Episode 150 – The podcast is back! This week British MEPs acting like classic tourists on a summer trip to Europe, the Tory leadership race bores on, Kate Hoey finally goes away and more. Plus a look at how democratic the current EU votes for President of the Commission really are. Tiernan (@tiernandouieb) speaks to Katrina Ffrench (@FfrenchKatrina) from StopWatchUK (@StopWatchUK) about accountable and fair policing.
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The podcast is back! This week British MEPs acting like classic tourists on a summer trip to Europe, the Tory leadership race bores on, Kate Hoey finally goes away and more. Plus a look at how democratic the current EU votes for President of the Commission really are. Tiernan (@tiernandouieb) speaks to Katrina Ffrench (@FfrenchKatrina) from StopWatchUK (@StopWatchUK) about accountable and fair policing.
Links and sources of info from Katrina’s interview:
All the usual ParPolBro stuff:
Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast, the comedy politics podcast that goes beyond the headlines and instead lurks in that sort of no man’s land, around page 19, where you’re not sure if it’s a sketch or real but it doesn’t matter because on the other side there’s a story about how shoes give you cancer. This is episode 150, I’m Tiernan Douieb and this week as cadaverous possessed footstool and Brexit Party MEP Anne Widdicombe said in her maiden speech at the European Parliament that Britain leaving the EU was like the emancipation of slaves, I’m guessing that judging by some of the racist comments she’s made before, that means Widdicombe is actually against Brexit, and will do all she can to make sure British history books largely ignore it.
Ah the summer time, when Brits love travelling over to Europe in order to make a total arse of themselves, dressing absurdly, making lots of noise, demanding they get British things and at no point considering how the locals might feel about it. As European parliament opened last week British remain and leave MEPs took to their seats, many for the first time, and acted like the far removed family member that you didn’t want to but had to invite, knowing full well they’ll drink all the booze, call your partner something awful and then fall asleep on the floor while wetting themselves. The Liberal Democrat MEPs wore their ‘Bollocks To Brexit’ t-shirts, because nothing gets a message across more than people wearing a naughty word to a formal institution. Yeah that’ll show them! But why stop there Lib Dems? Why not really hammer home your campaign by wearing odd socks, saying ‘arse’ while coughing when other people speak and as you leave, gently kick a bin? On the other side of the debate, Brexit Party MEPs chose to show their rebellion by standing up and turning their backs when a youth quartet played the European anthem ‘Ode To Joy’. I mean it is very much within their remit to ignore young people having an opportunity to express their talents. Many complained and said that turning your backs was similar to what the Nazis did to the Speaker of the German Reichstag in 1930, but it’s also similar to what 40 female delegates did in the Canadian parliament to protest the mistreatment of indigenous women, several hundred New York cops did to the Mayor in protest of violence towards police or hundreds of protestors did at the funeral of former Prime Minister and Gary Oldman’s Dracula Margaret Thatcher. Though that may have been out of safety in-case she had risen up again and looked any of them in the eyes, turning them to stone.
So, while it easy to compare the Brexit party to Nazis, especially as they also look like they’ve had their faces melted by the Arc of the Covenant, this back turning was likely just a really stupid way to protest against music that you’d be able to hear whatever way round you were standing. They may as well have complained about dinner by popping ear plugs in, or I dunno, protested against a system by standing to be elected to be part of it and get paid a hefty salary and a pension by them. Oh. Oh well. Brexit Party leader and giant collapsed lung Nigel Farage said that his party weren’t disrespectful as what’s disrespectful is taking the ancient nation states of Europe and turning it into one country with its own anthem and flag, without asking for permission. Which makes you wonder why he doesn’t turn his back on the British anthem especially when used for Commonwealth occasions. Then days later Anne Widdicombe made her maiden screech in the EU parliament where she spent over two minutes proving she had no idea how to use a microphone and said Britain were the oppressed and the EU the oppressors, as she oppressed by a fat salary and pension will know. Maybe the only way Widdicombe can feel truly free is if she had those benefits removed and she was just left in a forest somewhere, truly liberated and able to emit high pitched yelling wildly at night until she’s eaten by a badger who thinks she’s a distressed toad. These weren’t the only protests on the EU Parliament’s first day of sitting for this term, as there were also two Independent Irish MEPs who wore Free Assange tshirts, because apparently it was ‘wear your issues that the EU can’t really do anything about to work day’. I probably also missed some Croatian MEPs with their tshirts showing solidarity to the Robot world cup and one MEP from Hungary donning one which says in big letters that ‘Ariel the mermaid should be played by a white actress’. Events were also disrupted by 100s of Catalan separatists protesting outside as their elected MEPs have been blocked from taking their seats by Spanish authorities who refuse to recognize them. Maybe they should all wear masks of the faces of the Spanish MEPs so they definitely know who they are and each parliamentary session would start like the film Us.
