53 episodes

Kissinger said that ninety percent of politicians give the other ten percent a bad name. Each week, a guest and I discuss the life and legacy of one politician from recent times. Some are well-known, others obscure; all have left an indelible mark on our world, and often for the worse. Join me, Tom Leeman, in a journey through the corruptible and the controversial.

The Hated and the Dead Tom Leeman

    • History
    • 4.8 • 24 Ratings

Kissinger said that ninety percent of politicians give the other ten percent a bad name. Each week, a guest and I discuss the life and legacy of one politician from recent times. Some are well-known, others obscure; all have left an indelible mark on our world, and often for the worse. Join me, Tom Leeman, in a journey through the corruptible and the controversial.

    EP51: The Scottish Devolutionists

    EP51: The Scottish Devolutionists

    There have been demands for greater autonomy for Scotland within the UK since the country joined the Union in 1707, but it was only in 1997- 25 years ago this month- that Scotland finally got its own parliament. 

    1997 was the culmination of a long struggle for self-government led by a group of people in Scotland, some left-wing, others right, many non-descript. These people, the devolutionists, are the subject of today’s episode. Whilst few can, in and of itself, criticise any group’s desire for self-government, the matter of devolution- that is to say, the giving of powers- to parliaments in Scotland and Wales, has proven highly controversial. 

    Many British commentators argue that the granting of a Parliament to the Scots, far from satisfying demands for self-government, merely gave them a taste for it, leading inevitably to calls for total separation from the UK. Whether that’s true is up for debate, but there is little doubt that many people in England have grown tired of the Scots, and are now for the first time contemplating English independence. 

    My guest for this conversation is a man who can truly describe himself as a devolutionist. Lord Jack McConnell served as the First Minister of Scotland- the position now held by Nicola Sturgeon- from 2001 until 2007. Jack is the first former head of government I have had on the podcast, and it was brilliant to speak to him about his own experiences running Scotland in the early days of the parliament. We discuss the flourishing of the modern Scottish, as opposed to British, identity; the government of Margaret Thatcher as a catalyst for change, the complex interplay between Brexit and Scottish independence, the future of Jack’s Labour Party in Scotland, and much more. 

    • 52 min
    EP50: Xi Jinping

    EP50: Xi Jinping

    Xi Jinping, the world's most powerful man, seemed like a good fit for the 50th episode of the podcast. Thank you to all of you who have stuck by the Hated and the Dead for its first half-century; there's plenty more to come. 

    Xi has been President of the People's Republic of China since 2012. In a few weeks time, he is set to embark on an unprecedented third term as China's leader, which will make him China's most powerful leader since Mao- if he isn't already. 

    It is Xi’s international profile, especially his relationship with the United States, that is the focus of the conversation you’re about to hear. There is an important story to be told about Xi’s misdemeanours inside China- Xinjiang, surveillance, party purges and Tibet all spring to mind- but these are issues for another episode. On the world stage, Xi’s time in power- he took over in 2012- has taken place against the backdrop of a China that has continued to grow in stature and importance. 

    At the same time, however, China’s relationship with the US has noticeably soured. The symbiotic US-China relationship of the 2000s has given way to a trade war, a tech war, and escalating military tensions between the world’s two most powerful countries. It’s entirely plausible that relations between the US and China are now so frosty, that Xi himself, always forthright in his intention to make the 21st century a Chinese one, doesn’t matter very much anymore, and that America and China are now on a collision course no matter their leaders- though the exact nature of that collision is still unclear. 

    My guest today is the American political scientist, Aaron Friedberg. Aaron is the Co-Director of the Center for International Security Studies at Princeton University, and recently released the book Getting China Wrong, which details missteps in US foreign policy towards China. He also worked as an advisor to former US Vice President Dick Cheney. 

    We discuss Xi’s rise through the Chinese Communist Party, the nature of his beliefs about power and ideology, the nature of the US and China’s falling out, to put it euphemistically, and whether perversely, that falling out might result in the two countries becoming, not more different, but more similar. 

    • 1 hr 9 min
    EP49: Jacinda Ardern

    EP49: Jacinda Ardern

    Jacinda Ardern has been prime minister of New Zealand since 2017. Ardern is a good example of how an affable, anodyne politician can pursue highly divisive and polarising policies. Ardern’s premiership has been defined by her response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst New Zealand’s initial response to the pandemic in 2020 was praised across the world, and saw Ardern win a landslide election victory, the two years hence have seen New Zealand slowly creep up the death rate table. 

    The Ardern government has also been scolded by voters for a slow vaccine roll out and images of expatriates being unable to come home to visit dying relatives. Partly as a result, Ardern is now the least popular she has ever been, and her party, the Labour party, is now odds on to lose the next election in a year’s time.  However, Ardern is still the recipient of uncritical levels of praise in the foreign media, and a healthy democracy is predicated upon us as citizens looking beyond favourable headlines, and judging politicians on results, not on our own biases. 

