Episode 33 – Two interviews this week. One with Karissa Singh at Post Ref Racism (@postrefracism) and one with writer and actor Vera Chok (@Vera_Chok), both on the past week’s xenophobic government policies and the rising post Brexit racism in the UK. Also more Brexit stuff and Tiernan has a sexy croaky jazz voice.
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Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast episode 33! I’m Tiernan Douieb and let me tell you, I have never had misogynistic locker room banter like Donald Trump, and that’s not just because I find the idea of making conversation with naked men I don’t know awkward and intimidating while I’m just trying to keep my towel on and stop sweating after 2 minutes of attempting to run.
Welcome listeners new and old to a week where if it was an 80’s VHS video, it would have been banned for causing too much distress, then after 30 to 40 years of censorship it would be re-released with those watching it having enough distance from the horrific events to view it as nostalgic comedy. Though if Donald Trump, the man who were Sigmund Freud to have delved into his mind, he’d have described him as a ‘gargantuan orange arsehole’, if he does become US president then really, humanity is unlikely to survive to anywhere near 2046.
Yes, this past week has been one hell of a political fire pit that was, beforehand merely a terrible cesspit and now is that smell but stronger, and more dangerous because its on fire. Prime Minister Theresa May set out her vision to reclaim Britain’s centre ground. Which I’m pretty sure the Conservatives have never had and I’m almost certain, after their week of anti-immigration rhetoric, that they think it’s been invaded by foreigners and will require some sort of war to get it back. May also insisted that it’s now centrist to be against human rights lawyers. You know, those people that protect human rights. You know, the only people who you’d only be against if you weren’t human and were hoping for the destruction of humankind. May also condemned capitalist elites so I presume her first step will be taking down her husband who’s the senior executive at a $1.4tn investment fund that profits from tax avoiding companies. And all of this worryingly proves that in the current post-Brexit climate the centre is now somewhere so far right, if builders were to use a spirit level with the same degrees all shelves would just become slides for your favourite objects.
And if the idea of Theresa May doing her best Enoch Powell impression isn’t scary enough, managing to be an even worse human to the extent that even the the GOP won’t back him anymore, was US presidential candidate Donald Trump. The sort of man that is so awful, even the most twisted minds have imagination barriers to stop them creating someone like him. As if being racist, potentially committing tax fraud, not paying employees and endlessly lying wasn’t enough, a video obtained by the Washington Post from 2005 shows that he’s an extreme chauvinist. I know, I know. The only way any of us would actually be surprised by anything Captain Bouffant McTwat did would be if he said he’d taken in some homeless puppies and every now and them has a fondness for quinoa. But his comments were so appalling, condoning sexual assault, that 33 senior Republicans including members of congress, senators and state governors – have withdrawn their support of him. Because you know, up until this leaked video, everything he did was obviously pointing at him being prime presidential material. Also when you consider how many Republicans, including Paul Ryan are against abortions and, in the case of Ryan sponsored a bill to narrow the definition of rape, it does seem they’ve put a lot of pots and kettles out of work this week.
Trump’s defence of these comments during the 2nd US Presidential Candidate debate was simply to say that Bill Clinton has also been awful to women, which is a) a bad idea for a sexist to blame a woman for her husband’s sexism and b) a bit like saying what Donald did was fine as, you know, other people have done it too. Like going on trial for murder and your not guilty statement being ‘hey Harold Shipman did it first!’ But Hilary didn’t really answer any questions well or talk about her policies either, maybe assuming that she’ll never persuade Trump supporters to change their minds or that Donald will be arrested by the time of inauguration anyway. She’s currently at 48% in the polls, with Trump at 44%, meaning there is still 6% of America undecided. Or perhaps they have already started filling in their visas to live elsewhere knowing that the only choice they have is between an American President that will embrace neoliberalism even more than before, or one that will probably miss important meetings because someone pointed out to him that ‘if dogs have eyes and so do we, are we all dogs?’ and now has to sit still until he figures it out. Good luck America!
