Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

I’ll Be Hosting Overnight General Election Results Coverage

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

When the snap General Election was called in May, I wrote at the time that my first thought was about the result. Or at least how to cover the result. It was this.

I need to get behind a microphone to do the results show from 10pm on June 8th.

Since then I’ve been working on how to do just that, from finding studio facilities, co-hosts, guests, statisticians, the odd politician or two, and some broadcast partners. I’m delighted to announce that I will be hosting a General Election Results show on Thursday night… not only will you be able to listen in on lie, you’ll be able to watch as well.

Broadcast Details

Radio Six International ( will handle the radio and audio side of things, offering seven hours of coverage to stations across the UK and further afield (get in touch if you are interested in picking up the coverage). You’ll be able to listen to the stream direct from the Radio Six International website, and we go on air at 10pm UK time (2100 GMT).

The National newspaper is providing studio facilities through the night in their Glasgow newsroom, which will allow us to stay on top of the results as they come in through the night. We’ll also be talking to The National’s reporters who will be at the Glasgow and Edinburgh counts for immediate reactions and interviews. Our studio is going to be wired up not just for audio, but also for video, so you can watch the Facebook Live stream which will be shared from its Facebook Page.

During The Show

There’s no way to fully script out seven hours of live broadcasting in such a fluid environment as the results of a General Election. What we do have are a number of elements that we can call on through the night to keep the show going along. It is a UK Election and the first Scottish seat isn’t due up till around 2am, so while our primary story will be about Scotland, it’s not the only story and we will be looking across all of the UK.

Like any good election show we have our spreadsheets, swingometers, fancy graphics and maps to make predictions and help us try to make sense of what is going on. Once more Steve Griffin is dealing with the numbers through the night. The livestream also means we need something visual to show off.

What’s an election show without lots of voices and opinions? Leading our ‘Pundits Corner’ will be Benjamin Howarth bringing different viewpoints and discussion points from all corners of the political spectrum from a hopefully packed sofa of guests through the night.

The National’s Stephen Paton will be watching social media for reactions from the public, and by the nature of Facebook Live, we’ll be able to ask questions of our audience around the world.

The key thing for me in all of this is that we tell the story of the night, and through that we re-tell the story running up to the vote, and where the story is going. After previous overnight Election shows and various Edinburgh Fringe broadcasts, Dan Lentell will be in the co-host chair to keep the focus on the story, with Ross Middleton floor managing all of the different elements.

Get In Touch

It’s still not too late if you want to get involved as part of the show, and of course you can drop me a line (mail me at

And now, back to reading lots of background material….

Planning A New Kind Of UK General Election Results Show – Can You Help?

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Tuesday’s announcement of a General Election in the UK for June 8th caught me a little by surprise and set off a riot of emotions. I tend not to talk about politics too much online, so many of the thoughts I had yesterday are mine, or for friends and family.

But I’ll happily tell you my very first thought, because it’s one you can all help with.

I need to get behind a microphone to do the results show from 10pm on June 8th.”

I’ve anchored a number of overnight election shows on community radio here in Edinburgh since 2010. These have been broadcast out to the capital but also syndicated to other radio stations and streamed online for those in the UK (and beyond) looking for something a bit more rock and roll in their election night coverage.

I am confident I’ll be running an election night show this year. Now I need to get to that point, get a team together, sort out logistics, and all the other little bits and pieces in the way. Time is tight.

Putting The Team Together

The Election Results Show will be a collaborative effort, so I’m looking for people to be involved in the broadcast. The rough plan is have a core hosting team of two or three people working through the night, an ‘experts and pundits panel’ to discuss the results and keep the sparks flying, someone to stay on top of the constituency results and trends, another to watch over social media for a more interactive show, and a tech or two to keep the video and audio streams running.

If one of those roles sounds like something you want to do, get in touch – is probably the best way to do so.

Finding Our Temporary Studio

The first order of business – and one that really needs sorting out before the end of April – is the venue. Short of finding a radio studio suite, the show will need a decent sized space for up to 15 people, with tables and chairs, good lighting, and a rock solid internet connection (preferably with a mix of wi-fi and wired access).

