Episode 79 – A sort of Halloween AARGHpisode where Tiernan speaks to Liz Castro (@lizcastro) about the Catalan Independence movement plus more Brexit horrors.
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A sort of Halloween AARGHpisode where Tiernan speaks to Liz Castro (@lizcastro) about the Catalan Independence movement plus more Brexit horrors.
Links and sources of info from Liz Castro’s interview:
All the usual ParPolBro stuff:
AMERICAN SEX PROMO
Hello and welcome to the HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR SCAREDITION OF THE PARRRGGHHHrtly PoOOOOOOooolitical BroOOOOadcaAAAAAst aka episode 79, I’m Tiernan Douieb or to continue with the tedious theme for this week, Fear-nan Boo-Yeb and this year my Halloween costume is me dressed up as a tweet from a reputable site just saying ‘Breaking news’. Because really this year doesn’t Halloween just feel a bit pointless? It’s more of a sort of pity fest for ghouls & ghosties who were scary until 2017 happened and now, if anything, being chased by a terrifying murder clown down a dark subway would be a blessed relief compared to checking the headlines. Similarly celebrating the capture of Guy Fawkes on Fireworks Night because he tried to blow up the houses of Parliament now feels like it should be a day or mourning for his failure as the government seems to be doing a good enough job of destroying the place all by themselves.
But back to Halloween as this past week it seems a definite spectre has been haunting Westminster as it seems the ghost of inappropriate behaviour has been walking the corridors of power for some time, which is less of a jump scare and more of a creepy long lasting sense of horror that many of us have had for some time. A number of allegations against MPs were revealed this past weekend, including a story about International Trade minister and man who if he was a horror film he’s be the In Descent, MP Mark Garnier referring to his former aide as sugartits and making her buy two sex toys, something that he described as good humoured high jinks proving that he doesn’t have a sense of humour and is a creepy horrible prick. His former aide Caroline Edmondson who stopped working for him after the incident, said Garnier version of events were lies, something he seems to do often considering his past record of campaigning against tobacco smuggling while receiving gifts from Japan Tobacco International. Garnier is currently under investigation but considering he now has two sex toys that he allegedly inappropriately forced his poor former aide to buy, I think he should go fuck himself. Prime Minister and only person to be afflicted with a living dead career Theresa May said that she will take tough action to get new safeguarding procedures for parliamentary staff, saying the current ones lack teeth, but with Tory aides having compiled a list of 36 Conservative MPs who’ve conducted inappropriate behaviour and The Times reporting that May gets weekly updates about the sexual indiscretions of her MPs yet still keeps them in the cabinet, it seems more like once again May lacks a spine. You do start to wonder if the skeletons in many of the Westminster closets are actually just compiled of various missing bits of current serving ministers. Jigsaw’s stunt double and Environmental Secretary Michael Gove did his usual trick of making matters massively worse by making a rape joke on the Today Program on Saturday morning where he compared being in a room with John Humphreys with being abused by perverted whale carcass and sex offending film producer Harvey Weinstein because you hope you emerge with your dignity intact, something that after telling that supposed joke, he hugely failed to do. Here’s a better gag Michael. Hearing a Michael Gove joke that trivialises rape culture is like being in a room with Michal Gove, because both times you think ‘what a total cunt.’
This isn’t just a Conservative issue, but a cross party one as Labour MP and Dummy’s Curse Jared O’Mara was suspended last week and is now under investigation for his sexist and homophobic social media comments, or as they’re known in 2017, everyday tweets by a man online, and there are also allegations about other Labour politicians and a Lib Dem peer as well. It is upsetting and worrying, if sadly unsurprising that the abuse of people is so prevalent in a place full of those who abuse power. Labour leader and Let The Left One In Jeremy Corbyn said that MPs who abuse or sexually harass women must be held to account though I think it’d best for anyone to avoid holding them if possible. It is now up to parliament to deal with this quickly as this story will no doubt grow with more names being revealed. But with the Times reporting that Downing Street are concerned about two senior ministers who have been implicated in inappropriate behaviour, as their resignation could destabilise the government I worry that considering they are willing to overturn the country with Brexit to keep power, this story too, like a terrifying Halloween tale, will be buried alive as soon as possible. Commons leader and mother Andrea Leadsom is going to propose grievance procedures to tackle sexual harassment in parliament, which feels a bit like putting Mr Blobby in charge of carefully handling your firework display. There is every chance she’ll just suggest everyone should be a bit more patriotic and then try to sell them some jam.