Thanks again for listening to the show and for the recent increase in lovely comments about it on the iTunes which is appreciated. It’s also been so nice to be at gigs lately where some of you have come up to me and said you listen to this weekly waffle, so thanks to those of you who did that. So look, I was persuaded by Chris at the Barnsley Skeptics In The Pub society, who I should say, if you live round that way are running excellent events under the banner of ‘We Shall Overcome’ to create countrywide solidarity and help those suffering under austerity. So yeah, they’re great. But Chris persuaded me that this show should probably have some way of funding it, what with me spending a silly amount of time on it each week for nowt. Now, I have been reluctant to do this as I ideally, as I like this being available to anyone who wants to listen, so what I have done is set up a Patreon account. What that means is that should you want to sponsor this show and help me to do more with it, as funding for this means I can afford to spend more time on it, then you can head to Patreon.com/ParPolBro and sponsor for as little as $1 a month. Which considering how far the GBP has fallen, I think is about £200 now. I will be adding some extra things to it where I can too. Obviously if you can’t or just don’t want to, that is also fine as well because you know, I think eating and shelter is overrated too. Ha! I joke! I’m eating right now! I’ll be popping some sort of video on the site asap, or whenever I finally get a haircut.
Right this week’s show is a long one. Why? Well, I wanted to focus on the increasing xenophobia in the UK and Western world after the horrible comments at the Tory Conference, and I had two people both say they were up for an interview. So I thought, why not just speak to them both? Karissa Singh set the Post Ref Racism account and Vera Chok is a writer and performer who regularly speaks out about equality and diversity and I think both said a lot of very interesting, very clear things about what is happening and ways to deal with it. Also on the show, I’ll be looking at the Labour Reshuffle and before any of that, here’s this:
It looks like Britain may move it’s borders to Ireland’s airports and ports in order because it’d avoid them having to try and write an amendment for the Good Friday agreement to help keep the peace by sticking a big fat wall between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Currently the UK and Ireland have the CTA or Common Travel Agreement, allowing freedom of movement between the two, hence Michael Flatley’s career with the freest movement ever seen. But these border controls would aim to stop non-Europeans from using the CTA, but it wouldn’t be able to stop EU migrants as they have freedom of movement in Ireland so ultimately probably won’t curb numbers in the way the government want. Certain experts say that EU citizens probably won’t want to come and work in the UK post Brexit anyway because let’s face it, why would you want to travel to a cold country where you feel unwelcome and work for a currency that’s now worth about a third of your own? You’d achieve a similar result setting up a tent in a meat locker & burning some of your own money for warmth. While the sharing of information between say, Dublin and London, is probably a good idea anyway, Ireland’s foreign minister said they wouldn’t be able to put in tighter controls without the other EU countries agreeing it anyway. So it turns out that when the government have been banging on about ‘taking back control of our borders’ it was only so we could lend to someone else instead. With the way things are going, I suspect Dublin Airport may soon be host to Ryanair flights full of Brits trying to illegally sneak their way back into European countries first. Irish MEP Matt Carty says that British immigration problems should be the least of Ireland’s worries as their country will suffer as a result of Brexit too, seemingly forgetting that the UK isn’t known for being the empathising or caring one in any of our many relationships. They’d probably have better luck dating Jonny Depp.
England’s academy trusts have run up debts of £25m in a gesture that makes you wonder if the name ‘academy trusts’ in the same ironic vein as ‘Little John’. The Department of Education’s Education Funding Agency investigated Lilac Sky Schools, a trust that operates nine primary schools in the South of England. It appeared they were paying £800k a year to outside companies run by their co-founders and £200k a year to one of their managing directors, while paying other staff less than minimum wage and running at a deficit of just under £700k. Academy trusts are largely tax payer funded, and an investigation earlier this year by C4’s Dispatches and the Observer found that many of the trusts executives were spending inordinate amounts on expensive travel, luxury hotels and fancy cars because they seem to think they should have a first class service while running one that is attached to the back of the plane with a rope. The Department of Education said only a tiny number of academy trusts reported a deficit last year and they will be monitoring them closely. In the meantime academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum so I do wonder if all children at those schools are merely running self confidence seminars on how to run an effective scam so you too can drive a Ferrari.
