Episode 83 – Budget Budget Budget! Tiernan speaks to Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson (@maryanncv8) at Women’s Budget Group (@womensbudgetgrp) about the pros and cons of Hammond’s budget. Plus a look at Brexit Irish border issues too and Tiernan has a cold. Again.
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Budget Budget Budget! Tiernan speaks to Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson (@maryanncv8) at Women’s Budget Group (@womensbudgetgrp) about the pros and cons of Hammond’s budget. Plus a look at Brexit Irish border issues too and Tiernan has a cold. Again.
Links and sources of info from Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson’s interview:
All the usual ParPolBro stuff:
Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast episode 83. I’m Tiernan Douieb and this week like Chancellor of the Exchequer and Carpet World reject bin contents with a face Philip Hammond I too think it’s best to buffer the rather gloomy future with a series of jokes, though unlike him I didn’t help cause the gloomy future nor do I get my gags from some sort of boring dad joke generator. Well not all of them anyway.
Yes the Autumn Budget has now been and gone leaving in it’s wake, well more of the same old shit rehashed in a new way but with the added bonus of the PTSD of Philip Hammond tell jokes with all the charm of an old rug throwing up. One of Hammond’s dead at the Apollo set pieces involved mentioning how he knows Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t like driverless cars but sorry it’s definitely not the first time you’ve been snubbed by Hammond and May, a joke somewhat hampered by a complete lack of likeable characters and something massive faced twat Clarkson could probably counter by just saying ‘at least I don’t only drive things either in reverse or into the ground.’ The main news though was that growth forecasts for the UK have been cut sharply for the next five years, but then it is very hard to grow when you’ve spent the last 7 years with your head up your arse gnawing away at your own insides like a toothless Ouroboros. But it’s ok everyone because there were several policies from the Chancellor to help buffer this period of wage stagnation that will occur, such as reducing the waiting period first time universal credit applicants will have to wait for their first payment from six weeks to…fanfare please… just five weeks! Brilliant! Another great joke from Hammond there! What sort of compassionate move will the government make next? How about solving school class overcrowding by allowing children to hang out of the windows? Or reducing homelessness by reclassifying pavements as official residencies? Speaking of residencies, stamp duty will now be removed for first £300,000 spent by first time buyers, which in the South of England means they’ll get a small discount on their letter box. Oh and £3bn is being set aside for Brexit preparation because who knew that sandbags and rations would cost quite so much? So overall, we’ve got more wage stagnation until at least 2025, a continuation of austerity and then whatever Brexit will bring. Here’s a hilarious joke for you Phil that you can use at the next budget. Ready? What is the actual worst? ‘I don’t know Tiernan, what is the actual worst’. The current government! Yes that is it. No I won’t do a mic drop as I can’t afford another one if it breaks. You didn’t see him cut microphone costs did you? Exactly.
Meanwhile the government have also decided that it’s best to never tell the public the cost of the final Brexit bill, because nothing fits thrusting the country back to the middle ages like keeping everyone in the dark. They’ve also redacted some of the 800 page analysis on the impact of Brexit before handing it to the Brexit select committee. Considering it was only two years ago Conservatives backing the spy law were announcing ‘if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear’ the government must currently be petrified. I suppose there is nothing like dissuading the public from being angry with you like the distraction of making them angry at you for not knowing what it is they are meant to actually be angry about. Apparently this information has to be kept secret as they could compromise Brexit Secretary and mouldy cornflake David Davis’s position in EU negotiations. Considering that his position is usually facing the wall in a dunce’s cap I really don’t think it matters. Ireland have said they will play tough unless UK Prime Minister and Try Hard With A Vengeance Theresa May comes up with a plan for the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. May is insisting she will not allow a hard border, but the DUP aka stupid Gilead have said they won’t have any plan for NI that mirrors EU regulations while the rest of the UK Brexit fully. I’m starting to wonder if the best solution is a two way mirror wall where Northern Ireland get the reflective side and the Republic can peer through like some sort of museum to witness Brexit live and point and laugh at their favourite highlights. DUP MP and sad grape Nigel Dodds told the DUP conference on Saturday that God helped them become the king makers in Westminster in June’s snap election. I’m not a religious man but I wonder if there’s an incentive to pray if, like the referendum, God’s now only hearing a small selection of very loud voices an awful lot and if he’d only get out of his echo chamber this sort of shit wouldn’t happen.