Yet there was good reason to protest from all MEPs as the EU leaders ditched their previous system of Spitzenkandidat, where the person who can hock a loogie furthest becomes European Commision president. No sorry, I mean it’s a lead candidate system allowing each country to put forward a nominee, except this time, instead of that, all the leaders just put forward Ursula van der Leyden who is rumoured to be played by Melissa McCarthy in the Disney reboot – yes that’s two live action Little Mermaid gags in just one podcast, you’re welcome. Van Der Leyden is the German defence minister as well as Emma Thompson villain and is not a popular choice, especially in Germany where she’s currently involved in a financial scandal. Still that does mean that if she makes it through, Farage might finally find the EU Parliament has a president he can relate to. Italian socialist and Dave Allen but after he died tribute David Sassoli was elected as European Parliament President, but there has been criticism as while Sassoli’s ideology means the EU have political balance across the board, as he’s now the seventh EU Parliament President from Italy, and the second in a row after his predecessor Antonia Tajani which really doesn’t make sense considering that Italians are always terrible behind the wheel.
Back in the UK, politics is still embroiled in the Conservative Leadership Battle in a fight where whoever wins, we all very much lose. Watching the campaigns of posh Chris Griffin Boris Johnson and man who always looks like he’s just been hit in the face with a large plank of wood Jeremy Hunt, is a bit like trying to enjoy charting the trajectories of an asteroid that’s about to collide with the earth. Pointing and wooing at how it’s just skimmed Ganymede with a lovely loop motion, trying to distract from knowing that we all just have weeks till we’re either crushed instantly by a fat alien rock or inhaling vast quantities of sulfur dioxide like a pig lit its farts directly into our lungs. According to polls, Johnson is in the lead by quite a margin, everyone involved being an error. Because when it’s a choice between the worst ever foreign secretary and total arsehole or worst ever health secretary and second worst ever foreign secretary and total arsehole, you may as well go for the one that might get trampled to death on a diplomatic trip to Mongolia by several yaks desperate to mate with him, giving at least a glimmer of hope for the country.
I would say it’s amazing Boris is doing so well but his leadership campaign is being run by the only Velociraptor MP in parliament Iain Duncan Smith, so that means even if Johnson really, really isn’t fit to work as PM, IDS will try his best to make it look like he is. How else do you explain twice as many Conservative voters backing Boris, despite two weeks that have included him avoiding debates, saying he made sacrifices to be a politician, not meaning extreme Bullingdon club initiations, just his own vast earnings, and saying that in his spare time he builds model buses. Startling mainly due to his history of lying on them or overheating them in real life. I wonder if he also has a tiny model of a garden bridge and a cable car that he’s fashioned out of cereal boxes, and perhaps if we could see the whole collection we might be able to work out what he’ll fuck up next. I’ve got a feeling there’s a scale construction of Britain made out of loo rolls and pasta bits. In between Boris has had photo opps of him kissing puppies, which if I’m correct was a wire haired, dish faced, prick eared, selectively bred southern hound, but I’m not sure what the puppy was, getting heckled at a garden centre which shows he’d be outwitted by a nursery, and visiting the Heck Sausages factory which has caused many to say they’ll boycott the brand, especially as only previously the pork purveyors were talking about how no deal would ruin their business yet here they are championing Johnson. Or, chances are, he wondered in and they thought he was part of their produce that had tried to escape and it was too late before they realized they were wrong.