UKIP are like a constantly ridiculous joke that unfortunately certain people still take far too seriously. First their new leader Diane James resigns after just 18 days because there really is nothing they won’t leave. Then this week, potential new leader candidate and diecast for an estate agent Stephen Woolfe was hospitalised after fistcuffs with a UKIP MEP in Strasburg. As if the idea of Stephen Woolfe being a patient at a hospital in Germany and therefore some kind of migrant health tourist wasn’t enough, the MEP that allegedly hit him has the surname Hookem. Nominative determinism at its best since well, UKIP’s Mark Reckless. Apparently the fisticuffs occurred because Woolfe was in talks about defecting to the Conservatives proving that a rose by any other name would still likely be crushed by a block of luxury flats put up by either UKIP or the Tories because they are the same. This defection lead to a scuff, landing Woolfe in hospital and UKIP to prove they can’t even do infighting without going too far. Former leader and professional smegma Nigel Farage pointed out why he was such an ideal leader for the party of pound shop bigots by making a statement suggesting the fight was like something you’d see in a Third World parliament because apparently there isn’t a situation he can’t be racist about. Woolfe might still stand for leader, if he’s able to stand after his injuries, but the future of UKIP looked bleak with the Conservatives now pushing the anti-immigration stance. Maybe it’s only a matter of time before they end up in their dream situation of being confined to the past.
Labour been reshuffling all up in here and with his newly elected mandate, leader Jeremy Corbyn has selected a handful of his ministers with only a tiny 59 positions left to fill. Yeah I’m sure all those MPs will come running back once they find a knife sharpener that’ll fit on the benches. But while some are happy with the new appointments and there is a mix of both Corbynites and Corbynmites – I think that’s the term – many are angry that Jezza didn’t engage with the party at all about the appointments and Chief Whip Rosie Winterton was fired on the spot after being called into a meeting. Which is to be fair, better than an emoji text of a gun and then a smiling poo. There are more women in the shadow cabinet than before causing critics who said last time that he didn’t have enough to equality to this time say ‘no, not those women, we don’t like them’. Especially about Diane Abbott who has been promoted to home secretary, which while I’m not a fan of her often patronising tones and her superhuman ability to find the wrong thing to say for any occasion, it will be interesting to see how long it takes before Boris Johnson says something racist or sexist about her and has to leave his post, so all in all, it could be smart thinking.
On top of that, new Shadow Minister for overseeing Brexit, Keir Starmer has already contradicted Corbyn’s statements by saying he thinks we need to reduce immigration. As mentioned on the rest of today’s show, this is awful nonsense. Unless of course he’s just talking about the Labour party and hoping he can take up two to three seats by himself and lie down to snooze through any nonsense David Davis says. I’ll do a full round up of the new shadow cabinet next week, when hopefully there’ll be a few more seats full. Really, they should at least do it to music or something.
Also on Corbyn’s ever growing list of things he likes to just do without telling people about, he attended a Stand Up To Racism conference on Saturday despite promising that he wouldn’t on account of it’s connections to rape apologists the Socialist Worker Party. Despite the organiser of Stand Up To Racism tweeting that they had a broad membership and no direct connection, one of their co-convenors is a central committee member for the SWP. It is baffling that when even strong supporters of Corbyn asked him not to appear, his team said he wouldn’t and yet he went anyway. It is also baffling that a 67 year old man had a perfect excuse to stay in on a Saturday night yet still didn’t take it. Weird.
