28 October 2012

For A' That: Episode, the First...

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 lallandspeatworrier@gmail.com.

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.

You can also listen to the show online here, or alternatively, if you'd prefer to imbibe our dulcet tones at your leisure, download the show from your iTunes or from Spreaker in .mp3 format, here.


  1. May I just add that every effort was made to keep Andrew Neil to an absolute minimum.

  2. I fairly enjoyed that. You two bounce off each other really well -it's like listening to a conversation between pals across the dinner table. Keep up the good work.

    The audio quality was woeful however. LPW's seductive tones were barely audible in parts. Sort the production values out and you're onto a winner me thinks...

  3. Maybe it's just that I've got a shitty computer, but everything froze when I clicked to hear the podcast.

    I am sure it is excellent but I'll be giving it the old body swerve - sorry.

  4. P.S.

    Just listened to it on BC - excellent! If only these sort of intelligent and informative discussions were more widely available.

    These questions remain -

    How much independent funding will the NO campaign be receiving from the papers and the BBC?

    Where, exactly, did the cat "go to the bathroom"?

  5. 1. Good first question.

    2. The litter tray had been temporarily moved to near where I was as my good lady was cleaning in the place where it normally resides.

  6. I'll see if I can get her to give some more informed comment in future.

    And thank you Barney and Anon.

    Oh, and better mics will be purchased this week.

  7. Anonymous, Barney,

    Thanks for the encouragement, and the (accurate) assessment of our occasionally shoogly sound rig in this one. As Michael says, we'll be laying in more effective microphones this week and my ... er ... seductive ... tones will be able to slither out, unmuted and uninterrupted in future. Hopefully.

  8. Could you strip off all the shite commercial 'music' at the start? I couldn't get past that.