It’s one thing to lament the smallness of the Scottish public sphere, another to try to make a wee contribution to opening it up and elaborating it. I’m sure several of you have been listening to Michael Greenwell’s interesting and diverse series of Scottish Independence podcasts, touching most recently on the environment, but ranging across the land, and across topics, in an…
…attempt to discuss some of the real choices coming up for Scotland without the jingoism and, frankly, the silliness, that surrounds much of the debate at the moment.”
Admirable goals, it seems to me. Michael was kind enough to come to visit me in Oxford on a bright day over the summer, and after recording a session, we got nattering down the pub about ways we might try to foster a bit of debate, and endeavour to hew out some space for a different sort of conversation about Scottish independence, yes, but also about society and politics in general, without the adversarial atmosphere and inevitable compression which characterises the debates we hear all too often on radio, and see even more so on the telly.
Our new For A’ That podcast, launched today, is the fruit of that conversation. An informal discussion format, we intend to record the show weekly and pop the episodes online every Sunday (damnum fatale permitting). Mixing the timely and the untimely, we hope to look at recent headlines and neglected topics in Scottish, UK, European – and why not? – world politics, to boot. No more than about half an hour long, the episodes will be a more discursive companion to the interview-style of Michael’s Scottish Independence podcasts, and my own planned occasional series looking at English perspectives on the political and constitutional predicament which Britain now finds itself in. (Incidentally, I’m pleased to say that I’ve got my first mystery guest lined up for this, and he’s a cracker).
In the podcast’s inaugural week, as we tinker with the tech, Michael and I had a blether about the SNP’s (still ongoing) EU legal predicament, the prospect of votes for sixteen and seventeen year olds – and for prisoners – in the referendum, and the riotous headlines strapped across the Scottish broadsheets this week, accusing the SNP trying to “rig” the referendum by imposing stringent campaign financing rules. In future, we’re also very keen to jumble up the conversation, and hope to get a new and diverting guest on every week to ruminate and cogitate about the stories which have caught their eye, or the topics which they feel have been or are being unjustly neglected. The same goes for you, our audience. If there are any issues, questions or whatnot you’d like Michael, our guest and I to discuss – do just pop one of us an email. You can collar me at [email protected]
There’ll be no cosy Mitt Romney impressions here. We’ll be looking to invite on guests of a range of political stripes, and are enthusiastic about provoking a modest – but generous-spirited – stramash where we disagree. Although Michael and I are supporters of independence, and of the left politically, we also come to our politics from rather different perspectives (he’d say he’s leftier and more constitutionally cynical than I am; I’d admit I’ve been debauched by my legal education). Chalk the outbreak of consensus in this first recording to tentative politeness.
In any case, here’s the first episode of For A’ That. The sound quality is a bit shoogly at times (some of that attributable to Michael’s attention-seeking feline), but we’re looking into improving the quality post haste for future podcasts. All responses, recommendations, reactions – gratefully received. I hope you enjoy it.
Political Blogger and Podcaster