Meanwhile when it comes to the never-ending frightfest that is Brexit, concerns were raised this week when it was revealed that Conservative MP and Dead Slow Chris Heaton Harris wrote a letter to all UK university vice-chancellors demanding they declare what they are teaching students about Brexit and a list of teacher’s names. This sounded very much like a McCarthyite request with hints that if the universities had any pro-remain bias that they’d be in trouble, and I hope many of those universities quickly wrote back saying ‘sure but only if you send us all those unpublished government reports detailing the impact of Brexit to ensure we teach our students using only facts.’ It was an odd move from a party who only the week before were criticising universities of demeaning free speech because they set up safe spaces, but it’s now evident that that’s because it’s harder to storm into a safe space and kick out anyone who’s not being patriotic enough about the government’s decision to shoot both it’s feet off at once so it doesn’t have to share it’s shoes. Heaton-Harris insisted that the letters were simply research he was doing for a book and I know realise that this may all have been an innocent attempt to actually find out what on earth is happening with Brexit from actual experts considering his own party don’t seem to have a clue.
In other terrifying tales the Department of Health is proposing hospital patients recuperate in strangers homes in a sort of NHS Air BnB operation to free up beds. Because they’ve clearly never seen Stephen King’s Misery. I mean what could be more relaxing than being immobile in an unknown home with carers who have no training at all and you can’t even choose what you watch on the telly? Are they hoping it’ll persuade patients to feel so uncomfortable they’ll heal super quickly just so they can go home rather than make yet more shitty small talk about X-Factor with someone who’s only employable skill is having a spare room? It does feel like this is just Health Secretary and The Thicker Man Jeremy Hunt and his team trying to work out ways of fulfilling their life long dream of having someone die in their own home and getting away with it.
And lastly, to a true American Horror Story, American President and Babacrook Donald Trump. The Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has stepped up and Trump’s election campaign advisor George Papadopoulos has admitted to lying to the FBI about meetings with Russian go-betweens that he had previously said were before he worked with Trumpo, but now admits they were during. Yes, it turns out he’s had more Russian connections than Aeroflot and one promised him dirt on Hilary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. While this could be hugely daming to Trump, the White House has of course said that the focus should be on Hilary Clinton. To which everyone readily agrees but not at all for the same reasons as Trump does.
Hey hey hey! I know Halloween will probably be over by the time several of you later week listeners hear this show but it’s nice to have a theme isn’t it? And with the last week of news this week the theme could only have been Halloween or the prevalence of sex offenders in society and as a comedy podcast it easier to find the funny in fictional monsters than real ones. So Halloween it is. So depressing that it wasn’t just the clocks that went back on the weekend but also societal progress. Well hopefully this podcast will vaguely lighten your dark evenings and be more of a treat than a cruel trick. Incidentally do you ever think magicians get tired of people supposing that the choice is trick or treat rather than suppose the possibility that they can be mutually exclusive? Who knows! What I do know is that if you really want to scare your friends this Halloween, why not just delete your social media accounts without warning and not answer their calls for a year! Hilarious! Ahem.
Halloween tips aside, thanks as always for tuning in to this show. Do you tune in? How did I get so old? And thanks to those of you who sent nice comments about last week’s interview with Awate, and also to regular listener and linear note contributer Kat Day who asked if could point out that some of Awate’s comments on schooling were based on his own experiences and not a comment on schooling today. I should’ve said that last week’s show so apologies for not doing that, and Kat’s message also reminded me that while I did interview someone about the education sector about a year ago, I haven’t done since then. So, question for you listeners, how regularly should I have guests on to update about things that are constantly big issues such as education or the NHS or Brexit? Once a year, twice a year? Let me know as it’s hard to know how much to focus on one area when there are so many messes to discuss. Also last week’s ep was a long one, and I’ve realised, checking the stats that a chunk of you never listen past 38 minutes so should I be making this whole thing shorter? If so, which section would you like to see go? I regularly listen to long podcasts and I’m loathe to cut interesting bits of interview out so if you have any suggestions let me know @parpolbro on Twitter, the Partly Political Broadcast facebook group or email@example.com. If you’re a long time listener those should be embedded in your brain now like an 80’s Saturday morning kids show telephone number. If you’re under 30 seriously just ask someone 5-10 years older older than you what the Live and Kicking telephone number was. It will stick in the recesses of their brain until death.