Brexiteer Labour MP and that lady on the end of your street who the kids are scared of Kate Hoey said on Radio 4 that there is no need for a physical border but if one is needed then Republic of Ireland should pay for it. Now I’m not saying we’re still leaps and bounds ahead in terms of progressiveness but at least our UK version of Trump is female. As someone who voted for Brexit, something that I don’t think there is any need for, I really hope she’s forced to pay for it very soon. All by herself. Australia have been criticising the UK’s Brexit plan, saying it could impose unacceptable restrictions on their exports, and that’s not good but if anything might persuade people that Brexit is a bad idea it’s an announcement that Kylie Minogue is now unaffordable in the UK and Neighbours is going to pay-per-view.
Across the pond US President and porridge filled wind sock Donald Trump celebrated Thanks Giving by showing turkeys everywhere that if he can last a year as President then there’s every chance they could too. Just two days after the day when everyone annually realises that Native Americans are the only people in the world who were right to be scared of immigrants, Trump took to Twitter, his personal loudhailer, to insist that Time magazine called him to say he was probably going to be named man of the year again like last year but he’d have to agree to an interview and photo so said no. Yes sure Trump, and I bet your girlfriend goes to a different school right? While it does make sense that Trump is again Time person of the year mainly because he has a big face and two small hands, the magazine have denied they ever called him or had any intention of offering it to him. This also highlights that the last time Trump gave an interview to a news station or paper that wasn’t Fox News was back in May, a pretty odd precedent for a very odd president. Then again what do you need to do interviews for when you can bile your imaginary stories onto Twitter for free?
And in news no one ever wanted to hear ever Lib Dem leader and political Ken Campbell Vince Cable won’t have his thriller Open Arms considered for 2017’s Bad Sex in Fiction award because his writing is too good, though I do wonder if this is just what happens to Vince when he’s involved in competitions with more than one contestant. Apparently Cable’s book has a male character who says he wants to explore his lover like Dr Livingston and Mr Stanley exploring Africa. Again proving Lib Dems can only really fuck things when part of a coalition.
Lastly Theresa May’s convey has been caught on camera driving through Berkshire and going the wrong way around a roundabout because it seems she’s completely incapable of doing anything that doesn’t sound like a metaphor for her shitty government.
Greetings ear lenders, how are you? Excited about the prospect of another Royal Wedding? No? Well you might be surprised to hear that I am as it will mean that there is at least one day next year when I can happily not pay any attention to the news at all. I am full of a cold, AGAIN. This is like the 5th one this year, it’s like my immune system isn’t even trying. I’m so full of vitamin C right now that I think if I donated my blood it’d be like giving someone a Berocca. Anyway, as my brain is full of snot apologies for sounding all stuffed up AGAIN and also this week’s show is slightly reduced on account of me struggling with words and jokes between sneezes. But thank you for listening and hopefully this week’s show will be enjoyable enough that you won’t notice that I sound like a knock off Richard Ayoade. If you are a new listener to the show, firstly I don’t sound like that every week, though this past year it is surprisingly more often than it should be, and please do listen back to old episodes to check and for the informative interviews that are all still worth a hear. Also if you haven’t reviewed the show on iTunes or stitcher or podface or audiobum or whatever your podcast listening app is please do, even if you write something along the lines of ‘it’s my favourite podcast featuring someone doing a bad Josh Widdicombe impression’ or you know, other nasally celebrity of your choice. Please also do donate to the Patreon at patreon.com/parpolbro or ko-fi.com/parpolbro for a one-off donation as it all helps, I mean this week if you’d donated enough I could’ve hired a sonorously voiced celebrity actor to step in and record this week’s show and then when you preferred them over me I’d have run away and cried hopefully draining my body of said cold and then fixing things. So yes, please donate if you can.
