There have been many times over the last four years when we felt that Britain was being poorly served by its broadcast and print media. Often analysis seems thin, flippant and more interested in personalities than in the issues that really matter. Journalists are not necessarily to blame for this. They are under pressure to show balance and, too often, that translates into giving coverage to the views of those who are simply lying to the public, or perhaps even to themselves. So we are always looking out for good sources of impartial information from outside the British bubble, and one of our objectives in this blog is to share those with you. Today we are highlighting a couple of our favourite political podcasts from outside the UK.
Brexit Republic by RTÉ
Throughout the drama of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement it was often RTE’s Europe Editor Tony Connelly who was first to get the inside track on what was happening in negotiations. His reports have been referenced across European media and we can also recommend his book if you are looking for a comprehensive account of what Brexit means for Ireland and how the government there responded (link below).
In this weekly podcast he reflects on events with correspondents in Dublin and London. What we like most about Brexit Republic is that it gets down to brass tacks about what is really being decided, without the imprecision and wishful thinking that often surround the topic. As we mentioned in an earlier post they also occasionally broadcast full lectures by subject matter experts including the former UK civil servant Sir Ivan Rogers.
The current episode discusses what was behind Sinn Fein’s strong performance in the recent Irish election (hint, it’s more about left wing politics than nationalism) and what will be the fall out of Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle. Among those sacked was the former Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith, who had generally been rated in Ireland and was seen as understanding both communities in the North. There’s also a characteristically thorough look at the content of the Northern Ireland Protocol – which is now part of a legally-binding international agreement – and what it really means for customs and regulatory checks in the Irish Sea.
Europapodden by Radio Sweden
This one is a niche interest but bear with us… Europapodden exists to brief a Swedish-speaking audience on what is happening politically in other European countries. Recent episodes have grappled with questions like how the centre-right European People’s Party should deal with Hungary’s Fidesz led by Vikor Orban. Or how it came to be that Finland had three different prime ministers during 2019 and is currently led by the world’s youngest state leader, Sanna Marin, in a coalition of five political parties all headed by women. In December the team even went on the road around Britain to cover the general election campaign.
In the current edition they unpick the dynamics surrounding the negotiation of the EU’s next seven-year budget. What we particularly like is that everyone is on top of their brief. So while domestic correspondents set out what the Swedish government will be trying to achieve in Brussels as one of the so-called “frugal four” alongside Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands, EU correspondent Susanne Palme summarises what arguments other countries will bring to the table, complete with translated sound-bites from other European media.
So it is that we find ourselves reading a piece by Poland’s prime minister in a German newspaper making the case that investment in the Visegrád countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – actually delivers the most tangible economic benefits to net-contributor countries like Austria. There is always another angle to consider!
What are you listening to?
We would love to hear your own tips and recommendations, so let us know. How do you get a broader perspective on the news? What are your favourite European podcasts or radio shows in any language? Please share them in the comments below.