As for policies, well so far, apart from the previous pledge to let rich people pay less tax because nothing gets the public than proving you only read Robin Hood backwards as a child, Johnson’s other policies include demanding all immigrants learn English in order to integrate into the UK, because as he said, there are too many parts of Britain were English isn’t the first language. This does not bode well for Wales, but also ignores that to be truly British, anyone coming to the UK should refuse to learn the language and just point and shout at stuff they want until they get it. His sister and probably winner of some Eurovision at some point in the 70s Rachel Johnson tweeted that they spoke Ancient Greek at home, so had no idea what he was talking about, which explains why so much of what Boris does is a tragedy. Johnson has said there’d be a review of unhealthy food taxes, because after raising the 40p tax threshold he then wants to make life easier for others like him, aka sugar daddies and the honey monster.
And then there’s Brexit where Boris says the UK will definitely leave the EU on October 31st and that he will make sure the country will be match fit for no deal, though he didn’t specify what game that’d be or even if he meant sports match, or just a small splint of wood that lights easily then burns out very quickly after starting a raging blaze. Johnson insists the UK has the fiscal firepower to survive it, but Chancellor and Skeksis leader Philip Hammond said actually it’ll cost around £90bn and there’ll be no money left for whoever the new leader is. Still, at least they’d get to leave a funny note for the new government when they lose a snap election and it’d be all anyone talks about for 10 years.
Jeremy Hunt’s campaign on the other hand has contained a moment of nominative determinism as he’s promised a vote on repealing the fox hunting ban, something that his backer Disgraced MP Liam The Disgrace Fox is likely concerned about. He said foxhunting is part of our heritage so is this is just the first in a long line of policy announcements of that basis including bringing back hanging people, child labour and having the plague? Hunt has told Tory Islamaphobes that he doesn’t want their vote which is the first noble thing he’s ever done, but with ITV News compiling a dossier of 181 members who have made anti-Islamic offences, and 56% of members believing Islam is harmful to British life, it does mean he’s just giving votes to Boris. Except Boris told a hustings last week that he doesn’t want people with that sort of prejudice in the party either, so I guess this just means he’d expel himself, so maybe that’s a double win for Jeremy. As for Brexit views, Hunt says he’d back a No Deal with a heavy heart, which is what happens when you have one made of stone, and that he’d tell business that go bust as a result that it was worth it, proving once again that he’d be that shit friend of a friend who’d insist that they’d take you a really great bar or club and then after a group of you have been wondering around aimlessly for 7 hours in the cold and dark, tired and lost, would exclaim what fun everyone had had. Hunt says he’ll have the UK leave on No Deal by September 30th, beating Johnson by a full month. Chances are Johnson will retaliate by saying it’ll be August 30th, before Hunt vows to do it end of July and Johnson has to plan to enact it in the past meaning Britain can’t actually Brexit until time travel is invented. Which let’s face it, is as plausible a solution as having invisible technology for the Irish Border.
You’ll be very pleased to know that if the UK does leave without a deal, that we are totally and utterly unprepared with the former Brexit chief warning that it was fraught with risk and the civil servant in charge of no deal planning quit last week to join the private sector, almost proving on a smaller scale just how to leave with a deal. Olly Robbins, chief Brexit negotiator and extended neck with glasses, will also quit once the new Prime Minister is chosen. So, anyone who knows how to deal with a no deal is going or gone, and everyone who doesn’t is pushing for it. Still, as they say, ignorance is bliss, and if you can just close your eyes and pretend you can’t see a 6-month queue on the M20 then maybe it isn’t there?
