Episode 108 – Fear the wrath of mighty Gove with his incredible paper tearing abilities! Also Tiernan (@tiernandouieb) speaks to Fred Carver (@carverUNA) at the UNA-UK (@unauk) about Yemen. Plus Heathrow and as always, Brexit, blooming Brexit.
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Episode 108 – Fear the wrath of mighty Gove with his incredible paper tearing abilities! Also Tiernan (@tiernandouieb) speaks to Fred Carver (@carverUNA) at the UNA-UK (@unauk) about Yemen. Plus Heathrow and as always, Brexit, blooming Brexit.
Don’t forget to send Tiernan your ideas for a tagline for the podcast! Here are the last few, to give you an idea…
Links and sources of info from Fred’s interview:
All the usual ParPolBro stuff:
Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast, a podcast that asks all the questions about the past week’s politics that no other podcast dares ask, but mainly because they don’t make sense and are usually irrelevant. This is episode 108, I’m Tiernan Douieb and this week as Prime Minister and carbonite frozen hieroglyphic model Theresa May appeals for 1000 policy ideas ready for the next election, I’m happy to say I have loads for her so she needn’t worry. How’s about a policy to stop pretty much all your other policies? How about a policy where Health Secretary and sentient silly string Jeremy Hunt is only allowed to speak if it’s after he’s inhaled helium, so we take his ideas as seriously as they deserve? How about a policy where every time a member of the Conservative party uses a crap adjective to distract from a complete lack of ideas on Brexit, someone hits them in the face with a big fish? How about monkey tennis?
While this seems like an obvious sign that May has run out of her own ideas, and all Ed Miliband’s old ones, we couldn’t be further from the truth as the PM is so full of snappy new concepts and whatever else, that Downing Street has a brand new third model for handling customs post Brexit. Yes woohoo! No longer are we bound to the customs partnership, a plan rejected by the EU and one that made Environmental Secretary and acid damaged Pez dispenser Michael Gove so livid that he physically ripped it up, though it was later clarified that it was only a single page. PHWOAR! No one messes with Gove, unless they have more than two sheets of paper. Michael Gove, a man that exudes power, except in a mild breeze when it looks like he might fall over, or if a butterfly flaps it’s wings on the other side of the planet and Govey gets seasick as a result. I’ve never been keen on the idea of Michael Gove as Prime Minister, but I’m now starting to wonder if he was, would it mean amazing Putinesque imagery of him bare chestly riding a Shetland pony and feeling travel sick? Or tentatively trying to go fishing in a hook a duck fair stall? If so I very much hope he’s top choice.
So, the third option is not a customs partnership, nor a max fac but something else that we’ll find out later in the week and that the EU have already said is unrealistic. Well hey you could say that about Game Of Thrones, and look how well that’s done. EU officials said they read the white paper and they read cake, as in having it and eating it. Which I have to say, sounds positive to me, but only because having the word cake on there is better than I expected which was that it was a Brexit white paper because it was completely blank. An agreement has to be reached by October and with summer recess in the way, that really means MPs have Friday at Chequers – a place not a special elitist game where all game pieces are pawns – to decide which of now 3 options they should choose for the EU to reject. I really feel like the government should release a time management app that tells you to piss about for ages then as the deadline approaches just panics and tells you to put any old shit together and hope no one notices. Lovechild of slenderman and the penguin Jacob Rees Mogg has threated Theresa May that she must back a hard Brexit or face coup. I don’t know what a face coup is, but I reckon it’s easier for her to back that as her face often looks like someone else is in control of it. I’m really not sure what a rebellion lead by Jacob Rees Mogg would look like, but I’m assuming it’s a lot of men in jackets and trilbies, smoking pipes while saying harrumph a lot until someone does something. Meanwhile spokesperson for Labour leader and grumpy terrier Jeremy Corbyn said that “it’s not Brexit as an abstract itself that is putting jobs at risk but the Government’s shambolic approach to Brexit”. Right, so Brexit is an abstract in itself. That may explain why Corbyn’s way of dealing with it is to distance himself from it and hope if he stares at it long enough, a plan might appear.
A bunch of key Brexit documents were left on a Eurostar train which I suspect is a publicity stunt to make us think there are actually key Brexit documents and not just a lot of nob doodlings with a lot of swear words written out again and again. A retired teacher found them and alerted the Brexit Department which again, rings alarm bells and most teachers I know would’ve at least gone through and marked the spelling first and the idea that you can get through to anyone at the department of Brexit seems incredulous when it’s quite obvious they only have a phone line so they’ve got something to hang their dartboard off of. They’re far too busy looking through EU policy so they can claim it was their own, like yesterday when the Conservative Party Press Office tweeted that they are introducing new rules to protect holidaymakers and customers money, when what they actually meant to do was to praise the EU Package Directive which is what they’re talking about but they don’t want you know that or you’ll see more of what we’re likely to be missing in a year or so’s times. It’s far more likely post Brexit that the government’s way of protect package holiday makers is to mess up the negotiations so hard to the point where UK citizens won’t be able to leave the country anymore.
Reports published by the Intelligence and security committee last week have shown that the UK was involved in torture and rendition, and no I don’t mean this endless, tedious, painful performance around Brexit, but actually before that in the years following 9/11. It seems MI5 and MI6 didn’t carry out any physical torture of detainees but were involved in hundreds of cases where suspects were mistreated by US operatives. Former foreign secretary under Tony Blair and man who always looks like a small horse trying to go undetected as a human Jack Straw, is going to face questions on just how much he knew, which is funny because in 2005 he said there was no truth in claims the UK has been involved in rendition. Proving either he wasn’t deemed intelligent enough to know about it, or he’s been bare faced lying for years. Still if he refuses to answer any questions, the committee can have fun finding ways getting him to talk.
UKIP leader and puppet made entirely from testicular skin Gerard Batten has invited alt right social media activists to join the dying embers of their party, in the hope that it’ll boost support amongst young people. Yes, because nothing says UKIP like hoping garbage trolls will help put out your trash fire. These social media activists include Mark Meechan aka Count Dankula, a man most well known for being fined £800 for posting videos of his pug doing a Nazi salute like a weird audition for the cruftwaffe. He said it was just a joke, but you know, obviously one that wasn’t funny and was just anti-Semitic and racist. An alt-joke perhaps. UKIP may as well have hired the Twitter fail whale, a sex bot account and that fucking word paperclip for a similar level of intelligent discourse.