While Dwayne Johnson is The Rock, the UK is very much an island. Not only that, but an island who’s history and attitude probably created the idea of island mentality, and if it didn’t we’d assume it was about us anyway because we’re that great right? I mean, great’s in the name. In recent years Brits have got even more touchy about their borders, with the press and politicians increasingly pointing the finger of blame at immigration rather than the austerity measures or global financial crash which definitely actually caused it but you know, that requires people remembering things. While it’s been said again and again that voting for Brexit doesn’t mean you are racist, it is clearly evident that those of a narrower, more xenophobic mind found it far easier to assume it was those foreign types they’ve never seen or met what done all the bad things and so voted to leave in the hope of better border control than you know, having passports. In the UK there has been a fivefold increase in racially motivated attacks since the result of the EU referendum and both the UN Committee on the elimination of racial discrimination and the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance has said that politicians and the UK press are blame for this. But despite there being little to no evidence that immigration affects jobs for British people, or demand on public services, there has been no slowing down of the kind of rhetoric that is making the UK a pretty scary place for any non-British residents. So this week I thought I’d speak to people who can explain about more about why, when we’re in an increasingly globalised world, with more communication than ever before, Britain seems intent on shutting itself away in a windowless cupboard with the words ‘fuck off and go home’ scrawled on the door in red paint.
So yep, two interviews this week. First up is Karissa Singh who runs the Post Ref Racism Twitter and Facebook group, which is described as a safe space for people to report and document the increase in the UK since the Brexit vote. Then I spoke to Vera Chok on her thoughts on the current climate. Vera is a writer and artist who’s recent essay ‘Yellow’ on being Malaysian born but living in Britain appears in the fantastic new book ‘The Good Immigrant’. So two longish ones, and inbetween I’ll be looking at the measures Theresa May, Amber Rudd and Jeremy Hunt mentioned this week that even Roger Helmer from UKIP said were going too far and he’s a man who once said equal marriage was the same as incest. A comment that has presumably meant he now gets a lot fewer invites to family gatherings.
So first up, here’s Karissa Singh. Karissa is currently studying in New York and so at a couple of points during the chat you get to hear the sounds of sirens because, yes, New York is just like in the movies and on the telly. Sadly there are no sounds of superheroes though.
Here’s my chat with Karissa:
INTERVIEW WITH KARISSA
Thanks to Karissa for chatting with me. You can find Post Ref Racism on twitter @postrefracism or on their Post Ref Racism Facebook page at or on their website at https://postrefracism.wordpress.com. The app Karissa mentions is called EyeWitness – spelled EYE witness, it’s not an apple one. I mean would you expect that from them? They got rid of the headphone socket for crying out loud, they don’t want to help people! So yeah Eye Witness App and that’s very worth everyone downloading incase you see any sort of racial abuse and want to report it.
Right, that’s interview 1 and we’ll get to this week’s second interview with Vera Chok in a minute. But before that let’s look at the statements made by the Conservative government this week, across the board that many would deem to be highly concerning.
Firstly the Health Minister Jeremy Hunt and Prime Minister Theresa May both announced that foreign doctors working in the NHS will only be there for an interim period until more UK staff are available. I’m not surprised that saving lives is no longer valued by the government considering it’s at odds with so many of their welfare policies, but the idea that they can just magic up a ton of UK doctors then boot out any experienced, fully trained medics immediately after is absurd and worrying. Doctor training takes years and with medical training funding cuts, as well as the junior doctor contract changes putting so many off continuing with their job, it’d be years before there were enough suitable jobs in Britain to fill the already understaffed gap. In fact, just replacing doctors won’t fix the understaffing problem as there will just be the same amount as before, only they’d now be less experienced ones. So chances are not only would patients still have to wait as long to be seen, but when they get there they’d be greeted by a confused child with a toy stethoscope who diagnoses everything as ‘the lurgy’. Not only that but Hunt wants to fine doctors who train in the UK but then flee abroad and you sort of think, surely, there’s better, easier way to fix both these issues? How about don’t find doctors who want to work abroad, and just keep foreign doctors who for some reason want to save the lives of ungrateful Brits who make them feel unwelcome? But that’d require Jeremy Hunt aka HR Geiger’s interpretation of the muppet Beaker, to actually do something sensible for once.
