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Tiernan (@tiernandouieb) speaks to John Aravosis (@Aravosis) from UnPresidented podcast about US political goings on. Plus, of course, Brexit.
Links and sources of info from John Aravosis’ interview:
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Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast episode 77. I’m Tiernan Douieb and this week like Prime Minister and only person who’s Madame Tussards waxwork has more warmth and personality than them, Theresa May, I too don’t answer hypothetical questions, or would I? No I wouldn’t. Oh wait, I just did didn’t I? Shit. This is harder than I thought.
The past week has been yet another one where I’ve wondered if Conservatives were brought up with an alternative version of the game would you rather where the aim is to pick the absolute worst choice possible without any reasoning or understanding of the consequences. For example I can see Brexit Secretary and what if wool was stupid David Davis responding to ‘Would you rather have a slightly stale sandwich or have you and your family and friends repeatedly punched in the face by someone with nails for hands?’ with an immediate confirmation that the second would be best for everyone involved, it’s the will of the people, you can’t deny democracy when it comes to hand nails in the face and that saying there’s any other option would be traitorous and unpatriotic or at least unfair to people with nail hands. On London radio station and home of the worst of cabbies viewpoints LBC on Tuesday Theresa May was asked if she’d vote for Brexit now she responded by saying she doesn’t answer hypothetical questions. If we’re all to understand that a hypothetical question is one where answers are expected to be an informed guess based on proven or assumed facts available at the time, then it’s obvious we have a Prime Minister who still hasn’t got a fucking clue what they’re doing. Of course I’m just making an informed guess. An informed guess because it seems once again after being asked would you like a Brexit with deals that aren’t super amazing but hey you asked for it or would you rather have a lot less than you had before and spend the foreseeable future re-enacting a nationwide survival horror show? Of course the Conservatives are vying for the latter, though if to be fair it does make sense considering all their policies since 2010 do seem to have been building towards some sort of hunger games scenario. And I mean, as the Office of National Statistics have revealed the UK is £490bn poorer than previously thought on account of owning so few foreign assets, so why not just do all you can to make the economy even worse? I mean that’s how you fix things right? What’s the saying? It gets worse before it gets better yeah? So maybe the idea is to make things so worse, that they swing back super brilliantly better as a result. I just hope it’s my future relatives who work out how to survive by only eating other people who’ll find that out first.
But I’m being over the top right? A no deal is cool yeah? I mean the UK loves having the no option. Shall we have an alternative vote? No! Shall Scotland go independent? No! Should we stay in the European Union? No! Should we act like grown ups and negotiate with the European Union to get the best case scenario now we’re leaving? No! We’re basically a nation of angry two year olds, my main concern being at some point we’ll all realise we’ve said no to potential political ice cream and spend months having a wailing crying tantrum about it. Rejected character from a Gullermo Del Toro film and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said a no deal will be fine because farmers will grow more food. Great! No we’ll have even more rotting legumes that can’t be picked by EU workers who aren’t there! Hooray! More gone off potatoes and an increase in the sort of creepy crawlies that feed off them! Which to be fair, is probably the sort of food Chris Grayling looks forward to eating. This comment followed Chancellor and only living Archaeopteryx Philip Hammond referring to the EU’s negotiating team as ‘the enemy’ at the IMF annual meeting in Washington. Because there’s nothing that helps negotiations ie a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement, like treating it as though it’s a war ie a state of conflict between two groups. If anything the point of negotiations is to avoid war, so there’s every possibility that Hammond is going for the violent bit now and hoping for peacetime talks in the aftermath or perhaps just some half decent make up sex. In reality however I fear the UK will be the one who shows us a picture of their family and says how much they can’t wait to see them again before going off screen to die horribly. Brexit negotiations or, if you’re Philip Hammond, table wars, start again on Thursday and at the time of recording Theresa May has discussed Brexit over dinner with Jean Claude Juncker in Brussels because she always likes to make a meal of every thing. Lots of cross party MPs are now working together to block the possibility of leaving with no deal at all, though I’m certain that the government will find their way around that by somehow managing to get a deal that’s almost nothing but someone gave David Davis a shiny bit of foil to play with so technically it’s ‘a deal’. Meanwhile total disgrace Liam the disgraced MP Fox has created a new board of trade but it seems he is the only member. I really can’t work out if, which is likely, he’s done this to create work for himself because he’s so useless, or, which is also likely, he asked other people but no one wants to work with such an awful, awful man. Rather than describing Liam Fox as an entire board, I’d much prefer the term to be that he’s a one-man complete plank.
