Getting Through The Coronavirus Together By Yourself – COVID-19, Budget 2020 and Matthew Lawrence at Common Wealth on the Green New Deal

Released on Tuesday, March 17th, 2020.

Getting Through The Coronavirus Together By Yourself – COVID-19, Budget 2020 and Matthew Lawrence at Common Wealth on the Green New Deal

Do I even need to tell you what this week’s episode is about? We’re all on lockdown self isolation, you have nothing else to do but tune in and listen. I mean, obviously it’s on COVID-19, the Budget and a chat with Mat Lawrence (@DantonsHead) at Common Wealth (@cmmonwealth) but even if it wasn’t and was just me repeating the word ‘nodules’ again and again, you’d still tune in because it’s better than staring at the wall till the earth is disinfected. May you listen, stay safe and be toilet roll plentiful.



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Further Reading

Linear liner notes

Do I even need to tell you what this week’s episode is about? We’re all on lockdown self isolation, you have nothing else to do but tune in and listen. I mean, obviously it’s on COVID-19, the Budget and a chat with Mat Lawrence (@DantonsHead) at Common Wealth (@cmmonwealth) but even if it wasn’t and was just me repeating the word ‘nodules’ again and again, you’d still tune in because it’s better than staring at the wall till the earth is disinfected. May you listen, stay safe and be toilet roll plentiful.

Links and sources of info from Mat’s interview:

All the usual ParPolBro stuff:







Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast, the comedy politics podcast that says if you’re going to have to self-isolate, why not make it still seem like work by listening to this show? No wait that doesn’t sound right… I’m the currently uninfected Tiernan Douieb and as the World Health Organization says the best way to deal with COVID-19 is to test, test, test, the UK government shows that their plans are the best as they’ve been really testing the British public for years.


Standing in front of a crowded room full of journalists, camera operators and security staff to name but a few, the Prime Minister and morning roll left out in the rain Boris Johnson advised the British public to avoid all unnecessary social contact. With the COVID-19 virus infecting over 1500 people in the UK, the Prime Minister warned us in what sounds like the sort of talk he’d usually only reserve for his girlfriend, the country is approaching the fast growth of the upward curve. As a result, they’ve advised people avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues but they won’t actually be telling them to close which is either because that way those businesses can’t get the insurance or because every time Boris enters one everyone calls him a wanker and moves away so he’s not 100% sure they are social at all. The capital city London is a few weeks ahead with the virus over everywhere else, which is always what happens and means that based on history the North won’t be getting it for at least 30 years or so, and only at a limited roll out. The over 70’s are being asked not to go out, a move that really should’ve been implemented way back, probably around the December election time, and the Chief Medical Advisor and the young boy from Love Actually if he’d had a terrible life Chris Witty said the single aim is just to reduce deaths from the virus as otherwise there’d not be any work left for the DWP to do. But isolation time still isn’t in line with the World Health Organisation and school closures aren’t happening maybe out of fears that if they did, Johnson’s many estranged kids would have more time on their hands to track him down. The UK Chief Scientific Advisor and what if Gregg Wallace didn’t spend his childhood eating E-numbers Sir Patrick Vallance said that schools would only be shut down at the right stage of the outbreak, which I’m guessing is probably around the Easter holidays when it won’t cost quite so much.


Who knew that British exceptionalism would come into play even when dealing a global pandemic? None of those sensible foreign virus tackling methods for us Brits, I mean why test people who might have the virus when we can just all avoid talking about it in public and tut loudly when someone coughs, which should give them the message to stop unless they’re uncouth yobs. With the current figure at over 160,000 confirmed infections worldwide, everywhere else seems to be taking it seriously. Germany has closed its borders, something you think Britain would be the first to do on account of how people voted. Spanish police are using drones to stop people from moving, something British people were very happy to do when it came to Gatwick airport and people wanting to go on holiday, but now, not so much. Italy has had over 2000 deaths and is on complete lockdown, with lots of videos of Italians singing from their balconies to keep each other’s spirits up, something that wouldn’t happen here. The closest would be someone accidently leaving the volume on their porn site up as they leaned out the window with a fag and a can of beer to shout about how you park like a cunt. In France, President and troubled popchip Emmanual Macron is shutting France by the time you hear this meaning he gets to delay the second stage of the elections his party is currently losing. All non-essential movement will be banned for 15 days meaning mime artists will suffer most, and Macron said several times during his speech that ‘we are at war’ which if it’s true means he should spend all the country’s defence money on healthcare instead but for some reason he didn’t go that far. Even terrorist group ISIS have told their supporters not to travel to Europe, now meaning that the only way we can really stop the terrorists from winning is by going outside and coughing a lot.


