Episode 9 – Tiernan interviews Alison Ryan from ATL Union, discusses the snoopers charter chat and this week has a whole new section called Partly Big Society for you to get involved with.
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INTRO LINE – On this week’s show in the words of KRS-One ‘Educate Yourself, Make Your World View Bigger, Visualize Wealth and put yourselves in the picture’. Except this is audio only. So er. Hm.
Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast. I’m Tiernan Douieb but my middle name is Samuel, almost as a cruel joke because people can spell that bit, but no one ever needs to.
It’s a beautiful sunny day, as I record this week’s episode which probably means George Osborne is out somewhere fixing a roof. However this show contains no cuts at all. Instead we have a a bit of With or Without EU, some thoughts on the Snoopers Charter, some thoughts on Labour and a fascinating interview with Alison Ryan from the Associated Teachers and Lecturers Union. But also, a new section. Now it’s a bit of an experiment, but I spend a lot of time feeling hugely angry about things that are or aren’t happening in this country and the world due to government policies and cuts, and I started this podcast and shout about it in my material as a way to vent it so that I don’t just explode during an episode of Question Time instead. ‘NO JULIA HARTLEY BREWER BOMBING PEOPLE DOESN’T HELP THOSE PEOPLE UNLESS YOU MEAN BY SOME SICK IDEA THAT IT SAVES THEM HAVING TO TRAVEL ANYWHERE IF THEY’RE ALREADY DEAD’. Oh god. Every week. Every single week.
I also know people aren’t able to go protest or marching all the time, or, more often, don’t want to and aren’t incentivised to. So I thought there must be a slightly more fun way to be active about all these things, so at the end of today’s podcast I bring you a new section and we’ll see if we can lightly ruffle some political feathers by merely having fun with the er, Westminster duck. I’m not sure what that means. But I bet it’s pond was paid for by expenses. Hopefully you’ll all get onboard and in a couple of weeks we’ll have fixed everything and I can finally finish the new series of House of Cards where the characters are so horrible and yet still seem like better US presidential candidates than the ones running at the moment.
Anyway, let me know what you think abou that and all other things. I’ve had some feedback from you over the last week including ‘stop interrupting the interview guests’ which I’ve taken note of, though does that mean I can’t ask them questions either? Otherwise it’s all been very nice. Also sorry about last week’s episode being even later than I thought it was going to be. I remember Nigel Farage once blaming immigrants for traffic on the M4 because he’s that sort of moron, but in that vein I’d like to blame last week being out late because of ‘the man’ who I’d like to say paid off the internet to stop this sort of revolutionary podcast being made available to the masses. In reality, I messed something up and James my web man fixed it because he’s an actual hero, even though you won’t see him in any Marvel trailers anytime soon. It’s thankfully all fixed now and I can stop shouting ‘stop it Tron’ at my wifi hub.
Also as this is out on Tuesday and the budget happens Wednesday, I’m saving all budget chat for next week’s show. Excited? No. Neither am I.
So, this week:
Junior doctors went on strike for 48 hours after Jeremy Hunt still refuses to meet with them. He didn’t comment at all on the first of the strike because he was hosting an International Patient Safety Forum. Which is ironic as the best way for him to increase patient safety would be to wear a massive target, stand still and wait. The proposed junior doctor contract is now going to be challenged in the court after a group of doctors asked solicitors to investigate judicial review proceedings. They are crowdfunding the costs via crowdjustice.co.uk so send them a few quid if you can. Not least because I’d like to see Jeremy Hunt try and worm his way out of making a statement if it means his non-appearance would mean he’d be in contempt of court. Imagine that. It won’t happen but if Hunt was arrested and sent to prison he’d have to be pretty patient seven days a week. Even on weekends.
Not content with Jeremy Hunt trying to be the biggest most deluded MP of the week, Iain Duncan Smith has claimed 75% of people who’ve had their benefits stopped have thanked him for it. There’s no stats to back up these obviously rubbish claims and in a week where ESA cuts have also been made I don’t think they any of them were saying ‘thank you’ Iain. Close sounding but not quite the same sentiment.
Tim Farron has told the Lib Dems at their Spring conference that they must ‘return to their roots’ which considering how buried they got at the last election, can’t be that far for them to go.