Meanwhile on the other side, Labour leader and what happens if you anthropomorphise a loaf of Soreen, Jeremy Corbyn, wants to tackle automation by allowing workers to control and own the robots that will be used in the workplace. There’s a man who’s never seen Robot Wars before. Sure for a while it might well empower and benefit the workers, but it’s only time before a group of eight year old kids make a bunch of bearded men cry and even Dara O’Brien struggles to sort it out. Meanwhile at the National Youth Policy conference, delegates of Young Labour or as I like to call it, the minor’s union, backed a motion for the UK to withdraw from NATO on the basis that it no longer meets our collective needs. Sure, but I mean, since when has NATO ever delivered smashed avocado? Ha! I joke like an old person. The motion won’t affect Labour policy which is to commit to continued NATO membership, but it will go to the party’s National Policy Forum for discussion. Defence Secretary and rejected Guess Who character Michael Fallon has called on Corbyn to reject Young Labour’s motion, but considering six years ago Corbyn called NATO a danger to world peace, this could kick up all sorts of problems. And I guess if it becomes a really big problem for Labour, it’ll kind of prove that maybe NATO starts more conflicts than not.
And lastly, Austria looks set to be home to the youngest leader in Europe with right wing Sebastian Kurz, aged 31, looking likely to become chancellor if his group the People’s Party start a coalition with the far right Freedom Party after they emerged as the biggest parties in the country’s snap election. There are lots of worrying things about this. Firstly yeah some young people can be conservatives, I know right? What does this mean for the very fabric of everything I’ve known. How lonely at school was this guy Kurz? And secondly, it’s another example of anti-immigration sentiment and the rise of the far right in Eastern Europe. With the Freedom party, who are full on fascists, coming second, it’s as though Germany said with their elections ‘hey! A small handful of us are gonna vote for neo-Nazis’ and Austria looked at them and said ‘Wait, hold my beer hall putsch.’
Oh and speaking of fascism, UKIP’s new leader Henry Bolton said in an interview that he could kill a badger with his bare hands. I really hope he attempts this as badgers are pretty dangerous, plus the joy of seeing the UKIP leader get mauled by an animal that is both black and white would be priceless.
Hello listener peoples! How’s you? I had two unexciting poltical encounters this week, neither of which are worth telling you about but I will because, well, content, right? First up on my stupid early morning flight back from Aberdeen on Sunday – and thanks to all of youse who came to my show at the lovely comedy festival there – on my flight was former first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, and I can report that, well, he did nothing interesting at all. Wow! Right! I was hoping he’d at least cause a fuss about something so we could all shout ‘behave yourself’ at him, but no. Then I did a kids gig back in London on Sunday afternoon and who was in the audience and occasionally on his phone instead of paying attention? That’s right, former Labour leader, bacon sandwich victim and now also podcaster on the very fun Reasons To Be Cheerful podcast Ed Miliband. It was a really horrible show though due to a group of 40 7 year olds being a constant wall of noise so there’s every chance was just texting SOS messages to someone. Though you would think he was tuff enough for it. So yeah the former SNP leader and the former Labour leader in one day. Let me tell you dearest listeners, I was shitting myself worrying that I’d come home to find David Cameron had popped by for dinner. Yes, there’s my hugely uninteresting political spots. Have you had any very unexciting political pap moments? If so drop me a line at @parpolbro on Twitter, the Partly Political Broadcast facebook group or firstname.lastname@example.org and give it the hashtag #mehmps and I’ll respond with pretend excitement and read them out next week.
As usual, you’re all bloody champs for listening into this show and it is excellent to see more and more of you get onboard the podwagon each week. But, and like with cigarettes and people, there’s always a but, it would be great to bully more people into listening to my weekly noise, so please do spread the word and please please, if you haven’t already, review the show on whatever listening platform you use, even if it’s just a plank of wood in the sea with some speakers on it. If that is your listening platform please carve something nice about Parpolbro on the side of it. Ta. Also if you can afford to, please give a regular donation to the patreon at patreon.com/parpolbro or give me a one-off small donation to ko-fi.com/parpolbro. It all helps to make this show better, and if nothing else, helps you get rid of your unwanted pesky money. It’s so damn pesky.
