Coll McCail and Cailean Gallagher are set to introduce Redgauntlet, a new podcast co-hosted by Scottish Left Review and Skotia to confront the questions facing Scotland a decade after the referendum.

JOHN Swinney’s speeches are not known for their literary merit, but in his speech accepting the Scottish Parliament’s nomination to be First Minister, he decided to include the lines of Hamish Henderson’s “Freedom Come-All-Ye” that will be familiar to many National readers:

So come all ye at hame wi’ freedom,

Never heed whit the hoodies croak for doom.

In your hoose a’ the bairns o’ Adam

Can find breid, barley-bree and painted room.

There is no better anthem, Swinney said, of the SNP’s striving against child poverty, a cause that can unite every Scot.

It’s unsurprising he stopped there, for the next line – “When MacLean meets wi’s freens in Springburn” – imagines the meeting of hearts and minds by Red Clydesiders whose ambitions extended well beyond the best gloss of SNP social democracy to a class struggle that, by its very nature, could not unite everyone.

This pledge to end poverty and the poetic manner in which it was made signal the depth of progressive discourse in this country. Labour’s Keir Starmer won’t quote a communist in his first speech as Prime Minister on July 5, but he may well mimic Swinney’s call for unity.

Whatever you think about the establishment’s renewed “all-of-us” attitude, the men in grey kilts have returned to political leadership in Scotland. Their guiding principles permeate Holyrood. Paper over the cracks, turn away from politics, talk about a vision of common prosperity, and ignore the structural conditions that create poverty in the first place.

Scotland is formed by causes and currents that cannot be incorporated into that class-neutral body politic that Swinney, Kate Forbes and the rest are desperate to maintain.

If Scotland’s political sphere is going to shrink once more, then it will be in the media, not parliament, that contrary positions will be argued. Hosting these arguments is the motivation behind the new podcast that two of Scotland’s smaller media outfits have joined forces to produce.

Redgauntlet, hosted by Scottish Left Review and Skotia, will bring some of the country’s sharpest critics into dialogue to lay out and unknot the questions that, despite the establishment’s best efforts, will continue to animate Scotland’s collective life.

A quarter of a century after devolution, the Scottish Parliament has yet to mobilise the little economic control that is vested in it. Has the “people’s parliament” really brought economic power closer to us?

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A decade after the 2014 referendum, independence is not frustratingly close as Humza Yousaf said. Yet the electorate remains evenly divided on the constitutional question. How do we escape this doom loop?

Before devolution, writers and artists guarded Scotland’s political flame and used it to forge a culture that found colourful ways of expressing our politics. Now more myopic and monochrome than ever, what is devolution doing to Scottish culture?

While first minister, Yousaf was one of the most outspokenly pro-Palestine leaders in the West, but Ireland’s recognition last week of the state of Palestine is a reminder that Scotland’s presence on the world stage is tokenistic. What is its international role?

Scotland’s political class bury these questions beneath an avalanche of consultations, working groups and Holyrood paperwork. Redgauntlet will unearth them.

Its name suggests an invitation. It throws down a radical gauntlet to challenge anyone and everyone to engage in thinking through the state of the nation. But if it might embrace intellectual combat, it will also be courteous. Most importantly, the content will not tilt at windmills but will come to terms with Scotland’s true challenges.

Besides laying down this challenge, the title alludes to something more. Ten years on from the referendum, there are some who suggest that the radical surge in Scotland has now disappeared. Twenty-five years after devolution there is a risk that despondency sets in, instead of constant critique of Scotland’s direction, however dismal the prospects.

Scotland had a good tradition of counter-establishment criticism, and that lives on in spaces like Bella Caledonia, Conter, parts of the print media, as well as Scottish Left Review and Skotia.

But there is always good reason for making more spaces apart from the usual humdrum media. When Jimmy Reid established the Scottish Left Review in 2000 he said it was a project to enable voices from across Scotland to express themselves in depth and have the space to do so. There weren’t podcasts then, but the project is the same. Look out for Redgauntlet online and join us to subject Scotland to much-needed scrutiny.