Meanwhile current Prime Minister and harried petrified birds nest Theresa May is having to spend her last few days in office defending the UK’s Ambassador to Washington and Liam Fox clone number 17 Sir Kim Darroch after he called the Trump Administration inept in leaked emails. Leave.EU have demanded that Darroch should be replaced with a favourite of the US President and scorched rucksack full of lipids, Donald Trump, which they say is Nigel Farage. I’m not sure about you but there’s nothing more nationalistic and putting your country first quite like letting the country your ambassador is meant to report on, choose who does it. Maybe this is the big Brexit Party and Leave.EU plan all along? No deal, then let other countries choose the UK’s ambassadors to them, maybe then get them to send themselves exports too and just write UK on things they’ve made themselves and we can all sit in our own filth and slowly rot away to the national anthem? Either way, May has said she has full faith in Darroch so chances are he’ll end up as Transport Secretary.
Over in opposition town, Labour are still arguing about what their Brexit stance is, with your dad’s grumpy friend from work and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell saying that he wants the party to campaign for remain and a second referendum, as does Shadow Home Secretary and only woman who could make the dictionary sound condescending Dianne Abbott. It was reported that McDonnell had called for Labour leader and King Julien from Madagascar stunt double Jeremy Corbyn to sack his core advisors as they were keeping him captive. No silly, that’s just how Jezza always looks, like he’s walked off a plane after being held hostage for 30 years. Its his brand. McDonnell has denied this and reports now suggest that unions have agreed Labour’s position would be whatever deal is negotiated by new PM should go to a second referendum vs remain and Labour would campaign for Remain. But if there’s a general election Labour’s manifesto would be to negotiate with eth EU for a deal that works, then put that to a referendum then depending on the deal would depend on their stance. Basically, Labour have announced they’ll stop fence sitting in order to fence surf once they’ve perused all possible fences and let the people decide which has the best stakes.
Labour MP and leader of the Gentlemen in Buffy, Chris Williamson was suspended after making comments about antisemitism, but had that suspension lifted by the NEC including fan of industrial washing machine salesmen Keith Vaz who voted in favour of Wiliamson. Then Chris Williamson’s suspension was reinstated, after the NEC, including Keith Vaz voted that actually lifting the suspension was a mistake. It’s that sort of decision making that shows how if expenses scamming, coke taking, bullying Keith Vaz can stay a Labour MP and be on the NEC, the party’s disiplinary procedures are due a serious renewal. Saying that perhaps the key is to keep suspending and reinstating Williamson like a sort of passive hokey cokey method whereby he’ll eventually become so bored and leave Labour of his own accord pleasing both those who want him gone and his supporters.
In other news, Plaid Cymru and the Greens will step aside in the Brecon and Radnorshire by election on August 1st, in order to support the Lib Dems in a Remain alliance, which sounds like a sort of super group for people like a certain lettuce. This is the election where disgraced Conservative MP and what is Sam from Lord of The Rings was evil Chris Davies lost his seat in a recall petition but is still running again because let’s face it, the last few years shows that voters are often that stupid. This means it’ll be Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour and the Brexit party running and if the Tories lose the seat, it would reduce the new PM’s majority to just three. That’s one set of bad sandwiches in the Westminster canteen away from government losses. Whether or not the remain alliance will work or continue to be a thing after this election will be seen, but a Lib Dem win would mean whoever the new Lib Dem leader is, will likely pose a genuine threat to number 10 in a general election. I mean, unless its human post office queue Ed Davey, in which case, probably not.
In her last weeks as PM Theresa May is looking at whether the UK’s government’s Wales office should be beefed up, which is silly as it should definitely be lambed. She has also called for tougher rules against the construction of tiny houses, Lego have not yet replied.
The bible of parliamentary procedure Erskine May is now free to read online should any of you have absolutely nothing else to do with your life. This means its available for anyone to look up parliamentary procedure, or like me, spend 20 minutes searching to see which rude words appear and where and being mostly disappointed. MPs have called the Jeremy Kyle show fake and irresponsible, so that could be a supportive statement coming from them.