The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has a number of worrying announcements, the first of which was that UK businesses should list all their non-British born foreign workers, a move that prompted many to ask why she doesn’t just make them wear yellow stars as well and have numbers tattooed on their arms. Because yep, that is very much what it sounded like. Rudd has backtracked over this statement now saying that it was just to identify which areas had which skill shortages, and if that was why they were employing from abroad rather than in the UK. It makes you wonder if we can employ politicians from abroad to work in the home office. And the department of health. And education. And…yeah you get the idea. Rudd now insists the lists of foreign workers would not be published and would only be viewed by the government. Yes, the government that includes people like David Davis who makes statements about how we have to make sure ‘our own population are ready and equipped to work.’ And they’ll have all the details of foreign workers? Yeah I’m sure it’ll be fine….
Rudd also announced a crackdown on overseas students claiming that they don’t have to learn English to come here even though they do. In fact to do a degree level qualification in the UK you need a B2 grade in reading, writing, speaking and listening in English which is the equivalent of A Level. To study a lower level qualification you need a B1 which is a Calvin Klein perfume. Sorry, I mean it’s the same as high GCSE. So you can’t study in the UK unless you have a reading ability that were Amber Rudd to have, she could have googled and read that on many a website. Foreign students make up 167,000 of the 600,000 new migrants a year in the UK, so it woud make a huge cut to statistic, but it’d also take away £8bn of income from the economy. Universities would take a massive cut in fees and suddenly by reducing foreign students, you might be reducing places for other students too due to a lack of education funding. It’s like cutting off your enemy’s head to defeat them, then realising they were your Siamese twin and now you’re also bleeding to death and attached to a headless body which is a creepy and makes me feel a bit ill. Why would you do that? Where did you even get the sword from?
Rudd also spoke of a ‘controlling migration fund’, similar to the one Jeremy Corbyn announced at the Labour conference and that was originally introduced by Gordon Brown until the Conservatives took it away claiming it was too expensive. Starting in 2008 it was financed by a £50 levy on visas of non-EU migrants and that fed into a £50m pot to ease the pressure of immigration on public services and prevent community tension. David Cameron’s government announced that scrapping that would save them £16.25m, which was, with hindsight, incredibly short planned thinking. So essentially the whole ‘immigrants have ruined public services’ really boils down to ‘we took away the money to help public services deal with population growth then we ruined the public services too but look that man has dark skin and can’t say Leicester properly.’ Amber Rudd’s new version of this plan didn’t say where she planned to get the £140m funding for this plan but did say some of the money would be used to create a ‘hostile environment for illegal immigrants’ so I presume it’ll pay for them to take a trip on the London Underground during rush hour in the summer.
So already this is a lot of ‘let’s just build a wall around our island and only inbreed type chat’ and while there has been a lot of ‘everyone is Hitler’ chat this year, these do feel like neo-Nazis persecutory methods. Especially when – and yes I’ve said this hundreds of times on this podcast and you can check all the stats online at Full Fact – the UK is under no threat whatsoever from immigration and in fact there is quite a bit of proof that it really helps the economy and keeps services like the NHS alive. And the most dangerous thing about the government ignoring this fact and aggressively peddling the racist bike? It means events like school children being singled out are occurring. A Department of Education policy rolled out this year for schools to collect more census information from pupils has been misinterpreted by many, causing them to demand passport details of non-white British kids to check they aren’t illegal immigrants. Yeah, as if school wasn’t hard enough, now as well as understanding maths, working out how to talk to members of the opposite sex and spots, kids now need to prove they can live in the UK too. Though at least that might be an ice breaker with a member of the opposite sex if they’ve also been through it too. ‘Hey did Theresa May think you were an unnecessary threat to the country because of an unpronounceable surname too? Let’s grab a Ribena after History yeah?’
