Episode 117 – Brexit is 95% complete! So why is the last 5% going to take up even more of our political space than the rest? Plus hate crimes, buses, and Tiernan (@tiernandouieb) speaks to Prafula Shah from the Back To 60 campaign (@2020Comms – backto60.com).
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Brexit is 95% complete! So why is the last 5% going to take up even more of our political space than the rest? Plus hate crimes, buses, and Tiernan (@tiernandouieb) speaks to Prafula Shah from the Back To 60 campaign (@2020Comms – backto60.com).
Links and sources of info from Prafula’s interview:
• Back to 60 on Twitter – https://twitter.com/2020Comms
• Back to 60 website – https://www.backto60.com/
• Petition – https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Secretary_of_State_for_Work_Pensions_StatePension_BackTo60_for_50sWomen/
• The Women’s Equality Party on Twitter – https://twitter.com/WEP_UK
• The Fawcett Society on Twitter – https://twitter.com/fawcettsociety
• WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) on Twitter – https://twitter.com/@WASPI_Campaign_
• We Paid in U Pay Out on Twitter – https://twitter.com/wepaidinupayout
All the usual ParPolBro stuff:
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• Website – www.tiernandouieb.co.uk/podcast
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• Buy me a coffee – ko-fi.com/parpolbro
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Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast podcast, the podcast that laughs in the face of politics only for politics to laugh with it, causing me to say no wait, we were definitely laughing at you. This is episode 117, I’m Tiernan Douieb and this week Brexit is 95% completed according to Prime Minister and broken human Theremin Theresa May, which is exciting news although considering the 5% left to download, I’m fairly sure a pop up will arrive saying that it’s not compatible with our current operating system and there is not enough memory, preparation or general sense to complete installment without deleting some large elements or having a total restart.
Apparently, the Brexit divorce agreement is all but settled, you know in the way that if you’re getting an actual divorce there’s ten years of pointless arguing and then at the end you actually get round to doing the official divorcing. I understand May’s process. As a writer you’re meant to include the procrastination as part of the job, so if I had an important deadline, I’d probably check Twitter for ages, do a bit of tidying, probably pop out and then eventually sit down to churn out the important bit just before it’s due. At the same time, I’ve never had a bit of writing work that could potentially ruin the entire country. I mean I have but luckily it never got past the option stage. May says the last bit of the talks will be the most difficult, which I guess it will if it’s the bit that actually includes talks and all the stuff that you haven’t worked out yet. There have been some minor successes over the past few weeks including talking with Spain and sorting out the deal with Gibraltar which it turns out is mostly that it’ll get sorted out in the transition period in the most stereotypical Spanish move ever. Oh whatever, let’s deal with it after lunch. I mean come on Ireland, why are you being so tricky when you could take after Gibraltar and have a siesta knowing full well things will still be a mess in 2 years anyway?
Conservative MPs are frustrated with progress, meaning for the first time ever, they are in actually tune with the public and May has been told she has just 72 hours to save her job in what might be the worst plot for a film I’ve ever seen. One woman has just three days, no plan, no suspense, general discomfort. Theresa May stars in Cranks. Or something. Several Conservative backbenchers have been particularly aggressive about it with comments being given to the press anonymously about May bringing her own noose to a meeting or talking about the moment coming when the knife is stuck in her front and many MPs have condemned the language used. Me too. I mean it’s very out of brand with usual Conservative talk as I’d have expected the May critics to just say they have absolute confidence in her, or that she may end up worse off than before. While Brexiteer MPs are shouting abuse and flaunting their double standards, demanding plans from people in timescales they’d never managed and still haven’t, the Brexit Secretary and sentient program run by the Matrix Dominic Raab has told MPs he understands Tory jitters but hold your nerve. Which I’m sure is just his way of asking for a cuddle. But despite this uniting tone within his party, he’s also told the EU they must ditch their backstop or the UK will not extend its transition period. Yes, he’s threatening that if the EU don’t get rid of their insurance policy to avoid possible chaos, the UK will also get rid of theirs. How is that a threat? If you don’t get rid of your castle moat, we’ll take off all our armour and paint targets on our chests, so the enemy knows where to fire their arrows? Idiot.
On Saturday in London nearly 700,000 people marched for a people’s vote because the idea of robots or animals voting repulses them. Sorry, let me read that again, no sorry they wanted a second referendum but this time on the terms of the final deal. But still, robots definitely shouldn’t get to vote right? It was the largest demonstration since the protest against the Iraq War, and not to put a downer on anything but in that case, it still went ahead and ended up in such a terrible mess and pointless loss of life that the consequences are still being felt 15 years later. But I think Saturday’s protest gave a powerful message of how fed up everyone is, and also by gridlocking the streets of London gave a good indication of what Kent will be like after the transition period. Meanwhile in Harrogate, the Leave Means Leave counter protest lead by river sludge in tweed Nigel Farage was estimated to have had 1200 there though they don’t say how many of those were actually alive. You could say that the comparison between the two shows that public opinion has indeed changed or perhaps it’s just that once again those leading the Brexit movement couldn’t be bothered to work out any sort of plan to actually do anything. An unknown backer has spent a quarter of a million pounds on a Facebook advert campaign urging people to get their MPs to ditch May’s plan and has reached over 10 million users. The group who’ve posted them are simply known as the Mainstream Network but there’s no transparency as to who they are, but I reckon we can do some quick detective work based on the Taxpayer’s Alliance who don’t and aren’t, the European Research Group who really don’t research Europe at all or any of the other entirely contradictorily titled groups who when trying to work out what to call themselves just looked up what the opposite of what they actually do is. There’s every chance the Mainstream Network are some sort of tiny detached cult. Oh wait, it’s probably Leave Means Leave isn’t it?