Former mayor of London and current least favourite person you want to get stuck talking to at a party Ken Livingstone has proved why, once again, he’s the only politician we all wish would actually be less honest. Ken said that a hedge fund manager donating £16k to Dan Jarvis was like Jimmy Saville donating to a children’s group. Slightly unfair comments as while hedge fund managers do, in some ways, screw with a lot of people unnecessarily, it’s really not the same level of evil. Ken has refused to apologise over the comments saying that getting hedge fund donations is ‘not Labour’ even though he got £8k from a Bermuda based hedge fund in 2008. Which on the plus side also means Ken is ‘not Labour’ anymore which would solve an awful lot of problems as having him in the party is like having any 1970’s BBC presenter at 8 year olds birthday. No one knows why he’s there, and everyone feels uncomfortable and worried that it could all go very very wrong at any moment.
John Whittingdale is in more ways than one, the culture secretary, if you also remember that culture can mean a big pile of mould that attaches itself to its host while making it constantly less appealing. His plans for reforming the BBC Trust seem to be to replace it with a board where the majority of the members are selected by the government. A strange choice considering the only time MPs seem to know anything about programming is when they have to reboot George Osborne. Whittingdale has previously said the BBC needs to be more distinctive in its output and I suppose with MPs at it’s board it could be. For example operating under political standards BBC GCSE bitesize could stop helping kids answer any questions, instead giving them ways to completely divert the subject. They can start a new sitcom that they could blame everyone on called ‘Mr Brown’s Boys’ and Jeremy Hunt can host a Saturday night TV show where he pays no attention to those in the medical profession, entitled ‘Doctor Who?’
INTERVIEW PART 1 – Teachers
You know what they say. ‘If you can’t teach then well, it’s probably due to the education system being in a state of crisis.’ Teachers are arguably some of the most important people in the country. Well not arguably, they are. See, I’m even arguing with myself about it. So that’s arguably right? Oh, what would I know? Idiot. If teachers don’t teach, children don’t learn and we end up generations of generations of people who have the sort of intelligence levels that mean they argue with themselves on a podcast. Without teachers where would be? Well probably nowhere, as geography is a key part of the curriculum.
As with many other public sector jobs, there is currently a teacher staffing crisis. A couple of week’s ago Jeremy Corbyn questioned David Cameron on this at Prime Minister’s Questions, but as usual Dave just answered with ‘no what? Everything’s fine, god you’re so annoying why won’t you just go away?’ I mean, I’m paraphrasing. But fact is, a lot of money is being spent on agency staff as not enough people want to teach children. And who’d blame them right? People are annoying and children are just smaller people, so it’s annoying condensed? Oh, sorry that’s not the point. The point is, people want to teach, but pay, conditions and pressures on teachers are making it less fun than watching Gregg Wallace deliver a lecture on polystyrene and how many ways he can balance some on his knee.
So this week, to explain it all, I spoke to Alison Ryan at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Union who was able to educate me perfectly as to exactly what’s going on.
We will return to that excellent chat with Alison after this very quick:
WITH OR WITHOUT EU
Tony Blair has said that he would be toxic to the EU remain campaign, so it’s nice to know he can finally recognise his own strengths.
US President Barack Obama is backing Britain staying in the EU. Boris Johnson says this is ‘outrageous and exorbitant hypocrisy’, which caused a mass resignation of most pots and kettles around the UK.
And the Queen backs a Brexit according to a scoop in The Sun, a paper that would have more factual content if it printed each article only in wingdings. According to the glorified loo roll, the Queen had a bust up with Nick Clegg back in 2011 and expressed her dislike of the EU. So clearly nonsense as why would anyone bother wasting energy talking to Nick Clegg? Buckingham Palace has filed a complaint with the press watchdog against the claims. Though there is a chance they could be right. I mean I’ve heard the Queen mention one or we, but never EU. Yeah I went there. Sorry everyone.
