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The Lesley Riddoch Podcast

The Lesley Riddoch podcast started way back in 2008 - the brainchild of my tech savvy husband Chris Smith, who was also my podcast partner till 2015 when old pal and media lecturer Pat Joyce took over. So it must have been one of the earliest podcasts about the Scottish political and cultural scene. This year (2020) Pat and I started recording via Skype, because each of our households have folk who were shielding during the Covid lockdown - and remote recording works so well we are still Skyping away. The other big development has been acquiring a (volunteer) coach in the shape of Fraser Thompson who’s encouraged us to make a small video about each episode, change the very dated artwork and has updated this website.

Since that first LR podcast twelve years ago we’ve broadcast more than 600 weekly podcasts and had over a million downloads. So enjoy browsing the back catalogue and subscribe to get each new episode. And in case you are wondering, no Pat and I don’t discuss subjects before we start recording each week. We don’t want to get TOO organised!

Pat Joyce

Pat Joyce is a former curriculum leader for journalism at Fife College, a Lochee boy, Dundee United fan, socialist, modernist and grandpa. 

Lesley Riddoch

Lesley Riddoch is an award-winning broadcaster, journalist, cyclist, land reform campaigner & lover of all things Nordic.

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Scottish politics dissected from a left, pro-independence stance. Each week, award-winning broadcaster and journalist, Lesley Riddoch chews over the week’s news with former media lecturer and Dundee United fan, Pat Joyce. If you like intelligent, quirky chat about Scottish society and culture, and Scottish, UK and international politics analysed from a Scottish perspective; this podcast is for you.

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Latest episodes

  • Crisis. What crisis?

    As Boris Johnson is posted missing and suddenly discovers a set of Parliamentary rules that conveniently means he can't create an emergency budget the two Tory leadership candidates continue to punt themselves to their narrow constituency. Liz Truss's economic plans being rubbished by left and right both and Rishi Sunak letting slip the reality of "levelling up" in Tunbridge Wells.
    Both claim to be the inheritors of the Thatcher legacy and both as Prime Minister would fail to tackle the root causes of the current economic crisis within privatised  Brexit Britain.
    However Truss's policies make even Sunak's appear logical and progressive.
    Lesley questions whether any of this will have any impact on the 160,000 Tory members who will be deciding our next PM?

    Great play has been made by both, that any public sector pay rises would fuel inflation.  We look at what Tory economic policies have meant to working people over the last decade and just who the winners and losers are.
    There's growing momentum behind the "Don't Pay" campaign demanding a reduction of energy bills to an affordable level. With another massive hike on October 1st and predictions of the cap rising to over £4000 in January is this a campaign whose time has come?

    Meanwhile Angela Rayner in Edinburgh,once again, revealed quite how out of touch Labour is on the issue of indyref2. She ruled out working with the SNP in a hung Parliament, claiming that Scottish independence would lead to "perpetual Conservatism at Westminster". We ask what difference, if any, a Starmer Labour government would make.

  • No more heroes?

    Liz Truss, the favourite to become the new PM, said that Nicola Sturgeon was an attention seeker who should be ignored. This went down a storm at the Tory hustings but was it a major tactical error?
    Has she, despite what Murdo Fraser claimed, misjudged the mood of even non indy supporting Scots?
    Truss still is the front runner in the leadership contest, but it looks like Sunak is gaining support in the big southern English branches. It might not be all over.
    While both candidates have been making lavish tax cutting promises, are they on the horns of what economist David McWilliams calls a "Trilemma "? The attempt to have a balanced budget while cutting taxes and levelling up.
    Martin Lewis, Marcus Rashford, and Jack Monroe have become "people's heroes" with their single-issue campaigns. Lesley asks if they've become the unofficial opposition but one that will only be successful if not focusing on systemic political change.
    The Tories looked to play the Thatcher anti-union card with their repeal of trade union legislation banning the use of agency workers to break strikes. Have they picked the wrong fight given the public mood?
    All these plus thoughts on the England women winning Euro 2022, the proposal to raise the age Scottish bairns start primary school to six, and the Commonwealth Games.

  • Thatcher's bairns

    The final two standing in the battle to become Tory leader and Prime Minister faced off in the first televised debate last night, both vying to wear the mantle of Margaret Thatcher. We watched so you didn't have to,and reflect not only on the performance of Truss and Sunak but also what the BBC deemed to be the big issues.