A report into bullying in the Commons lead by Dame Laura Cox who I won’t give a funny description to because let’s face it, that’d make me awful, ahem, this report says senior staff need to make radical changes. By that she doesn’t mean they should only hire in people from extremist groups, but that the report uncovered many accusations of bullying and sexual harassment that have been covered up by, as Dame Cox put it, ‘a culture of deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence’ which I’m surprised was in place as anything else with even a whiff of culture to it had its funding removed ages ago. Theresa May vowed a very serious response to the report, which she’ll have to now her own MPs are making comments about stabbing her.
Speaker of the House and John ‘Shouty Peter Pettigrew’ Bercow faced calls to quit because it seems when it comes to other staff members he’s more of a shouter but when it comes to abuse allegations he’s a whisperer. However some MPs also think Bercow is being attacked because the Conservatives have repeatedly tried to get him sacked for years, on account of the way he well, doesn’t let them get away with anything because many of them assume when he shouts order, he should mean in terms of status and who should be allowed to speak based on how many properties they own. Bercow has said he’ll step down next summer pleasingly managing to both accept his calls and stick around long enough to manage the house during Brexit, which if that isn’t top management of politicians, I don’t know what is.
In international news bronze sculpture of a trash heap and US President Donald Trump has announced the US will withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty because he says Russia have been violating it for years. Sure, so the best way to stop them violating it is just to close it? Brilliant. It’s like the US notion that gun laws don’t stop criminals getting guns so you may as well not have gun laws. Great. And why not scrap all laws while you’re at it and all treaties then anyone can do what they like to stop them doing what they like? The treaty was signed in 1987 and seen as important in ending the cold war, causing Russia and the US to get rid of thousands of missiles with ranges between 300 and 3400 miles. So, if Russia or the US wanted to make missiles, they either had to be to blow yourself up or somewhere further away than Russia or the US. Nice. Chances are by withdrawing Russia will actually benefit as they can blame the US for ruining it. It also aids North Korea who now probably won’t be told to stop making missiles by a country that’s actively allowing themselves and Russia to make more missiles. It’s like telling a child they can’t have an ice cream while you pummel your face mouth first into a vat of Haagen Daaz while taking a breath to smear some on your friend. So once again something that sounds like the Trump being tough on Russia but actually is Russia asking for the US to act tough because they think it’s cute and it makes all their large missiles armed and ready.
Saudi Arabia have admitted that journalist critical of their regime, Jamal Khasoggi, is dead, despite previously saying that he left their embassy in Istanbul unharmed. Then last week they said he was killed in a fist fight, you know, against 17 men that had specifically arrived in Istanbul that day and waited for him at the Embassy with a bone saw. If this fight story is true then Jamal Khasoggi was a journalist and some sort of vigilante don to take them on like it’s a hallway scene from Daredevil that sadly went wrong. But despite how dubious that sounds, with the world looking at them for answers, Saudi are now saying those that killed him are a rogue operation, despite seven of them being bodyguards who are part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s personal security detail. Though perhaps it’s a relief that even they can admit that Saudi Arabia and it’s whole authoritarian regime is a rogue operation. Trade Secretary Disgraced MP Liam The Disgrace Fox the Disgrace has pulled out of the major economic forum in Saudi known as Davos of the Desert. Fox says it’s in response to Khasoggi’s murder though I’m certain it’s actually because it’s not that safe for him to share a room with his pal Adam Werrity on that trip.
And lastly former Liberal Democrat leader and current thin deli slice left in the rain Nick Clegg has been hired by Facebook as head of its global policy and communications because who better to handle the communications of a company that won’t properly meet with the British government than a man who even when he was at Number 10, may as well have not been present. Maybe this is an inside job for Nick where he can tackle Brexit from with Facebook by you know, letting us know who posted those adverts, or putting a sad face on the pages of people who post fake news or more likely just sitting in the corner of a room saying ‘oh no don’t do that please’ as everyone wonders what that crying mumbling sound is. Chances are in three years time he’ll have to make a public apology for raising the costs on Farmville even though he said he wouldn’t and then get fired as Facebook blames everything they’ve done badly on him. Oh wait, when he said he supports a People’s Vote did he just mean one of them status post polls?
Wotcha podolites, how goes you all this week? I had the very exciting experience last night of a firework smashing in through our living room window and being deflected off our shitty blinds into my daughter’s playmat so that was fun! Don’t you just love this time of the year? Red and brown leaves, popping on a jumper, eating warm food and dodging fireworks that have been set off in your street by bored kids, ah Autumn. Due to us actually having a good landlord the window is now fixed but I will give you these bits of wisdom. 1) It is very hard to know what is ash marks on your sofa and what is flakes of chocolate I spilled there from the night before. 2) Either your body knows when you might actually die and when you definitely won’t, or your life doesn’t remotely flash before your eyes. My main thoughts were ‘oh that’s really pretty…OH MY GOD’. And 3) glass really does get everywhere. I now totally understand beaches. Apart from that excitable unexpected turn up for my week of which the police can’t do much about because fireworks are the evidence that destroy themselves and our local police station was closed last year due to cuts and lets face it, its probably idiot kids rather than some firework toting new villain who throws bangers around due to his short fuse and can only be defeated by a very boring hero who looks like a large bucket of water. Apart from all that, I’m good thanks and I do now have one very nice clean new window. Win!