But Britain? Well the original plan was going to be herd immunity, but the government realized that it wouldn’t work, as it wouldn’t fare well in a country where it’s only ever really the very rich or politicians who are herd and not just because they’re largely composed of bull. Obviously herd immunity actually means that as many people as possible get the virus and then hopefully become immune, something that science says wouldn’t happen and we should all have been wary of simply because when the Conservatives seem actually willing to share something with everyone we really ought to know it’s a trap. For us it’s just, please try not to go to the pub, the same advice given by self-declared fitness gurus every January. If it’s not going to work when over aroused beagle Joe Wicks tells us, what use is it hearing it from the Prime Minister, an endless plank in all the wrong ways. Last week it all seemed so easy. The Chancellor and man composed entirely of a toddler’s dining set Rishi Sunak announced his shiny new budget like he was at an Apple event showing off the latest smart watch that tells you which stores still have toilet roll. In it was a whole load of money to deal with the coronavirus, ironic that its only during a virus pandemic that they are willing to cough up. The Chancellor said that we will get through coronavirus together, which seems like terrible advice when we should be self-isolating. Where’s all this new money coming from? Borrowing, something Sunak says he will not apologise for, presumably not even to Labour who he seems to have borrowed several of his ideas from. I mean I say that but it’s not at all a radical budget and I think most people were just immediately impressed because the Conservatives only spend money on breakfasts, Brexit, bridges, going to court to make sure they don’t have to give people with disabilities money, oh and to be fair this money for tackling COVID-19 makes sense as they usually spend loads on spin when they want to stop something nasty from spreading. But really it feels a bit like buying the public some shit flowers from the garage to cover up for the fact that they’ve forgotten something important again. This time round that important something happened to be social care, tackling climate change, any provisions for self-employed people, and any concerns about what the virus or Brexit might do to the economy the latter of which might mean everything Sunak promised is pretty irrelevant anyway and I suppose we should commend the Chancellor on being extra economical with any sense of reality.


The budget came mere hours after it was announced that Health Minister and what it’d look like if the cast of Loose Women used an Instagram filter that made their faces look like medieval parchment Nadine Dorries had contracted the virus, meaning that after her ill-advised appearance on I’m a Celebrity in 2012, all her career political highlights having involved failing to declare she’s dealing with bugs, while incorrectly thinking that because people are talking about something she should get involved with it. While the main worry was that Dorries would use the experience to declare that she had proof people were losing work due to foreign bodies, instead it just meant that the British parliament had now been exposed which MPs all dealt with by filling up the commons to listen to Sunak’s budget. Still he did announce sick pay would start from day one and there’s no one quite like politicians to take advantage of being paid not to do any work. Later that day Johnson took ages to announce the country was in the delay phase and said quite bluntly that Britain had to prepare to lose loved ones before their time. It sounds callous but I fully believe that based on his personal experience he means that self-isolation means spending more time with your partner than you like and it will likely end in divorce. The plan then was to limit the curve and to stop pressure on hospitals Johnson said people should stay at home and google their symptoms, as Britain is now a country where its leader has the same medical skills as me when I think I’ve found a lump but it’s always something I dropped on myself at dinner. The Labour party announced they were cancelling their leadership winner announcement event, in a moment that felt like when you don’t want to go out and you’re thinking of excuses but then the event is cancelled anyway. The local and mayoral elections have been delayed until next year, meaning we all have to pity London mayoral candidate and patronizing sultana Rory Stewart who is now no longer staying on people’s sofas or walking round shaking hands and must instead spend a whole extra year lurking in Kew Gardens in a mac assuming it’ll get him votes.


