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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

  • 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

  • Podcast Special-the future is cooperative

    While Britain struggles with sky-high bills, and private water, electricity and oil companies make record profits, Finland relies on a unique system of economic shock absorbers. Cooperatives deliver everything from water and electricity to hotel breaks and ferries. They started in the late 1800s and today there are more cooperative memberships than Finns. How does it work? Lesley visited Finland this summer to find out.

  • Rishi Rich

    Rishi Sunak becomes Prime Minister and pledges to be a compassionate Conservative who will restore integrity,stability and trust. Do his Cabinet appointments bear this out?
    We are highly sceptical to say the least as the old boys from the Johnson administration are back and Suella Braverman returns as Home Secretary.
    The majority of the podcast is taken up with our reactions and reflections on the day of reshuffles as they happened and thoughts on the policies, not just the personalities, of the Sunak premiership.
    We also look at Keir Starmer's doubling down on "making Brexit work", Labour's stance on immigration, and ask if he has thrown Scottish Labour under the bus.
    All this plus our review of The Banshees of Inisherin.

  • A Very British Coup?

    It took just four weeks for the Trussonomic revolution to collapse leaving the pound trashed, mortgages soaring, and the only folk smiling the hedge fund managers who, just like with Brexit, made a killing through their speculation.
    After sacking her "in lock step with me" Chancellor,Truss was visible through her noticeable absence leaving Kwarteng's replacement, Jeremy Hunt, to be lauded by the media as the "safe pair of hands". We ask if there has been a political coup right under our noses and if Liz Truss is now merely a Prime Minister in name only.
    The return of Hunt to not just the front benches but to the second most important office of state has been met with almost spectacular amnesia by most of the media and commentators on his disastrous spell as Secretary of State of Health. 
    We also look at the unedifying spectacle of Penny Mordant's performance during the Urgent Question debate where revenge for her defeat in the Tory leadership contest was a dish eaten not even half cold.
    In sharp contrast the Scottish Government published its Building a New Scotland: A stronger economy with independence paper almost simultaneously. Is it an oasis of stability and calm in the midst of Tory economic chaos or a missed opportunity to flesh out a different economic path for an independent Scotland?

  • Speechless

    The final speeches of Liz Truss and Nicola Sturgeon at their respective annual conferences threw into sharp relief not just their vastly different communication skills but the chasm in their beliefs and values.
    Truss focused her attention on attacking the "anti-growth coalition" and those who would break up her precious union. All to the background of outright rebellion in her ranks, as her Home Secretary, Suella Braverman was reveling in her reactionary dreams of deportation to Rwanda.
    Meanwhile in Aberdeen the SNP exuded rigid discipline with limited outbreaks of minor dissent particularly over land reform.
    We compare and contrast those speeches and consider some of the motions that passed, in particular the raising of the school starting age.
    However, the focus of the media at the conference was on that Laura Kuenssberg interview that the FM gave on Sunday where she stated that she detested the Tories.
    We look at the reporting of Nicola Surgeon's comments by the BBC and the media feeding frenzy that followed.
    Meanwhile back in the real world there's been a massive leap in interest rates. Lesley examines the growing crisis in housing fueled by soaring mortgages and its impact on folk.
    The Supreme Court began its hearing on the right of the Scottish Parliament to hold an advisory referendum on Scottish independence. The Lord Advocate, on behalf of the Scottish Government, and the Attorney General for the UK Government, presented their cases for and against the ability of the court to even make a judgment on this.
    Currently this is in the balance please sign up to to rally and make our voices heard no matter the outcome.

  • Trickle or retreats

    The disaster of the "mini-budget" nearly crashed the UK's pension funds and saw a massive drop in value of sterling with calls from Tory big beasts to reverse the plans to borrow to fund tax cuts and threats of a back bench rebellion. Truss and Kwarteng caved and u-turned on the cut to the top rate of income tax, but can they survive?
    Will their refusal to raise benefits in line with inflation, unlike pensions, lead to another revolt?
    We look at the current state of opinion polls, the mood music from Tory MPs worried about holding on to their seats and speculate on the imminence not only of a General Election but of yet another Conservative leadership coup.
    We also consider the mental gymnastics now being performed by Scottish Tories who demanded the Scottish Government copy that top rate tax cut but who now totally support Kwarteng's U-turn.
    Truss also signaled her complete opposition to another Scottish independence referendum even if the Supreme Court ruled in the Scottish Government's favour. Where would this leave Scottish Labour,Lib Dems, and Tories, in this blatant attack on democracy?
    Focus has finally turned on the economics of Truss's plans for growth. Do they stack up?
    The Tories also made great play on claims of Labour's economic incompetence. How well do these hold up in reality?
    Labour gained great publicity on its plans to create the Great British Energy Company. This seemed to throw down a challenge,from the left, to the SNP. However, will this publicly owned company challenge the current privatised system in any meaningful form?
    All this plus praise for STV's political coverage, BBC local radio presenters, and a couple of very different movie recommendations.

  • Conference calls

    Sir Keir Starmer closed the Labour Party annual conference as polls showed a 17-point lead over the Tories. He described this as a Labour moment harking back to 1945,1964, and 1997. What was his vision for a future Labour government, and what if anything did he have to say about Scotland?
    We also wonder what impact his statements on the Green transformation and a publicly owned energy company might have on SNP policy.
    Meanwhile the SNP has published its agenda for its annual conference in October. We take a look what's in there, and possibly more importantly what's not.
    Lesley has been attending umpteen Yes meetings recently and reckons it's time for the movement to be proactive instead of waiting for the lead from the SNP to get out there and campaign.
    Gordon Brown's much trumpeted review on the future of the Union has been leaked. Was it worth the wait? Does it live up to the hype?
    When is a budget not a budget? When you don't want the OBR carrying out detailed analysis of its impact.
    All this plus some thoughts from Pat on the recent Italian elections on his return from Tuscany.

  • Jim Spence-Meh Dundee

    In this podcast Pat flies solo and is in conversation with fellow Lawsider, and Arab, Jîm Spence about their home city, Dundee.

  • Malachi O'Doherty

     Malachi O’Doherty is a writer and broadcaster based in Belfast, a columnist for the Belfast Telegraph and a frequent contributor to several radio programmes as a respected commentator on Northern Ireland. His last book for Merrion was a novel, Terry Brankin Has a Gun. It was hailed by critics as ‘a superb thriller’. Malachi was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing by Queen’s University Belfast and has received a Major Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland .Malachi's new book "Can Ireland Be One" will be published by Merrion Press in September 2022.



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