Oh and it’s been great that several more of you are joining the facebook group, but as you may have noticed, I am crap at doing anything with it and I was sort of hoping, much like with the Twitter, it could become a feed for interesting articles and discussions on political things. Or, even, your political gags should you wish. So any ideas you have, please do post them up and I’ll only delete them if they’re unsuitable or better than my jokes and make me jealous. Ahem.
No other admin this week except that this run of the podcast will finish in a couple of weeks with the last one on December 12th and then it probably won’t be back till a few weeks into Jan. However I will try and pop some bonus things online if I can so make sure you are subscribed if you’re not already to get those mysterious things that are only mysterious because I haven’t worked out what they are yet. Ahem, I mean, because if you find out it could endanger my negotiating position. Ahem.
On this week’s show I am speaking to Mary-Ann Stephenson from the Women’s Budget Group on the pros and cons of last week’s budget, SPOILER ALERT: It’s mainly cons. Plus of course there is some Brexit fallout because when isn’t there. Now do you see what I mean about the prince harry wedding? It’ll be at least 2 days of sheer news crap about what hats people are wearing, who looks most like a horse, why oh why did Harry choose to wear his Nazi outfit again, and which one of her two facial expressions the Queen is doing and then we can all have a snooze.
Anyway, as always, before all that happens, there’s a little bit of this:
For the first time ever Britain is not going to have a judge on the bench of the UN International Court of Justice. No it’s not just because judges in this country are now considered traitors so instead the government have decided to send someone who isn’t an expert, his name is Steve and he’s really good at hitting things with hammers and wearing wigs so he’ll do. No this is actually because after the Security council and General Assembly voted in judges from Brazil, Lebanon, France and Somalia, it meant the UK were head to head with India to get the last seat on the bench and the UK backed down because we didn’t lose if we didn’t take part, right? Which is really the attitude I feel we should start taking with sports too. How big a deal is this anyway? Well it’s not going to affect what you have for breakfast unless you have some sort of insanely cruel breakfast, like fried human rights violations topped with illegal war on toast or something, that the UN International Court Of Justice has condemned then you should be fine. But the UNICOJ is the big dawg of justice in the UN, based in the Hague in the Netherlands, it deals with cases brought to it by UN states that are often war based or boundary based or sovereignty based or all that sort of fun stuff. The UK has had a representative on the benches since 1946. Not the same one obviously, or they’d be exhausted. So this is the first time we don’t have a rep in 71 years and the main thing is it’s being taken as a sign that we’re really not viewed all that well by the international community anymore since Brexit. Then again it’s also a sign that India are rising up to become one of the world’s most powerful nations and they invented karma so it kinda seems fair. Speaking of karma, India unseating Britain at the UN International Court of Justice, in the same year as the 70th anniversary of the partition kinda seems right.
The Northern Powerhouse always sounds to me like a brilliant pub or a music night in the 90’s where people wore white gloves and moshed their tits off, but it’s definitely not those things as instead it’s a patronising name for a parliamentary group that aim to attract investment to the north. And that’s something that’s hugely needed. Londoners get £1500 more per head than those in the North West, those as a Londoner, if you were to look at my head you really couldn’t tell. I mean, why do you think I do this as an audio show? More than half of the UK’s transport investment is happening in London too, with thinktank IPPR North commenting in a report back in February that it takes longer to get from Liverpool to Hull than it does from London to Paris, and you only have to try to learn half the amount of local words in order to get by too. Tee hee, I joke. But the London crossrail project cost £4.7bn for the 2016-17 period while the total for every transport project in the north put together is only £6.6bn. So the group headed up by Conservative MP for Carlisle will hopefully be putting a move on projects like the HS3 and electrification of the trans-Pennine route between Leeds and Manchester and then everyone can happily get from Liverpool to Hull whenever they like at which point, like many of us in London, they’ll realise it’s really expensive to travel and have to stay indoors not travelling most of the time anyway. Hooray!
