For the latest podcast Ali spoke to writer, editor and producer Henry Bell (right) about his biography of Scottish Socialist icon, John Maclean. If you haven’t heard of Maclean then this is a perfect place to start, and if you have then I’m sure you’ll learn something new about the man dubbed both “Hero of Red Clydeside” and “the most dangerous man in Britain” depending on which newspaper you read.
Henry explains how Maclean came to achieve such fame, the sacrifices he made, his links to Ireland and the Kremlin, and how he managed to hold both nationalist and internationalist outlooks, views which are still prevalent in Scottish politics today. It’s a fascinating discussion about one of Scotland’s most important historical figures, and one which you won’t want to miss.
If you are new round these parts there is quite a substantial back-catalogue of podcasts for you to discover. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so).
You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud…
There can be little doubt that Iain Macwhirter is one of the most important political commentators of our historic times. You may or may not agree with his editorial stance, but there are few who share the breadth of knowledge and understanding of his subject. This allows him to put Scotland’s politics into clear context which, when married to a sense of perspective and a winning writing style, makes his work accessible to all.
Macwhirter’s 2013 book Road to Referendum looked at the historic and cultural background to 2014’s historic vote, and his follow-up Disunited Kingdom was one of the more thoughtful and insightful reactions to the Scottish Independence Referendum, the ‘No’ result and the underlying political trends. When all around him were losing their heads, Macwhirter managed to give a detailed account of the key events in the immediate run up to the Referendum and make it engaging despite readers being all too aware of how that particular book ends.
Now, with Tsunami: Scotland’s Democratic Revolution, he attempts to contextualise the astonishing events surrounding the 2015 General Election; the all-conquering SNP, the demise and near death of Scottish Labour, and what the future is likely to hold for Scotland as its people and politicians react to such a seismic shift in the political landscape. You may feel you already know this story with it being so recent, but Macwhirter gets behind the scenes while remaining apart. He is a political journalist who, while never hiding his own point of view, is able to see all sides, particularly when it comes to the illogical or hypocritical. This is already borne out in his regular Herald and Sunday Herald columns, and those earlier books I mentioned, but it seems to me that Tsunami: Scotland’s Democratic Revolution sees him relax as a writer and allow his personality to come through more than it has previously.