News & Politics Podcasts

Chatting about news and politics, local and beyond. As if we don't get enough elsewhere....

Chatting about news and politics, local and beyond. As if we don't get enough elsewhere....


United Kingdom


Chatting about news and politics, local and beyond. As if we don't get enough elsewhere....




Stormont in mothballs

Seems like we are heading into a period with Stormont being put in storage, mothballed for now, putting on hold all those amazing ideas MLAs have been imagining to solve all the problems of the world. Waiting, of course, for the greatest fanfare of all will be Robin Swann's plan to do what has not been done in twenty years of devolution; to end waiting lists and create the best working NHS anywhere in the UK. Sadly we will have to wait. First on the agenda is the Northern Ireland Protocol,...


Reading the Stormont Election Runes

We don’t have much to go on when it comes to predicting the forthcoming election. The polling is volatile and there’s no reliable data on how many people don’t know who they will vote for or remain undecided. We look at the three relevant battles; in unionism, in nationalism, and the fight for the so called middle ground. There’s a lot of talk about new, fresh politics, but some of the rhetoric, particularly from Sinn Fein, seems depressingly familiar. We got here via a few weeks of phoney...


Crisis redux

For all the talk of crisis things seem much the same up the hill at Stormont. Sinn Fein wants to see legislation through, but also an early election. What they couldn't do with 28 pieces of legislation they'll need twice as much time to do with fewer, apparently because the DUP pulled Paul Givan out of the Executive and despite that not reducing one day of Assembly time before they close for the always planned election. No journalist has asked a single political leader why that might...


New Year, same old...

The New Year brought little cheer for Downing Street with a forever list of crises, much of its own making. Perhaps surprisingly, Downing Street is cut some slack on the podcast while the empty demands for the Prime Minister's resignation by Northern Ireland politicians is called out for what it is - hubris. Meanwhile, since the last podcast, Liz Truss has taken over the role of chief Brexit negotiator. This means that the NI Protocol is now one of many issues in the in-tray, whereas Lord...


It’s the data stupid

Despite claiming to be 'guided by the science' the NI Executive's reluctance to publish 'the evidence', the science and reason on which a decision is being made, seems churlish. It also seems that the politicians in the NI Executive don't quite trust, certainly lack confidence in the data. Added to which any review of the published NISRA data, a daily update on statistics around Covid and health services, even a casual review, raises questions that seem to be unanswered or simply...


Devil in the Detail

Labour, Conservatives, and most recently the UUP presented fine optics at their respective conferences. Leaders who said a lot about nothing we didn't know already, at best. Boris was Boris, delivering what everyone in the Conference Centre expected of Boris. Sir Keir and Doug Beattie presented speeches that didn't alarm the horses. At least Sir Keir started to articulate a Labour Party of his own design. All the backdrops, bright lights, dancers and comedians (for once, not the politicians)...


Short on reasons

We have heard a lot in Northern Ireland about Executive disagreement on the matter of 'Vaccine Passports'. Less clear, and barely discussed, is either the science that underscores a requirement for restricting 'the unvaccinated' access to hospitality venues. Arguments on encouraging vaccinations or 'saving' the NHS don't add up: the age categories with least vaccination uptake - say 18-30 - are not those showing most positive test results ("cases") or taking up hospital beds. The approach...


Protocol, Policing and Polls

Cherryvalley will be eating M&S baked beans on toast this Christmas as this one retailer lays bare their shelves in an honest announcement of the reduced Christmas lines for NI shoppers this year. Every indication is that the 'grace periods', currently preventing already challenging restraints on goods from GB to NI becoming brutal, will be extended beyond the 2022 Assembly election to spare the blushes of those calling for 'rigorous implementation'. Policing is in the news because a Report...


NI Protocol, Judicial Review, and constitutional risks.

While we know there is a Judicial Review of the Protocol in our courts, the key points on which the Protocol is being challenged haven't had much airtime. Efforts by Jim Allister to explain on the BBC Northern Ireland Nolan Show were interrupted (frequently) by the host shouting "but Brexit". With his legal hat on, we give Jim time to set out the legal case, clearly: on the fundamental risk to the Act of Union, on conflict with principles of the NI Act 1998 that underpins the Belfast...


Politics, personalities, policies?

