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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.

Latest episodes

  • A Numbers Game ?

    It should come as no surprise that we spend most of this week's episode focusing on the weekend events that saw Peter Murrell resign as Chief Executive of the SNP after taking responsibility for misleading the media about party membership numbers.
    We ask if this latest twist in the leadership contest will be a threat to the dominance of the SNP in Scottish politics or an opportunity for the new leader and their team?
    Political commentators have been quick to jump to the conclusion that these SNP travails present an opportunity for a resurgence in Scottish Labour. Do they?
    Much of the televised debates have been taken up with the candidates  and chairs highlighting failures and deficiencies in Scottish government policies however should more be made of its successes such as the effect Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol has had on saving lives and preventing hospitalisation?
    Meanwhile the Tory Westminster "Stop the Boats" policy took yet another step in its propaganda trail with the trip by Home Secretary Suella Braverman to Kigali where she posed laughing in front of the new camps being created for expelled asylum seekers all the while being followed by a select band of right wing media outlets eager to promote her agenda.
    We'll be recording two live events at the Imagine Belfast Festival on Thursday if either you or yours fancy seeing us in the flesh tickets are available at

  • Fighting Talk

    As voting for the new leader of the SNP leader opens we look at the most recent candidates' debates and hustings and how they've been conducted.
    In particular we compare and contrast the style and content of the Sky debate and the STUG/National hustings.
    The BBC has hardly covered itself in glory this week with the Gary Lineker affair, Fiona Bruce's ill judged, to say the least, "One off"  domestic violence remark on Question Time and the missing David Attenborough episode. Is its much vaunted impartiality now forever tainted by inconsistency of application and the presence of Tories in significant senior management roles?
    We also examine the passage of the Tory government’s Illegal Migration Bill and the myth of  Britain as a haven for refugees.
    All this plus our trip to Belfast for the "Imagine Belfast" festival

  • Salad Days

    Shortages of fresh salad vegetables across the country are leading to empty shelves and rationing in supermarkets. We tackle why this is happening and what Scotland can do to achieve food security with Pete Ritchie, Executive Director of Nourish Scotland.
    Not to disappoint we also return to the continuing contest for leadership of the SNP and First Minister paying special attention to the recent hustings in Dumfries.
    Just when you think the Tory government has hit rock bottom with its Rwanda refugee policy along comes the Home Secretary Suella Braverman with new legislation. This would remove cross Channel asylum seekers from the UK, banning them from any future applications for UK citizenship, and giving her the legal responsibility to deport them either to Rwanda or a "safe" third country.
    All this plus dodgy jokes, puns, and the usual meanderings.

  • Deals and Debates

    The SNP leadership contest candidates' opening salvoes,personal beliefs,and campaigns are the major focus in this week's podcast.
    We look at these and ask when will policy rather than rhetoric take centre stage?

    Rishi Sunak looks to have reached a deal with the EU on amendments to the N Ireland Protocol with the Windsor Framework.
    Has he called the ERG's bluff and will the DUP get on board?

    Today is deadline day for firms to sign up to the Deposit Return Scheme. Will this be yet another excuse for the UK government to overturn a Scottish Parliament decision using a Section 35 Order?

  • Following The Leader

    The contest for leader of the SNP and Scotland's new First Minister takes up the majority of this week's podcast.
    We try and make sense of the early exchanges and suss out what the key issues will be in the campaign. At this stage much of the focus has been on the candidates' positions on social issues such as equal marriage and the GRR. We wonder at what point this might shift to the economy and the path to Scottish independence.
    Meanwhile there's been mucho speculation in the mainstream media that Nicola Sturgeon's resignation and apparent fault lines in the  SNP emphasised by the leadership election provides an ideal opportunity for Labour to exploit. Our reaction? Aye,right.
    Back at Westminster Rishi Sunak's plan to reveal an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol impasse looks like its been derailed by an unholy alliance between the DUP and,more importantly, by the ERG. Is there any way out for an increasingly beleagured PM?