And I’m also pleased that you’re hear listening to this podcast once again and yet another week rolls around where I could just scream ‘OH WHATS THE POINT?’ into the microphone twenty times and accurately depict current politics. Did you go on the People’s Vote march? I didn’t for a number of reasons which you probably don’t really care about, but it was a combination of not enjoying the thought of having an irate 7 month old in a gridlock of lots of shuffling marchers, or marching shufflers for hours with no decent baby changing facilities nearby. I know many brought their babies with them. They are more professional parents than me obviously. I saw a pic of Daniel Craig looking knackered with his baby this week and I thought, hooray, I have something in common with James Bond! But the other reason I didn’t go is because my views on having a People’s Vote are skewed, despite very much supporting why many people were there. Yes I think it’s a mess, yes I would prefer if the vote had gone the other way, but I also worry, because of things, about how to have a people’s vote that was really worthwhile we’d need an article 50 extension which I don’t think we will, or it’d have to happen during the transition which means yet more time on campaigning rather than actually fixing things. Plus, I honestly don’t trust people not to vote us into the worst case scenario again because let’s face it, we’re terrible. I mean, for every good un, I’m thinking of you, obviously, there’s someone out there who’d happily extinct a creature and use double diesel if they could, while not indicating, probably wearing red trousers and them voting for a no deal because it means they get to say no like a two year old would. And that’s if anyone turns up to vote second time round anyway because while I love a vote and would vote twice a day if I could. There are also Brendas from Bristols:
BRENDA FROM BRISTOL CLIP
Also, if you remember my interview with David Runciman from episode 106, yes a referendum was advisory, but to go back on the results is still a defiance of democracy which is probably needed but could also be bad. Basically, I want a march, which I’ll probably go on by myself, with a placard just says ‘Can you do your fucking job please?’ and parade outside Westminster until at least one politician decides that oh wait, party politics really only does come third to Brexit and Climate Change and the entire well-being of humanity. And that clicking sound you hear, is all of you unsubscribing. As I said, I do back the reasons many went on that march and I’ll be honest, its mainly because I didn’t want to have to clean a pooey nappy on Whitehall even though I’m sure that isn’t the first time it’s happened and many round there have probably paid for that kind of service. I did have a firework near my face, cut me some slack or at least make me a baked potato so it was worthwhile. I am thinking about going to an event in London on the 31st of October, on the Halloween, in Parliament Square which is the launch of extinction rebellion, a non violent direct action group campaigning for well, anyone important to care about climate change and they’ve got some good speakers listed so that might be interesting.
Right, you lot, admin stuff. I’m not going to wang on about the ko-fi or Patreon this week, or reviewing the show. Instead over the next few weeks if you know anyone who has a smart phone, or an idiot one, ask them if you can borrow it for a minute, go to their podcast app, subscribe them to this show, tell them to give it a try. I’ve very much appreciated a few of you spreading the word on Twitter, especially Ashley Baxter, who is an independent councilor in Market and West Deeping and writes an excellent blog at deepingdo.com, and I thoroughly appreciated him replying to a Radio 4 tweet asking which podcasts people were enjoying by saying this one, except for the regular gratuitous foul language. Superb callback sir, superb. Anything you can do to drag other ears to this show would be great as while the donations and reviews are lovely, if no one’s listening then I may as well stop doing this and stand in a forest and fall over a few times. Which actually sounds quite calming. Anyway please do that and thanks again to listeners in Botswana as we’re now 211 in the chart so that’s one place up! For some reason I don’t get stats sent to me from anywhere else but if you live in a remote location, feel free to tell me how this show fares against your other podtenders.