US President and blowtorched bagpipe Donald Trump blocked all flights from Europe to the US, except for returning citizens which is what most of the flights are for anyway, and for any to the UK or Ireland. Many assumed that was because he has golf courses there but I’m certain it’s because as both places speak English, he assumes they are actually just part of America and have been all along. Tests are still not being sent around the US, and Trump has spent time with many international officials at his golf course in Mar-A-Lago, several of whom have been tested positive for coronavirus afterwards but the White House doctor insists Donald doesn’t have it, though it may be hard to tell his temperature though the radioactive glow of his fake tan. The stock markets have continued to crash and Trump is warning the US that there will be a recession, as in financial as politically they’ve already had that nailed since 2016.


Meanwhile the number of cases in South Korea have been declining after an outright ban on large gatherings, a shut-down of educational facilities, all sports events being cancelled and mass testing. Us in the West seem to only be beginning on that path but I guess that’s because we’ve never stressed enough the importance of Korea advice. Yes, yes I went there. Yes, I did.


So now in the UK, times have very quickly changed. Where once the media railed against cancel culture, now everyone is angry when events are still going ahead. All sports events have been rescheduled for a later date, meaning that the BBC showed Mrs Brown’s Boys Live instead of Match of The Day, prompting many to ask if they really wanted to persuade people to stay inside. The bosses of Virgin Atlantic have written to the Prime Minister saying the UK airline industry will need a bail out of £7.5bn to survive the impact of it all, something the government may have been able to do if Virgin hadn’t kept suing the NHS for tons of money. They are the business equivalent of a vampire complaining that the humans he’s just fed from won’t buy him black out blinds.


But we don’t need to close schools yet, we don’t need to insist pubs are shut, we don’t need to financially compensate people so they don’t have to travel to work and potentially spread the disease over fear of becoming homeless. We don’t need these things because we are Britain and we have the Blitz spirit. By that I mean we all think we’re going to die, and violence, looting and organized crime will be on the rise within days but somehow, somehow everyone will get away with it and just blame Europe.





Nana’s comments


Thanks to Felix, Anonymous, Sharona and DJ HamSauce for donations to ko-fi and Colleen & Bradley, Ande for Patreon


Interview only in one ear last week. Why?


Tatton book plug





It is important in times like these, that we are able to look past such panicked times towards the future when after the human race has survived, nay conquered this pandemic, we all come out of the other side and shit ourselves about the effects of climate change instead. If anything, this coronavirus panic has really highlighted how important joined up, futureproof thinking is in order to not just tackle a crisis but reshape the society we live in for the best as we do. I mean right now we’re seeing how a functioning health service, social care system, strong communication, an economy based on helping people rather than profit and somebody at supermarkets to guard the loo roll and shout ‘just how often do you shit?’ at people before letting them take appropriate amounts, would’ve all lead to the UK handling this crisis a bit better while at the end of it coming out a tad better even if our bathroom hasn’t. Similarly, with climate change, it seems pretty obvious that there must be a way to focus on climate friendly measures that also in turn mean that people get better healthcare, enough to eat and have a man at the supermarket shouting ‘just how often do you shit?’ at people. No, I know he won’t be necessary but I’m trying to think of positive job creation possibilities so back off yeah? The Green New Deal is a concept and now a proposal of legislation and policy that promotes the idea that by changing the very nature of how we use fuel and live by 2030, we can, well, stop nature changing. There are of course criticisms that such a thing is just out to destroy capitalism, but I’d argue everyone dying in a fire tsunami earthquake flood hurricane would affect capitalism a bit more. I mean, no one’s going to go see the new Bond film, then are they? The Green New Deal is currently being proposed by Bernie Sanders’s campaign and was proposed by last year’s Labour manifesto which is why a lot of commentators think it’s too optimistic because you have to remember that optimism apparently only works when it comes to surviving a collapse in trading and the economy and absolutely nothing else. But in order for humans to still be around in the future, something has to change with how we are and how we do that, and so we may as well make it for the benefit of everyone including people whose calling in life is shouting at customers who need loo roll.