The pubs in Theresa May’s constituency of Maidenhead are planning to ban her from all of their premises as a protest against her slashing police budgets by £413m. Pub Watch as the group is called, which also sounds like a really brilliant spotters club that I’d definitely take part in, are tabling the call to ban May at a meeting this week where they think it’s the only way she’ll get the message as it now could take up to one hour for police to respond to incidents at their pubs. I mean, I can’t really imagine May at a pub anyway, can you? She’d probably have to be smuggled via the backdoor, would only talk to the landlord and then drink a beer while pulling a face like it was poisoning her insides. Still I like the idea and I hope more pubs take this initiative and then name a really awful tasting beer after her. The ‘Theresa’, weak, lacks any real strong flavour, makes you pull a face like you’ve had to talk to real schoolchildren against your will.
INTERVIEW – BUDGET STUFF – WOMEN’S BUDGET GROUP
Ah the budgets. That time of the year when anyone who doesn’t understand maths mainly waits to hear if booze is getting more expensive and anyone who does understand maths mainly waits to hear if booze is getting more expensive because if we can drink through it then little of the rest of it matters. This year’s budget however, involved the ever grey Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and his little red briefcase like some sort of reverse Paddington, telling everyone that not only would the next year be shit, but UK growth is likely to stagnate until 2025. The film Pacific Rim is set in 2025. Depressing to think that a more realistic version of that film would have several giant robots on strike because they’re still getting 2007 wages to fight monsters despite working twice the hours and booze being really, really expensive. There was a lot that will help Hammond keep his position, winning over sceptical backbenchers with money for Brexit, but also giving Conservatives things to say on doorsteps to voters such as more money for the NHS or getting rid of stamp duty. But like many of the government’s policies or in fact Daily Mail headlines, a lot of it falls down once you get to the detailed paragraphs that contradict the benefits you assumed were there when the overly bold text shouted at your eyes. Critics are already warning that this budget could lead to another recession with wage stagnation causing increases in borrowing, and the government boasting about many of the increases to sectors such as healthcare or education when they are nowhere near enough to help are the equivalent of pouring a cup of water in a drought hit lake then telling everyone you’ve single-handedly saved all the fish.
But as regular listeners will know, numbers are not my strong suit, that’s because my strong suit is my Jaeger weapon mech suit. Yes this episode really is only for people who’ve watched Pacific Rim. But yes, I find wrapping my head around the ins and outs of the budget difficult, though I did notice duty on booze is frozen so at least I can afford a pint while I try to think about everything else. However for this week’s show I thought it best to speak to someone who could tell me and you exactly what this budget meant and more importantly what financial incentives should be happening instead. So I spoke to Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, director of the Women’s Budget Group, who are, as their website blurb helpfully explains, a network of leading feminist economists, researchers, policy experts and campaigners who are committed to achieving a more gender equal future. The WBG released an immediate post budget statement and will be releasing a more thorough, fully researched response at the end of this week. So Mary-Ann very kindly explained to me just where this Autumn budget falls down. You know, like leaves. In Autumn. Ok I’ll stop. Ahem. Anyway I hope you find this chat as hugely useful as I did.
Here’s Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson:
INTERVIEW PART 1
BREXIT FALLOUT – IRELAND
This week Brexit Fallout begins with the Emerald Isle, no not Greenland or where the Wizard of Oz lives, but Ireland, the island not just the Ireland. If you see what I mean. One of the big issues of Brexit has been that if the UK, including Northern Ireland, is to leave the European Union, but the Republic of Ireland is still in the European Union, how to control customs and border issues between the two without either having a big free for all anyone can pop over handy freeway for EU citizens to our no foreigners allowed Blighty. Or does a big iron wall get erected smashing all the peace keeping years between the two countries, kicking off new troubles and physically dividing the island for years until David Hasslehoff gets round to writing a new song?