     Meanwhile Sir Keir Starmer turned Labour's back on pledges to take public ownership of rail,mail,energy, and water. Does Starmer's "pragmatism" mark a complete surrender to and acceptance of Thatcherite privatisation? However on his visit to Liverpool he couldn't escape the justified anger of a veteran Labour socialist.
    We also try and make sense of what Starmer means by "distinctively British".
    An independent review into allegations of racism in Scottish cricket has found the governance and leadership of the sport to be institutionally racist. Folk on social media complained about what they saw as wall-to-wall coverage by Sky and others of the report as another attempt to talk down Scotland claiming that when related stories/reports emerged in English cricket no such blanket reporting took place.
    Was this justified?
    Things may be grim for many in Scotland - they're truly terrible for millions in Somalia with the Ukraine grain shortage & worst drought in 40 yrs. Powerful report on News at Ten by Peter Smith. If you can give, please do.
    UNICEF link here

  • Issues of Truss

    As Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak emerge as the final two candidates for leader of the Conservative Party and the next Prime Minister, we pick over the debris of those debates and cast another eye over their policies and pitches to the Tory faithful.
    The contest is being presented as a battle between Sunak-left, and Truss-right, but is there that much difference between the two? Our answer will come as no surprise. We reflect on the composition of that Tory electorate and what influence the right-wing press may have on them. We also reach the conclusion that, given the current polls, Liz Truss will soon be facing Sir Keir Starmer and Ian Blackford across the despatch box.
    Starmer recently ruled out any reform to the outdated First Past the Post electoral system saying, "It's not a priority." is this not only an affront to genuine democracy but politically illiterate?
    The Scottish Government has opened up its latest Land Reform Bill for public consultation. Is it so mired in technocratic speak that it's impossible for any non-expert to get to grips with it and is it even asking the right questions?,range%20of%20land%2Drelated%20issues.

    Public Events

    • Glenmoriston Millenium Hall, Invermoriston on Monday 25 July 2022 (EventBrite link)
    • Timespan, Helmsdale on Tuesday 26 July 2022 (EventBrite link)
    • Stornoway Town Hall, Stornoway on Wednesday 27 July 2022 (EventBrite link)
    • Victoria and Albert Halls, Ballater on Thursday 28 July 2022 (EventBrite link)
    The Minister will also be holding an online event between 6:30pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 21 July 2022 (EventBrite link).
  • The Passing Parade

    The Tory Party leadership contest following Boris Johnson's resignation is the only show in town this week and we have our own particular take on it. This involves our attempts to find any utterances on Scotland beyond, "You'll have had your indyref!" and a kind of trivia quiz for the politically obsessed.
    Within this rather dubious framework we try and pick apart the candidates' platforms and chances of inheriting the throne. This means looking at the make up and attitudes of the Tory Party membership who'll have the final say. Not a pretty sight.
    Much is being made, in the usual places by the usual suspects, about the blow to support for Scottish independence that Johnson's departure will mean. Lesley dismantles this piece of wishful thinking.
    Having pinned the Labour Party's colours very definitely to the Brexit mast it really seems that Starmer has given up on Scotland to focus on winning back that "Red wall". Has he made a tactical error and is there a remote chance that their vote of no confidence motion before the Commons tomorrow will succeed?
    Several of the leadership contenders have made much of their "rags to riches" immigrant back stories. This despite their vociferous support for reactionary immigration and asylum seeking policies. The shocking story of Mo Farrah's trafficked childhood throws this all into stark relief.

  • Labour-No's Best

    Sir Keir Starmer tries to explain how to "make Brexit work". Anas Sarwar toes the new party line and claims  he is going to "heal and unify" where the SNP and the Tories want to divide. We are not convinced.
    As it becomes ever more likely that the route to an independence referendum will be through a single issue referendum we examine whether a grand Yes Alliance is a dead political duck, what kind of campaign will be fought, and if a new, feisty, digital rebuttal unit would combat the overwhelming negative flow of media coverage.
    The Scottish Government has put its "transformative" Land Reform Bill out for consultation. Does it do what it says on the tin?
    Boris Johnson and his Cabinet of nodding dogs have been lying and dissembling in equal measure over the Chris Pincher affair. Will this latest scandal make any difference to this shameless administration?
    All this plus the usual meanderings, including a road to Damascus moment over Elvis Presley for one of us.

