11 November 2012

For A' That podcast: the Cognitively Dissonant edition...

The American election has swept through the headlines and news bulletins this week, and today's For A' That podcast cannot resist the tide. No guest sitting in with Michael and I in this week's show, the third in our series, but we had an extensive discussion between ourselves. 

Cognitive dissonance proved an insistent theme, in a chat spanning the continents, looking critically at European attitudes toward the re-elected President Obama and his policies, and back across the water, analysing how the reputations and histories of Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown might impact on their effectiveness as pro-union advocates the referendum campaign. Michael and I also sampled a spoonful or two of "tomorrow's jam", plunked down in Holyrood this week by Michael Moore, who once again floated the idea that rejecting independence in the 2014 referendum will precipitate the devolution of more powers to Scotland, however currently ill-defined and indefinite those powers may be.  We also briefly touch on a puzzle - why the appetite for electoral and constitutional reform in England seems so limited?

You can download the podcast for subsequent consumption here via spreaker, or listen to it directly here:



  1. At 25:00 Regarding Michael Moore, Alistair Darling and Jam Tommorow, Michael Greenwell says "There's been no real, specific proposals about what extra powers will come" [in the event of a No vote]. But there has been. The Lib Dems published Ming Campbell's report on devo-more (Federalism: the best future for Scotland>) last month. Read it here.

  2. I think the key word there might be "real".

    Doug Daniel spoke rather well on those proposals in Scottish Independence Podcast episode 11...


  3. The guy who left that Noam Chomsky comment on Michael's blog sounds like a pretty insightful guy.

    *cough cough*

    Darling and Brown as "Olympian financial gods" - love it. Good podcast chaps, agree with pretty much all of it. It's a shame we're not getting this sort of political discourse on TV - it's far more interesting than what passes for comment on Newsnicht or Scotland Tonight (although that programme is at least trying, I think).

  4. Mike, I had already listened to you and Doug on the podcast. Unless I missed something, the discussion you had was about the federalist proposals in the Lib Dem paper, not the home rule or localist ones.

    The report doesn't - to my surprise - make federalism a prerequisite for more devolution. Yes, some of the proposals are based upon federal structures, but those are a minority in any case. The ones which don't are as "real" as anything is ever likely to be. Yes, we should keep the tendency for proposals to be watered down in mind - see Devoplus, Calman - and also consider that there will be an element of "lowest common denominator" in any hypothetical future devo-more. But even taking those things into account, I don't understand your casual dismissal of Ming's magnum opus.

  5. Perhaps I should not have disagreed so quickly. I have therefore read the whole thing and have a list of criticisms that I will publish in the week.

    In general however, for Scotland, I still don't see how Independence wouldn't be a better solution to the problem of more local financial (and obviously political) control.

  6. Thanks Michael. Look forward to seeing your criticisms. Perhaps, if we're really lucky, our host will share his views when he's had a chance to look at Ming's work.

  7. Angus,

    For me, the problem isn't so much the lack of a plan amongst Liberal Democrats (though that seems to me a very pertinent critique of Labour and Tory promises on this score). Rather, it's the political logic. The vital question must be: however serious their proposals might be, will the Liberal Democrat party be in a serious position to deliver than after 2014, assuming that the referendum is lost? Even the most devoted supporter of the Liberal Democrats must be surveying 2016 with an air of desperation, just waiting for the engulfing electoral tide to pull them down. A proposal may be seriously-minded, without being a serious possibility. I fear we're in this territory here, despite Ming's labours.

  8. You'll have to wait till next week,

    just too busy at work.

  9. Just thought I'd let you know that as a unionist of a leftish persuasion, I find these podcasts a breath of fresh air. So much more light and less heat than much of what I hear on either side of this debate.

    Rare to hear people on either side of the debate talking seriously about what will happen if the referendum doesn't go their way.

    In passing - on the subject of the partisanship of the media, I think we're a long way from being in the same situation as the US. There are bits of the media that are shamelessly one-sided (The Scottish Daily Mail, Newsnet Scotland) but while the Scotsman is unionist, it runs opinion pieces from the nationalist side. The Herald strikes me as more or less neutral on the question. While some of the London media can be rather ill-informed, one has to remember that for them, Scotland is a small part of the UK, of no more interest to most of their readers than Yorkshire or Greater Manchester...

  10. Anonymous

    Kind of you to say, and very encouraging. That's just the sort of discussion I know Michael and I were aiming for.