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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

  • 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.

  • One day like this

    So, after almost two months of non-government at Westminster and a Tory leadership battle that filled the political pages and airwaves Boris Johnson finally left office and Liz Truss went to Balmoral to "kiss the hand" of the monarch
    We look back at Truss's performances and examine her policies and find both wanting at so many levels.
    Truss is focusing on tax cuts and breaks for the well off and big business and we ask if this is a return to debunked "trickle-down economics"?
    There have been leaks aplenty over her plans to tackle energy price rises Do they stack up or are they simply kicking the pain further down the road until after a General Election?
    Meanwhile back in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon laid out the Programme for Government with headline policies such as an immediate ban on evictions and a rent freeze while calling for a robust response by the UK government to the cost-of-living crisis.
    But will the Scottish government be forced into yet more mitigations of Tory policies as the Truss economic policies kick in?

  • The bairn necessities

    As consumers and businesses real from the latest energy price rises where are not only the Tories but also the Labour opposition on tackling the root causes of the crisis?
    Liz Truss, apparently waiting for the full briefing available only to a "functioning government", has pledged to tear up any semblance of a green energy policy to expand North Sea oil and gas exploration and restart fracking. 
    Meanwhile Sir Keir Starmer, despite the growing popularity of renationalising public utilities, has abandoned his commitment to public ownership.
    Labour, before Starmer's team rolled back on it and after being blasted by Welsh Labour, which is currently in coalition with Plaid Cymru, had signaled a potential change to Labour's rule book barring any deals with pro-independence parties such as the SNP. Was this a move which would, given Labour's willingness to do such deals with the Tories in Scottish local government, be an electoral disaster in Scotland at the next General Election?
    Meanwhile Stephen Noon, chief strategist of the 2014 Yes campaign, urged Nicola Sturgeon to halt plans to use that election as a proxy independence referendum and enter a conversation to build a better Scotland within the UK. We ask just how practical this is given the embedded unionism of both major parties and the lack of any meaningful progress on enhanced devolution.
    Emily Maitlis was excoriating in her condemnation of direct Conservative Party interference in BBC reporting in her MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival. We reflect on this, with specific insights from Lesley on her time with the BBC, and Pat looks back at Maitlis's involvement in the demonisation of Jeremy Corbyn. 
    Finally, delegates head to the SNP annual conference in Aberdeen this October and hopefully they will have a chance to vote on a transformational motion to raise Scotland's school starting age to six. As Lesley said in her recent Herald article," ..our children require a collective act of faith in their own innate ability to learn without judgement, uniforms, desks, formality, and tests when they're just four or five. Are SNP delegates ready to deliver?"

  • It's a ganging wrang

    If we've learned anything from this Tory leadership contest it's that muscular, unitary state unionism is back with a bang. We examine the statements by Truss and Sunak at the Perth hustings and the recent musings from Lord Frost and consider just how far the Tories will go in undermining devolution to stave off independence. We also speculate that given the polls on Scottish attitudes to the EU and the powers of Holyrood in terms of calling indyref2 just how successful that strategy will be.
    The Perth hustings also provided an insight into the mindset of Scottish Tory members not just on independence and the powers of Holyrood, but also social issues. However much of the media coverage focused on the abuse BBC journalist James Cook received from a tiny group of protestors. 
    Does this indicate what's to come and the start of the anti-independence campaign for real?
    As inflation continues to rise inexorably leading economists have pointed to Brexit as a self-inflicted trade war which accounts for 80% of core UK inflation. Yet the BBC continues to shy away from any meaningful analysis of its impact. Why?
    Grant Shapps suggested that bicycles should have registration plates and cyclists should have compulsory insurance. A dead cat from a struggling Transport Secretary of yet another piece of the culture wars playbook?

  • Stormy weather

    As Labour unveils its plans to tackle the energy price rises crisis are all political parties simply tinkering with a broken,  privatised utilities system?
    Keir Starmer looks as if he's ignored even the modest proposal from Gordon Brown to bring the Big Six energy companies into temporary public ownership in favour of a price cap freeze across the board.
    Why has he rejected what, according to opinion polls, would be popular voters and what are the flaws in his plan?
    Meanwhile, as the energy producers rake in massive profits and reap the benefits of the UK tax system no political party seems willing to back any form of public ownership.
    Will the Scottish government bring us in line with all other developed countries and raise the age kids start school to six?
    Check out how the Norwegian system works by visiting the Nordic Horizons podcast site
    The Tory leadership candidates are in Perth for their sole Scottish hustings. 
    Both have issued their challenges to the SNP focusing on greater "scrutiny" of both the civil service and the Scottish government.
    These hardly seem rallying cries for the unionist faithful in fighting the drive towards independence. While in the wings two thirds of their supporters would welcome the return of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

  • 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. 



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