    Just to say @ScotNational has found some people voted many times in their online poll about SNP leadership candidates - mentioned in this podcast - so not sure results are meaningful.

  • Nicola Sturgeon Resignation-podcast special

    In this podcast special we give our initial reactions to, and thoughts on the sudden, and unexpected resignation of Nicola Sturgeon as FM and leader of the SNP.
    We look back at her eight years in these roles, her undisputed position at the top of Scottish politics, the highs and lows, and consider what impact her departure might have on both the SNP and the campaign for Scottish independence.

  • Bottling it?

    The Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) seems to have replaced ferries as this week's SNP/Scottish Government "disaster" across the media.
    Industry representatives plus erstwhile MSP Fergus Ewing were allowed free rein on the Sunday Show to attack it and with no government representative on hand to defend the proposals it was an open goal for opponents.
    We look at the scheme and how similar ones operate across Europe, but Lesley asks if there are problems with its efficient implementation. Are these being used yet another Scotland "too wee, too poor, too stupid" line of attack?
    Meanwhile Stewart McDonald has set yet another hare coursing in the de facto referendum debate with his paper calling for the next General Election to be used that but another mandate to request a Section 30 order. Suffice to say we're not overly impressed with this.
    Sir John Curtice, the pollster of pollsters, has suggested that focusing on the process and problems of gaining independence rather than what the shape of an independent Scotland would look like is a failure in strategy. Lesley has long argued that fighting the war on that terrain is falling into a unionist trap and she explores this not just in the podcast but in her soon to be published new book Thrive.
    Finally, we try and figure out why, in the light of a recent couple of polls, Scandinavians think they have more in common with England than Scotland. Surprisingly, part of the answer might be the fitba.

  • Gies peace

    Lesley opens the podcast with her thoughts on the success of last Tuesday's Lights On rally and torchlit procession. 
    Rishi Sunak has appointed Grant Shapps as the new energy and net zero secretary. But what difference will this latest bout of musical political chairs make in the ongoing rip-off that is the privatised energy sector?
    We look at this and, as far as most of the media was concerned, the short-lived scandal of forcibly installed prepayment meters.
    Sticking with energy we discuss the ScotWind offshore wind auction and the Common Weal report suggesting that " “Scotland sold off its energy future for a pittance."
    Liz Truss broke her 110-day silence in an article for the Telegraph and an interview with the Spectator. Why now? 
    The most recent poll conducted for the Sunday Times showed a fall in support for both the SNP and Scottish independence in the last month. This prompted Mark Smith writing in the Herald to jump on the middle way, ask for more devolution, bandwagon. Looking beyond this impossibility should the Scottish government tak tent and examine its strategies and timidity over some domestic policies?
    All this plus the usual meanderings.

  • Lights on for Scotland

    It's the third anniversary of Brexit. Why is there such silence on its negative economic impact? Why no voices from Scotland or Northern Ireland in the media?
    To counteract this Time for Scotland will have a torchlit procession to the Scottish Parliament to keep the lights on for Scotland in the EU.
    There's still time to sign up for the rally tonight. Full details below
    We examine those economic hits to the UK and Scottish economy and why it's so important to keep on saying we didn't want or vote for Brexit.
    We also look at the Zahawi affair and what it says about the Tory Party as a narrative begins to shape that this, and other ethical scandals are simply all hangovers from the Boris Johnson era not emblematic of the current Tory administration.
    The Tories are also hoping that, despite the most recent opinion polls, Sunak will be able to pull off a John Major 1992 great escape. But is this more like 1997?
    As the Conservatives prepare the bonfire of EU legislation, they seem very keen to stress the European nature of their new Minimum Service trade union legislation. Does this stand up to any detailed scrutiny?
    We also try and resolve the great Scotch Bonnet, mushroom or chili pepper controversy

  • Sharp practice

    Rishi Sunak promised his government would be characterised by integrity, professionalism, and accountability.
    Has that promise been shattered by the revelations over the appointment of Richard Sharp, and Nadhim Zahawi's tax affairs?

