Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

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….

Looking at the strategy of the IRA

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Fascinating (off-topic) reading for the weekend on the strategy of the IRA.

And they used their operatives carefully, never spending their lives until they could get maximum effect. In 1984 one of their men rented a room at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where the Conservative Party was scheduled to have its yearly meeting. He put the bomb under the flooring, paid his bill and left. A month later the long-delay timer went off while Thatcher and all her allies were sound asleep in their rooms. They missed Thatcher—they didn’t call her the Iron Lady for nothing—but she had the novel experience of seeing a few floors fall into her room at 3 am. And the IRA statement afterwards was a model of guerrilla patience: “Today you were lucky, but you will have to be lucky always. We only have to be lucky once.” That’s the way you play it, for the long haul.

Hat tip to Bruce Schneier for the link.

Lib Dem candidate calls “Two Horse Race” tenuous and regards national vote as more important than seats in a hung parliament.

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Who plays Lib Dem Two Horse Race bingo?

Whenever you get a leaflet from the Liberal Democrats during the current UK General Election campaign, you can be guaranteed two things – a rather interesting bar graph, and the declaration that “It’s a two horse race” and “only the Lib Dems can win here. The first person to spot it when reading a leaflet should shout “Lib Dem Bingo!!!” At least in our house. Anyway…

Yesterday I conducted a two hour debate on Leith FM with four candidates from Edinburgh North and Leith and Edinburgh East, with Mark Lazarowicz (Labour), Iain McGill (Conservative), Beverley Hope (Lib Dem) and Callum Cashley (SNP).

Now I’m no Paxman or Humphries, but I’d decided I would step up and challenge certain points. I’ve always said that when I do interviews for the Edinburgh Fringe, I try to ask what the viewer is screaming at their MP3 player. This would be no different.

So when the subject got round to the media and slick marketing slogans, how could I resist bringing up “it’s a two horse race” slogan…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download clip (MP3)

The other question I’ve seen around, and on a more serious note, was also for the Liberal Democrats and what happens in a hung parliament. There’s every chance that Labour could get more votes across the country, but the Conservatives get the most seats. So who would the Lib Dems support in the first instance – Brown or Cameron?

Beverley Hope is clear that in her mind, the party with the most votes across the UK, and not the highest number of seats, has the right to try and form a government first – which is the first time I’ve heard a Lib Dem actually answer that question.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download clip (MP3)

Here’s the full two hour interview, hosted at…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download show (MP3)

What Will MP’s Do With Their Blogs and Websites During a General Election

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

A number of MP’s are blogging, and quite rightly so – it’s a great way to get a connection back to your constituents without anyone getting in the way (the Press, the Whips Office, or your local constituency party), but it carries a danger that could bite some users in the tail. Let me show the problem.

It looks like Kerry McCarthy ( has a problem, while Mark Lazarowicz ( doesn’t. Those using Twitter may also have the same problem. Andy Reed (@andyreedmp) has it, but Jo Swinson (@joswinson) doesn’t

Spotted it yet?

It’s the “MP” bit. You see, once a general election is called, part of the deal is that any Members of Parliament looses their status, and can no longer be called, filed, stamped, indexed or deep linked using the MP moniker.

I wonder just how well these Web 2.0 Engaged MP’s are ready to change their websites, templates, links, references and archived history in their online world? Or are their IT people ready to bill them for a lot of overtime?

42 Days… No… No… No…

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Cross Posted From My Scottish Sketch Political Commentary Blog.

“While there has been a limited number of cases in Scotland which were investigated in terms of the Terrorism Act 2000, I am not aware of any case where an extension of the period beyond 28 days would have been required. “I therefore share the view of the DPP (Director of public prosecutions) Sir Ken MacDonald and the former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, that the requirement for an extension to the current 28 day is not supported by prosecution experience to date.”
Scottish Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini

“For our part as prosecutors, we don’t perceive any need for the period of 28 days to be increased. Our experience has been that we have managed comfortably within 28 days. We have therefore not asked for an increase in 28 days. It is possible to set up all sort of hypotheses … Anything is possible – the question is whether it’s remotely likely. …prosecutors were “better placed” than the police to judge whether or not there was sufficient evidence to charge a suspect.
Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken MacDonald

Lord Goldsmith… repeated that he would have resigned if the Government not previously withdrawn its proposals when he was its chief law officer. “I was opposed to 90 days: contrary to what some commentators have said I never supported 90 days – as was clear inside Government and actually known outside Government too – and would have had to resign if the original 90-day proposal had come to the Lords for a vote.”
(Former) Attorney General Lord Goldsmith

Gordon Brown’s almost religious fervour to have 42 Days on the books (or at least have Conservatives voting against a ‘anti-terrorist’ measure, has now been thrice denied. It remains for a handful of Labour MP’s to stand behind their country, rather than their ‘leader.’