Thanks this week to Harriet, Helen and Aaron who have all pledged to the Patreon, that is hugely appreciated and if you too wish to donate to keeping this podcast going, please do so at www.patreon.com/parpolbro or a one-off to the ko-fi.com/parpolbro and if you’re as bored of me plugging it as I am, then either donate or if any of you want to make jingles or suggest a donate jingle I could do, let me know. It’s not easy to find a beat that goes with a URL. Also thanks to A-Col24 for the lovely review on iTunes where they said that the only negative thing is that they keep getting Brexit fallout in their head when it’s mentioned in lectures. Excellent. That’s all I want from this show. If no-one ever listens to it again, at least I’ve ruined learning with homemade earworms. I do hope you’ve not let Chris Heaton-Harris know about those lectures!
Other things this week. Firstly, as I mentioned last week I am doing my EdFringe show for the very last time in London at 2Northdown right near Kings Cross station on November 19th. Tickets are only £5 and you can grab them from tickettext.co.uk. I will be filming it too so please do come otherwise it’ll look rubbish on the filmed version where it’s just me shouting at an empty room. It’ll be less a comedy special and more something that needs to be in black and white with moody French music that might do well at Cannes but nowhere else. Secondly, I’m a tad late to this but hopefully in time so some of you can still catch it. My pals Jonny and the Baptists, Josie Long and Grace Petrie are doing a comedy tour called Lefty Scum. They started last week and are doing dates all across the UK till November the 9th. Search for lefty scum comedy tour and you should find all the details but they are all excellent and it’ll be a brilliant show if you like left winged tinged political comedy, so do head along.
Right this week, by popular demand and well, the news, I interview political writer Liz Castro on Catalonia’s bid for independence and we had quite a long chat so there will be a little bit of Brexit Fallout too and that’s enough to fuel your nightmares for this week. But of course, before any of that hoo hah, here’s this hah hoo:
Northern Ireland still has no government. Imagine that. I can’t work out if that’s better or worse than a government who’s there but being but everyone wishes they weren’t. Sadly for Northern Ireland because there is a still a deadlock on the power sharing agreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP, it looks like they may now be ending up with our shitty government too. Theresa May has said she doesn’t want to inflict direct rule on Northern Ireland, and I’m sure that’s not only because of the problems that could cause in the area but also because she has enough trouble being in charge of the rest of the UK as it is. But with the deadlock now lasting 10 months and the gaps between the two parties being reported to have widened, which is not good considering it was already the sort of thing a train announcement would’ve less appropriate for than, say, an unstable rope bridge, it looks like the UK parliament will now have to set the NI budget. This budget won’t include the £1bn pledge to the DUP that May promised as part of the confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives as that is only agreed for if a power sharing agreement is made. But what it may include is a salary cut for the Members of the Legislative Assembly who despite not having sat since March, have been receiving their full salary. To be fair, if I knew I could get paid to not go to work, I’d refuse to share with others too. As it is, without the £1bn the DUP don’t need to be supporting May in the UK parliament, and without their own assembly, no one is really supporting Northern Ireland’s place in the Brexit talks. I can’t help but wonder that if Sinn Fein and the DUP really can’t agree anytime soon then maybe it’s time to just let 3rd place take over as a consolation prize or give it as a prize in a raffle. Though with things as tricky as they are I wouldn’t be surprised if the winner asked to swap for the 2nd prize bottle of wine instead.
A review by the care quality commission says that young people have unequal access to mental health services. Yes those young people that also have worse wages, less access to benefits, little to no chance of housing and have to understand how snapchat works, those ones that probably need mental health services more than any other generation, can’t really get them. The review said that 40% of services in England needed improvement with long waiting times, lack of support while young people were waiting for care and issues in many areas with access to services. The head of NHS’s mental health services in England said that there has been a 15% increase in spending on mental health treatment for young people in the last year, but there are also 5000 fewer mental health nurses since 2010 and if you include nurses who aren’t categorised as mental health nurses but work with patients who have learning difficulties, then the number rises to 7000. So 15% more budget isn’t that helpful. It’s like saying there’s 15% more musical instruments for an orchestra without enough musicians. Sure I bet the philharmonic will sound great with no wind section but instead three one man bands. Health Secretary and man who constantly looks and speaks as though he’s just stood on a rake Jeremy Hunt said that he needed more time to fix the mental health crisis, despite him now being in office as the health secretary for 5 years. I bet he used to turn up to school and complain that he hadn’t done his homework as he ran out of time only for the teacher to tell him that he should’ve left school ten years ago and please could he leave as it’s upsetting the pupils. Hunt proclaimed on the Andrew Marr show that Rome wasn’t built in a day. True, but if after 5 years Hunt had been in charge of Rome, then the empire would’ve been defeated on the 22nd of April 753 BC by a light breeze that knocked over the straw dog kennel they’d made a rough mock up for.