    Martin Geissler questioned Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on Sir Keir Starmer's "Make Brexit work" strategy on the Sunday Show. Was it simply coincidence that The National published a poll indicating widespread dissatisfaction with the BBC's coverage of Brexit?

    Time for Scotland - the group that organised rallies on Supreme Court Verdict Day - is holding a 'Lights On' event outside the Scottish Parliament on 31 Jan 2023, urging support for Scotland's right to self-determination.
    The aim is to remind everyone Brexit was the democratic choice of English voters, not Scots.
    To find out more and how to take part in a rally go to

    BBC Radio Scotland has also come under fire for its proposals to cut specialist music provision in jazz, classical, and piping.
    Is this yet another sign of the broadcaster dancing to a UK BBC policy of budget cuts and ratings chasing?

    All this plus reflections on the Business for Scotland annual dinner, the UK government dropping plans to run pilot schemes for menopause leave, and the "Scotch bonnet" stooshy.
  • Scotland Acts

    The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Scottish Parliament. Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, has decided for the first time in 25 years to invoke Section 35 of the Scotland Act to stymie its implementation.
    We examine the background to the legislation and wonder if he has unwittingly succeeded in uniting Yessers, who disagree over this issue and soft Nos, in opposition to the undermining of the Parliament.
    Sir Keir Starmer seems to have thrown Scottish Labour under the bus over GRR by criticising some of its measures. This despite Anas Sarwar whipping his MSPs to vote for it. How will Scottish Labour voters and party react to another piece of Starmer political opportunism?
    The SNP Special Conference will have two options presented to it on using a future election, either Westminster or Holyrood, as a de facto referendum. Both depend on gaining a majority of votes for the SNP and any other parties with whom they've reached a pre-election agreement. How will Alba respond?
    Lesley stresses the need for the SNP to step up to the plate with a compelling narrative on the shape of a future independent Scotland and a serious strategy for securing that majority of votes.
    All this plus praise for Colin McKay of STV for his Rishi Sunak interview, Suella Braverman and the Home Office's attempts to remove a video showing a confrontation with a Holocaust survivor, more Alister Jack, this time on Brexit, and Lesley's new book.

  • Slipping masks

    Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer both set out their stalls for 2023 with keynote speeches and in major television interviews.
    We examine these and question whether Labour, still so far ahead in the polls, is playing a Tory light card with its embrace of "Take Back Control".
    The NHS in England is under pressure according to Sunak but is in a crisis in Scotland caused by SNP incompetence claims Tory MSP Sandesh Gulhane. He wasn't so eloquent when pushed on Conservative competence down south.
    We also question how safe the Health and Social Care system is in the hands of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt who called for its "denationalisation" in 2005 and presided over its increasing privatisation as Health Secretary.
    Hats off to Sky's Sam Coates and Tortoise Media for shining the light onto MPs' outside earnings, donations, and gifts. Theresa May getting big bucks for speeches?
    There's been no escape from the publication of Prince Harry's tell all book "Spare" and we are no exception, but with our own take on the monarchy beyond the soap opera.
    Meanwhile back at Westminster the Minimum Service Levels Bill seems set to become law placing draconian restrictions on the right to strike in the public sector.
    Lesley also pays tribute to Aonghas MacNeacail, and Derek Bateman.

  • Alastair McIntosh-Podcast Extra

    In this podcast special we speak with Alistair McIntosh, a human ecologist, writer, speaker, researcher, and activist.