No admin this week but I did see Fern Brady’s show at the Aberdeen Comedy Festival which made me laugh a lot, despite some unwanted interactions from a twat, but she is now on tour and I’d highly recommend checking if she’s near you and booking in. So go see that. Also the youth and student branch of CND have asked me to let you know that they are doing a free day of workshops on campaigning, lobbying and direct action in Waterloo on October 21st and they have some great guests speakers. Looks like an excellent day and you can find out more via @youthstudentCND on Twitter.
On this week’s show there’s not as much me as usual which is partly because I’ve spent the weekend roaming around upper Scotland where they seem very happy fracking is banned. And they should. Do you remember a few years back over microwaved sausage David Cameron said the only reason people are worried about fracking is because they don’t know enough about it. Yeah mate. Same goes for death, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to inflict it on people willy nilly. Anyway, what there is is a longer than normal interview with John Aravosis, political consultant, podcaster and civil rights activist with an update from across the pond. Plus there’s a little bit of Brexit Fallout because I know you guys are all like ‘but what’s happening with that it’s like no one mentions it anymore?’ Chill guys, I gots ya brexits to the brimfulxits. Oh yeah and don’t forget some of this:
RACE DIVERSITY REPORT
The government have published a race disparity audit, which had the aim of shining a light on the experiences and prejudices that people from different ethic groups face in schools, work, hospitals and the justice system. Though it is just a report and not action, so there’s every chance that Theresa May commissioned this report so she could just point her finger at the findings and, go ‘ooh that’s bad’ then forget about it until she mentions in a speech next year how her government destroyed racism. However the report was very useful in that it showed that it is a fact that racial wealth inequality exists with BME people in the UK more likely to live in overcrowded and fuel poor housing than white people, a much higher rate of homelessness amongst BME people and that BME households are most likely to lack safety features such as fire alarms, an issue that was made upsettingly prevalent with the Grenfell Tower fire earlier this year. The report also found that employment rates were 76% for white British people but 64% for BME, and that while some UK ethnic minorities perform better in schools than white British children, but sadly as can be seen with employment figures, it doesn’t seem to help with economic progress. There is a lot more information there including that black men are more likely to be found guilty in court, black Caribbean children are more likely to be expelled from school and oddly white 15 year olds are more likely to take up smoking than any other group, probably necessary to help them cope with the white guilt that they can actually afford cigarettes due to horrific racial wealth inequality.
So while the government hasn’t announced any action to follow this report up, it has put out in the open how vast the levels of racial disparity are in the UK, something that anyone who’s not white would have been able to tell you for years, it’s just that it’s taken ages for a government to even get this far probably because, yep, racial disparity. I doubt it helps that the Conservatives only have 19 BME MPs out of 317 proving that they are also part of the problem. Labour are slightly better at 32 MPs but that’s still not proportionately representational to the amount of seats they have, however they did launch a diverse communities manifesto with proposals for public sector equality duties, equal pay audit requirements and an inquiry into names based discrimination something that I could pretend I’ve faced but I don’t think being listed for a gig as Doobie Tehran really counts. But all of that would be a positive start. Instead all the government have offered at the moment is Sajid Javid mentioning that they are working on a new integration strategy, which sounds a lot like they’re already blaming inequalities on the people suffering from them, because they haven’t become British enough. Brilliant work. Why not just suggest everything would be fixed if everyone’s surname was Smith, everyone only ate chips and all their kids started smoking? Hopefully there will be more than just Javid’s plans, including some historical and class context for the data too, which is sorely missing from the report. May said she wanted the report to reveal uncomfortable truths, let’s hope one isn’t that yet again her government think just releasing this report is anywhere near enough to change things. You can view the whole report at www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN ARAVOSIS