My initial thought is that the show will be Edinburgh-based, but as the broadcast will be streamed online I’m open to other locations around the UK, including London.

Other Ways To Support The Show

Obviously there are some costs involved in the show, so I am very much open to partnerships. That could be co-working spaces, start-ups in a ‘broadcast’ space, publishers or other media organisations, sugary energy drink manufacturers, and so on. Again get in touch if this sounds like a contribution you can help with (

At the very least I would love to cover volunteer expenses and potentially the venue hire.

What About A Name?

The Election Results Show’ is functional but not incredibly descriptive. ‘Rock and Roll Results’ suggests musical content, and that’s unlikely to happen. There’ll be a good name that talks about the open nature of the show, the slightly rough at the edges feel, the move away from mainstream media coverage, and the online nature of the show. Right now I can’t think of it. Once more, suggestions welcome.

Over To You

I could do this alone, but it’s going to much more fun with a big group of people. Join me?

How can you lose a referendum and then win the election?

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Professor John Curtice writes at FiveThirtyEight on the SNP and the upcoming General Election vote in Scotland:

There are three main parts to the answer. The first is that May’s election is being held under very different rules from the referendum. Second, the question of what Scotland’s constitutional status should be now matters more to voters than it did in the past. And third, the SNP has come to be regarded by many voters as the party keenest on creating a more equal society.

At 45 percent, the average level of support for the SNP in current Scotland-wide polls matches the percentage that the “yes” side won in the referendum. Indeed, it also equals the 45 percent that the SNP won in the election to the devolved Scottish Parliament held in May 2011. The crucial difference is that whereas 45 percent is always insufficient to win a referendum, it can be enough to win a landslide in an election that is held under the first-past-the-post electoral system and in which a multitude of parties are in contention.

This is a good primer for anyone wondering how you can go from losing the referendum on Independence in September 2014, and then potentially hold the balance of power in Westminster in May 2015.

What if terrorists used pictures of cats?

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Two things to note from the lunacy of ‘social networks should tell Teresa May when someone is being a terrorist online’ and §  the ‘former global counter-terrorism director of MI6’ writing in The Guardian:

…even in the United Kingdom there are about 25 million users of Facebook and so let’s say possibly about 125m posts a day. And even if you take out all the pictures of kittens which were put up you’d still be left with an awful lot to go through


…people who wanted to get around restrictions placed on their communications could probably do so quite easily by using encryption.

What if they were to encrypt their communications in the pictures of cats that MI6 discard?

Scotland’s obvious Plan B is playing out as expected

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Miranda Green in Newsweek:

What they may not realise, or not fully, is the extent to which Salmond may be preparing to work from the Commons in concert with Nicola Sturgeon in Holyrood to exploit Cameron’s promise of a referendum on EU membership. In this ‘Plan B’ any boost to the self-government of Scotland will help. “Nicola is preparing the ground for a blocking position. If we are in this quasi-federal position then each of the constituent parts [of the UK] has to decide to jump out together. Not one part saying ‘right, I’m jumping out, you lot, you’re just coming wi’us. And you know, if Westminster doesn’t like that, there’s an obvious solution.”

This last threat ends with the hardest, longest and fiercest glare yet – an EU referendum in which England voted for ‘out’ but Scotland voted for ‘in’ could provoke a crisis that achieves independence by the back door.

The best of this is that almost everyone following saw this plan coming the second Salmond stepped down… except Westminster. If the Lib-Dems crash and burn, and Labour supporters in Scotland Swing 40 seats from Labour to SNP, you could due looking at the SNP as the third party in a hung Westminster parliament, with Alex Salmond getting two questions every Wednesday at PMQs.

As all the good Westerns go there’s one more mission for the warhorse running interference and blocking for his protege back in the homestead.

Behind the scenes at Question Time

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Fleet Street Fox writes up her experiences as a first-time panellist on BBC’s Question TIme:

Since I ‘came out’ [as a blogger] last year I’ve been asked to do a bit of telly stuff, and as it pays me money, gets me readers and makes sense I’ve had to get used to plonking myself in front of cameras instead of avoiding them like the plague.