    I should say from the outset that I do not hate Ardern by any means, and this conversation is not designed to make you hate her, either; rather, it is supposed to be an objective look at a prime minister many New Zealanders have clearly fallen out of love with. 

    My guest today is David Farrar, who is a pollster and political commentator. David is the founder of Kiwiblog, one of the largest political blogs in New Zealand. We discuss Ardern’s rise in the Labour Party, her domestic agenda, of course, her response to Covid, and what the future holds for her struggling government. 

    • 57 min
    EP48: (The Rather Less Horrible) Tsai Ing-wen

    EP48: (The Rather Less Horrible) Tsai Ing-wen

    Tsai Ing-wen has been President of Taiwan since 2016. A member of the Democratic Progressive Party, Tsai is in effect the leader of liberal Taiwan, with her party broadly promoting the idea of Taiwanese identity. In doing so, she faces two opponents. Domestically, she faces the Kuomintang, or KMT, which seeks to reunify Taiwan with mainland China. Tsai also of course faces mainland China, known as the People’s Republic, which also seeks to reintegrate Taiwan into its authoritarian state. 

    This puts Tsai in a difficult position, as was recently seen when a visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi led to China conducting military exercises in the Taiwan Strait. Anyone interested in world politics in 2022 needs to know about events in Taiwan. 

    My guest for this conversation today is Brian Hioe, editor of New Bloom magazine, an online magazine covering activism and youth politics in Taiwan and the Asia Pacific that was founded after the pro-democracy Sunflower Movement. As well as Tsai’s career, we discuss the Taiwanese identity, the quality of democracy in Taiwan, and whether the KMT is acting as a trojan horse for Beijing. 

    • 44 min
    EP47: Alberto Fujimori (en castellano)

    EP47: Alberto Fujimori (en castellano)

    Alberto Fujimori fue presidente del Peru entre 1990 y 2000. Aunque casi todos los comentaristas políticos describen Fujimori como un president de la derecha, su campana de 1990 fue más ecléctico que ideológico. Sin embargo, no se puede negar que Fujimori adoptó una perspectiva derechista para solucionar los problemas económicas y sociales que sufrió Peru durante los años ochenta, y es esta perspectiva- el fujimorismo- que le ha dado a Fujimori su mala fama entre la izquierda peruana. 

    Mi invitado para esta conversación es el politólogo peruano José Alejandro Godoy. José acaba de escribir un libro sobre Fujimori, Los Herederos de Fujimori. Discutimos la importancia de la herencia japonesa de Fujimori, su presidencia, y la popularidad duradera del fujimorismo. 

    • 57 min
    EP46: Davíð Oddsson

    EP46: Davíð Oddsson

    Davíð Oddsson served as prime minister of Iceland between 1991 and 2004. However, Oddsson wasn't just prime minister; he also served as Mayor of Reykjavik, Governor of Iceland’s Central Bank, and as the editor of Iceland’s biggest newspaper. 

    Whilst he didn’t serve in these positions at the same time, there was a clear attempt by Oddsson, over a period of many decades, to get his friends and allies into positions of influence. He privatised the banks from parliament, his friends took control of them, and he then let the banks do whatever they wanted as Central Banker. The issue is that letting the banks do “whatever they wanted”, ended up nearly destroying Iceland’s economy; in 2008, Iceland was engulfed in one of the worst financial crises in the world. 

    My guest today is Icelandic investigative journalist Helgi Seljan. Helgi is an editor at independent media outlet Stundin, and uncovered revelations surrounding the Panama Papers in 2016. As well as Oddsson’s career, we discuss the importance of fish to Iceland, Icelandic politics’ ugly underbelly, and why Iceland has never joined the EU, and whether it should. 

    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
24 Ratings

24 Ratings

Mercurius_Scot ,

Very good introduction to political leadership

The complexities and machinations of global politicians past and present presented succinctly and intelligently by Mr Leeman and leading academics. A refreshing and very enjoyable podcast series. Recommended

leepin1966 ,

The Scottish Devolutionists

Tom (that’s a really good question) Leeman strikes again! A thoroughly good probing of a great guest certainly stimulates the mind. What is there to be gained or lost from Scottish independence? Is devolution a good enough position for Scots?
If you have a smidgen of interest in the future of the United Kingdom, I urge you to listen to this. Jack McConnell presents an even-handed approach to the arguments which are fascinating.
Keep it coming!

Macaroni face ,

Perfect for A level politics

My A level politics teacher , Mrs Anders, set the podcast on Neil Kinnock as a homework and it is fabulous. I highly reccomend this podcast to A level students.

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