    Alastair is a Quaker, an honorary senior research fellow (honorary professor) in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow, and Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology. He was Scotland's first professor of human ecology at the University of Strathclyde. Alastair has also held honorary fellowships at the Academy of Irish Cultural Heritages (University of Ulster), the School of Divinity (University of Edinburgh) and the Schumacher Society.
    He is probably best known for his activism in Scottish land reform especially on Eigg, and his involvement in the successful campaign against the Harris superquarry in Lingerbay.
    If you want to find out more, follow this link to Alastair's books

  • That Was The Year That Was

    In the final podcast of 2022, we look back at the people, events, and moments that defined the past 12 months for us.
    Three Prime Ministers, four Chancellors. Was this a UK crisis of simply the past year or one decades in the making?

    2022 has also seen a wave of industrial action by trade unionists almost unprecedented in nature because of the impact of the successive Tory governments. It's also brought to the fore in terms of media attention of a new generation of articulate, passionate, trade union leaders willing to put, not just the case for their members, but articulate opposition to the privatized economy and society that is the UK.

    We also reflect on the ongoing Tory culture wars and anti-refugee narrative, and the state of the Labour Party response to it all.

    Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February was a war that Putin thought would be over in a few days. 10 months later, due to the courage of the Ukrainian people and their leaders, Russia is bogged down in a conflict that has caused thousands of deaths and displaced over 14 million people.

    In the wake Putin's failure in Ukraine, of Johnson's resignation in disgrace and the legal proceedings against Trump over January 6th, is the era of impunity over.

    What might the death of Queen Elizabeth mean for the future of the monarchy?

    The Supreme Court decision ruling out the possibility of the Scottish Parliament legislating for indyref2 was a pivotal moment in revealing the nature of the "voluntary" union. Almost simultaneously a new leadership of the SNP group took over and subsequent opinion polls showed a shift to support for independence. Will all this spark the development by the SNP of a clear strategy for a de facto referendum at the next General Election?

    All this plus some thoughts on cricket and movies.

  • Let's See Action

    There's been a change in SNP leadership at Westminster with Stephen Flynn and Mhairi Black replacing Ian Blackford and Kirsten Oswald. Was it mere coincidence that this changing of the old guard took place just 10 days after the Supreme Court ruling, and does it signal a galvanization of the party in the same way the ruling appears to have fired up the wider movement?
    The STUC has published a report just days before the Scottish budget statement suggesting radical, progressive, reforms right across the fiscal landscape. We look at them and speculate on what the response will be from the SNP not just at Holyrood but from the membership.
    We also wonder why the apparent silence from Scottish Labour.
    Sir Keir Starmer hasn't been so quiet in his campaign to paint Labour as the party of the Union, getting his lick in first in the SNP blame game if he fails to get a majority at the next General Election.
    All these plus thoughts on more bravura performances from Mick Lynch of the RMT and Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life. 

  • Brownian Notions

    Gordon Brown's New Britain Report promised a radical examination of the state of the UK. We see if it lives up to Labour's hype. Trust us, it doesn't.
    The opinion polls and the recent Chester by election result suggest that Labour, either as a minority or majority, will form the Westminster government post the 2024 General Election. Where does this leave the SNP de facto referendum strategy, would this be enough to tempt the Scottish left back into the Labour fold, and would Labour call a snap indyref2?
    Meanwhile Ian Blackford has resigned as SNP leader at Westminster. Stephen Flynn and Alison Thewliss are the two candidates vying to take over. What difference, if any, will victory for either candidate mean?
    Away from the world of party politics Lesley wonders if the Yes movement can learn from, and be inspired by, the successful Eigg buy out campaign.

  • What's Next?

    The Supreme Court decided last Wednesday that the Scottish Parliament did not have the power to legislate for an advisory independence referendum. The rationale? Any result would either weaken or strengthen the sovereignty of the UK Parliament as it would be an expression of the democratic will of the Scottish people.
    We examine the court's decision and ask whether it has revealed the reality of the "voluntary" union.
    We also reflect on the success of the 15 Time for Scotland rallies. What do they tell us about the health of the Yes movement and what lessons can be learned for the future?
    Five other rallies supporting Scotland's right to choose took place across Europe and Lesley talks about these, her recent trip to Iceland and what she learned there about the importance of a sense of cultural self.