PS: Today is the vote on the changes to the Coroners system, which allows the Home Secretary to over-ride any decision and appoint his or her own choice of Coroner, and to label an inquiry as ‘secret’ and censor the publication of the outcome. That alone should make you worry, but at the same time it can also be applied retrospectively to existing cases. Can anyone think which tube station this might be used in conjunction with?

The Myth of ‘Political’ Voting at Eurovision

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Pretty much ever European blog commenting on the Eurovision Song Contest this morning is bringing up the political voting (you know, where Greece and Cyprus exchange 12 points if they can, the Scandinavian countries vote for each other, and so on). Lets get this right. The voting in each country is now a 15 minute window for phone voting – normal people picking up their phone and dialing (or SMS’ing) and these are collated to share out the 12, 10, 8, etc points. If the voting was a single man, or even a small ten person jury in a TV studio, then I could understand the shouting of “fix” that has risen from every country except Russia today.

The simple fact is that countries in continental Europe who are next to each other share musical tastes. Is it any surprise that Sweden makes music that Norway likes, and vice versa. When you think about the issues which would influence what people like (two that spring to mind are the cross-pollination of transmitted media and emigration patterns between countries), then is it any surprise that neighbouring countries like the same music?

You can see this in the case of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Latvia’s pirate song only had two countries give it one of the three big scores (8, 10 or 12 points). And they came from two countries who are next to each other, and who share the same musical tastes. Did we conspire to vote for Wolves of the Sea?

Plus the blocks are only at most 5 or 6 countries – with 43 countries voting you still need to appeal to a much larger group of people to gather the votes you will need to win. That’s where a good song (and a good performance) will actually help you. It’s one reason Lordi swept to victory two years ago – yes they had the votes from their fellow countries but they also picked up a barrel load of points from around Europe. Was that a fix? Or just that they appealed to a cross section of people (specifically the metal-heads motivated in the forums and boards leading up to the show) who all voted for them. Dima (the Russian winner) is a bona fide heart throb in the region, is it any wonder people voted like crazy for him? And when other Europeans saw him fell under his charms? No.

I think we’re seeing ghosts where there are none, we’re looking for complicated patterns where they don’t exist. People are voting for the music they like, and as Europe (or more specifically the European Broadcasting Union) expands, there are more musical tastes coming on board; tastes that may seem inexplicable in Iceland are understandable in Azerbaijan.

That’s why I think political voting is nothing more than a short-hand way to describe complicated social issues, but it’s not an evil plot. Much as it makes a fun story it does the contest a dis-service and threatens it’s continued existence.

What if Gordon Brown is Telling The Truth?

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

This article is a cross-post from Scottish Sketch, my political commentary blog on Scottish and UK politics… And this is the RSS Feed

Listening to John Humphrys interviewing Gordon Brown on Radio’s 4 Today programme this morning, I was reminded why I don’t like Brown’s style of Government and management.

Let’s start with one simple assumption. That he’s not being a typical politician. That what he is saying is true. The presumptions and predictions from the economy to public and private life in the UK and abroad are generally promising and uplifting.

But I don;t want that in a leader – not in a group, a business, or running the country. I believe that if you are in charge of anything, the most frequent question you should be asking yourself if “what if this is wrong? And if so, what will I be able to do?” There should be multiple ways forward at every point in the decision making process. Given the choice between a plan that has 100% good effects, but has absolutely no flexibility if conditions deviate from the expected, or a plan that has (say) 60% good effects if everything works as expected but can accommodate changing conditions to reduce any negative effects when it (inevitably) goes tits up, I want someone who chooses the later option.

Listening to Brown (and the members of his Cabinet) I hear zero evidence that they actually plan for the bad things to happen. The 10p income tax band doubling situation is evidence of that. Again, taking the Chancellor at his word, there was absolutely zero slack in the Budget to allow any adjustments to be made without ringing up 2.7 billion pounds of debt. More to the point, if the call on the 10p tax was really triggered by the changing international economic conditions, then the Chancellor is not even taking a short term view of ten weeks of what could go wrong and to make provisions in case of things not working out perfectly.

And the reserve cash before we hit the self imposed rule is only £100 million… which isn’t a reserve at all, it’s a single chip to tip the croupier after your gamble in Las Vegas fails. Remember I’m going on the assumption that we’re not being lied to; pop in the money in Northern Rock and the PFI’s and we’d be well over the 40% ‘maximum.’

I want a Government that believes in policies that have less reward, but that also carry less risk. There’s no replay option in real life. I want to know you’ve considered and planned for the worst case scenarios, and not just crossing your fingers that the best predictions are going to come true. I don’t get that vibe from the words or the actions of Gordon Brown and his government., and the RSS Feed