  • Call my bluff

    We begin with taking a look at the most recent edition of Question Time and reflect on just how switched on the Yessers in the audience were and wonder if Angus Robertson should have taken a leaf out of their feisty book rather than his rather staid and formulaic approach to the unionist panelists lines of argument.
     FM Nicola Sturgeon announced the Scottish Government strategy on securing a second independence referendum earlier this week so it's no surprise that we focus almost the entirety of the rest of the  podcast in examining it.
    Working on the not unreasonable assumption that no Section 30 order will be granted by Boris Johnson we look at the role of the Supreme Court, and the shape of a subsequent General Election fought in Scotland as a proxy indyref2.
    We ask if it will be an SNP only campaign and who

  • Wakey wakey

    Lesley looks back at her recent appearance on BBC Debate Night and reflects on why the emphasis must be on the substance of the argument for Scottish independence rather than being drawn into sterile debates about process.
    Mick Lynch the General Secretary of the RMT union has cut through to the wider public with a series of interviews where he has effectively destroyed the hackneyed ,and increasingly bizarre, line of questioning from broadcasters. What makes him such a powerful and  effective voice for modern trade unionism?
    Alex Rowley has  floated the idea of devo max on an indyref2 ballot paper. All of this is dependent, of course, not only on Labour winning the next General Election but the willingness of a future Labour government to put in place meaningful devolution. We discuss.
    When is an apology not an apology? We examine the fall out from the Patrick Grady affair and the response, in particular from Ian Blackford, to the leak of an audio recording of an SNP Parliamentary Party meeting.
    June 23 was the day Scotland voted to Remain in EU while England voted Leave. The rest as they say is history. Join Lesley and folk from 6 European countries who explain why they want Scotland to rejoin the EU as an independent state.
     Book at

  • Ready,steady,indyref2?

    Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie fire the starting gun on indyref2 with the launch of"Independence in the Modern World. Wealthier, Happier, Fairer: Why Not Scotland?".
    We reflect on the press conference and the lines of questioning by the media, do they preview unionist attack stances? We also look back at indyref1 and consider what lessons the Scottish Government and the broader Yes movement can draw from 2014.
    The UK Government published its Northern Ireland Protocol Bill yesterday. Does it have any chance of becoming law? Does it in fact break international law? And has Jeffrey Donaldson led his DUP troops up a hill that will be his party's downfall?
    The Tory proposals to allow Housing Associations to sell off homes to tenants brought back memories of Thatcher's disastrous "RIght to Buy" policy for both of us. We examine the toxic legacy of the sale of social housing, and Lesley looks at innovative, community based solutions to Scotland's rural housing emergency. 

  • Small things

    The political media was in a frenzy of excitement over the vote of confidence in Boris Johnson last night. We pick over the result and its implications while questioning the whole air of "Who's winning the game?" in the Westminster bubble.
    The past four days also saw hours of coverage of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. We reflect on the apparent difference between Scotland and England in terms of the celebrations and Lesley wonders if a lot of the "jubilation" was simply folk having the first chance to have a communal knees up post lockdown. We also consider the criticism aimed at Nicola Sturgeon over her apparently enthusiastic participation in those celebrations.
    Lesley reports back on the success of  Manniefest over last weekend and the toxic inheritance of Scottish land ownership.

  • And away

    After the week's hiatus due to Pat's bout of Covid we return wi hame thochts frae oor jaunts tae Orkney and Galway.
    The big news was the final publication of the Sue Gray Report and despite all expectations/hopes Boris Johnson seems to have survived.
    We reflect on the report and speculate on whether the Teflon PM can survive the summer and if he'll play the anti trade union card to his advantage with his populist base.
    Lesley tears into the scandal of standing charges and the cost of prepayment meters which operate to the detriment to both poorest folk in the UK and to consumers outwith London and the South East of England.
    YES groups have teamed up to organise a “first of its kind” independence" festival in the Highlands.