If that wasn’t weird enough political news, actor and Pixar emotion for ‘avin it, Danny Dyer, was praised for his appearance on ITV show Good Evening Britain for calling former Prime Minister and withered sausage David Cameron a ‘twat,’ after saying that he should be held account for Brexit. Yes, held account. Which if you knew anything about David Cameron, you’d know he only holds accounts offshore.
And lastly, it’s been revealed that British defense experts spent 50 years trying to catch a UFO, believing that they could use it to make superweapons, something they assumed China and Russia were already doing. So that means from 1947 to 1997, government powers were being used to chase aliens that didn’t exist, then from 2001-2007 they were used to chase WMDs that didn’t exist and now from 2016 onwards it’s all resources are being used to chase rainbows. Well except for the DUP as they don’t like that sort of thing.
How do? Melting? Are you slightly melting? And yes I’m aware that for anyone listening to this in almost any other part of the world that the heatwave the UK is currently experiencing is not that hot, but what you have to realise is that 30 degrees Celsius here, or 86 Fahrenheit for those of you that do that, is the sort of 30 degrees that doesn’t just waft about making the air pleasant, but swoops in and sticks to your body like an aggressive shower curtain, meaning that all public transport becomes a sort of portable sauna, full of people you’ve never wanted to be that intimate with, all sweating away. By the end of a short walk it feels like you’ve purposefully poured liquid gelatin inside your clothes. What I’m saying is, I’m not surviving very well. I have a fan on full blast but he’s getting pretty tired and he keeps saying he doesn’t like my work that much. But yes, this week’s show was hard work and by hard work I mean I didn’t want to be sitting in my little hot room writing away, I wanted to be eating ice creams and having a snooze while my daughter tried to eat something she found on the floor. But here we are, I did it just for you listeners! Just for you! And that’s the sort of motivation I need, is knowing that you’re all out there, finding your headphones uncomfortable as they essentially just help build sweat inside your ears, and that’s the sort of thing that gets me through. What am I talking about? No idea. It is the heat I tell you, the heat.
Thank you to Andrew, Ruaraidh and Steve for doing a monthly donation at the hugely unrewarding Patreon this week. If you’d like to donate regularly, even just so I can buy two fans and then procrastinate more by floating little bits of paper inbetween them both, then you too can go to the hugely unrewarding Patreon at www.patreon.com/parpolbro. And if enough of you join up, I may start adding something on there. I don’t know what, but I’ll let that possibility hover there like an old train ticket between two fans. Thank you also to Annie and Oona who both donated to the ko-fi account which you can do if you don’t want to do a monthly thing, and that’s at www.ko-fi.com/parpolbro and links to both of those are on the website at partlypoliticalbroadcast.co.uk too. I was trying to think of a good way to say you could donate whatever you think this show is worth per episode, but then I realized that could get disheartening if you just send me incremental payments of 1p or insist on posting me dead things you’ve found in the road. So up to you. Of course if you can’t donate or just don’t want to because you think I smell and today, you’d be right, then please do review the show like Rebecca did, thank you Rebecca, on Castbox! YEAH! A NEW ONE! WHAT IS A CASTBOX? WHAT IS INSIDE? OPEN IT OPEN IT OPEN THE CASTBOX! Oh, a podcast and not the entire cast of Degrassi High. What a disappointment. Sorry, it’s the heat. So you can review on Castbox now as well as the iTunes and the Stitchers and the podbeans and I know every week I ask you to do this and every week you probably think ‘oh I’ll skip this super dull bit’ but the way, say, iTunes works, is that if there is a high influx of reviews, they think ‘ooh that’s obviously a popular show we’ll put it on our front page’ then you get loads more listens and then you can become some sort of pod legend who can afford air conditioning and get your own castbox and everything. So please do that.
Only other things this is week is that no one, no one at all, sent any ideas for a tagline for the podcast. Much like May, I would love to appeal for 1000 new taglines, but even if it’s just an old one you really like, then please let me know. You know the tagline right? The bit where I say ‘welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast, a podcast that’ and then it’s that bit. Any ideas for how best to sum this show up in a line, please send it over. Also it was made aware to me by a listener recently that all the subjects on this show are pretty bleak at the moment. ParPolBro had the same issue last year. And well, every episode. That is partly because I find it best to poke fun at the worst stuff, but also because well, things are bleak. Not outside they aren’t, or I’d have been able to write properly today. But in general. So do you need more optimism in this show? If so, let me know and maybe if you can just tweet or facebook stories or suggestions to me I’ll happily add in a ‘happy time’ section. Or not. Similarly, there’s not been much fun poking at Labour, Lib Dems, or any of them other parties in the last few eps and that’s because, er, there’s not as much to say about them while the Conservatives are in power and dicking on everything. But I want to let any newer listeners know that I am happy to do jokes about everyone it’s just that they’re not really doing very much right now. So you know, if you’re involved in those parties, maybe drop them a line to do something, somehow, more catastrophic than Brexit. Thanks.
On this week’s show I am talking to Fred Carver at the United Nations Association UK all about the cheery upbeat subject of Yemen, see what I mean about the happy time stuff? And of course, Brexit, endless, endless Brexit. I’d love to talk about something else but even all the NHS stories this week are about, you guessed it, Brexit. You know most other countries couldn’t give a shit about it. I mean at the EU summit, it was barely discussed. But here we are in the UK, the world’s crappiest heatwave and Brexit looming over everything like er, a giant weaver, with er, really big looms. It’s the heat. It’s definitely the heat today. Oh and there’s some stuff on Heathrow too, but due to delays, let’s start with bloody fucking Brexit:
Ok so I was slightly dishonest when I said this was a Brexit fallout, as actually, there’s not that much Brexit news outside of the standard. You know, hardline Brexiteers saying we need to leave so hard someone breaks an ankle or they’ll oust May, Theresa May saying she’s not going anywhere but forgetting to add ‘fast’ at the end of that, Michael Gove ripping up a single page and probably putting his arm out and having to sit down for a while, Boris Johnson backing Jacob Rees Mogg because cartoon characters have to stick together otherwise Toontown would be in danger, Jeremy Corbyn saying he doesn’t want a hard Brexit but then laying out that the Brexit he wants is all the things you’d have in a hard Brexit, Labour supporters saying they don’t want Labour to support Brexit or they won’t support Labour, non-Labour supporters saying they want Brexit or they won’t support Labour, neither of those groups being enough to help Labour win in a future election, and the EU saying ‘hang on, all of this is balls, we don’t like any of your ideas, you really don’t have much time, why are you being such mega bellends about it?’ That’s it really. Six weeks till the government unveil their Brexit white paper, and hopefully Michael Gove won’t leap in and try and rip it apart as a show of strength. Only 3 months till a final deal is sorted out with the EU in October. And with all that in mind the government are meeting on Friday to finally work things out between themselves because they haven’t even done that. This isn’t last minute swatting up, this is fully preparing to fail and considering not even turning up to the exam so you can get drunk on vodka in the park instead while snogging that kid who’s breath smells of sardines. Today, BBC politics reporter Laura Kuensberg tweeted, and I’m going to just read this verbatim as I can’t write stuff this good, Hear that David Davis went in to see the PM this morning after not knowing about Number 10’s ‘new plan’, but left the meeting still not having discussed the ‘new plan’. Incredible. So yes, that’s where we are. And what is the new plan? No idea. But EU officials who’ve already seen drafts of it have said it’s unrealistic and all cherry picking and cake eating and all those terms that put a really bad name to genuinely fun scoffing activities. I really hope after Brexit we remove the Gr from Great Britain to reflect that. Some sources reckon May will abandon all plans and ask for an extra years transition so we can remain in EU limbo, and it’s either that sort of in, out, in, out, classic British hokey cokey deal or a no-deal and don’t forget that no deal is better than a bad deal except it isn’t, even when May has made the bad deal.
So that’s that, but last week was also the EU summit, an event that sounds like it’s someone from Yorkshire forgetting something about the EU, but actually is a pretty big meeting of the European council with all the reps up in the hizzouse. The main discussion was the migration crisis, because Italy’s new government have demanded action partly because their country is often the first port of call for refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants from Africa and the middle and their struggling economy is being hit hard by such a large increase in population and partly because their new batshit populist coalition government are hella racist and really scary. The talks went on for ages due to the views of leader such as Germany’s Angela Merkal who are sympathetic to people escaping a war zone and the far-right Victor Orban in Hungary who are very happy to let people drown because he clearly can’t be bothered to go to the museums in his own country’s capital. A deal was eventually made for controlled migrant processing centres within Europe that would distinguish between those seeking asylum and irregular migrants who would then be sent back. I’m not entirely sure what an irregular migrant is. Someone who’s crossed a border and looks like a Picasso painting? Someone who lets very similarly patterned numbers of people arrive before and after they do? This is the problem, the migration crisis, or as the International Organisation for Migration and UN Refugee Council have rightly called it, a humanitarian crisis, looks like it could be the catalyst that starts to destroy the EU, if the countries that are taking in most people have to deal with it by themselves, and, in the case of Italy and Greece, with fragile economies. The Dublin Regulation requires asylum seekers to be registered in the first country they arrive in, and with Syria, Yemen and other wars, that means those countries closest to North Africa and the Middle East are taking in way more than wealthier West European countries.
But the plan the EU have agreed on is so vague, I’m not sure how it will help. There’s no blueprint on how these processing centres will work. There’s an assumption that there will be migration centres outside Europe in Northern Africa but none of the countries that they’d be in have agreed to that yet. Libya is one country that would likely be involved, but at the moment Libyan deportation centres are full of abuse with lots of migrants being sold at slave auctions. But who am I to criticise agreements made on vague plans for global crisis. Here in the UK we have a government who can’t even agree on a vague plan for a national crisis and while the rest of the world tries to find a solution to masses of displaced people fleeing horrific situations, Theresa May and her cabinet will be in a fancy country house watching Michael Gove do dumbbell lifts with matches. Great Britain there. Great Britain.
Yemen. The way everyone in my 6th form used to respond to everything. But also, and far more importantly, a country in the middle east that is currently experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis of 2018. Considering just how many contenders it has up against this year, that’s a pretty depressing title to hold. Three quarters of the population, approximately 22 million people are in need of aid and security, with nearly half of Yemeni children aged under 5 chronically malnourished. So, I hear you cry, and yes crying is an appropriate response, why isn’t this all over the news? Where’s Bob Geldof and a bunch of musicians only dads like to patronize them about Christmas? Why aren’t Parliament doing their usual arguing about if they can fix this by just bombing everyone? Well Yemen is often referred to as the Forgotten War, because, well, people seem to have done, maybe because Saudi Arabia is involved, the country that is the Johnny Depp of the political world, favourable with those in charge despite us all very aware of what they’re up to. The UK are the lead country for Yemen on the UN Security Council yet what we mostly seem to be doing is selling weapons to Saudi Arabia to use in the war, then supplying aid to Yemen afterwards in an effort that should be known in history books as Operation Moot.
This week I tried to not let this podcast be one of the outlets that forgets Yemen and so I spoke to Fred Carver at the United Nations Association UK, the leading independent policy authority on the UN in the UK. The UNA-UK work with the All Parliamentary Group on the UN in helping them support the aims and ideals of the UN, which right now, means a much bigger focus on Yemen than they have been giving. I asked Fred all about why this war is continuing, why the UK aren’t doing enough, and also a few questions on other campaigns the UNA-UK are working on. This chat happened just before the current pause in fighting, and I should say, that’s a pause, not a ceasefire, that may provide a tiny bit of hope towards UN intervention. I found this chat with Fred hugely useful and interesting and while it is, yet again, another interview that at times is mostly bleak, there are some things you, the listener can get involved in at the end that may make inspire you. Here is Fred:
INTERVIEW PART 1
Tiernan Douieb: So, I want to ask about the Yemeni civil war. I don’t know a lot about it and I understand it’s not really a civil war and a lot of outside factions are involved. Can you give me some background on how it started, who it’s involved and why it’s continuing?
Fred Carver: I mean, it’s actually a very long story, like many of the places in the region, there’s obviously a link to Britain and the British Empire, my dad actually fought Yemen in the 1970s. I think just skipping ahead because there is so much and we could literally talk for the entire podcast about the history of it. What we have now is a kind of very complicated situation where we have multiple different factions of people who have a different idea of what sort of state of Yemen could be, then those different factions also have external backers. So, the Saudi lead coalition is the backer of President Hadi, then there’s the main rebel group, the Houthis rebel group, but then there are lots of other rebel groups as well, and there are allegations that the Houthis rebel group are backed by Iran. This obviously feeds into the sort of wider situation we have in the Middle East at the moment where Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in sort of proxy wars and proxy pseudo wars across the region.
TD: Right, okay. So, at the moment, as you said, it sort of feeds into the wider issue of Saudi Arabia and Iran being a problem. Surely that’s all exacerbated by other current global issues to do with that area too?
FC: Yes. I mean, this is one of the issues that we have, particularly when we talk about Yemen, it’s very hard to get attention for the situation in Yemen because there’s so much going on in the region, in particular the war in Syria, which takes up so much of the bandwidth for global discussions. It seems there’s only a certain amount of capacity people have to discuss conflicts and humanitarian crises in the region, and Syria seems to take up all of that, or a lot of it.
TD: Is that why it’s been called the forgotten war? I think it was Amnesty that called it that, wasn’t it? It’s something that I feel I don’t know anything about because I really don’t see it being reported on very often.
FC: Yes, I think that’s right and I think there’s a number of reasons for that. I think it’s in part, as I say, because of the war in Syrian next door, and I think there are 2 reasons for the war in Syria kind of taking up more of the radio waves and the time in the news and online. One is that the war in Yemen is not, kind of, in the same way, it goes bang in the same way that the war in Syria does, so the war in Yemen and most of the deaths, the vast majority, it’s a sort of 50:1 ratio, are caused by starvation, famine, disease or the consequences of the breakdown of the state. Then there are a large number of people, at least 10,000, that’s a very conservative estimate of the official figures, who’ve been killed as a direct consequence of violence, but most people have died of disease and starvation. Whereas you take Syria, and Syria’s quite an extraordinary war where there’s just so much of the death, almost all of it in fact is a direct consequence of military action, and that’s the kind of thing which likes to lead news headlines. So, the war in Yemen which, in a way, is more tragic and has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, it’s not as, to use the horrible phrase, ‘exciting’ in news terms. The other thing, and I think this is really, really interesting, is here in Britain we don’t like to talk about the war in Yemen because we’re baddies and I do mean that. Most of the deaths that have been caused in Yemen are a consequence of the actions of the Saudi lead coalition, this is the words of the United Nations’ report onto the issue. The Saudi lead coalition, which the UK has various occasions announced it’s proud to consider itself an ally of, and it’s a coalition which the UK supplies both with arms sales but also with quite significant amounts of diplomatic support. So, it’s kind of Russia being the bad guys in Syria is kind of an easy story whereas Yemen’s a less easy story because you sort of think, ‘Well why is this war still going on? Why is it not resolving?’ The answer is because of external support and some of the external support, indirectly but nevertheless very seriously, comes from the UK.
TD: Sure, and that then raises a whole load of things about why we’re probably not pushing for much on the UN Security Council. If the UK actually backed a ceasefire, that would make quite a large difference, would it?
FC: So the UK does back a ceasefire but it just hasn’t been particularly effective in pushing for a ceasefire. The way the UN Security Council works is there’s, for every issue, there’s what’s known as a penholder, which is an informal system that informally it means that, on Yemen, the UK is meant to push for resolutions, it’s meant to write the first draft of resolution. They really haven’t tried very hard to get resolutions through the Security Council regarding the war in Yemen, and the one time when they did push strongly for a resolution, the resolution was worded in such a way that almost guaranteed it wouldn’t be successful. So, it was highly critical of Iran and not at all critical of Saudi Arabia. Now, first of all, that’s somewhat disproportionate because that report I mentioned earlier said most of the casualties in the war is a consequence of the actions of the Saudi lead coalition whereas what support Iran offers to the rebels is much more a question that’s under dispute, the scale of that support. Secondly, if you’re naming Iran, which is an ally of Russia, in that way, there is absolutely no way it’s getting through the Security Council and the UK knows this, and the UK, in a sense, pushed a resolution there was no chance of getting through. So, what’s really, really needed is a neutral terms resolution that doesn’t point fingers and just simply says to all sides, ‘The main thing now, we can sort the politics later, the main thing now is to get the bombs to stop falling.’ This phrase ‘peace talks without preconditions’ that you might have heard used, that’s what’s really required, it’s for all the sides to sit down without preconditions and just sort of hash out first of all a truce and then what a peace process could look that. That just unfortunately that’s not the sort of language you’ve seen coming out of the UK, that’s the sort of language you’ve seen coming out of countries like Sweden and the Netherlands who are currently on the UN Security Council, they’re one of the rotating members, and they have been much more constructive. The UK has been half-hearted, frankly, and where it has pushed, it hasn’t gone for this language which has a hope of success, it hasn’t talked about peace without preconditions and it has tended to point fingers, particularly pointing fingers in a partial way.
TD: Without meaning to sound too cynical but in the last questions I’ve just asked you, you’ve said that UK sell Saudi Arabia quite a lot of arms and deal with them quite a lot and now they’re not quite pushing for the full resolution in the right way, those things must obviously be linked?
FC: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a number of things. I think the UK see Saudi Arabia as a key diplomatic and strategic ally in the region, it has this wide ranging plan for economic engagement with Saudi Arabia, which it sees as making an enormous amount of money for both the UK and Saudi Arabia, and arms is an enormous part of that. And not just Saudi Arabia actually, I think there are so many regions to get very upset about arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but actually when we’re talking about Yemen, the parties to the conflict, several of them are funded by, well, not funded, but several of them are using arms that were sold to them by the UK. The United Arab Emirates is also part of that coalition, it’s currently the United Arab Emirates that’s leading the kind of charge on this port city of Hudaida. Yes, it’s not just Saudi Arabia but it’s a number of countries who are some of the main clients of the UK arms industry.
TD: Am I right in thinking that the UK also supply quite a lot of aid to Yemen, which feels-,
FC: They do.
TD: Doesn’t that feel counterintuitive if they’re not pushing the resolution but they’re supplying a lot of aid? It feels like they could push the resolution and therefore in the end give less aid because it would be more helpful. It feels counterintuitive to me to be doing those things.
FC: Absolutely. I think prevention is always so much cheaper than cure. If you ask the Yemenis, they’d rather not have the bombs or the aid than have both the bombs and the aid. Certainly the UK at the moment is very much engaged in a strategy where they sell the weapons and then also provide the sort of kit to clean up afterwards. Yeah, absolutely, I think that there’s enormous immediate humanitarian need in Yemen, there is a humanitarian crisis, there’s a funding requirement to Yemen that’s only half met, but that funding requirement would be so much lower if the war was less intense or if there was a truce or ideally lasting peace. Those things aren’t going to be made possible while you have the Saudi lead coalition going hammer and tongs for a military solution to the conflict, which to go back to the very first question you asked me, this is a very complicated civil war, it doesn’t have a military solution, there isn’t such a thing as this ending happily with the Saudi lead coalition winning. Yemen has so many different armed groups with so many different agendas, that’s not what winning looks like, winning looks like some sort of a negotiated process towards a lasting settlement for Yemen. So this doesn’t even work on the very blunt logic that the Saudi lead coalition employs.
TD: What is the aid that’s currently needed in Yemen? You said a large percentage of people that are dying are due to famine, so I’m guessing it’s a lot of food that needs to be supplied. I know there’s been blockades and issues in getting aid there, what are those?
FC: Yes, it’s food and clean drinking water, the other big problem in Yemen is cholera, which is caused by just a failure to have reliable supplies of clean drinking water. So there’s not being enough aid and there’s the aid not getting in. There not being enough aid is about the fact that there’s an estimate that we need for the next year about $3 billion worth of aid and countries have only pledged $1.6 billion. It not getting there is largely about the fact that one of the most damaging things the Saudi lead coalition is doing is it’s blockading certain areas. The Saudi lead coalition has now adopted the humanitarian plan, and the idea was that this humanitarian plan was supposed to be an end to the blockade, that’s not really the case. What it is, it’s a sort of partial application of blockades in certain areas, which means that the groups that they’re not supporting, the groups they don’t want to win are effectively being blockaded from having any meaningful access to aid. There’s also now this, I mean it’s been a big problem for years and years and years but so much of the aid that was to go to the rebel areas to the north of Yemen where most of the need is, that had to go through this one port of Hudaida. I’m so sorry by the way for any Yemenis listening if I’m mispronouncing these. They all had to go through this one port and there were problems there with the port being blockaded, there were problems there with the size of the port not being big enough to accept the constant aid that needs to go through it, and there were problems with the cranes that were needed to unload the ships being impounded so they weren’t able to be set up to disembark the aid. Now you’ve got an even bigger problem, which is the Saudi lead coalition, in this sense, actually it’s the United Arab Emirates lead part of the coalition, is attacking the port itself. It’s driving towards the centre of town, it’s already captured the airport in the south of the town and it’s turning the port, which isn’t just a port, it’s a city with a population with over half a million people, into a warzone itself. The only way for aid to get in is now itself caught up in the conflict.
TD: Wow, that’s really depressing.
FC: It’s worrying.
TD: Obviously the idea solution to this would be a truce or a ceasefire, as you mentioned before, but what, realistically, needs to happen next? What’s the next step towards that and what’s the best way for people to raise awareness and campaign for more UK intervention? Where do we go from here because it sounds really bleak at the moment?
FC: It is. I think that the good news is that actually the UK, there are many situations, and working with the charity that works with the United Nations, we’re so often confronted with a kind of helplessness and the just sort of sense of, you know, ‘What can we do? This is too big and it’s too difficult? Can it really be stopped?’ Actually, what’s really frustrating about the situation in Yemen but is good news is that this is something that the UK really has quite a lot of power to do something about. In particular the relationship between the United Kingdom and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it’s a very much a two-way, well, it could be very much a two-way street, the UK could absolutely play hardball with the Saudis and they’re just not. For political reasons at the moment, it’s currently a one-way street. So, that’s what needs to change, I would suggest, and if you visit our website, and I think you’re going to be so kind as to circulate the links, you’ll see we’ve set up a campaign page to enable people to do this. Harass your MPs, write to them, even better go and see them in person, and talk about the fact that this is a UK problem, this is about Britain’s role in the conflict and Britain’s leadership and lack of it. I think a real change in Britain’s posture could have a huge knock-on effect. In terms of what needs to happen, the Secretary General of the United Nations has appointed a special envoy, the special envoy is working round the clock to try and get a truce and to try and get a meaningful peace process. The problem he faces is that currently the Saudi lead coalition thinks this war is winnable, and as long as they think this war is winnable, they’re not interested in peace because they think, ‘One more big heave and this is done.’ That just isn’t the case, that’s just a really terrible reading of the situation, and even if it were true, it would come at such a terrible humanitarian cost, particularly in terms of deaths in this port city. So, I think the message needs to come from Britain and needs to come far more strongly than it has done thus far. This war is not winnable and the UK should not be a supporter, be it diplomatic or as a trading partner, of the Saudi lead coalition.
END OF INTERVIEW PART 1
And we’ll be back with Fred in a minute but first…
Last week Parliament overwhelmingly voted to expand Heathrow airport. You’re probably thinking, cool, just add a few e’s and o’s and it becomes Heeeeaaaaathrrroooooww, job done. But actually, the vote was to go ahead with plans for an extra runway for the West London airport, much to the disappointment of local residents who, well, like living in their homes and don’t want to be turfed out so their abodes can be flattened and made into parking places for planes. Thing is, this isn’t the first vote for this, as it was originally brought to parliament in 2007 by the then Labour government, and was opposed by Conservatives, the Lib Dems, the then Mayor of London now Foreign Secretary and beef scarecrow Boris Johnson and lots of environmental and local pressure groups. Then, after concerns about air pollution, noise pollution, destruction of homes, some activists from Plane Stupid climbing the houses of parliament and then one throwing green custard over the then business secretary because that was back when protests were fun, activists won a high court battle in March 2010 when Lord Justice Carnworth ruled that the government would have to look at it again, with a review of all the relevant policy issues, including the impact of climate change policy’. So, it was cancelled later that year by the coalition government in one of the few good things they did. It’s likely Nick Clegg swapped that for I dunno, his first born or something. For 5 years it lurked, completely unlike a plane, and then in 2015 the Airport Commission said it was the best option for expansion even though there are loads of regional airports in desperate need of it, especially Manchester Airport which has 4 million passengers a year that have to fly from there to London airports to get a connecting long haul flight. So a new plan and a new vote in 2018 and the Commons voted by a majority of 296 to increase the amount of flights to 250,000 and an extra 52 million passengers, assuming the Open Skies plan is sorted after Brexit, otherwise we’ll just have a whacking great big new skate park. So why did it go through this time? Well this time, it’s a new shiny plan and the Transport Secretary and Caliban from the X-Men Chris Grayling has said the airport will be expanded within the law, and within our legally binding climate change targets and the Paris accord. And we can all trust Chris Grayling right? I mean, look at what he’s done for trains and prisons and benefits and oh. Oh Chris.
And here’s the thing. The government themselves contradicted their own policy statement by releasing a report commissioned by the Department of Transport and conducted by independent experts. And they say, you’ll never guess what, they say that there is a high risk that the third runway won’t be compliant with air quality values. Now the airport can’t actually go ahead unless it can be done within these current air quality laws, so it has be within EU limits of toxic pollutant nitrogen dioxide, which apparently we’re already in breach of and have been for years. Yeah take that EU! We’re sick of your attempts to make us breathe nice air! Fuck you guys, we’re in charge of our own emphysema! Take back control!
Similarly, the government’s independent climate advisers have said that carbon emissions from the aviation industry mustn’t rise as targets are to cut emissions 80% by 2050. The government’s own figures say a new runway would increase CO2 output by 4.9 million tonnes by 2030. Now I can see you’re thinking, but there’s a current C02 shortage, meaning there’s not enough beer. Can’t we hire some zero hours, I dunno, Deliveroo drivers, to whizz around behind planes collecting it all in jars so we can fly more and get drunk? I see what you’re doing, but no. That’s not how science works. The government’s figures suggest that they’d reach this because emissions would fall from other airports as Heathrow took up more journeys, but to reduce by 80% with an extra 250000 flights you’ll have to get rid of all cars and probably cork up a few thousand cow bums just to be sure, at the very least. Campaign group Fellow Travellers has said that to hit the targets, domestic flights will have to stop pretty much entirely, which is super shitty news for Mancunians wanting long haul flights. The Department of Transport have actually gone back on their pledge to reduce road traffic, where they originally said half of all airport users would get public transport. Now they’ve said that’s no longer a requirement of the plan due to ‘unintended consequences’ which is a nicer way of saying ‘Do you actually see us improving public transport anytime soon with this utter fuckwit Chris Grayling in charge? You’ll be more likely to see people arriving on replacement donkey.’
Outside of whether you want you like breathing or not, the cost of upgrading transport links for the expansion will be £5bn according to the airport commission. According to Transport for London, it’ll be £18bn. Heathrow say they’ll pay £1bn of that, so where’s the rest coming from? Plus the 783 homes that need to be demolished, compensated and rehoused. So where’s the rest of all that money coming from? What’s that you’re waving at me? A Brexit dividend gift voucher? Oh phew! Don’t worry guys! We’ll be fine! Without EU laws we won’t have to worry about the air pollution either. Nailing it!
So who knows if this will actually go through at all in the end. A judicial review has been launched by the Mayor Of London Sadiq Khan, Greenpeace and the boroughs of Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and Hammersmith and Fulham. So once again it could get blocked in court and end up never taking off, get it? Get it? Never taking off. Arf. But if it does the plus side for local residents is that recent scientific studies show that smarter engines and better flight paths have cut noise pollution from airplanes by up to seven decibels. So as you stand in your smog filled garden waving at the sky that you can’t see, at least you’ll be able to hear each other coughing. Every cloud eh? Every cloud.
And now back to Fred…
INTERVIEW PART 2
TD: I just want to ask you some other questions that aren’t Yemen related. Obviously the US has just pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council, obviously there are a lot of issues going on in the US now with their recent criminalisation of asylum seekers amongst others, is this, along with other global signs, is this a further step towards a regression in global human rights? Is this something that you’re quite worried about at the UNA-UK?
FC: Yes, it really is. I mean, I think, you know, that the scale of the risk is really quite extraordinary. I’d add a few other things to that list. I mean, at the moment there’s a really worrying discussion around UN peacekeeping in New York where America is asking for cuts and Russia and China are saying, ‘Brilliant, let’s cut human rights then.’ Then you’ve got the situation in the EU with the migration and refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, we’re effectively allowing people to drown. You’ve got Hungary and Italy effectively pushing for the EU to renege on its commitments to not preventing people from drowning at sea. I think it’s really, really worrying, I think it’s linked to what’s being called the rise in global populism, I think there are problems there. The problem is that people see human rights at the moment as getting in their way, that’s a phrase that was used in a recent election campaign, and they don’t understand that actually what human rights are is a protection for the weak against the strong. So there’s this real fence and these kind of populist strongmen around the world have been championing this, that human rights are something that’s imposed on countries by a global elite. Actually, what we need to get people to understand is that human rights is actually a tool for the people to protect themselves from their governments. So, human rights should be a populist thing, human rights should be about giving the people the strength to stand up to their oppressors but it’s somehow been twisted 180 degrees and made into this idea that human rights is the bogeyman when actually human rights is what keeps the bogeyman at bay.
TD: It’s always baffled me that in the name alone, human rights, surely that’s the best advertisement for what it is, we’re all humans, we all want our rights, it seems strange to me that that can be twisted into something that people don’t want anymore.
FC: Yes. I think, you know, what I’d like to do is, what’s the (? 02.29) for people to understand, that when someone very powerful is telling you that something is bad and dangerous and not in your best interests, maybe what they mean is it’s not in their best interests. I think you’re absolutely right, who is against the application of the word ‘rights’ to the word ‘human’? I mean, as you say, it seems so self-evident.
TD: There are a number of reasons why this seems to be happening. You pointed out the refugee crisis as being something that’s definitely given rise to populism in the EU but I was also speaking to someone recently about China and China’s abuse of human rights, and they were saying about China becoming such a global power means that people aren’t challenging Tibet and things anymore because they fear that they’d lose trade with them. What do you feel is the biggest issue here or what’s doing the most damage to human rights?
FC: I think I’d actually put it closer to home than that, I think it really comes from the west, if you want to use that term, and it’s about the absolution of responsibility here. It’s also about the sort of twisting of the rights agenda here. There are dangers but also opportunities with the way that the world is changing. As you say, China is rising as a power, the traditional global powers are all, I’d say all, waning in importance, and what that’s going to lead to, gazing into a crystal ball, sometimes you get it wrong, but it does very much look like we’re moving towards a much more multi-polar world where there aren’t single centres of power, they’re multiple centres of power, and, actually, that’s a good thing. I think having a very small number of countries set a global agenda isn’t good. The thing is rights have to not be lost in that discussion. Now, with China, you’ve seen China go for a sort of 180-degree turn on climate change, from being a real problem when it comes to the environment, now China is leading the way on climate change at the UN, and it’s the US that’s a real problem. I would hope that as China tries to sort of step into that global leadership role, they start to understand that that global leadership role comes with responsibilities and many of those responsibilities are about rights. I’d also hope that as we go into a more multi-polar world, we sort of democratise rights and that the result of that is that you a very, very strong human rights culture in Latin America, a mixed human rights in Africa where you have some of the most powerful and passionate advocates of human rights but you also have a number of tyrants and despots as well, there’s a live debate. I mean, that’s where human rights is a really day-to-day life or death issue. Then, unfortunately, in west Asia, you have all these wars that are making it so much more difficult to have a conversation about rights. The democratisation of the sense of the power in the world I would hope would be good for rights, not bad.
TD: So, there could be some hope with that?
FC: There could be some hope. I think the problem with human rights is, I think the long-term trajectory is good but it’s about the people that get hurt in the meantime. I think that’s what rights are for, it’s to protect against individuals from being trampled under foot, and we’re witnessing this sort of epochal changes in the kind of world that we’re living in, that individuals are getting crushed by the system, that’s what human rights are for, it’s to prevent that from happening. Maybe 100 years from now things will be fine but we have to get through the next 100 years and I think human rights is the best way to make sure that that’s as painless as it can be.
TD: I wanted to ask about some of your other campaigns. Obviously we discussed your campaign for Yemen. You’ve got 2 other major campaigns at the moment, which are the Mission Justice one and, on a slightly different note, the campaign for the best high commissioner for human rights. Could you tell me a bit about both of those? Shall we take Mission Justice first? That’s probably the best way to do it, isn’t it? What’s that campaign about?
FC: Sure, absolutely. So, Mission Justice is about sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping and really, actually, about sexual violence. UN peacekeeping is something that UNA-UK is incredibly proud to support, it’s one of the most effective tools that our global system has to prevent atrocities, it’s one of the most effective tools our global system has to move countries from states of war to states of peace and to make sure that, along the way, civilians are protected. It’s an enormous system that employs over 100,000 troops in around 15 countries around the world and spends about $7 billion a year. So, we’re dealing with a massive complicated system and, within that system, unfortunately there have been issues where troops have committed acts of sexual violence against the local population, and that really undermines peacekeeping. It’s terrible for all the victims of those crimes, it has also has a real risk of bringing the entire system crashing down because if you can’t trust peacekeepers, if peacekeepers aren’t going to be the allies of the local population and if there’s no trust between local communities and peacekeeping then what is peacekeeping for? So we think this is a really existential issue for peacekeeping that needs to be solved. There have been attempts to solve this problem for around 20 years and one of the things we’ve been doing, and it’s getting better, we should give the UN credit for the reforms that they have undertaken and which are having an effect, but we’ve been looking at this issue systematically and structurally. Our worry is that things that the UN is doing around training, around awareness raising, around support for victims, it’s so, so important, but it’s not going to work while there’s this fundamental issue of impunity at the heart of peacekeeping. So peacekeeping, I’m not going to talk about this for too long, it operates under a very complicated legal structure and the consequence of that is that there are too many troops who think they have immunity and think they can get away with crime. Unfortunately, whenever you have large groups of soldiers who believe they have immunity, you do get crimes of a sexual nature. So, Mission Justice is a campaign about closing legal loopholes and making sure that not peacekeeper is above the law, all peacekeepers know that if they commit crimes of a sexual nature, it’s very, very likely that they will be prosecuted for those crimes. It’s about making sure that we’re proactive and we make sure that we don’t deploy peacekeepers into areas where they’re going to be coming into contact with vulnerable people unless it’s demonstrated that they can be held to a criminal standard of justice. The last thing I’d say is it’s about that sense, that what we’re talking about here with sexual violence, it’s criminal acts, it needs a criminal justice response. Unfortunately, and this is just the nature of the UN as an employer, the UN has been approaching this as an employer and it has been applying remedies that are to do with human resources processes and are to do with misconduct and if you commit misconduct you’ll get fired. What we’re doing is we’re replacing, and you have to work through member states themselves, the nations of the United Nations, for this, it’s saying, ‘That’s true but what’s also true is when you commit crimes, it’s not just a matter of getting fired, you could go to jail.’ Crimes are going to be met with a criminal justice based response.
TD: It’s putting in a law and justice element rather that just an employment element. It’s very interesting as well because obviously we saw last year, we won’t go into that but, charities being highlighted for sexual harassment issues in areas where people were in need. I suppose the same with UN, I assume it’s a handful of people, is this a widespread problem or this is a handful of cases that you need to stem now so that it doesn’t happen again?
FC: I always find it hard to answer that question because I think the issue with all sexual crimes, and we saw this so clearly with the Me Too movement, the ones we know about are always the tip of the iceberg. Also, the nature of taboo, the nature of shame, the nature of the way that sexual predators prey on people who are vulnerable because they don’t really have access to the likes of us and don’t really have the ability to tell their side of the story, it means we always underestimate. So, I’m always very reluctant to say, ‘Oh, it’s a small handful,’ because I’d be pretending I knew when I didn’t know and I think the sense is that we’ve got no idea. What I would say is that the UN is no different from any other large organisation and that all large organisations have to come to terms with the fact that if they give their employees immunity and if they place their employees in positions where they’re in contact with people where there’s a differential of power between them and the people then this stuff is going to happen. I mean, the tragedy of humanity is that we always seem to abuse power when we have it. So, then with the UN, and this is where Mission Justice steps in, you have these added complications of these jurisdictional issues caused by the fact that it’s an international organisation but it’s an organisation that has no ability of its own to sanction people criminally. It sort of borrows jurisdiction from other nations, it doesn’t have any of its own, certainly not in this issue.
TD: So that then makes it much harder to drop down on these things. Then you’re other campaign, which is on quite a different issue, you’re currently searching for the best high commissioner for human rights.
FC: That’s right.
TD: You’re asking for people’s help with that?
FC: We are, yes. To be more precise, I suppose, the UN’s asking for people’s help but we’re asking more loudly. The issue is, and this comes back to what we were talking about earlier, I do think we have a bit of crisis for human rights at the moment and I do think the UN with its unique global role can be a really powerful part of the solution. The high commissioner for human rights is the heart and the centre of the UN’s human rights system, that person is so important to the way that human rights system works and that person needs to be a powerful and outspoken advocate for human rights, an effective diplomat and needs to manage the UN’s human rights system, which is starved of money and under pressure like never before. So you need a super person for this. Now, what’s happening is that the secretary general has done some things that we really like, including having put out a call to anybody, literally anybody can nominate someone to be the next high commissioner for human rights. If you look on their website, but it’s actually easier to find it on our website, you can find the email address in which you can submit your nominations. They do say to ask the person first. What this is really about is making sure that human rights defenders and human rights advocates all over the world can get involved in the process. What we’re less keen on is just how late he’s left this decision. So, the closing date for applications is 11th July, then they’re going to need to vet the candidates, shortlist them, interview them, vet them again, select one, the general assembly needs to approve it, they’re going to serve out any type of notice of they have and they’re then going to need to prep themselves for what’s one of the hardest jobs in the world and they start work on 1st September. So, the hunt is on because there’s so little time to find what really has to be one of the most effective and powerful members of the United Nations. So we’re putting all our effort into that for the next couple of weeks. If you look at our website, you can see how you can get involved. I’m afraid part of it at the moment is that we really do need money so any donations are hugely welcome. The other thing we’re doing is we’re talking about what the role entails, what kinds of people we think would make a good candidate, what we’d like to see happen in terms of the process, we think the process could be hugely improved, and we have suggestions on that front. This is building on previous work we’ve done on the selection of the Secretary General himself and we’ll be pushing for all those things over the next couple of weeks.
TD: You’re looking for the best high commissioner, what kind of qualifications do you want the person to have? While you’re asking people to nominate anyone, they can’t just go, ‘Oh, my next door neighbour is really lovely.’ Are there certain specific things that you’re looking for in what you think would make the best high commissioner for human rights?
FC: I think what’s interesting about this, and part of our campaign touches on this, is how poorly defined the role is. There’s a UN general assembly resolution that slightly defines the role and we’ve put together, if you can call it that, a job description person specification from various precedents that have been set from various things that the secretary general and the general assembly have said over the years. It’s like all the senior posts in the United Nations and the secretary general is the most extreme version of this, it’s not a particularly well-defined job and it’s up to a high commissioner to make it of themselves what it is. What the current high commissioner of human rights has been is a very effectively outspoken advocate for victims, so Zeid Raad Al Hussein has spoken up in situations where others kept quiet, he’s been a voice to power and I think that is something the next high commissioner needs to be too, fearless in the face of power. Then I think the other half of that equation is making sure the power has to listen to you, so that’s where the diplomatic skills come into it. I mean, you look at whose been a former high commissioner for human rights previously, it’s people like Mary Robinson, who was president of Ireland, Louise Arbour, who is a judge on the international criminal court, Navi Pillay, who was many things but one of the things she was was Nelson Mandela’s lawyer. They tend to be, and what we need, are some of the most effective human rights defenders and advocates that the world has to offer.
TD: Not asking for much. I might nominate Stormzy, that’s who I’m going for.
FC; I think the other part of it is this is a person who represents the rights of humans, so who is it for us to say what sort of person it should be? I think that’s why it’s so great that the secretary general has said anyone can nominate because I think anyone should be able to nominate because human rights come in all forms and human rights defenders come in all forms. I will say that the process is the secretary general nominates them and then the UN general assembly has to approve them by two thirds of the vote so you need to convince the secretary general that you’re good enough and then you need to make sure that at least 66% of the countries are willing to vote for you. So not having too many enemies or having lots of friends amongst global leaders is important, and then being what the secretary general considers to be the right choice is important.
TD: Cool, well get your thinking caps on listeners. That’s really exciting that people get to put people forward for that. The last question I want to ask you is something that I ask every single interview on here just with the hope that people can then go out and get further reading or info, apart from yourself and UNA-UK, what other organisations, journalists, campaigners would you recommend that listeners check out or read about for the issue of human rights around the world?
FC: There’s kind of a Yemen slant to my list because that’s how we started this discussion. The Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this is a UN agency, it coordinates others to give aid, it doesn’t necessarily give out much aid itself but billions, and I do mean billions, of dollars of aid flow through it from donors to those in need. Their job is to deal with humanitarian crises and emergencies, they’re the ones that have said that Yemen is the most significant humanitarian crisis they face. Their Yemen website is the best place to go for up to date details and last situation reports on what’s going on in Yemen. I’d recommend a brilliant NGO called Security Council Report, they’ve got a very good website and a Twitter account. For finding out what’s going on in the UN security council and finding out more about who did what at the security council and what the UK didn’t do, I’d go to Security Council Report. Then on arms sales issues and the arms trade in the UK, Control Arms, which is an organisation that we work very closely with, they’re absolutely brilliant. My colleague Ben Donaldson who leads on this recommended a conflict researcher called Mike Lewis who has a website and has done a lot of work on the relationship between the UK and Saudi Arabia. Then there are a number of organisations we work with, so we do quite a lot of work on a responsibility to protect so I’d mention a couple of NGOs, Protection Approaches and European Coalition of Responsibility to Protect. We’ve also done some work on feminist foreign policy and I’d recommend people check out the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, CFFP, they’re brilliant. Then there are a number of UN watchers that are definitely very good to find out more about what’s going on in the UN and follow human rights issues quite closely. So, PassBlue is a brilliant blog based in New York. There are some journalists called Richard Gowan and Colum Lynch, and there’s a column in the New York Times called The Interpreter, and they follow UN issues very, very closely.
END OF INTERVIEW PART 2
Thank you to Fred for having time to chat with me. UNA-UK can be found at una.org.uk and their Yemen Can’t Wait campaign can be found on that site on their ‘get involved’ page, their Mission Justice campaign is on their ‘What We Do’ page and their campaign to find the best new high commissioner for human rights can be found on the website’s front page. You can also donate to them via the Support Us tab. UNA-UK can also be found on Twitter @unauk, and the same on Facebook. And if you want to follow Fred’s own account, he’s on Twitter @carverUNA. I should also add that if you’re a listener from outside of the UK, you may well have your own UNA group for your country too. The UNA-USA one is very easy to find at unausa.org, India have IFUNA.org and Canada have Unac.org. You should be able to find yours with an easy google. Ah the magic of the future.
Next week it’s either China or Mexico, depending on who I get to speak to when. Then after that? Who the hell knows and that’s why, as always, your precious input is much sought after. Got someone you think I should chat to? Or a campaign, issue or political query you think I should find someone to talk to about? Then let me know! Maybe you even know of someone or an area I can do an interview about that provides some hope at all? You do that via the @parpolbro Twitter, the Partly Political Broadcast facebook group, the contact page at partlypoliticalbroadcast.co.uk or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you could send me a mysterious note in a bunch of flowers hoping I’ll get your message and be so flattered by the bouquet I immediately chase up your request. But more likely, my violent hayfever will get in and I’ll kick the flowers into the street while decrying pollen and then your message will eventually get eaten by our local shitty fox. So as always, probably best to email.
And that is all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast. Thank you for engaging your sound wells with this hour of talk noise and if you do enjoy the show, please do give it a review on the iTunes, Stitcher, Podbean, Castbox or just that tin can you have connected to a piece of string that’s linked to a can in my flat. If you can donate to the Patreon or ko-fi sites, please please do and if you can’t then please just recommend the show to everyone you know, and perhaps anyone you don’t know. Slide into their DMs with a cheeky recommendation, the slide out again before it gets creepy. Then dry yourself off as you’re obviously too slippy.
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