INTERVIEW PART 1
The relationship between Catalonia and Spain appears to be that of a globalised Ibsen play. Catalonia, self sufficient, years of it’s own history, wants to go out and be independent, away from it’s long suffering relationship with Spain, but Spain cannot bear to let it go and so expresses it’s love for Catalonia by enforcing it to stay. Just like all Ibsen plays this will either end with someone storming out, killing themselves or however Ghosts ended cos I dozed off during that one. Yeah so while that analogy doesn’t really work what is clear is that the situation in Catalonia is far from over. After the Catalonian parliament declared independence, the Spanish government dissolved them in what must’ve been a huge glass of water, and then declared direct rule stripping Catalonia of all autonomy which is the exact opposite of what they wanted. Imagine trying to do a flatshare with the Spanish government. I’d say ‘hey I’d really like my toy lightsaber in the flat’, they’d say they don’t want it there, I bring it anyway and next thing I know they’ve shot George Lucas. So now there will be a regional election in December where the Catalonian leader Carles Puidgemont can stand if he hasn’t been arrested by then by defying the government’s orders and upholding the independence referendum and pro-unity protests have been rallying in Barcelona all weekend from those who wish to stay part of Spain. It’s almost like these fights for independence are tricky and cause major division, not that we in the UK would know anything about that or anything. Ahem. So what does all this mean, why has it happened, will no one think about how the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain is no way as good as ‘you only get pneumonia in Catalonia if you stand by the begonias.’
So, as many of you have been asking me on the facebook and twitter groups, this week I finally spoke to an expert about it all. Liz Castro is a writer and translator who currently lives in Barcelona and spent the last few years writing about the Catalan independence movement. Her most recent book Many Grains Of Sand: A Sourcebook of ideas for changing the world tried and tested in Catalonia is all about the peaceful activism of the Catalan people. Now, as is probably obvious, Liz is a pro-Catalan independence voice and I should say that there are pro-union voices out there and it’s worth noting that, as Liz mentions, many news sites say it was only 90% of 43% of Catalonians that voted for independence, many were stopped from voting by angry violent riot police so it’s hard to get exact figures. Though Spanish paper El Pais on Saturday had a poll where 55% of Catalonian respondants were against independence and 41% were for, but again, that’s in a paper though again that is supposedly a centre-left and more independent paper, so look, who knows? All I know is that Liz was a delight to talk to and the chat with her was hugely informative. Though we spoke last Wednesday and already a lot has happened since then. So with all that in mind, here is Liz Castro:
INTERVIEW PART 1
And we’ll be back with Liz in a minute but first:
I’m one of those sorts of people who, when getting a new device I like to just skim read the first getting started pages then press a lot of buttons and assume I’ll work it out as I go along. More often than not it means within a few weeks I’ve broken it and then have to cry down the phone to tech support and waste hours of my life listening to pan pipe versions of songs that were boring before they were reinterpreted through an instrument so dull even a strong wind can only be half arsed to play it. But that’s a device. if you were to hand me the future of the UK with a manual I’d go through it meticulously even google translating the bits in other languages that are the first bit repeated, just incase they said something the English bit had missed. So it completely baffled me when this week Brexit Secretary and man who’s mastermind subject would be wrong answers to things and he’d still fail to score any points, David Davis said that Theresa May had only read the summary outcomes of the secret Whitehall Brexit impact reports, but not every excruciating detail. If the Prime Minister pays such little attention to minor crucial details on the future of the UK, I feel like it’s almost worth rejigging the Apple agreement so if she ever gets music from iTunes it means she agrees to resign as Prime Minister. More than 120 MPs have signed a letter saying they’d like to see these impact reports, the contents of which very few outside of the Department for exiting the EU know about but they have released information on the 58 sectors they’ve looked at which amount to 88% of the economy. But they’ve only put limited information on there and says that they’d like to see zero tariffs on goods, which I mean sure. I’d like to see my old pair of trainers turn into gold bars but considering I’m not a wizard alchemist & how uncomfortable it’d be to pop to the shops in a pair of gold bars, it doesn’t mean it’ll happen. The DExEU are still insisting they won’t be releasing the full reports because they say it’ll undermine their negotiating position. Yes like how me showing you my hand of cards undermines my poker playing position, especially when you realise I have a set of animal snap cards and all my chips on the table are made of play-doh. What I take this stance to actually mean is that the reports aren’t great. Because if they were good, they’d at least do a teaser preview trailer with highlights to a bit of Led Zepplin and then we could get excited at the easter eggs that appear, but not revealing a bit means they’re probably hiring Damon Lindloff to rewrite the ending asap.