    Indy supporters will gather for the three-day Manniefest event in Golspie, which will see a host of artists, poets and speakers perform in the Sutherland village.
    It kicks off at 11am in Golspie to climb the hill, 2pm in school car park (there will be shins/stewards) for the talks/poetry/music and 6pm ceilidh. 
     Also there will be a 14 page supplement in the National about how the Highlands and Islands could look different with independence edited by Lesley.
    Along the way there's plenty o chat aboot trad music, hurling ,and fishing .
  • Universal Basic Income

    Andy Burnham says Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an idea ‘whose time has come’ - and since the Mayor of Greater Manchester might yet be a future Labour leadership contender - that's significant.

    Last week, he told pupils and parents at a Wigan school;

    “A culture of zero hours, casual hours, people doing three jobs and then spending every hour worrying because they can’t pay their rent, means living on the edge and that damages people’s health. A universal basic income will put a solid foundation beneath everybody so that they can have a life with security and stop worrying about everything."

    But in a devil tak the hindmost society like Britain, implementing UBI is easier said than done. Even in Scotland, pilot studies are running into bureaucratic obstacles. And there've been criticisms that UBI lets employers off the hook for low pay.

  • Euro Trash?

    Shocking stuff this episode as Lesley and Pat fa oot oer Eurovision. Was it a glorious celebration of the human spirit or a festival of over hyped musical mediocrity? Guess which of us thought what!
    As we await Liz Truss's statement which looks as if it will signal the ditching of the Northern Ireland Protocol we look at the threat this poses to stability and peace on the island of Ireland.
    Cost of living crisis. Work longer hours. Get a better job. Claimed Conservative minister Rachel MacLean. Just how out of touch are the Tories?
    Eilidh Barbour walked out of the annual Scottish Football Writers Association awards ceremony after 10 minutes of Bill Copeland's speech which she said was racist, sexist, and homophobic. The SFWA has since issued an "apology" promising to review and improve in the future. Was this an isolated mistake or is there still an underlying air of prejudice at the heart of journalism? 
    Nicola Sturgeon has been in the USA meeting Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and other top officials in the Biden administration. She made significant statements on NATO membership and the constitutional future of the UK. This was covered by The Times, The Telegraph, and Bloomberg, but not by the BBC. 

  • Shoogly pegs

     The Queen's Speech allied to the Times story of the failure of Liz Truss's latest negotiations  give every indication that the Tories are prepared to rip up the Northern Ireland Protocol. This despite the majority support in Northern Ireland for Remain in the Brexit referendum and the electoral success of pro Protocol parties in the recent Assembly elections. We look at the current state of Northern Irish politics,with particular focus on Sinn Fein, and the threats posed to the Good Friday Agreement by the UK government's stance.
     I'll resign if fined. Is Starmer risking everything over Beergate? Can the alleged breach of Covid regulations in Durham be compared to the catalogue of parties at No 10? And just who is orchestrating the Labour leaks?
    Disastrous results for the Scottish Conservatives but who'll take the leader's poison chalice from Ross? The candidates, just as with Boris Johnson, don't seem to be lining up to take on what looks like the worst job in Scottish politics.

  • The power of local

    The local elections are upon us and we ask how democratic Scottish local government actually is.
    When compared to our Nordic and European neighbours the answer is, not very. Lesley reflects on this and wonders if the SNP is not just  missing an opportunity to create genuine local democracy but fertile ground for independence.
    We examine the performances of Sir Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar and question their electoral strategies both in Scotland and England. 
    Likeability in Scotland,and being neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Corbyn in England, seem to be the tactics. Will this be enough to ensure any form of electoral success on Thursday?
    Billy Kay's recent address in Scots to the Scottish Parliament kicked off a storm over his use o the Mither Tongue. What is it about Scots that so upsets so many unionists?
    We also look at the ongoing non coverage by the BBC of the Michelle Mone PPE Medpro investigation and Andrew Marr's belief that unilateral nuclear disarmament is a vote loser if and when we get to indyref2.