And lastly, far right activist, ex-EDL leader and the human embodiment of a grubby thumb smudge on your work Steven Yaxley Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson has been found guilty of contempt of court though he said it’s because of who he is, not what he’s done. Sort of true, in that who he is, is a law breaking twat. We’ll find out this week if he’ll get jail time, which if so, will likely make his supporters angry, but only because it’ll be a longer sentence than most of them could ever construct. And Labour MP for Vauxhall, ardent Brexiteer, Farage fan and Zelda from the Terrahawks Kate Hoey, has said she’ll not stand in the next election. Presumably to spend more time being that strange lady at the end of the street that all the children are scared of.
Yeah, the podcast is back! Did you miss it? What do you mean you were upset that you didn’t have a download to click ‘delete from library’ on and now your thumb hasn’t had an adequate work out? So rude. Well I had a lovely holiday, thanks for asking, in so much that going on holiday with a toddler is basically just paying money so you’ve got somewhere else you have to exhaust yourself stopping them from smashing their faces in. I’ve realized that the only real way to have a rest as a parent is if you’re lucky enough to fall into a coma. Still, I caught some sunshine and now my hands have melted and I also saw a lot of cacti, fought one cockroach, drove on the right hand side and didn’t die and pondered why all self-catering apartments all around the world always have knives so blunt that if you tried to stab someone with them, they’d die of boredom first. Also one teeny tiny pan, one giant, could serve the army pan, but never a reasonable sized one and an oven that you need a code breaker to operate. It’s funny how many times going on holiday makes me miss home but mainly only so I can slice a clove of garlic in less than four hours.
But seriously, we did have a nice time and now I’m back and this is episode 150. How has that happened? That’s a lot of waffle isn’t it? 150 hours plus all the extra silly bonus episodes which take it up to 170 and basically, I appreciate you giving up just over one entire week of your life to this show if you’ve been here since the beginning. You could’ve done so much with that week. Like go on holiday and try not to get angry that every vegetarian meal you had was just a variation on scrambled eggs. But instead you’ve listened to my bullshit so thank you and also sorry, because some of those scrambled egg dishes were nice. There’s this week’s show, then two more and then there’ll be a break for the summer but I need to know from you, the avid listener what I should do with episode 152 as if it comes out on the 23rd of July, the Tuesday that it’s meant to, then the Conservative leader and new Prime Minister will be announced within hours, possibly minutes and it’ll be out of date. So should I not give a shit, or do I mess up your weekly listening schedules and put it out on the 24th or should I just release a super small bonus edition straight after? Let me know your thoughts, feelings and what you’re having for dinner. Unless it’s scrambled eggs.
Thank you to Colleen and Marius for your donations to ko-fi.com/parpolbro which the link is, as Marius suggested, now in the @parpolbro Twitter bio. If you too would like to buy me a coffee or drink for my pod efforts that I’ll probably never have time to drink but can at least get some joy looking at before it goes cold, then please head there, or you can also of course, join the patreon at Patreon.com/ParPolBro. If you can’t do that, then please give the show a nice review on any of the pod apps what you use as that’s free to do, apart from the time you’ll never get back, but hey, you’ve already lost a week thanks to this podcast so what’s a few more mins? Valuable is what it is, true. Also just spreading the word about this show on your social medias, pen pal circulars or cub scout corkboard is always appreciated and thanks tons to new listener Scott for the lovely recommendation on Twitter last week.
Quick admin this week, but firstly, please come to my Camden Fringe show. It’s still on August 4th at 8pm and August 5th at 6.30pm and will have all new jokes in and there is a ticket link either at camdenfringe.com or via the link on my website or the podcast blurb. And if you have children, then get them to have a listen to the brand new Comedy Club 4 Kids podcast that I’ve started called Radio Nonsense. You can of course find it on all podcast outlets, same as this show, but unlike this show it is a family friendly pod of myself and other CC4K acts discussing topics as suggested by kids. Speaking of which, we really need some topics as suggested by kids so ask your mini-ones to listen to the trailer and send some into the email address provided. It will contain absolutely zero politics or swearsies and is instead all rather silly and nice. Then if they misbehave make them listen to this one and ruin everything.
