Politics Galore!

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​Andrew Jackson on why he is bringing the joys of Scottish politics to the world of podcasting

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27th November 2018 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

In the famous 1947 Compton Mackenzie novel, and 1949 film, ‘Whisky Galore!’; set during WW2, the inhabitants of a remote Scottish Island rescue fifty thousand cases of whisky from a wrecked cargo ship. Wartime rationing means that the island has almost run out of whisky of its own, so their find looks like mana from heaven; until the authorities come looking for the whisky and a comic game of cat and mouse ensues.

Apart from possibly driving one to drink, modern Scottish politics has little to do with the book except that the latter was the inspiration for the title of a Scottish politics podcast, Politics Galore!, created, hosted, edited, produced and published by David McColgan and I. We both work in the third sector. David is Senior Public Affairs Manager (Devolved Nations) at the British Heart Foundation and I currently work at Children 1st.

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

A podcast is more of a long-form, magazine-type format, but aural and that’s its big advantage: you can listen anywhere ‘on the go’.

The title - Politics Galore! - is meant to be celebratory. There’s been a special kind of joyous buzz around Scottish politics since the Scottish Parliament arrived but since the 2014 independence referendum that has become louder and louder. We wanted to signal that we were approaching politics in that same spirit; the spirit that animates a lot of the new media, including websites, bloggers, and crowd funded news outfits like The Ferret and to some extent, even mainstream output like Scotland Tonight and Holyrood magazine.

We didn’t start the podcast because Scotland was about to run out of politics! Scotland is full of politics and Scotland is awash with political engagement and coverage! For us it’s about the medium. If you’re interested in Scottish politics you could spend all day every day, reading and watching the different stuff that’s out there and never read or see the same thing twice but, when we started Politics Galore! in late 2017, there wasn’t much, outside the radio news shows, that you could listen to.

News is news: short, sharp, forever rolling round. A podcast is more of a long-form, magazine-type format, but aural and that’s its big advantage: you can listen anywhere ‘on the go’; it’s low-data for fast and easy downloading and you can listen whilst using other apps on a phone. None of that is true of video, on YouTube for example.

When episode one went out in late 2017, there were two podcasts that covered Scottish politics: NewsNet, which has since stopped ‘casting, and Lesley Riddoch who is still going and well worth a weekly listen, by the way. There was another one, Apolitical, but that seems to have stopped too and the Scottish Parliament podcast then was really just a recording of First Ministers Questions. But NewsNet was - and Lesley Riddoch is - overtly pro-independence and a lot of their podcasts topics were about constitutional issues or seen through that prism. We wanted to bring it down a level and talk about Scottish politics - and in particular the work of the Scottish Parliament – in terms of the day-to-day issues, away from the constitutional debate. That’s reflected in our tag line which is ‘Scotland’s Parliament, Scotland’s Politics and Scotland’s Political People’. On that last one we’ve had a huge variety of guests and interviews including MSPs, MPs, councillors, third sector folk and academics and that’s because we really wanted to try and showcase the range of people doing Scottish politics: folk you may never have heard of, and not necessarily party-political people, but those who are right at the heart of modern Scottish politics.

We’re politically neutral and for each episode we just pick a political issue of interest and go for it. We sometimes do immediate current affairs, the Scottish budget for example, but we do this for nothing, for fun: no ads, no sponsors, no money! so we don’t have the resources to track the news cycle, nor do we want to. It’s sometimes a wee bit scrappy but we have to squeeze it into work, family and so on and I’m no technical wiz so sometimes I cock that up, but we think it’s worth a listen!

Since we started out, the Scottish Parliament’s own podcast has become a lot more varied, Davie Clegg at The Daily Record has kicked off what he calls ‘THE Scottish Politics Podcast’ – we saw that coming, which is which ours is just described as ‘a’ Scottish Politics Podcast – and the BBC have just started Podlitical, so if we’ve done nothing else, we seem to have spurred a greater podcast choice when it comes to Scottish politics , which can only be to the benefit of those politics and those folk interested in them.

‘Politics Galore! A Scottish Politics Podcast’ is available on Soundcloud, iTunes and PocketCasts (for Android users). Follow Politics Galore on Twitter @PolGaloreScot and Instagram politicsgalore