  • The Old One Two

    We begin with the sexist and classist Mail on Sunday article on Angela Rayner. It's been roundly condemned right across the political spectrum. But what does it say about the Mail, its readers ,and certain elements among Tory MPs.
    The Met has, apparently, issued more fines to those who attended the notorious "Bring your own booze" Downing Street party that took place on May the 20th 2020.However, it appears that Boris Johnson has not received one. We wonder how and why it looks like he's  escaped scot free.
    We examine Macron's victory over Le Pen in the recent French presidential elections, what it means for the EU, European security and at the underlying reasons behind the growth in support for the far right not just in France.
    Gillnet fishing around Shetland seems to have spilled over into some sort of fishing war with claims and counter claims over so called "ghost fishing" and who is responsible for the abandoned gillnets which are causing such environmental damage. Lesley looks at this in depth and in particular at the inaction of both the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and Marine Scotland.
    Finally we delve into the Scottish local elections. What are the party manifestoes saying? Why are Labour so agin formal coalitions? What "Vote until you boak" actually means and what's wrong with SNP 1 and 2 in the local elections. And why is no party committed to reforming local government along Nordic lines?
    If you want to know more about how Norway's local governance works register at Home | Nordic Horizons for this Thursday's Zoom event

  • Charades

    As we recorded Boris Johnson was about to appear in Parliament before jetting off to India. He was there to "apologise", but maintain that he did not realise that his birthday gathering was against the rules,  claiming that he did not mislead the House. We examine the implications of what Lord Peter Hennessy has described as the "shredding of the ministerial code" by Johnson who has made his office" an adventure playground for one man's narcissistic vanity".
    We ask whether it was a matter of coincidence or a classic "dead cat" that Priti Patel announced the appalling asylum deal with Rwanda in the middle of the Partygate revelations. 
    Andy McIver, writing in The Herald, floated the idea of the middle way of Home Rule out of the constitutional impasse over independence. How credible is this given our previous experience with Vows, and its dependence on a Labour government at Westminster?
    Finally Lesley forensically takes apart the cumbersome crofting community right-to-buy legislation, and the seeming indifference of the Holyrood Land Team towards the struggle of the crofters of Great Bernera to buy out their absentee landlord.

  • Systems of a down

    To say Lesley's travels to and from the Netherlands were a richt trachle is an understatement. But beyond the not inconsiderable personal inconvenience what do they tell us about post Brexit Britain's relationship with the EU?
    Lots of us struggled to get our meter readings in before the April 1st deadline. Thank goodness for those smart meters then. Not quite. After 2 months of research Lesley uncovered a catalogue of disastrous decisions and non decisions leading to a colossal waste of public money which is in danger of harming, once again, the most vulnerable during the era of soaring energy costs. A series of errors by both Labour and Tory governments made possible by the acceptance of privatisation.
    Privatisation also looms large in the future of C4. We ask the question why "fix" something that patently isn't broken.
    Ian Blackford was accused by Kay Burley of sexism when he raised legitimate concerns over the non dom tax status of Akshata Murty ,the wife of Rishi Sunak. We take a look at, the complex residency and tax statuses of both Murty and Sunak and ask why is all this only coming out now, and who benefits in the Tory Party?

  • Andy Wightman

    In the first part of this wide ranging interview with Andy we look back at his time as a Green MSP, his bid to become an independent MSP for the Highlands and Islands in 2021,his thoughts on indyref2 , and how to win popular support for independence.
    In the second half we focus on his work creating a draft "Land Bill for the People", a root and branch reform of land ownership and control in Scotland.

  • Sans Ferries Rien

    The row over the much delayed, and much over budget CalMac ferries has been going on across the Scottish media all week. Lots of claims and counter claims of political spin and bias being thrown around. But Lesley asks if there's a far more fundamental set of problems at the root of the issue which are not being addressed.
    The UK government has come out ,apparently, swinging on the sacking of 800 P and O seafarers promising strong action of plugging loopholes in employment legislation and calling for P and O's Chief Executive to resign. However, is this just a load of soundbite and fury signifying nothing?
    The shine seems to have gone off, the heir apparent to No 10,Rishi Sunak. Clunky photo opps and tetchy media appearances have taken the headlines while some outlets seem to have bought into the Tory narrative of tax cuts to support hard pressed low paid workers. We examine  the reality of the Spring Budget Statement. We also discuss whether Sunak's fall from from grace is good news for Boris Johnson .
    The Oscars hit, literally, the front pages with Will Smith's assault on Chris Rock but Lesley's petition on plots of Scottish land being "gifted" in Oscar goody bags got over 8000 signatures in under 2 days. Lash Fary , the founder of Distinctive Assets, the company that provides Academy Award hopefuls with presents before the ceremony, defended the inclusion of a Highland Titles gift as “light-hearted fun”. We reckon there's a lot more to it than that.



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