No one wants a physical border to happen but from the EU’s perspective they want to make sure the Irish border doesn’t become an entry point for import and export goods from third countries without any checks and if you’re not going to have border controls or at least a big bouncer bloke who looks all angry and checks if you’re wearing the right shoes, then how can this be done? According to Labour MP and honorary UKIPper Kate Hoey it can just work because Norway and Switzerland don’t have physical borders between the EU countries they neighbour and that works but what she’s ignoring which no one will be surprised by, is that Norway is part of the European Economic Area which means it can participate in the single market and is part of the Schengen area, and Switzerland isn’t part of the EEA but has agreements that mean it’s also part of the single market and the Schengen area too. So for Northern Ireland to have the same sort of relationship with the EU, the UK would have to pay extra per year to stay part of the single market, something the government is insisting it doesn’t want to do. Ireland isn’t part of the Schengen agreement so the UK wouldn’t have to join that, which would keep the angry anti-immigration racists happy, but then if we were to join the single market we’d likely have to accept the other freedoms of the EU including free movement which would then make the angry anti-immigration racists all angry again. So with the UK government and Brexiteers wanting the sort of non-negotiable nothing at all to do with the EU Brexit type Brexit, what does that leave the options as? Well there’s a few possibilities. Companies in Northern Ireland could become authorized economic operators, which would mean individual businesses would have to prove they meet tons of criteria to do with health and safety, then pay quarterly customs duties and then they wouldn’t need border checks as a result. But you’d still need someone to check who’s authorised and who isn’t and that means random checks on vehicles crossing the border but they could happen a little way away from the actual border meaning it wouldn’t be a border control but sort of a ‘hey just down the road from the border control’ because sometimes these minor adjustments make all the difference. I mean ‘sandwich technician’ still sounds way better than ‘grumpy teenager in subway’ even though that sandwich technician still grunts at you and puts sweet corn on your sandwich even though you specifically asked for them not to because they’re like nuggets of awful, so on the surface it really could work. There is also talk of onsite farm checks but that’d require more inspectors in certain remote areas so more money would have to be put into that. The other possibility is a moving the border to the Irish sea which would mean it would be sort of physical in the way big ol’ cold waves are physical but it’d mean the coasts & harbours would become the check points. However the DUP say they don’t want a border down the middle of the sea, even though what with Moses and all that you’d sort of think it’d be right up their street.
Another issue that’s not really been considered is the co-operation on both sides pre-Brexit with health care, with a mutual recognition of qualifications allowing patients to get medical help in either country. But post Brexit the British medical association, patient care could be risked, unless there’s some sort of border based hospital which, with a catchy theme tune, I’d definitely watch as a soap opera. But a hard border can’t happen and considering the UK border force budget has been cut by £2m a hard border the UK side of one would probably have to have staff hired from the EU to guard it anyway.
The EU are saying trade talks cannot begin until the Ireland/Northern Ireland border issue is sorted. However utter disgraced MP Liam the disgrace Fox has said that the border issue should only be sorted after a trade deal between UK and EU has been agreed, and I hate to say it in the case of Fox especially as it feels like he’s using Ireland as a negotiation tool, but they’re both sort of right. You need to know what the trade deal is in order to work out what kind of border will be needed but you also need to know what the border will be in order to work out how trade will happen. Meanwhile in Ireland there is a political situation that could lead to a no confidence motion in the government and a Christmas general election because what’s more festive than everyone getting the special present of a vote? So who knows what should happen? I’ve no idea but it’s definitely not Kate Hoey, or Liam Fox, who also said this past week that his efforts to boost the British economy were being hampered by British companies who are reluctant to do business with foreign firms. Yes Liam you concertinaed ball bag, I’m sure that’s it and it’s not at all because the Secretary of State for International Trade has breached parliamentary rules twice, keeps swanning around the world meeting dictators who are happy to do trade deals that ignore all human rights considerations, heads up an International Trade board that only has him on it and never seems to know what he’s talking about. I mean really, if everytime you meet a business and they say they’re reluctant to work with you to increase trade with foreign companies, you’ve gotta work out what the common factor is in all those meetings at some point right?
