Jonathan Sheppard is editor of Tory Radio and is a former parliamentary candidate.
In 2005, following the General Election, I asked the then editor of ConservativeHome, Tim Montgomerie, why was no-one doing this new thing called podcasting in UK politics, and in particular interviewing interesting people.
I’m sure many of the readers of ConservativeHome won’t be able to remember a time before podcasting, but once upon a time, long ago, nothing was really being done in the UK. Tim rightly said, why didn’t I do something myself rather than wait for others, so the very short story was after buying every book available on ‘how to podcast’ and the purchase of some large clunky recording equipment, ‘Tory Radio’ was born.
Of its day we had some decent successes. We held regular interviews with the Party Chairman, most notably with Francis Maude. Members, could ‘Challenge the Chairman’ by submitting questions which were then put to him. National papers ran with the stories from our interviews, where interviewees were happily forthright with their views.
Some of you may well remember Maude’s comments on the A list, about not putting “mincing metrosexuals in gritty northern seats”. While the language was perhaps of its time, and wouldn’t be considered appropriate now, there is a glint in my eye remembering the comment about northern seats, and being around during a time when so many of them are represented by Conservative MPs today.
We were from the outset clear as to where our loyalties lay, and have always been an independent friend of the party, much like ConservativeHome. Fast forward to 2020, and following a hiatus, when the simple question for me was, if not now, then when?
New equipment is at the ready. New technology 15 years later means a simple app can both record a podcast if it isn’t possible to do one in person, and also disseminate what we do to most podcast platforms, something which was previously quite time consuming and often unreliable.
At a time when many news outlets, be it television or others, suggest they are wholly impartial, yet they become more and more distrusted by the public often by presenting views as news, Tory Radio has always been clear as to where its allegiance lies. We are on the whole supportive of the party and what it does, and want to be one of many channels within the Conservative family that gets the message out to people.
We’ve seen many tried and trusted formats that were previously known for educated political debate, such as BBC Question Time, change in a clamour for a soundbite with an aggressive questioning style that does nothing to inform or aid political discourse. That has never been, nor will it ever be our style. Our aim is exactly the same as it was the day we recorded our first podcast: interesting audio with interesting people from the world of politics.
Audio has always been a powerful medium and we want to be the home of great interviews, be it focussing on what ministers are delivering for Britain, to new policy initiatives coming out of what we hope will be a radical Government that reshapes Britain for the better.
To that end, we have already conducted our first two interviews. The first with Lord Zac Goldsmith focussing on his work on the environment, and the second interview with the Government Adviser on Anti Semitism, Lord John Mann, where he is hugely critical of the cult of Corbyn and how tolerance has been forced out of politics, along with how he thinks children’s playgrounds can help the Tories deliver for their new constituencies.
People can listen by subscribing on all the major podcasting platforms from iTunes to Spotify, and of course feel free to get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org