I’m used to criticising from the sidelines where it’s safe, perhaps livetweeting on the #bbcqt hashtag, not rollicking a politician while sat next to them and they can answer back.

QT is different though – this is the grandaddy. The one everybody watches, right up to the Prime Minister. The one important people go on. And I’m just me, a pillock who blagged her way into a job as a journalist when she was 18 and has been winging it ever since.

The full riveting read (well, for some of us) is over on The Mirror.

Ten years ago, Section 28 was repealed

Monday, November 18th, 2013

My friend Monty (Cheif Exec at London Friend) talks about Section 28 on the tenth anniversary of the legislation’s repeal:

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the repeal of the infamous Section 28, the pernicious piece of UK legislation that blighted the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people for almost two decades. The clause – a late insertion into the Local Government Bill – prohibited local authorities from ‘promoting’ homosexuality and prevented maintained schools from teaching on the ‘acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’.

The clause was introduced on the back of right wing concerns that by funding support groups and services for lesbian, gay and bisexual people local authorities were somehow ‘promoting’ being LGB to influential young people. London Friend had already caused a fuss by being the beneficiary of such funding from Islington Council – the first ever gay-run group to receive such support.

It’s gone now, but the impact it had on the lives of many should never be forgotten.

You do have something to hide, you just don’t know it

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Over on Wired, Moxie Marlinspike addresses the cliched question of  ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ when discussing security issues. It might be focused on America, but the principles still stand, and the view is especially relevant in the current climate.

If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations. You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.

Prevent 17 deaths, or 32,000 deaths? One is ‘ terrorism’, the other is road traffic fatalities

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Baratunde Thurston:

The U.S. should certainly try to prevent terrorist attacks, and there is a lot that government can and has done since 9/11 to improve security in ways that are totally unobjectionable. But it is not rational to give up massive amounts of privacy and liberty to stay marginally safer from a threat that, however scary, endangers the average American far less than his or her daily commute. In 2011, 32,367 Americans died in traffic fatalities.

Terrorism killed 17 U.S. civilians that year. How many Americans feared dying in their vehicles more than dying in a terrorist attack?

Of course Baratunde should be worried, after all Obama is reading his emails

A simple issue with Digital Dragnets to find ‘terrorists’

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Admittedly you would need an all pervasive intelligence gathering network to prove that Cardinal Richelieu said this quote, but that’s just the ironic icing on the cake:

If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

Defining terrorism

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Michael Arrington on the NSA PRISM story:

For my part, I don’t give a damn that Senator Feinstein and others in our government say that this is “called protecting America.” It doesn’t, it’s Orwellian and it kills liberty and freedom on a scale never seen before. It’s not a way to stop terrorism. It IS terrorism.

My emphasis, but Arrington nails it.

One tweet to sum up all the issues around the NSA..

Friday, June 7th, 2013


So, who else is pumped about Google Glass?

Some of ‘The Lords’ get it

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Lord Jenkin, in today’s debate on Marriage in the House of Lords (my emphasis):

My own starting point is something that I learnt many years ago as an undergraduate faced with what was, for me, a new involvement with people who were not heterosexual. I asked my grandfather, who was an extremely wise lecturer at the Edinburgh medical school, all about it. He said, “My dear boy, it is as foolish to condemn those who have homosexual proclivities as it is to condemn them for having red hair”. I have lived with that all my life and I have always opposed discrimination against homosexuals.

More of this and less of Lord Tebbit please.

A simple thought on intercepting the communications data of ‘criminals’

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

“These agencies use communications date – the who, when, where and how of a communication, but not its content – to investigate and prosecute serious crime,” it says. “Communications data helps to keep the public safe – it is used by the police to investigate crimes, bring offenders to justice and to save lives.

“This is not about indiscriminately accessing internet data of innocent members of the public.”

The problem is this. Until someone has had their day in court and declared guilty by a jury of their peers… they are all innocent members of the public.

We should have fun with the independence debate in Scotland

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Stand-up comic Susan Calman:

At least one side of the debate will be disappointed in just over a year.  Either we will get Independence or we won’t.  If we don’t attempt to have some lighthearted opinion in the mix the country will be shit to live in whatever happens.