On this week’s show I am speaking to Katrina from StopWatch, an organization campaigning for accountable policing in the UK and trust me, it’s a fascinating chat. Plus a little look at the not very democratic leadership elections in the EU this week, which are still more democratic than Nigel Farage becoming leader of the Brexit Party by owning a company and making people pay him to be part of it. I mean basically, the rule is always, the EU isn’t at all perfect and is often shit, but Farage is a skipfull unloaded onto your front lawn more shit. Not sure if you’re into your measurements and statistics but picture a graph whereby your political utopia, whether that’s Borgen or Aldous Huxley’s Island or, if you’re me, Sesame Street, and then at the other end is Farage’s face like a saggy crumble made from giblets. That’s how it always works. Anyway, what I meant to say was, here’s this:
INTERVIEW WITH KATRINA
Fair policing, is not, as you might imagine, just someone going round making sure the waltzers don’t go too fast and that the coconut shy is correctly affixed. It is, instead, what you probably thought it was, how the police should conduct their operations in a fair and accountable manner. As you can probably guess, this doesn’t always happen and particularly in the case of Stop and Search, which is disproportionately used against young black men who often lose trust in the justice system as a result, often doesn’t produce any results and has been proven to not lead to any drop in crime. Which means it becomes less a crime prevention method and more a licence for police to get all handsy with who they choose to, but not in a fun uniformdating.com type way. Yet despite Theresa May saying, back when she was Home Secretary in 2014, that nobody wins when stop and search is misapplied and calling for effective and fair use of it, in recent months due to the UK wide increase in knife crime, everyone’s calling to bring back the stop and search. Why? Well I suppose it’s like how a lot of people love Adele because while she doesn’t really do anything useful, they’ve heard her name a lot and it’s easy to remember. But if Stop and Search isn’t working, isn’t accountable and isn’t fair, but knife crime is rising, what else could be done? Does it need to be replaced with Start and Conceal and hope reverse psychology works? Should it just be all done on an excel spreadsheet as that really helps accountants, or maybe should more systems be in place to stop all of this being a huge waste of everyone’s time?
This week I spoke to the brilliant Katrina Ffrench from StopWatchUK, an independent organization working to ensure fair and accountable policing across the country. As their website usefully says, formed in 2010, StopwatchUK have campaigned against the disproportionate use of stop and search, the increasing use of exceptional stop and search powers and the weakening of accountability mechanisms. Where I grew up in North London lots of my non-white mates were stopped and searched a lot, for often trivial reasons because it was decided they looked shifty while they crossed the road or they were dressed like a suspect they’d heard about and having this chat with Katrina, it’s pretty depressing to hear that little has changed despite proof that it doesn’t make a difference. I found talking to Katrina fascinating and I think this is an important interview that you should listen to then check out StopWatchUK after you do. I promise I didn’t try to push my idea of start and conceal, which sounds like a makeup brand doesn’t it? Oooh, new idea. Sorry. Oh and…
Yeah this jingle, sorry. I called Katrina on her landline phone which means, the sound quality is that of a landline phone. I’ve wrangled it through special sound apps and everything and I’ve played it to my wife who said she could hear it all clearly but I know some of you will be angry because it doesn’t sound like we recorded it on a golden microphone into a diamond mini disc. Please refrain from writing in and instead I promise you should be able to hear it all fine.
Here is Katrina….
INTERVIEW WITH KATRINA PART 1
And we’ll be back with Katrina in a minute but first…
How democratic do you like your EU? Full fat democratic? Semi skimmed but at least I don’t have to make too much effort and I don’t need to learn another language or anything do I democratic? Completely authoritarian they have an army and a their own flag and oh god, what if we all become enslaved to the EU where they’ll make us all, hang *checks notes* have clean beaches and easy airport queues. Urgh. Sounds awful. One of the big not very fun debates of the last few years has been on the issue of how democratic the EU actually is. Brexiteers would like you to know that it’s unelected and undemocratic, that the various President positions aren’t chosen by voters, and laws are dictated to countries rather than with their input. Remainers would probably retort that actually MEPs are elected by voters and they then vote or, in the case of the Brexit Party and formerly UKIP won’t turn up and remove that democratic right from British people, and they also elect the leaders. Then they’d usually point out that the monarchy isn’t elected and we don’t get to directly elect our Prime Minister in the UK anyway and then we all realise that the best argument against a point of view is to point out that hey, UK democracy is also shit so we’re all losers in this fun game of rights anyway but at least we’re not in North Korea or something like that.