America, a country that’s probably currently considering changing it’s full title to the United In Panicking About The Fucking States Of Things Of America. You might remember a few episodes back I said I’d be avoiding covering things that Donald Trump aka the public health warning about why you shouldn’t give the Lorax crystal meth, because let’s face it, that man churns out a relentless torrent of crap that can barely be covered in a daily podcast let alone a weekly one. In the last week alone, Trump has both threatened to scrap the Iran nuclear deal which originally forced them to scale back their nuclear arsenal, meanwhile Trump has continued to threaten North Korea because they have missiles. The Annoying Orange has less consistency than paint thinner in space. He withdrew the US from UNESCO, an organisation who’s tagline is building peace in the minds of men and women, something that Trump obviously wouldn’t like. I’m sure if you swapped building peace for building walls and removed the women from that statement, he’d have stayed in. Trump continued to press ahead with the dismantling of the Affordable Health Care Act, nominated a climate change skeptic, Kathleen Hartnett White, to the white house environmental policy board, the white house accidentally emailed a reporter in a chain about how to spin the recovery effort, in Puerto Rice, made comments alluding to the banning of freedom of press and said that he’d met the President of the Virgin Islands which you’d hope he had, as it’s him, because the Virgin Islands are a US territory. So unless ‘I met the President Of The Virgin Islands’ is a weird euphemism for something none of us want to imagine, then he’s definitely an idiot. That’s just the last week. Oh and while becoming the first president to attend an anti-LGBT hate group gathering in Washington, which is an achievement no one should want, Trump told the Value Voters summit that he doesn’t have a schedule but if he did, he’d say he was substantially ahead of schedule which if I guess he thinks means in golfing rounds, then that does make sense. With this relentless news, you could almost say he’s an incredibly productive President if it wasn’t for the fact that everything he does is so hideously unproductive for humanity.
That’s what the entire past year has been in the US and as I watched Hilary Clinton on The One Show on BBC last week, look confused yet bemused at their seamless link from her election failure to a vox pop about a barber who lost some money, I thought about the alternate reality where she had won the election and while probably still tried to start war with Iran, but at least everyone in America would be less tired overall. But I thought it was time for an update on that big land lump across the pond where they do the burgers, and so I interviewed John Aravosis. John is a democratic political consultant, a journalist, a civil rights activist taking on, at one point, BP over doctored photos of an oil spill, and John also writes the very popular AmericaBlog and co-hosts the Unpresidented podcast. Phew! How does everyone in the US do so much stuff? We had an excellent chat but we didn’t cover a lot of stuff, including the horrific Weinstein stuff, or much about Puerto Rico and the rise in racism is mentioned but mainly, we went on a chat about what Trump’s presidency means for the future of American politics. Spoiler alert: Not good things!
Oh and I will say that for some reason I had a slight brain meltdown and forget words such as ‘warranted’ among others so apologies for my poorly worded questions in amongst John’s fascinating answers. I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed talking to him.
Here’s John Aravosis:
INTERVIEW PART 1
And we’ll be back with John in a minute but first:
News has just come in that Theresa May’s dinner meeting with EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker took place in a constructive and friendly atmosphere, which just sounds a lot like they had a snack at LegoLand. But while the two made a joint statement that Brexit negotiations would accelerate over the months to come, this comes just days after EU negotiator said the two sides had reached deadlock. I mean, how bad is it that you end up killing a lock? So could this week’s joint statement merely mean negotiations are accelerating really fast towards a really strong brick wall with May expressing less awareness of what to do than a crash test dummy. Hopefully the hints at a no deal Brexit were the government’s way of trying to frighten the EU, you know, in the way an ant might frighten an elephant by saying it was preparing to punch it in the leg, because there are really no advantages at all to it. Now a sky news poll showed that 74% of the public think no deal is better than a bad deal, but those are people who are also happy watching Kay Burley report news like its an untrained puppy and she’s a a lion tamer. But there’s a concern that people back the idea of a no deal because to them, it sounds like keeping the status quo and no, I don’t mean making sure people won’t stop listening to really boring rock music. But no deal is the absolute opposite of that, and in fact is a lot more like keeping The Status Quo to play really boring rock music all day and therefore making your life awful and the white paper that the government chucked out on trade and customs show that while they say they are preparing for a no deal, they also seem to assume it’d mean rocking all over the world, rather than the reality of crying on our lonely island. Ok I’ll stop with the status quo jokes for now, or keep them, whatever you want. SORRY.