Lastly, I spent some time reading a report by the Institute for European Enviornmental Policy on the environmental implications of a Brexit. It’s an interesting read and you can find it on their website at ieep.eu. There are many variations depending on the deal the UK would get, but suffice to say a straight up Brexit with no connections to the EEC could be disastrous, based on our government’s current attitude towards renewable energy. Though I suppose if our air becomes completely non-breathable that will dissuade a lot of migrants from coming over, eh guys? Guys? Cough cough
MIDDLE BIT – Snoopers Charter
I’ve never been a fan of the phrase ‘If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear’ because it’s rubbish. I have nothing to hide yet I’m still scared of spiders, sharks and an impending zombie apocalypse. This week the Investigatory Powers Bill is getting it’s second reading. Chances are, you’re listening to this after it’s happened, it’s all been blocked by a surprise Tory rebellion and we happily skip this bit safe in the knowledge that Theresa May isn’t staring at you right now via your webcam and deciding that because you own a pair of scissors, a backpack and a 1995 CD singles of The Bucketheads song ‘The Bomb’ that you could be a terrorist. Or, more likely as Andy Burnham has announced Labour are abstaining from the vote, it’s all been passed through despite the vagueness of it’s content.
The IP Bill, or Snooper’s charter as it’s also known, which makes it sound like a Snoop Dogg track about how he logs his voyeuristic prowls – I bet he’s done a track like already hasn’t he? Yeah I bet. The IP Bill will allow governments to force companies to bypass the security of their own products in order to check the communications of users of their services and products. So if needs be, they can look into everything you’ve doing on all your devices, making your Macbook, iPad, iPhone combo seem like a tiny family of double agents. You gave them a home and now they’ve betrayed you. Security services will keep a record of everyone’s website history for up to 12 months whether you’re under suspicion or not, so even more people will know about your shameful late night drunken Amazon purchases of Dan Brown books. And while all of the information will require what they’re calling a ‘double lock’ warrant that has to be signed by a secretary of state and a judge, the judicial oversight can be completely bypassed in urgent cases. Presumbly like having to urgently stop someone late night buying too many Dan Brown books.
This is all part of Theresa May’s clampdown on extremist ideology but considering they’ll be monitoring everyone’s website use, suspicious or not, and they can bypass the need for the judiciary service, you start to wonder if this Bill might be horribly abused. The UK would become the only country in the Five Eyes Alliance, that does vest any power in surveillance in the legal system. The Five Eyes Alliance sounds like a creepy starfish club, yeah they have five eyes, I googled and that google search may now, by the time you hear this, be being watched by everyone at home office who thinks I’m planning some sort of underwater coup. Actually though the Five Eyes alliance is an intelligence group including Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada that was set up to monitor the Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union in the cold war and Where’s Wally champion 2013 Edward Snowdon said ‘doesn’t answer to the known laws of its own countries’. This group that are essentially Spectre or Hydra, still use judges to approve operations but we won’t. So a judge won’t need to approve and if your information is being looked into, you won’t know and won’t be able to appeal. It’s the sort of thing that’d make George Orwell characters feel like they had it easy.
On top of this, critics are saying that another of the Bill’s flaw is it’s vague content about end to end encryption having to have a ‘back door’ so security services can access all data. The problem is, thanks to hackers information isn’t safe with a front door. Or windows. It’s like living information is constantly living in Dagenham. Things are encrypted to make them safe and sure that might mean there’s info hidden away that for the safety of others should be exposed, but it also means if there’s a back door, hackers will probably find it easier to get into everyone’s stuff. It’s almost as though Theresa May has never seen Mr Robot. Though to be fair, if you’ve got an Amazon Prime account she’ll probably use your log in to watch it soon.
It’s a really scary sounding bill and worryingly Labour are abstaining the vote as Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham said he wants to work constructively with the government on the bill, you know like helping them to come up with department names like ‘The Thought Police’. It’s an odd tactic and you start to wonder what he’s been looking online for recently to have such an opinion. Hopefully there will be more amendments to it to stop the government making a crap remake of Minority Report, but if not maybe we need to set up a website called ‘sodoffyounoseybastards.com’ and ensure we all click it 500 times a day until they get the message. Either that or hope that part of Theresa May’s clampdown on extremist ideology means she arrests herself sometime soon.
And now part 2 of my interview with Alison Ryan at ATL. I try at the end of all my interviews to ask a sort of fun question because otherwise, let’s face it, we’re just discussing how bleak reality is. I struggled for ages thinking of a good one to do with teaching and decided I’d just ask Alison if she had a favourite teacher, thinking I’d edit it out if it didn’t quite fit. Then she gave a brilliant answer. So I’m very pleased I did. Anyway, first, some more bleak reality.