The recent EU leadership elections have proved that actually, everyone is a little bit right. There are four positions up for grabs at the mo, centre forward, defence, missionary and upside down. No sorry, wrong bit of paper. They are President of the European Council which has already been decided and given to David Sassoli. That was decided by the EU Council and not MEPs but before you go crying about how that’s not democracy and shouting EU, E THEM MORE LIKE or something, then you should note that the EU council is made up of the leaders of each member state, who you likely voted for, or at least for their party or in my case, or haven’t but you’ve heard about people who have done even though they won’t admit it, a lot like people who buying James Blunt albums. Then there is the President Of The European Central Bank, which looks like its going to Christine Lagarde, and is also decided by the council, but they consult MEPs and the bank and if they all say no, then they probably have to find someone else or put an out to lunch sign on the door till the next round of elections. So that’s probably the least democratic but still, all in all, fairly democratic when you break it down and listen, who actually wants to go through President of the European Central Bank nominees when most people can’t be bothered to vote for their local MP let alone Police and Crime Commissioner.
Then there’s the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, basically they do all the foreign and security stuff and that looks like it’s going to Spanish politician Joseph Borrell but MEPs have to vote their approval on him for Borrell to get the job. And then there’s the big one, President of The European Commission, in charge of the executive EU body that proposes laws and policies, who has to receive approval of more than 50% of the MEPs to get through. The nominee for that is Ursula von der Leyen. So MEPs, elected by the voters, vote for 2 of the 4 roles, have a say in the 3rd and the 4th is decided by the leaders of countries who’s voters voted them in. All sounds fairly decent right? Sounds like we’re all getting a fair slice of say in that election pie right? Right.
Except that this time round, the issue is in the nominations. In 2014, the last round of EU Elections, Senior MEPs worked out a system called Spitzenkandidat, which is German for when you mix saliva and sweets together and down it like a shot, no wait sorry. It’s means lead candidate and the idea was that the various alliances within the EU, made up of various national parties based on their ideologies, would all nominate a lead candidate. The European Council would then choose a winner from all the nominees, who in turn would then have to be voted on by MEPs in order to succeed. It’s like a 2 factor authentication but better because MEPs don’t have to quickly find a 6 digit code on their phone and enter it within 60 seconds in order to vote for the EU Commission President. Most of the EU Council, ie government leaders from the member states, didn’t like the sound of this because it gave more power to the MEPs from the beginning and they argued that they’ve been elected by their voters so have a democratic right to not really bother with the first bit. Nothing like people who’ve already been democratically elected to decide when there’s been enough democracy. Anyway, it worked in 2014, leading to everyone’s favourite mouse turned into a human by magic Jean Claude Juncker from Luxembourg, becoming Commision President.
But this time, it hasn’t really happened. There were arguments that it should happen like last time, but others said that any Spitezenkandidat that could get most votes from MEPs could be president. That would mean different parties could back the same person. But it all became a bit vague and Juncker himself said it was not very transparent, which is a nice way of saying it’s like trying to see through concrete. A lot of complicated things then happened including the Europe’s liberals, lead by withered Elton John Guy Verhoftstadt ending up putting a Spitzenteam forward which no one really liked and didn’t really count. The European People’s Party picked a candidate, Manfred Weber, who had no senior executive public office experience and didn’t speak French which the French would never go for. Macron didn’t and said instead he’d back small egg and current Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, a man who Nigel Farage tweeted begging Theresa May not to back because it turns out that despite him being elected to a parliament he says is unelected and undemocratic and doesn’t want to be part of, he also still wants a say in who the president of that is. Cake and eating all of it till you sick it up and have it and eat it again. Then Hungary said they wouldn’t back either of those two candidates, Weber or Timmermans, and Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia and others could’ve just backed those two and had them nominated but said they wouldn’t give up the EU presidency without a fight, and after lots of kerfuffle it was clear that neither Weber nor Timmermans would gain an MEP majority vote and so they all went fuck it and nominated Ursuala von der Leyden instead, who absolutely no one wanted. She’s the Theresa May’s Brexit deal of candidates. Von Der Leyden isn’t very popular in Germany where she is defence minister and is currently embroiled in a financial scandal, and might not be all that popular with the MEPs in which case the European Council will have a month to find someone else. Democratic? Possibly, it’s a bit hard to tell who’s actually made the decisions here.