Back in March confused uncle David Davis said there was no contingency plan for a no deal and now these white papers show that he wasn’t wrong but they now know which words to use to fill a whole bit of paper pretending that there is. Titled ‘A contingency scenario’ it doesn’t include any details of how much it’d cost or how feasible it is and the section on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland seems to basically say that its really nice that the EU consider this issue and we’ll try our bestest to sort it out but you know we’re really busy and have got a lot on. Fact is a no deal would mean a definite border in Ireland and even if the British side don’t do it, the Republic of Ireland could be taken to the European Court of Justice for allowing a third party state open access to the EU and they’d have to build one instead. A no deal would mean lots of flight issues as flights between the UK and other countries wouldn’t be able to do stop offs in Europe and any countries flight requirements that previously went via the EU like the US’s stupid need for fingerprints, shoe searches, your favourite childhood anecdote and one of your pets or whatever it is, is all agreed with the EU so would have to be renegotiated before flights could be allowed. And of course food tariffs would rocket, or other types of lettuce as British food places won’t have competitive access to the EU which is where most of them sell to, so they’ll make you pay extra to keep them going. Chris Grayling said a no deal would see British farmers growing more food, but part of that may be that they have to feed their families after they can’t afford to buy other produce anymore due to high costs and can’t sell any of their own for the same reason.
MPs are trying to add amendments to the EU withdrawal bill that will mean a No Deal cannot happen and that some arrangements have to be made. But what would actually be better would be if the government released a number of documents that show the effects of Brexit onto over 50 sections of the economy. The government keep refusing to release them under freedom of information act as they believe these documents are not in the public interest despite lots of members of the public asking for them. I mean why would people not want to know the results of studies into what will happen after Brexit? Do they really likes surprises? That’s not the case or people wouldn’t bother seeing blockbuster films despite having seen the 12 trailers that have come out week after week ruining all the good bits beforehand. It’s more likely the government don’t want people to see them or they’d realise that things will be bad with a bad deal and worse with a no deal and just generally terrible with this terrible government. The Good Law Project, formed by former pod guest Jolyon Maugham, have written to David Davis’s department demanding that they release the records under the common law act or they will be taking the government to court over it. Which I’m sure makes them enemies in the eyes of David Davis, Philip Hammond and the like but at least these enemies are just expecting them to talk, rather than, like the enemies of the people, the UK government, expecting our prospects to die.
And now back to John:
INTERVIEW PART 2
Big thanks to John for that chat. I’ve added a teeny bit more of that interview at the end of this episode which I thought I’d do as it was a long chat anyway and that way should you choose to hear John’s thoughts on attempting to be positive, you can stick to the end of the show for that, or if not, er, not. I’m not telling you what to do, I’m not your dad. If you want to follow John on Twitter you can find him @aravosis and then trawl through his follows for other recommendations. John’s progressive political blog can be found at AMERICAblog.com and his podcast, which I really enjoy is called UnPresidented and can be found in all your usual soundholes.
I’ve got a few interviewees coming up that I’m excited about but as I say every goddamn show, if you would like me to interview someone in particular or on a particular subject, please do let me know @parpolbro on Twitter, the Partly Political Broadcast group on Facebook or email@example.com. Or you can try the expensive Gerhard Zucker option of rocket mail where you fill the fuselage of a V7 with your message then fire it in the general direction of it’s delivery where it deploys a parachute on arrival or explodes and panics everyone causing Trump to start a war on the mail service as a result. Again, as always, it’s just easier to email.
And that is it for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast. Thanks again for listening to the show and please don’t forget to give the show a review, donate to the Patreon or ko-fi and generally just shout the RSS feed code at people on the bus.
Thanks to Acast for the hostings and to my brother The Last Skeptik for all the music and don’t forget his album This Is Where It Gets Good is available on all possible noisebases.
Next week this show be back to the usual me content where I’ll probably be saying ‘Oh wow, it turns out a no deal is better than a minus deal that we’ve somehow now got that means we have to put everything we have on a P&O ferry while Theresa May assures us we’re better off as long as we survive the winter without food or shelter.’
This week’s show was brought to you by Jeremy Corbyn’s Bring Your Robot To Work Day scheme. Why not encourage your workplace to allow you to bring your ED209, Terminator or Theresa May model to your office and let everyone kick off steam by firing lasers at wacky Jeff from accounts? Give it a try!
LAST BIT OF JOHN INTERVIEW