Some podcast admin, or podmin. I had someone say last week’s show was too quiet again, erm, I really don’t know why. It’s all done to the specifications it’s meant to be, but I will prevail to make it louder this week and at some point I will find a producer that doesn’t mind being paid in crumbs and old biros and see if they can help. Also for all of you super early listeners, Acast for the last two weeks have had issues with uploading meaning this podcast has hit your apps several hours later than normal. Apologies if that’s ruined your schedule but they’ve promised me it should now be all back on track and if you can’t hear this during your Tuesday 5am commute, then, well, it hasn’t. But you won’t know. Or you will. And also I just wanted to say that on this show I’m not going to do any longer bits on the grisly murder of Jamal Khasoggi just at the moment, partly because John Oliver’s last week tonight nailed it last week, but also if you go back to episode 108, you can hear the interview with Fred Carver at UNA-UK all about the war in Yemen. That’s the same with many subjects. If you want to hear more about them on this show, just check on the website incase there’s recently been an interview or bit you’ve missed, and you can search for all that in the archive at partlypoliticalbroadcast.co.uk
Wow this bit was long wasn’t it? You’d think nearly having a firework in my face would make me realise how precious time is, but no, if anything, it’s probably made me go on way too long without ever really getting going, and now you’re going to leave the show alone incase its dangerous for your health. Sorry, what I mean is, on this week’s show I speak to Prafula Shah at the Back To 60 campaign about the fight against state pension inequality, plus Brexit Fallout is back you lucky, lucky people. But before all that have a bit of this right in your mush:
Whenever I hear someone say ‘Hate Crimes’ I always want to shout ‘Love Justice’ after them because it sounds like a fun slogan for the police, or Spider-Man. Hate Crimes though are criminal offences motived by racism, ableism, homophobia or transphobia, or religiousisms, no, I’m not sure what the proper word for that last one is. But The Law Commission are going to look into whether misogynistic offences should also be considered hate crimes. And because it’s going to take them all of 5 minutes to look at that and go, yes, definitely, they’re also going to be considering misandry, ageism, and hatred of certain cultures like Goths or punks are too. Don’t worry people who like to insult fans of Mumford and Sons or Ed Sheeran, they said ‘cultures’. The Law Commision are an independent parliamentary body that look at if laws need a bit of modernizing and it’s lead by Labour MP and stock photo of a student newspaper editor Stella Creasy. She proposed this reveiw around hate crimes after the proposed law to criminalise upskirting in England and Wales. You remember? The one that MP Christopher Chope aka Bob Holness with an underbite opposed because he only supports it in theory but in practice he’s an arsehole? Yep that one. Well thankfully it got banned under the Voyeurism bill and then the idea was to look into if misogynistic offences are hate crimes, something that the Nottinghamshire police have already been doing since 2016 meaning they’ve been able to look into cases that previously weren’t deemed as criminal including being followed home, whistling, or unwanted sexual advances all of which seems like a very good move and a positive for a lot of women in particular who’s growing harassment has often been ignored.
So of course, the next natural step after that, to placate all the people on twitter who scream but what about the mens, is to look at whether offences involving misandry should be treated the same, despite knowing full well that 999 will be blockaded by men calling every 5 minutes insisting a woman is arrested because she didn’t listen to his every thought on the new Doctor Who. There is a lot of questioning whether misandry should be included, and that’s what the review is there for, after which they’ll be looking at ageism which is important and on the rise, since, well, all the old people caused Brexit. JOKE! And then maybe culture groups. All of which could lead to a much nicer, fairer society or you know, lead to a lot of idiots complaining about freedom of speech, political correctness going too far and then when anyone tells them to shut up, calling the police because they’ve been attacked by a misandrist. Hmm. There is also the issue of sentencing for such crimes because in an already over-crowded prison system, meaning that even professional hate preachers like Anjem Choudhary get half their sentence as probation – which still means he’s serving his sentence and not released early, idiot newspapers, as he has a series of conditions that he can’t break till his sentence is up because there’s no space to keep him locked up – and so can you squeeze in a ton of new offenders who’ve been given 6 months because several BTS fans didn’t like your tweet about how they look like the Fifth Element shagged a jumble sale. Only time will tell, as this was only announced by the Home Secretary Sajid ‘my dad was an immigrant which is why I’ll only deport other people’s relatives’ Javid last week and then this weekend he tweeted inflammatory messages about abuse caused by Asian paedophiles with a capital A, racializing the crime and being criticized by many. So, maybe the law commission need another review about just which elements of the Home Office’s policies can be considered hate crimes too.
You know what they say about buses eh? One doesn’t come for ages and then they stop coming and now you have no public transport in your area and it’s raining. Oh. I’m a fan of the bus because without it, I’d have to walk more and be late for things. Plus, you can’t get the satisfaction of pressing a bell and getting off where you like on a train or a plane. Which, well, probably makes sense. The Campaign For Better Transport has found that eight years of public funding cuts to buses, plus a 55% increase in fares mean that less people are getting public transport and many people haven’t got any to not get. In more rural places this obviously means people can’t get to work, or the shops, or school and any parents lose out on a relatable sing along sing for their kids about wheels. Buses also help reduce pollution on account of having lots of people on them at once instead of several cars. So basically, bus-iness is important. Campaign for better transport is asking for the government to include more money for bus services in the budget next week, but with council funding being cut by £20.5m just last year for the eighth year in a row, it’s not looking likely. In the absence of buses, it seems cuts, which no one wants, suddenly keep coming, eight in a row, all at once.
You can find Campaign For Better Transport at bettertransport.org.uk or on Twitter @CBtransport
INTERVIEW WITH PRAFULA
I’m the sort of optimist that assumes that by the time I’m old and in need of a pension, they’ll have made the pension age something so old that its reserved only for the men and women who achieve the accolade of oldest person in the world so they can have one final not entirely crap year before they die. So I have no private pension and will probably just have to wing it by working until I’m 107 and then die midway through a podcast prompting complaints from you lot who are sad the episode hasn’t come out on time. However in today’s day and age the state pension thankfully still exists and is relied on by many retirees so they don’t go into poverty in older age. But because everyone’s living longer, well until the current government ruined that, the 1995 pensions act and the 2011 Pensions Act the age women could claim state pension for increased from the age of 60 to 65 in order to equalize with men. Because that’s the best way to do equality according to the British government. Make things equally bad for everyone. Noice. So now, without any warning, there are a lot, and by a lot I mean approximately 3.8m women born in the 1950s who are having to either work longer beyond their means or finding themselves without any support. Hooray, equality!