The EU have warned the UK that it may take up to 30 years to repay Britain the billions of Euros it has paid into the European Investment Bank because, well, that’s how investments work. Still it means by 2054 the UK will gain back the £3.5bn euros it has put in, and that’ll be great as it can be used to be invested in all those things the UK hasn’t been able to afford for the last 30 years on account of all the Brexit costs and losses.
Meanwhile Baroness Anelay is the third minister to leave the DExEU in just four months although she has cited that it is due to the worsening of an injury sustained in 2015. I mean I’m sure banging your head on the desk constantly for the past year hasn’t helped. Figures released by the department show they have lost more than 20% of their staff in the last 14 months which I guess if nothing else, does show their commitment to leaving.
So if having Brexit handled by a mostly empty department full of people who’ve not read the manuals for it wasn’t enough to make you wonder about the future of Brexit, Theresa May has said that she is confident that Mps will have a vote on the Brexit outcome before we leave. She did also have confidence in the snap election earlier this year so it’s not really saying much, but if it does happen, it could mean that MPs vote against whatever deal May’s government proposes and that could trigger yet another election. Because we bloody love an election in the UK we do. I predict that by 2025 we’ll be on 3 elections a year with a best of compilation at Christmas.
And now, back to Liz Castro:
INTERVIEW PART 2
Thank you to Liz for talking with me. As I mentioned at the start, we chatted last week and since then so much has already happened so hopefully that gave you a good enough build up and background to be able to keep up with what’s going on with Spain dissolving direct rule threat and the regional elections that will now take place in December and all of that and I will take a look at where things are in a few weeks too. Until then, do follow Liz Castro on Twitter @lizcastro, her website is lizcastro.com and her most recent book Many Grains of Sand is available in places that sell books and not in places that don’t sell books, like Halfords. You won’t find it in Halfords. Though judging by how unhelpful the staff in my local Halfords are, you won’t find anything there unless you complain a lot then go find it yourself.
Who do you want me to talk to? Please don’t say someone at Halfords. I mean interview wise. If there’s someone you’d like me interview please let me know and I’m aware there’s a ton of issues that I’m hoping to find someone to talk to from the sexual harassment news, to China’s recent lack of an election, to catching up on education stuff to the elections in Kenya and so on. But your ears are most important and I do hope you’re looking after them in this cold weather, so drop me a line and let me know what you’d like to hear. You can contact me on @parpolbro on Twitter, the Partly Political Broadcast facebook group or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can send a raven which I understand is an effective method in Game of Thrones though I do live in an area where a lot of people own cats, so I worry by the time it turned up it’d be half a raven with a message that has severe feline claw marks in it and doesn’t make sense and all you’ve done is endangered a bird. It’s much better just to email.
And that is all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast. Thank you as always for listening and don’t forget to review the show on your podcast app of choice, donate to the Patreon or ko-fi.com accounts if you can afford to and please just generally spread the word and tell everyone you know they have to listen to it as it’s one of their 5 ear fruits a day. I don’t know what an ear fruit is but I reckon if you say it with enough conviction at least one of them will subscribe and another will try and put a banana in their ear which will be hilarious enough to make it worthwhile.
Thanks again to Acast for hosting the show and my brother The Last Skeptik for all the music and his podcast Thanks for trying and his new album This Is Where It Gets Good can both be found on iTunes and other music providers.
I’ll be back next week when reviews of Michael Gove’s debut appearance on Live At The Apollo gains reviews such as ‘being there was like being a survivor of a terrorist attack in that he died horribly but we’ve all got PTSD and will never forget it.’
This week’s show is brought to you by Chris Heaton-Harris’s new book ‘Tis The Treason: How to disguise McCarthyism behind a thinly veiled writing deadline excuse’. Available from all patriotic bookshops now.