INTERVIEW PT 2
Thanks to Alison for that interview, it was really great talking to her and I felt she helped me to understand how scary the education sector is right now. If you are a parent or are interested in becoming a teacher, or you’re just a caring human being with empathy, you know, those rarities then do check out the ATL Union @atlunion on Twitter and particularly their current About Time campaign which you can find at www.atl.org.uk/abouttime. On there they have a very thorough ‘workload tracker’ for those in teaching jobs that might need help.
Again, thanks to listeners for recommending speaking to ATL and I’ve had several other good suggestions of people to contact for this show, but please do keep them coming in, even if you just wish to suggest yourself. I would, you’re great and I like how you wear your face. So yeah, do do that if you have any ideas as it’d be great to almost be organised for once. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, via Twitter @parpolbro or on facebook at facebook.com/parpolbro
There’s quite a few of you listening to this now, so I thought why not stop faffing about with just complaining about everything like an armchair activist – which is a term I don’t see too much wrong with as I will happily complain and protest if furniture isn’t comfy enough to watch a whole box set from. Instead I thought why not try and help out where we can. So here’s a new section I like to call:
Partly Big Society jingle
Partly big society. I thought using this show, we could make a little attempt to make some small changes. This idea has mostly come this week from talking to Catherine Ovenden. Catherine contacted me via Twitter to tell me about her campaign to stop Hampshire council closing all the Sure Start centres, that offer services and support to so many families. Actually, I’ll let Catherine tell you herself.
Which is awful right? But Catherine’s been doing a great job protesting about the cuts with Save our Children’s Centres Hampshire and she’s recently been on Sunday Politics South and various radio shows with her campaign. Now it’s also been recently announced that Hampshire council are going to be spending £30k on a street party in Winchester for the Queen’s 90th birthday and £10k of that is from taxpayer’s money. Now let’s be honest, the Queen probably isn’t even going to bother to attend, which is very rude of her and parties outdoors in British weather probably aren’t the best idea for a 90 year old anyway. I always assumed that with two birthdays a year she was 180 this year? Anyway, this I understand is happening in many UK boroughs and it’s something I aim to talk about in a future episode. But for now, I thought it might be save Hampshire Council money on their street party so they can use it to save the Sure Start centres instead.
So I’ve bought some paper party plates and princess balloons, though I’ve crossed that out and written queen on them to send to Dr Julian Lewis the MP for New Forest East in Hampshire, and to Councillor’s Keith Mans and Roy Perry at Hampshire County Council. I’ll be popping that in the post this week and I’ll put pictures up on the Twitter and Facebook pages. If you’d like to send them some crappy party ware, please don’t spend anything more than £1 on this, then you can either address it to Dr Julian Lewis MP at the House of Commons, or like I did, send it to Hampshire County Council, care of Councillor Keith Mans or Councillor Ron Perry, or heck, why not both, at The Castle, Winchester SO23 8UJ with a little message as to why you’d think money should be spent on the sure start rather than a piss up for someone who can really afford her own party. Please don’t be rude, or offensive. I think we can help this protest by having some fun with it.
Dr Julian Lewis refuses to use email either because, like many Conservative MPs, he is actually trapped in the past. So hopefully that means he really really likes getting post. Please send pictures of anything you’re sending to our @parpolbro Twitter account or parpolbro facebook with the hashtag #partlybigsociety and I’ll RT them all. You can find Catherine on twitter @COvenden_Photo and on Facebook at SOCC Hampshire. I understand she’ll be protesting at the street party too so if you can join her, do.
If you have a local cause or something you think this show might be able to help podcast about, please do get in touch and hopefully we can start annoying MPs into making some changes. Or at least make sure their street party has really crappy balloons.
That is all for this week’s episode. Hopefully, next week’s show will be mostly budget based. Well I say hopefully, hopefully George Osborne will open his little red briefcase and he’ll melt like in the end of scene of Raiders Of The Lost Ark so on the show I can spend ages discussing how you spell ‘casj’ short for casual. So fingers crossed on at least one of those possibilities occurring. Again please review us on iTunes, do subscribe and do please spread the word about this show if you enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, I am impressed you’ve got through to this bit anyway, you must really hate yourself. Email us thoughts, feelings or weird dreams you had about juggling with spiders while a fireman shouted at you, thanks cheese I ate on Sunday night, at email@example.com, shout at us on Twitter @parpolbro and facebook at ParPolBro too.
This week’s episode was sponsored by the Home Office and so brought to you by all your security numbers and secret letters.