Over the past year, the fight for pension equality has gained tract and on October 10th over a thousand marched to parliament in protest, many of them wearing photos of other women who couldn’t attend because they couldn’t afford costs, weren’t allowed the time off or do zero hours contracts. Campaign groups Back to 60 and WASPI have put the pressure on and there is now an all parliamentary group looking into state pension inequality and the high court have agreed to an oral hearing for a judicial review claim. So this week, I spoke to Prafula Shah from the aforementioned Back to 60 campaign, who kindly explained to why the changes happened, what it means for women in their 50s and pensions for all in the future and if the WASPI group constantly try to land on sandwiches during summer. Ok not the last one, but as for the rest, Prafula got me all up to date as to why we all need to be campaigning against state pension inequality.
Now just before this starts, a quick:
This interview was done between Skype and a mobile phone, both of which weren’t having a great day. I’ve done some clever sound things to it that I feel well smug about and think it’s ok but there a few, er, crcchhhgghghghg moments. I’m pretty sure that’s the clever technical term for them because I’m obviously an expert. Ahem. Anyway, hope you enjoy and please after listening sign the online petition that is mentioned.
Here is Prafula:
INTERVIEW WITH PRAFULA PART 1
Tiernan Douieb: Hi Prafula, thank you very much for speaking with me today. I wanted to ask, I have a vague understanding of what BackTo60 are campaigning for but could you tell me and the listeners what has happened to the state pension for women born in the 1950s? How has the government now deferred it by stealth twice?
Prafula Shah: So, the 1995 Pension Act introduced some changes to the state pension age and moved that upwards for women from 60 to 65 but failed to tell anyone about it. What effectively then happened is that in 2011, the Pensions Act 2011 also equalised the age. So, the basic idea was that they wanted to equalise the age for men and women to 65. The 2011 Pensions Act actually accelerated the changes, so initially changes were not supposed to take effect until 2021. The 2011 act accelerated the changes through parliament, and again failed to tell the women affected by this. So, the first cohort that is affected are women born in the 1950s, they’ve had absolutely no notice from the DWP about it, they weren’t told that instead of retiring at 60 they’d now be retiring at 66.
TD: That was just pretty much sprung on, I mean, without much time to adjust for it or prepare for it whatsoever.
PS: Absolutely. So, had women had the notice that they should have had, they would have had time to make some financial arrangements and prepare for this massive change to their life. Effectively, what we’re saying is that we have paid into the National Insurance fund and these women have worked from the age of 15, so they’ve paid into the fund for more than 45 years, they’re now being told that they won’t be retiring for another 6 years but must carry on paying into the fund for that extra time but no enhancement in their end pension. In fact, some women will actually be getting less pension anyway because they’re also being told at the same time that some of them haven’t had enough years of (?) of pay.
TD: Are there issues in bringing men’s and women’s pensions into line anyway? Is that a good idea overall or are there differences that mean that shouldn’t be happening?
PS: Well, women were retiring at 60 for a very good reason, they reason was that a lot of women are often the caretaker in the home, they look after the children, they look after elderly parents, they often worked part-time so their husbands could work full-time and have careers that their husbands were progressing. Women have never had equality in pensions anyway, in the sense that a lot of them work part-time and were paying a different class of National Insurance to men, but some were also not allowed to pay into a private pension until the mid 70s, so they’ve never had equality anyway. If we were doing this in the name of equality then absolutely, women should have the same pension that men have, which no woman does. There’s also the gender pay gap, which we all know about, and more recently to our industry, a lot of big companies have been talking about that and it’s been exaggerated more by government talking about the gender pay gap. So women have never had equality anyway.
TD: So really this idea of it being an equal rights issue is complete nonsense?
PS: It’s complete nonsense from the perspective that it is not equal, women were never equal, we did not have the same opportunities, the same pay or they didn’t have the same opportunities to pay into pensions that some men did. So, women were never equal anyway.
TD: What does the state pension being deferred by stealth mean for women born in the 1950s? I know you mentioned earlier that no one’s had a chance to prepare for this, but does it mean that there are now lots of women that are having to work in their 60s when they shouldn’t be? Are they caught in quite tricky situations? Have you heard any case studies where it’s caused real difficulties for women?
PS: So we’re hearing of 3.8 million women who all have very similar stories, they were preparing their life around being able to retire at 60. Some are now having to remortgage their homes, others are working late into their lives doing jobs that they absolutely should not now be doing. I know a very good case of a nurse who’s working in orthopaedic unit in a hospital, a job that she absolutely loved doing but she hates it now because she’s having to lead patients at the age of 62. There are many harrowing stories of women who are actually self-harming, they’re not eating, they’re not able to heat, they can’t afford food, they can’t afford heating, many are using food banks. Many of these had made provisions for this and are now having to sell their homes. I’ve heard from a story from a woman recently who has been made homeless from this and is sleeping in a car. The stories are absolutely horrendous. The impact of this legislation has been terrible, terrible hardship all over the country, and the government failed to do an impact assessment before introducing the changes. That is fundamentally wrong because any major policies of this kind, local government and central government are required to do an impact assessment but they failed to do that. They failed to inform the women that these changes were coming so the women themselves have not been able to prepare for that. The hardship is not just for them women but the families as well, because now instead of caring for the grandchildren or elderly parents, these women are having to work. Some (?) are paying more for childcare and a lot of more elderly people are having to provided for by the state, whereas before women were taking care of their elderly parents.