In other Brexit news the government have announced a new post Brexit industrial strategy which surprisingly doesn’t involve a return to the industrial era and children getting killed by thresher machines. But what it does involve is money for innovation in robotics and battery technology, you know, so the Conservatives can find a new leader. There are also tax credits for research and development and deals between the government, academia and businesses including two deals already made with a US pharma company & a German biotech one. Basically the government have picked industry areas the UK is already good at and thrown government money at it & got institutions they think are right for it to be involved, then private investors get involved. It’s also known as backing winners, which isn’t what this Conservative government are particularly noted for doing at any other time. Labour have said this is aimed far too much at the South of England, yet again, it’s nothing new and doesn’t balance out the uncertainty of Brexit and the Lib Dems have said this is pretty much what has been happening for over 5 years now and they’re just repackaging it to make it sound fancy. Which if that’s true, they really haven’t tried very hard. They should’ve at least gone for ‘all, new improved post Brexit industrial strategy’ though prob best they leave off the ‘it’s whiter than white’ bit.
Lastly, if there’s ever really a lastly with Brexit, the EU have said they won’t allow a British city to become a European city of culture in 2023 on account of us not being in the EU by then or the EEA which is what you need to be included. Despite these really obvious rules, various city councils have kicked off, despite at least two of those cities, Milton Keynes and Nottingham, primarily voting to leave the EU. The government has also said it’s disappointed with the EU’s decision. WHAT? The prize gives the city EU funding! You’re insisting we leave the EU! You can’t leave the gym and cancel your membership, then be all upset when you’re no longer eligible for gym bunny of the month, which I have no idea if it’s a thing, but I’m betting it’s a thing. This whole thing is like when two years olds say no to everything, and at some point someone asks them if they want an ice cream, they say no, feel pleased and then later have the dawning realisation that there could have been ice cream. Well I know how to fix this particular stupid tantrum. There is still a UK city of culture award so maybe what we should do is post Brexit change the rules for that so it’s a truly British award, and the judges are not allowed to know exactly what they’re voting for but have to pretend they do.
And now, back to Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson…
INTERVIEW PART 2 – MORE BUDGET STUFF
Big thank you to Mary-Ann for letting me interview her. You can find the Women’s Budget Group at www.wbg.org.uk or on Twitter @womensbudgetgrp and as I mentioned before they will be releasing a more thorough full response at the end of this week, put together by their network of academics and social policy experts that you will be able to find on their website and I will link to on the podcast twitter and facebook too. Mary-Ann’s own Twitter is at: @maryanncv8. And I completely forgot to ask Mary-Ann for other recommendations of follows because my head is that full of cold, so may I quickly recommend Positive Money, the New Economics Foundation and the Resolution Foundation too, who have all written good stuff on the budget as well.
As EVERY SINGLE GODDIGGTY DAMN WEEK if you have someone I should interview or a subject you’d like me to find someone to interview about, please drop me a line @parpolbro on Twitter, the Partly Political Facebook group on Facebook or email@example.com. Or failing that you could send it via the ancient Roman Empire delivery service curses publicus but considering it stopped in the late first century during the rule of Hadrian, it might not get to me till after Christmas now. Best to just email.
And that’s all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast podcast. Thanks again for listening and please do subscribe, review the show on your favourite or least favourite pod apps, donate to the patreon or ko-fi and drop me a line @parpolbro on Twitter, the Partly Political Broadcast group on Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org about, well, anything you like. I’m just as up for politics comments as I am reading about, I dunno, your views on how you should spell the word casj. Yes, think about it. It’s upsetting isn’t it? Someone told me to think about that in 2010 and it’s still bothering me. No, it’s not cash, that’s cash. Hm.
Thanks as always to Acast for hosting the show and to my brother The Last Skeptik for all the musics.
This will be back next week when I’ll be talking about how Kate Hoey insists the EU should pay for wall around their borders to prevent her from accidentally visiting.
This week’s show was brought to you by Theresa May’s Highway Code, full of dead ends, more u-turns than necessary, constant hard right warnings, lots of loose chippings and a complete lack of give way signs.