While supermarkets in Scotland are filled with back to school merchandise, end-of-term giddiness arrived on the main, made in London, Sunday politics programmes.

Westminster enters recess this Thursday (returning September 4). It will be a busy political week before then, with Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, and three by-elections in England on Thursday. Holyrood packed up on July 1, and returns the same week as the Commons. BBC Scotland’s multi-platform The Sunday Show will revert to radio only until then.

With little more to say on the “super-Thursday” by-elections, other than they will be a key test for Rishi Sunak, the focus on the Sunday shows was on Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary, leaving parliament at the next election, and interviews with Labour leaders past (Tony Blair) and present.

There was also some housekeeping as Sophy Ridge said goodbye to Sunday mornings and hello to a new nightly show on Sky News. It had been a “wild ride”, said the presenter. The cheerio turned out to be fairly lively as well.

First, Tony Blair, who this week will appear at a conference with Keir Starmer on artificial intelligence and other subjects. Sir Tony, as is customary on these occasions, was in full, former premier, “above the fray” mode, keen to avoid any accusations of back seat driving.

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So he would not say Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves should follow Gordon Brown’a example pre-1997 and say a Labour Government would stick to Tory spending plans. But he did say the NHS had to cooperate more with the public sector and that rejoining the EU was a job for “the next generation”.

On the Huw Edwards story, he said the BBC should “stand up for itself a bit more”. How the corporation dealt with the matter is set to come up again on Tuesday when BBC director-general Tim Davie and other senior figures appear at a pre-arranged Lords Communications Committee session.

Ridge mentioned his continuing interventions in politics via the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, and wondered if he found it hard to “let go”.

He continued to be “fascinated by the world”, he insisted, and found it “shocking” how much he had learned since leaving office.

So much for Labour’s old boss, what of the new? On BBC1’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, the presenter’s intro to her interview with the Labour leader ran through some of the possible crises in his in-tray should he become Prime Minister. “Are you sure you want the job?” she asked.

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Questions about what he would spend money on as a government were batted away as so much speculation. Kuenssberg asked if he was relaxed about being called a “fiscal conservative”.

“I don’t mind what label people put on me. I do want to make my argument. My argument is this: What was absolutely plain from last year’s mini-budget is if you lose control of the economy it’s working people who pay.”

Speaking on Ridge on Sunday later, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union Mick Lynch said: “He (Sir Keir) won’t dare mention the word ‘socialism’.”

Sir Keir’s parting message was that the biggest danger at this point was complacency. After Labour’s disastrous showing in 2019, even a majority of one would require a bigger swing than Tony Blair achieved in 1997, he noted.

No leaving do in television could be complete without a “best of” reel and a burst of luvviness, and Sky News did the departing Ridge proud.

She took over the Sunday slot in 2016, the same year Theresa May became Prime Minister. The first encounter between the two was a memorable occasion, Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates recalled.

Ridge had asked Mrs May for her response to Donald Trump saying it was okay to “grab women by the p****”.

The new premier said Trump’s comments were “unacceptable”.

Mrs May handled the situation well, said Ridge, but her team were "really unhappy" at the use of “the P-word”.

As punishment, Downing Street barred ministers from appearing on Ridge on Sunday and all other Sky News shows. Ridge’s recall of the interview, apart from the furore after, was of having morning sickness throughout the encounter.

Sir Trevor Phillips, a regular stand-in for Ridge, will be taking over the slot in September. As a leaving present he had bought her a bottle of El Dorado 21-year-old rum (RRP £100 says Google). But as viewers learned from another Coates’ revelation, the bottle was half empty.



Ridge, a bottle half full kind of person, paid tribute to Phillips as one of journalism’s nice guys and signed off with a plug for her forthcoming programme. A pro to the end.