Has the DUP leadership contest been precipitated by policy, politics, or a simpler clash of personalities? Hard to say, and more difficult to see how the DUP comes out the other side with a stable leadership. Not that Unionist voters are going to have a massive choice in 2022 - devil you know, or the devil or the deep blue sea. The accusation of policy designed by focus group has been made. A greater issue is media's apparent obsession with 'polls' for easy headlines and lazy copy, with...


Just not good enough

A year after the first Covid lockdown, and just over a year of New Decade "new" Approach, the ability of our institutions to address anything much with a degree of competence seems, at best, little improved. The Storey funeral suggests everyone is confused on both law and responsibilities, including those who wrote the law and those who might be expected to uphold the law. The public does not share that ambiguity in respect of what happened at the Storey funeral. More widely devolution is...


A roadmap that lacks direction

The UK Budget this past week gave small comfort to small businesses in excluding many from the proposed corporation tax increases. In Northern Ireland that was indeed small comfort to many small businesses. They are doubly troubled. Burdened by the NI Protocol and supply issues that impact directly on competitiveness within the UK internal market, and battered by the indecision of the Northern Ireland Executive's Covid Roadmap that is long on words, short on anything that much informs...


Risky business

Risk is relative. When the COVID-19 virus has been prevalent in the community, the large numbers who require hospitalisation threaten to overwhelm the health service. That has been true without a working vaccine. Now that there is vaccines being delivered it is clear the threat to the health service will decline - the risk to the NHS declines. That changes the context for the restrictions on personal freedoms. The NI Protocol may have seemed a good idea at the time (not on this Podcast) but...


Tiocfaidh ar latte!

Ending the podcast with insightful commentary from the FT that a United Ireland is imminent because there are posh East Belfast coffee shops. Who knew? The remarkable ability to put apples and oranges together and calling it bowl of bananas is a communications trait that seems to be all too prevalent in public discourse, and perhaps the underlying theme of this Episode. The theatre of a disorganised riot becomes an 'insurrection, while democracy is lauded within a cordon of tens of thousands...


2021 may not be so different

The pattern of bold policy announcements followed by a failure to deliver seems to be the dominant feature of 2020. Perhaps the recent UK/EU trade agreement will be an exception as it seems to be, for now) - once the NI Protocol as 'best of both worlds' is explained. That can't be said for the New Decade heralded by the resurrection of Stormont that shows little evidence of the promised 'new approach'. There is plenty to be pessimistic about in the performance of Stormont and the Northern...


Borderline ClusterF#£€!

The question is not whether or not there is a trade Agreement between the UK and EU in the first week of December. Rather it is a question of preparedness for either scenario. This episode looks at the monumental scale of unpreparedness, by just about everyone - it isn't just the UK Govt struggling with the reality of it all. There has been some general media reporting on this in recent weeks. We take the opportunity to explain the detail to make the point. In the wake of Covid, NI business...


Groundhog Days

Groundhog Days. Once again renewable energy has hit the headlines, though it seems because the funding is covered outside the Stormont budget the schemes haven't managed to elicit the level of public interest that RHI attracted. Also in the news are voices expressing concern about the NI Protocol on Northern Ireland business (particularly retail) and on the consumer. Oddly these same voices supported Theresa May's backstop, which entailed many of the same pitfalls and could have been far...


Ambiguously certain is not certainty at all.

There seems to be a common thread around Governments' pronouncements around Brexit and COVID19 that creates uncertainty and confusion; and that is the ambiguous nature of much of the messaging. We are asked to believe what Government tells us, but find it hard to do so where what we are being told could be interpreted this way or that, and words are not followed through with effective action that would demonstrate certain commitment to a shared goal. Result? Rather than taking back control,...


All about the message; future, present, past.

Four topics in this episode. First mixed messaging of Covid in NI, then the botched messaging on exams. Required messaging for the Union, particularly heading into the Centenary events around 2021 and the creation of Northern Ireland. Restoring a message based on evidence and reasoned debate rather enabling nationalist slogans to become received truth and a 'black taxi' tour of recent history before established fact. Bit longer than usual, big issues. Links to pieces mentioned on usual blog...


Yes to infrastructure, but foundations first before grand schemes...

A small change planned for how decisions are made by Northern Ireland Ministers might be a big thing. Meanwhile the big changes needed on fundamental services that underpin any economy are not getting the focused attention needed because, look, here's a cycling strategy to get you on your bike or, there, a Boris bridge. Sometimes we forget that for all the photo-ops and tweets, nothing actually happens - take Russia for example, all that meddling and still a pariah at the upper reaches of UK...