TD: Something you said there, I didn’t realise that the government hadn’t done any impact assessment at all. I wanted to ask about that, why do you think this age group are being targeted because traditionally the Conservative party have been very supportive of retirees, that’s normally been their target age group for voters. What’s changed and why do you think they just went ahead with this without any warning whatsoever? What were the reasons?
PS: I mean, the reason is plain and simple, it’s saving money. Chancellor George Osborne went to a very famous European finance minister’s dinner and boasted about how he had so easily saved so much money by doing this and introducing these changes. It’s not just the changes, it’s where the changes have been introduced. They’re now tapering the pension. I know cases of people who were both born in the same year, women both born in the same year, went to the same school, same year, one has already retired and one is now not going to be retired for 2 and a half years, she won’t effectively get her pension for 2 and a half years because tapering has also been introduced at the same time. You mentioned traditionally that Conservatives are quite supportive of pensions, I suspect what was at the back of everyone’s minds is that we’re all living apparently longer, although that’s not true now. (?) 2 weeks ago said that people are no longer living longer, for the first time in a decade figures have been published that show that actually we’re not living longer, that’s also a feature in a way. So the longevity argument is no longer true. What the government wants everyone to do is make provisions for a private pension and not have to rely on the state pension. Effectively, I think the future generation possibly won’t have a state pension because the way this is now looking, the 2014 Pension Act also said that the government will review the change of age again, so they’ve made it so that they will continually keep reviewing the age that people retire at. Effectively lots of people are now working until they’re 70 to make ends meet anyway.
TD: Wow, so that’s looking really bleak for women now in their 60s but also for future generations who made end up with a very long time before they get a pension, if any at all, which is really worrying. I want to ask as well, I think the government said it would cost £77 billion to put the pension back to 60 years of age for women. At BackTo60, what’s your solution for that amount of money being spent on it? I’m of the mind that everyone should be supported in their older age so that cost should just be accepted, but is there a way of getting around the cost of it if it were to be pulled back to 60?
PS: Two things need to be clarified here. First of all, this is not money the government is giving anyone, this is money that these women have already paid in, they’ve paid the National Insurance fund and the government is supposed to protect that fund. There has been an investigation done that shows that £281 billion has not been put into the National Insurance fund by the Conservative government for 24 years. So, £77 billion can be found. If that money had been put into the fund as you and I have been paying into the fund, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now, that money would be there to pay the women. The other thing is that £77 billion is not the government’s money, it’s actually our money. That money has already been paid into the fund, so it’s not a (?), it’s actually a contract that was made with government by every single person that paid National Insurance. You and I don’t have a choice, it’s taken from us when we start working. So, it’s a contract and they reneged on the contract, they changed the goalposts and didn’t tell anybody. The £77 billion is not money that they don’t have, for the first time in many years the National Insurance fund is actually showing a surplus, so the government has the money. It’s a case of saying a wrong has been done, they have admitted this to an all-party parliamentary committee and to the pensions ombudsman that a wrong has been done, and it’s actually about time that the government listened and righted that wrong. Poland recently tried to introduce these changes and Poland has actually in the last week gone back to 60 for their women.
TD: So they’ve been successful. How long did they have to campaign for it? Was it a fairly quick turnaround in Poland?
PS: Not very much at all whereas women here have been singing from the trees for 3 years about this with little or no attention from government. It’s only in the last 4 weeks that the media started to take notice and write about this. The rally you’ll know about, which was last week on 10th, when women from all over the country actually marched on parliament to get parliament to understand the hardship that’s been caused. Then the Pensions Minister, Baroness Ros Altmann last week agreed, she tried to actually at the time of the introduction of this legislation to try to get her colleagues in parliament to understand the impact of it and had warned them of the hardship, but she said that nobody listened.
END OF INTERVIEW PART 1
And we’ll be back with Prafula in a minute but first…
Look, all you need to know this week, is that Brexit is 95% done. So you can Netflix and Chill the hell out knowing full well that the UK government only have to hash out a tiny little 5% with the EU and I mean, 5%? What’s that? Initialing a bit of paper? Double signing the treaty that says all unbended bananas get sent straight to Brussels? What’s that? It’s still the Irish border issue? Oh. That’s just 5%? That’s like if I told you I’d lost 5% of my body hair and you said, that’s not too bad, then I showed you a massive swear word spelled out across the back of my head in sudden baldness. It’s a seriously big problem 5%. However the solution to the Irish Border problem is well, only really one thing right now. Or wait, two things if you include magical solution that will miraculously fall out of the sky atop a flaming unicorn, but let’s face it, that’s unlikely to happen and the DUP will probably still say they aren’t keen to accept it on account of the demonic nature of the horned horse it rode in on. So the two solution that isn’t really a solution but is more a, hey we’ll deal with that later fix, is a back stop which I’ve mentioned before and a longer transition period from after when we leave the EU to when we actually leave the EU and stop holding the EU’s hand because the train’s going know and it will seriously hurt one of you unless you release. The backstop as you know, would mean Northern Ireland stays part of the EU customs union until they can figure out how it can not do that, so you know, it’ll probably last a few hundred years. The EU want it to apply to just Northern Ireland, which Northern Ireland don’t like, but Theresa May has said that maybe it can apply to the whole UK which the EU and Brexiteers don’t like. Plus the UK government want it to be time limited because nothing makes you work like a deadline, right? But actually that’s to appease the Brexiteers who are angry about the other bit even though the time limit bit angers the EU because who knows how long actually having a plan will take. Spoilers: More than two years so far. So the EU are saying why don’t the UK have their UK backstop that May wants and then if it fails, the EU backstop will kick in, which is a bit like telling a child they can make their cookies that they are doing out of playdough and it really doesn’t matter because there’s a batch of proper ones in the oven anyway but no, I promise you’re not completely wasting your time. So obviously Brexiteers aren’t happy with that either and want the EU to scrap their backstop. And see, this is why a time limit to a backstop is a bad idea because it’s taking this bloody long to get past the planning stage. Oh, but some have said, why don’t we just have a Norway option and that’ll solve anything. Or a Canada option? Because Norway and Canada don’t have a Northern Ireland. There was no point when part of Iceland, engaged in sectarian violence between Vikings and Christians, split off to join Norway. And even if it did, Iceland isn’t part of the EU anyway so it wouldn’t matter. Shush and think of something better to suggest. Why can’t Ireland be like Gibraltar? Well climate and monkeys mainly, but also despite Spain saying Gibraltar is all sorted out, their deal is simply, hey we’ll work it out later when we have to. Great. I really hope the Spanish fire service don’t have the same attitude. No, no, leave it burning, I’ll deal with it once I’ve had my marshmallows and a small nap.
After meetings last week, the other bit of the plan is for the transition period between the UK leaving the EU and properly leaving the EU to be extended. At the moment it’s due to end on December 21st 2020, because as if New Year’s Eve parties aren’t shitty enough, plus there’s nothing like waking up on New Year’s Day with a hangover that size. But now it could go on longer, although May said she doesn’t want it to go on longer than May 2022. Which is the month, not her next upgrade. A longer transition, is indeed a good thing. But also possibly, like with everything to do with Brexit, a bad thing. It’s a good thing because no decent plans have happened so far, and having that extra time to work everything out is very much needed. Is until May 2022 enough time? Probably not, especially when no one still has any ideas how to work out the Irish Border and that flaming unicorn is still nowhere in sight. But it is more time. That time will mean the UK is part of the EU in all but name and while that might not concern Remainers as much, extending the transition to 2022 means we enter a new financial cycle of EU budget meaning the UK will owe more to the EU for being part of that but we won’t have any say or representation at the table. This could also mean the EU make some big decisions that affect the UK that we can’t do anything about, ie banning flaming unicorns just so that solution can’t happen. Also if we have more time, doesn’t that just mean we’ll be back to being 76% completed and then there’ll be 2 more years of arsing about and name calling from everyone before suddenly realizing they have to do something six months beforehand? As with always, only time will tell, and over the next week we should find out if we’ve got more time to have an even longer, even more boring story or not and if the ending will be worth it, or like Lost you’ll just go, oh I wish I hadn’t bothered.
Before this Brexit Fallout finishes, there’s been some news in regards to the Dark Money trail that I interviewed Peter Geoghegan about a couple of weeks ago in episode 115. It seems the Metropolitian police have still not opened a criminal investigation into the illegal campaign spending of three pro-Brexit groups because of, as they say, ‘political sensitivities’. Cool, I mean isn’t that the same for anytime anyone remotely to do with politics or society or well, anything is under investigation? I mean it’s a political case, of course there are political sensitivities. Its like saying you won’t investigate a musician who’s done some wrong because it could really ruin Friday Night Drive Time request hour. Open Democracy, the site Peter writes for, revealed that the police ignored all the evidence given to them by the electoral commission for four months, despite being only 15 minutes away. Though in London traffic that can take several days. It’s completely stupid and aside from perhaps police cuts and resourcing issues there’s no excuse. Unless of course that is the political sensitivities and it’s not at all about Brexit, it’s just that no one’s around to sift through 2000 pages of evidence or you know, check out if someone’s had a firework thrown at their flat. Ahem. There’s growing pressure for the investigation to begin from MPs as well as the public and an online petition now has over 9000 signatures demanding the Met take action. If you fancy giving it a sign then head to unlockdemocracy.org.uk
And now, back to Prafula…
INTERVIEW WITH PRAFULA PART 2
TD: The protest last week was all over the newspapers. Is it right that BackTo60 have something like 700,000 supporters? You mentioned the all-party parliamentary group led by Carolyn Harris, so do you feel positive about it now? That’s quite a lot of power backing this change, the change at BackTo60, do you feel like there’s hope in sight?
PS: Absolutely. I think that it’s the women themselves that have brought the story to the attention of the media and attitudes to generations, I don’t think anyone realises that this doesn’t just affect this group of women, it affects absolutely everybody. We are all going to work longer. Some of us know about it and we can make provisions for this but these women didn’t know, they weren’t told and they weren’t able to make provision, so therefore I think government needs to do the only thing that they can do and we would like all politicians to play their part and do the right thing by their constituents. Actually, ultimately, women have a vote and I think a lot of women are now feeling very let down by democracy itself and they will probably use that vote at the next election to show politicians that we’re no longer going to be ignored.
TD: Do you have any sort of time schedule from the all-party parliamentary group? Am I right in thinking that all your petitions were handed into Downing Street this week?
