to engage with Derek McKay.
Lesley hosted Nordic Horizons in Edinburgh earlier this week where the hammer of Fox News, Danish MP Dan Joergensen, was the star turn.
As well as all this we pay tribute to Jeremy Hardy, praise Jackson Carlaw and Willie Rennie, and Lesley reckons I might be a hipster.
Tue, 22 January 2019
There's nothing happening with Brexit but there's nothing else we can talk about.
Well, Lesley and I hope to prove that wrong and we begin by......talking about Brexit.
We reflect on the impasse at Westminster and how the log jam might be broken by the series of amendments placed for next week.
It's been a struggle to try and understand why support for a hard Brexit is so popular, particularly in working class areas of Northern England. Lesley's conversations recently at the "Think Anew, Act Anew" Convention in London highlighted the democratic deficit these communities face.
Our attention turns back to Scotland, the Green Party and its pivotal role in any future Holyrood elections and any subsequent mandate for Indyref2.
The BBC has just published its roster of flagship programmes for the new BBC Scotland channel. Are we impressed?
Finally, as the Oscar nominations are announced, it's our version of Film 2019 after visits to the flicks to see The Favourite, and Stan and Ollie. There's controversy over Monty Python, the Goons, and Buster Keaton.
Wed, 16 January 2019
It's the morning after the night before and as the light at the end of the Brexit tunnel looks increasingly like the No Deal express thundering down the track we try and make sense of it all.
Lesley wonders just where Theresa May can now go to get some sort of parliamentary consensus and is this time for the Commons to step in and create that temporary cross-party coalition.
As Nicola Sturgeon flies down to London to meet with Ian Blackford and the SNP MPs we inevitably speculate on where this crisis of the British state takes the campaign for Scottish independence.
Along the way we discuss the Northern Irish backstop, Section 30 orders, and compare the Prime Minister to those Weebles who wobble but don't fall down (one for the kids there).
Sat, 12 January 2019
We make our first appearance of 2019 and it's our longest edition ever. I leave it you to decide if this is a good thing....
Lesley spent the last week in London and we begin by looking at her appearance on the BBC's Politics Live. I'm giving no secrets away by revealing in advance that she didn't enjoy it.
However, in stark contrast to this, Lesley spent Friday speaking and chairing sessions at "Think Anew, Act Anew", an emergency Convention on the need for a second EU referendum. The Convention was designed to draw on new voices from within and outside Parliament, with a focus on fresh thinking, and featured high profile speakers such as Caroline Lucas, Joanna Cherry, James O’Brien, and Fintan O'Toole. The big question is, should the SNP get drawn into this type of cross-party cooperation and possibly lose focus on the prize of Scottish independence?
John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, broke with Parliamentary convention earlier this week by allowing an amendment of a government business motion which lead to a defeat for the executive. He was brutally attacked for this "unconstitutional" behaviour in the Tory press. I try and give a wee bit of context.
In addition to all this there's chats about Andy Murray, Winston Churchill, Gary Lineker and Gary Mackay-Steven.