  • Win lose or draw

    The Supreme Court's verdict on whether the Scottish Parliament can legislate for a Referendum Bill will be reached this Wednesday. Lesley has been one of the major driving forces behind the ever-growing number of rallies across Scotland, and increasingly across Europe, supporting Scotland's right to choose.
    In the first part of the podcast, we focus on why these rallies, no matter the decision reached, are so important, and how Yessers can get involved'
    If you want to know more about where and when you can join a rally click the link below
    "NHS leaders in Scotland have discussed abandoning the founding principles of the service by having the wealthy pay for treatment" was the headline on the BBC as James Cook broke the story that the idea of a "two tier service" had been discussed by NHS Chief Executives back in September during "brain-storming".
    We pick apart the furore that erupted over the reporting, the faux outrage of the Tories,Labour, and Lib Dems, and try and get beneath that to the underlying pressures the Scottish NHS is under within the current constitutional arrangements.
    Tory budgets seem to be like buses. You wait ages for one then two come along at the same time. Jeremy Hunt may seem like a "grown up" to the markets but what are the implications for ordinary folk of his Autumn Statement?

  • So run

    There's been plenty speculation about the contents of Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement. Will there be tax rises? Where will the cuts in public spending fall?
    Across most of the press, media, and other political parties(yes you Labour) it seems that Austerity 2 is not just inevitable but unavoidable. We question not just these implicit assumptions but also where that £50 billion "black hole" came from.
    Dire predictions about a red Republican wave in the US mid-term elections were being made but the Democrats defied them and look like retaining a majority in the Senate though losing the House of Representatives. We reflect on the results and wonder if this is the end of Trump and his hold over the GOP.
    Back in Scotland Labour MSP Alex Rowley has introduced the Domestic Building Environmental Standards (Scotland) Bill which would force all new-build properties to meet the Passivhaus standards, include triple-glazed doors and windows, and increased insulation.
    What chance of success does it have?
    The campaign to hold rallies after the Supreme Court reaches its decision on Holyrood's ability to legislate for Indyref2 goes from strength to strength with eight now planned. If you want to sign up here's the link
    The football World Cup begins this weekend in Qatar. The buildup, Eh ken Scotland didnae qualify, has been distinctly underwhelming. Given the controversy surrounding the awarding of the tournament to Qatar, its record on LGBT rights, and treatment of migrant workers, is this any wonder?
    Lesley also pays tribute to the late, great Mike Blackshaw

  • The Promised Land

    After the "I've more important issues to deal with" Rishi Sunak has u-turned and gone to COP27. Greta Thunberg thinks the summit is about 'greenwashing, lying and cheating'. Is she right?
    Meanwhile in Scotland a new generation of "green capitalists" is seeking to cash in on carbon offsetting. But at what cost to local communities, and has the resultant explosion in land values ruled out future community buy outs?
    The UK government's handling of immigration and asylum seeking has done the unthinkable and united parliamentary voices from both the left and right in condemnation. Patel and Braverman have been playing the "invasion" and "overwhelming numbers" card but how well does that stand up to analysis?
    Sir Keir Starmer redefined car crash interview with his appearance on BBC Scotland's The Sunday Show. Why was he so woefully underprepared and poorly briefed? He, like Liz Truss before him, made it clear that even if the Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Parliament had the power to legislate for an independence referendum, he, if PM, would veto it.
    If you want to sign up to be notified about the planned, peaceful, demonstrations to take place when the Supreme Court reaches its decision here's the link
    There's also a fabulous trad gig, With Love to Ukraine, on November 16th at the Eden Court in Inverness where the Highlands will pay tribute to Ukraine, its people and their struggle for freedom.
    To buy tickets go to



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