PS: Yes, yesterday. We handed another petition yesterday to parliament, that was a survey that was done by Silence of Suicide and they have actually looked at the impact of this legislation on women that are now actually self-harming. Some women have actually died waiting for their pension. So, last week at the rally there was a roll call with a number of names that we saw of women that waited and waited and are unfortunately no longer here to claim their pension. We have heard horrendous stories from women. We asked for stories to be shared on social media and they are all over social media about the real impact of this legislation. So, we actually think the all-party parliamentary committee has a role to play, that their proposals are not actually going to resolve anything, and in fact the majority of women have lost between £35-50,000 from their pension by waiting for 6 years, and that (?) solution is not going to be give any compensation to those women. So, we are saying that BackTo60 for 1950s women is the only solution to actually get some of these women out of the hardship they’re now in.
TD: So even if it was to go back, as you said, then they’ve still already lost money that they won’t be able to reclaim, they won’t backdate any of the pension payments I’m guessing?
PS: Absolutely. If we do the maths, the weekly payment, whatever it is, and you times that by 12 and then by another 6, we’re talking about horrendous amounts of money, and this money was rightly ours. People have paid into that fund, it’s not for the government to take and use for whatever they feel like using it for. I think, overall, a national debate should be had about the National Insurance fund because originally when it was set up it was a National Insurance fund to pay pensions and I think unemployment benefits, and over the years a number of other things have been paid from that fund, including funding the NHS. I think a debate now needs to be had about that as well.
TD: You mentioned to me before we started recording that you’ve got a new petition that by the time this podcast comes out will have started. What’s that petition for and how do people sign it?
PS: Professor Jackie Jones, who is a legal professor, has done an Amicus Brief for us, which supports our case of discrimination. That brief is actually saying that the UK government has breached UN laws on equality, and we’re calling a petition that says that this equality in law needs to be enshrined in our own law in the UK. That’s what this petition is about. It was launched yesterday and people can sign it online at backto60.com.
TD: Fantastic, I hope all the listeners go there and do that straightaway. I just wanted to ask, Prafula, it’s a question that I ask all the interviewees we have on this podcast, apart from yourselves and BackTo60 who are doing fantastic work, are there any other groups, writers or campaigners that you could also recommend to listeners to follow, read or research on if they would like more information about state pension inequality and related issues?
PS: Yes. The Women’s Equality Party are doing some work on this. The Fawcett Society are helping and supporting our case. Then there’s Waspi and We Paid In U Pay Out, those are the 2 groups that are also calling for changes. So those are the groups to look out for and support.
END OF INTERVIEW PART 2
Thank you to Prafula for that chat and you can find Back To 60 on their website at backto60.com where you can find on the front page, links to sign the latest petition that Prafula mentioned. They are also on Twitter @2020Comms and on Facebook too. One of the other groups involved that Prafula also mentioned are WASPI, Women against state pension inequality and their website is waspi.co.uk or you can find them on Twitter @WASPI_Campaign_ or on their Facebook page. Of course all of the rest of Prafula’s recommended links along with a transcript of the interview will be on the partlypoliticalbroadcast.co.uk website soonish.
Next week, as it’s Halloween, I’ll be interviewing Graham Thompson from Greenpeace about climate change which is the scariest thing ever so it seemed appropriate. Then after that I think I’ll have someone with an update on Scottish politics but after that, who knows. Some asks, I’d love to interview someone about Welsh politics, also someone on defence stuff too, and still lots of local campaigners and activists that you may know of as well as any other subjects you think I should be delving into with my completely inexperienced journalistic inabilities. So let me know, what do you want to hear? And don’t just say silence. We’ve talked about my John Cage 4’44” podcast before. Drop me a line @parpolbro on Twitter, the Partly Political Broadcast group on Facebook, the contact page on partlypoliticalbroadcast.co.uk or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you could leave your message engraved in the handle of a sword and put it in a lake and then in 1500 years an 8 year old girl will find it and be crowned Queen only to then have her dreams ruined when everyone realizes it’s not a treasure, it’s just a podcast request. Booooooo. How dare you dream ruiner. How bloomin’ dare you. As always, its best just to email.
And that’s all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast podcast. Thank you so much for once again hearkening on this weekly bulletin and please don’t forget to review the show on one of them pod apps what you use, donate if you can to the Patreon or ko-fi and of course just generally tell people to give this show and a try and if they don’t like it they can simply write to me at an address I’ll never give out and ask for their ear time back which isn’t a thing so haha I win.
Big tas to Acast for tending to this show within it’s audio Academy for gifted soundsters, and to my brother The Last Skeptik for all the noises he provides from his musical catalogue.
This will be back next week when Theresa May reveals that their NHS plan is based on Brexit now being 96% complete but unable to continue until various programs that you are currently using, are closed down.
This week’s show was sponsored by Dominic Raab’s Power Moves, the Brexit secretary’s new book including such tactics as ‘just don’t turn up in the first place’ as well as ‘tell them if they don’t hire you for the job they might hire another cleverer person who’s cheaper so don’t do that ok it wouldn’t be nice’. Raab takes you through his simple strategy of speaking loudly and confidently so people think you know what you’re doing, and eating the same lunch everyday so you don’t get confused by a sandwich and then lost in a corridor as a result. Raab’s Power Games, he wouldn’t bother reading it to get the upper hand, so why would you?