Then you have that Christine Lagarde was pretty condescending to Greece during their debt crisis and was found guilty of negligence over misuse of public funds. Borrell is very opposed to Catalan independence which won’t help current protests much. All candidates are from Western Europe meaning that central and Eastern Europeans feel like they are being represented at all, and President of the European Parliament David Sassolli who was voted for properly, has already said that the EU Council have ignored political groups wishes and thinks there should be an intergovernmental conference. So, is the EU democratic? Ish, sort of, mostly. Can we really talk when 160,000 bigots are about to tell us which of two complete laughable sociopaths is their favourite to lead the country? No, no we can’t. At least with Authortarianism you get all that time back trying to care and can instead use to it to, I dunno, work on your parade technique.
And now back to Katrina….
INTERVIEW WITH KATRINA PART 2
Thanks to Katrina for having time to chat. You can find StopWatch UK at stop-watch.org or on Twitter @stopwatchUK or on Facebook at the same. Katrina is also on Twitter at @FfrenchKatrina. All the other groups and links she mentions will be up at partlypoliticalbroadcast.co.uk soon.
Thanks to Sophie for putting me in touch with Katrina and while there will only be potentially two more episodes of the podcast before the summer break, I will still need guests for when it returns in the Autumn. Thank you for all the brilliant suggestions you have sent in recently and I’m chasing them all up, but if you’ve haven’t got in touch and have someone you think I should interview, or a subject you think I should interview someone about, then drop me a line via the @parpolbro Twitter account, the Partly Political Broadcast facebook group, the contact page on partlypoliticalbroadcast.co.uk or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you could tattoo your chosen guests name somewhere on your body in large lettering and while wearing summer appropriate clothing assume that people may notice and pass your message onto me, rather than just think it’s the name of your ex and you can’t afford to laser it off, or that its ancient Celtic for twat. As always, it’s probably just best to email isn’t it?
And that’s all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast podcast. Cheers to your ears and any other body parts you may listen to this show with. We’re all different, there is every chance you pick up sound vibrations through your elbow or bum cheeks and filter it to your brain for maximum enjoyment and who am I to judge? I am merely old boring ear listener over here and will no doubt find myself out of date wearing my headphones as all the kids queue up to buy butt phones. And if this show makes your bum wobble in a pleasing manner, please do consider donating to the ko-fi or patreon, giving the show a 5 star review on any of your frequented pod apps, and spreading the word to others that may enjoy this weekly shouting.
Cheers also to Acast, to my brother The Last Skeptik for the plinks and plonks and to Kat Day for typing up all the linear liner notes.
This will be back next week when Anne Widdicombe tries to compare Britain’s exit from the European union to the ending of apartheid but shrieks so loudly and high pitched that she is instead carried away by 500 bats. Everyone cheers.
This week’s show is sponsored by Now That’s What I Call Anthems To Turn Your Back To. 40 foreign anthems for the bigot in you to play loudly in your own home and turn your back to. Ja Ve Elsker Dette Landet is it Norway? I don’t think so, I’m going to look at the dustbin in the corner pal. Don’t you Fatshe leno la rona me Botswana, I’ve got this corner to stare at pointlessly. Now That’s What I Call Anthems To Turn Your Back To volume 1, for when the only way to say no to music is to listen to it, while making yourself suspect to attacks from behind.