Maybe it’s because things are so shit here now, that we just don’t want other people to see it. You know how you don’t want to invite people round because your flat’s a mess and they may not like you if they see how long that kebab’s been in the kitchen for and how worried you are that it might now be alive? Well maybe it’s that and maybe they just don’t want respectable people from other countries to visit and go ‘ooh that’s underfunded and that NHS is falling apart’. Or maybe, more likely, as we’re in a country where the Daily Mail is the paper handed out at airports both on departures and arrivals, we are a country with hundreds of years worth of racial issues that we should deal with. It is funny though how the government seem perfectly happy with them foreigners that want to invest in luxury homes or nuclear power plants?
Now interview number 2. Vera Chok is a writer, actor and poet. As well as starring in a number of major theatre productions, she has written and had published a number of articles about race, sex and gender. In particular, she has recently has an essay published in The Good Immigrant, a collection of pieces by writers of colour in the UK and has received many rave reviews.
So, here’s Vera:
INTERVIEW WITH VERA
Thanks to Vera for chatting with me. You can find her on Twitter @vera_chok or her website verachok.org which has her excellent blog and everything she’s up on it. The Good Immigrant book is an amazing read and I’d highly recommend picking up a copy. You can grab that online or at most good bookshops and probably some bad ones as well.
As always if there is someone you’d like me to interview or a subject area you’d like me to find someone to interview about please do drop me a line @parpolbro on Twitter, the ParPolBro facebook group or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
A brief brexit update today. The Remainers finally have a champion! That’s right, Ed Miliband! What do you mean? Why are you crying? No no look, I know he’s not been very good at wining things before, but this is an interesting thing and there’s not a bacon sandwich in sight. Ed has been working with pro-EU Conservatives and other MPs to force the government to give parliament a say on triggering article 50. A number of MPs are on board including Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and Nick Clegg, no wait! Why are you crying again? Look this is good because while the court case is due for a result any day now about whether Parliament should be allowed a vote, in the meantime, Miliband has gained cross party support and a hard Brexit now has some sort of opposition.
Brexit Secretary and man so bad they almost named him twice but gave up, David Davis, said in the Brexit debate in Parliament, that MPs won’t get to vote on Brexit negotiations but could still be asked to approve the final deal, if only to check spelling and occasionally explain to Davis what bits of it actually mean. Davis also stated they ‘will seek the most open, barrier free market we can. Full stop, that will be as good as the single market.’ Which seems to be suggesting they definitely won’t stay in the single market and also sounds a lot like he’s describing my local farmer’s market which only has a barrier for cars but then once you’re in it’s all go. And they have lovely cheese.
Oh and on a silly note, two MPs in one week have now said breakfast when they meant to say Brexit. Conservative MP Craig Tracey today and Welsh Tory Andrew RT Davies at the Conservative conference. Though while it seems like a mix-up, judging by the rhetoric coming from their party this week, it’s highly likely they were just both fantasising about a deal that leaves them with a full English result.
And that’s all for this week’s episode. Don’t forget, if you enjoyed you can subscribe and listen to previous episodes, some of which are still relevant because it seems things don’t get fixed very often! That’s usually a terrible thing but in terms of you listening to previous episodes of the podcast, that’s great! I mean you can go ‘that’s still awful even though this podcast is 4 months old!’ then chuckle knowingly to yourself. Or to someone else and creep them out. If you can give us a review on iTunes it’s always appreciated. Unless it’s a bad review, then it isn’t appreciated and I want you to know I will find you and write a bad review of your face and then post that somewhere and we’ll see who likes it. Sorry, I mean, please just give us a nice 5 stars eh? Also don’t forget, as of this week, this show has a Patreon where you can go and send me money because, let’s face it, what else were you going to do with that cash? What pay bills? What? Who’s bill? Pffft, just go to www.patreon.com/parpolbro and give me the money instead of him. He sounds like a chump.
This week’s episode was going to be brought to you by several numbers and letters but it turns out they are all foreign, so under new home office rules, episode 33 is just brought to you by: