The Best Independent Political Podcasts For An Age Where The World Is Burning

Earlier this week, Jazza made a video recommending brilliant, independent political podcasts that provide more substance and better sound quality than what The Spectator seems to be able to throw together in their lunch break (the shade).



Here are the podcasts he recommended, with a couple extra thrown in for good measure. We hope this post will provide a library for people looking for production that doesn’t come out of a national newspaper or radio station (*cough* BBC *cough*).

We urge you all to let us know if you think we missed any and we can add them as annotations. Search for them in iTunes or follow the hyperlinks to their websites.

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The Golden Globes: Who will win vs. who deserves to

Golden Globes 2016 via NBC

Earlier this week the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their nominations for 2016’s Golden Globe Awards.

Sadly, as any commentator worth their salts will attest, both the nominations and eventual winners fall prey to dubious Hollywood politics. Genre films, independent gems and even depressing age statistics can lead to outrageous but all too predictable snubs.

With this in mind, the Right Dishonourable will attempt to answer the questions we all love to speculate on during awards season: who will win and who deserves to win?

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The wisdom of Edward Snowden: secret courts, American individualism, and uni censorship

Edward Snowden, January 2014 by DonkeyHotey

Since opening a Twitter account and mocking the NSA, the whistleblower Edward Snowden has been tweeting out his thoughts on a regular basis, much to the delight of his supporters.

In a series of messages yesterday he began by criticising a recent case in Iran in which Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian was convicted in a secret court.

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Tony Hall plots reform of ‘Open BBC’ to silence corporation critics during Internet Age

BBC satellite in London, August 2004 by Peter Daniel

The director-generalship of the BBC has likely never been a relaxing job, but in the last few years the forces besetting the national broadcaster have scarcely been greater.

Mired by its failure to stop the assaults of rapist and DJ Jimmy Savile, controversy over its handling of the Scottish referendum and never-ending accusations from the Tories of its alleged bias against them, next year’s Charter Review to determine the Beeb’s future may be the most important in its history.

In a speech by Tony Hall at London’s Science Museum on Monday the director-general responded to many of the complaints against his organisation under a plan for an “Open BBC”, with many of the measures proposed capable of radically altering the British media landscape.

Going deeper online and into mobile

The last decade has seen increasing estrangement from traditional television schedules as consumers access more media from their computers and from mobile devices, with streaming services such as Netflix in California also challenging old models.

Seemingly in response to this, Hall spoke of how the BBC News service will change from a “rolling news to streaming news” tailored to individual users, in what would be an overhaul of the current apps and websites currently in use by the corporation.

“Inevitably, this will be a more video based service, complemented by audio, graphics and text live from BBC News,” Hall said. “It will be the place to go to find out the facts and to understand the story behind them.”

Bolstering World Service with ‘Ideas Service’

The global reach of the BBC’s World Service, according to Hall accessed by 500m, is perhaps the greatest example of British soft power still in existence – or a tool of propaganda depending on your stance.

Despite past cuts claimed by the Beeb to have undermined its ability to spread British values abroad, the director-general wants to push back into some countries, including the Middle East, former Soviet states and India, as well as establish an “Ideas Service” to spread British culture.

“The Service will host the best content from the BBC but also from some of our country’s leading cultural institutions,” Hall said. “From the British Museum to the Royal Shakespeare Company, from the Edinburgh Festivals to the Liverpool Biennial, from this amazing institution the Science Museum to the University of Manchester.”

Saving local public service journalism

Whilst no news groups (barring Private Eye, perhaps) have been unmoved by the digital age, local journalism has been ravaged, and the BBC much criticised for undermining regional news groups’ ability to compete commercially.

UK newspapers annual advertising revenues by Enders AnalysisSome dispute that the BBC’s regional output is to blame for the decline, but the Beeb has anyway committed to set aside funding to send 100 local journalists to courts, councils and public services, as well as making its audio and video available for use by local news groups.

“Local democracy really interests me,” Hall said. “I’ve seen for myself how important our local radio stations are, and I’m really proud of the way they serve their communities. But I now want us to go further.”

Addressing the Scottish question

The Beeb was pilloried by Scottish Nationalists over its handling of the referendum, with Glaswegian protestors calling for the now former political editor Nick Robinson to be sacked, and labelling the BBC the “British Biased Corporation”.

More recently Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon called for devolution of BBC Scotland, in line with many other powers being handed over to the parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh following the Nats failure to win that poll.

Whilst being thin on details, Hall said: “As the pace of devolution quickens we will need to adapt our services – on television, online and radio – to ensure that they fully reflect, and are able to report, the increasingly divergent politics of the UK.”

Defending shows people actually watch

Unlike much of the British media the BBC is obliged to cover topics for obscure or narrow audiences, Inuit throat singing being one of the stranger examples of programmes put out by the corporation.

Whilst some complain at this eccentricity, others (large broadcasters and news groups among them) think that the Beeb should stick exclusively to public service and oddities whilst leaving popular shows such as Strictly Come Dancing to the likes if ITV or Channel 4.

Though Hall defended “programmes of distinction”, he also said that “being a public service broadcaster also means understanding what the public wants us to provide – a broad, popular, mainstream offering that makes people feel their licence fee has been well spent.”

…but Hall says the Beeb is not ‘expansionist’

All the above might lead some to conclude that the BBC is, in the words of chancellor George Osborne, “imperial in its ambitions”. But Hall rejects this claim, and points out that he is still due to cut 20 percent from its costs base in savings.

“Let me be clear, an Open BBC is a million miles away from an expansionist BBC,” he said.

“Indeed it is the polar opposite. It comes from the desire to partner and share. It comes from the recognition that technology gives us the opportunity to do things very differently. It comes from the belief that the BBC must do even more for Britain as a whole.”

A full copy of Hall’s speech can be viewed here.

Image Credit – BBC satellite in London, August 2004 by Peter Daniel

What the ONS data really tells us about zero-hour contracts

Contract by Branko Collin

The number of workers on zero-hour contracts, which guarantee no working hours to staff, has risen 19 percent in the year to June to 744,000, or 2.4 percent of those in employment, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released on Wednesday.

The use of such contracts has been controversial in the past, with some arguing they disadvantage workers and allow firms to dodge the greater obligations to staff that come with full or part-time contracts. Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the union TUC, said of the figures:

“Zero-hours contracts are a stark reminder of Britain’s two-tier workforce. People employed on these contracts earn £300 a week less, on average, than workers in secure jobs. I challenge any minister or business leader to survive on a low-paid zero-hours contract job, not knowing from one day to the next how much work they will have.”

But supporters of the contracts argue that they allow people to work flexible hours, and are actually popular among those that use them. To find the truth the Right Dishonourable dug into the data.

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