Last week I spoke to Matthew Lawrence at the Common Wealth think tank, a group that design ownership models for democratic and sustainable economy, which I’m pretty sure most of us would like. The Common Wealth have released a very comprehensive blue print for a Green New Deal and so I thought it’d be good to ask Mat exactly what it would mean, why we might want one, and I didn’t at all mention my loo roll shouting man because it wasn’t appropriate. I spoke to Mat just before the coronavirus kicked off, though as you’ll hear, he does mention it. We also spoke the day before the budget announcement whereas you may have noticed, Rishi Sunak promoted a green future by, er, promising more money for roads and a fuel freeze. Sigh. Even if you’re not a green new deal fan for some reason, I think talking about potential futures is very important in a time like this and while we’re all self-isolating I hope this chat gives you some hope for how things could be done if we’re not too busy trying to work out how you could turn a pandemic into a reality show. There is also some occasional rustling noise during this. I have no idea what it is and have tried to remove it, but if you’re self-isolating you can perhaps pretend its the wind in the trees and feel temporary calm. Or that your head is stuck in a paper bag. Whichever works best. Hope you enjoy, here is Mat:



And we’ll be back with Mat in a minute but first…


It is hard to remember everything that happened last week when you’re cooped up indoors and each and every day is a relentless game of working out exactly how long you can eat things for after they’ve gone off, and is hummus still safe to consume if it’s actively talking to you and now says it owns your fridge and will attack you if you try to remove it? But in amongst playing the game of which global leader you’d prefer to have instead of ours right now, there was a budget that took place last week. Yes really, yes that was that was. I know it seemed like the Chancellor and pipe cleaner on drugs Rishi Sunak was just gathering as many politicians together as possible to see who could catch the coronavirus first, but no, he actually had a reason for it too. Not a good enough reason mind and yes, he could’ve done it over a webcam no doubt, but then how would he have known if his one joke would have worked? As a comedian I entirely sympathize. And he did get a laugh for saying that Shadow Chancellor and what if all the characters from Last of The Summer Wine were squished into just one man John McDonnel, that his book ‘Economics For The Many’ was a work of fantasy, and that it sold so many it was his little read book. Great gag from Sunak, if he hadn’t done it around a whole raft of spending increases that probably won’t end up happening due to the current crisis and that mostly make it sound like he’s one of the few people who did read it. It feels a bit like making a joke about how U2’s mind numbingly bland album ‘Songs of Experience’ is definitive proof that years of maturity don’t mean you’ve actually learned how to make decent music that doesn’t sound like a cow yawning into a cement blender, all the while wearing Bono style sunglasses and your massive U2 t-shirt and humming all the tunes. Which would sound like someone had left an extractor fan on to be fair.


Actually, I’m lying a bit. Not about U2’s terrible, terrible album, but about Sunak’s budget being anything like a Labour one. Yes, there were spending increases promised but not really in many areas that will do all that much to repair austerity and will probably all be cancelled when the entire UK budget has been spent on shipping the elderly to the Scilly Isles and occasionally delivering lemon curd in large shipments. So, was there any good stuff? Was there anything worth noting? Or was it just Rishi Sunak’s own Bible in that its better if you believe in it, but otherwise highly problematic and needs updating?


The main thing was some money to deal with the coronavirus because there had to be. Even this government with their incredible skill set of not sending anyone to answer questions on important things, or in Johnson’s case hiding in a fridge till people stop asking, it isn’t beyond impossible that Sunak could’ve pretended he’d never heard of coronavirus while coughing over anyone’s questions about it and not seeing why that would’ve been insensitive. But while there was money allocated for the pandemic and promises the government would give the NHS whatever it takes, something that actually repeating it now sounds almost like a threat, it’s very unlikely anything offered will be enough. £5bn for the NHS and public services to cope with would be great if we hadn’t had 10 years of the NHS having an annual £6bn deficit, or massive understaffing to the tune of 43000 less nurses than needed, or a reduction in over 16000 hospital beds, or the complete lack of a social care plan for several years meaning some patients who get ill and might’ve once been looked after by care staff will now end up in hospital instead. A worst-case scenario estimates that 2.6m people will need intensive care to deal with the virus. After 10 years of cuts and underfunding, suddenly slamming down a lump sum to the NHS and saying ‘hey cope with all this bullshit’ feels not unlike underfeeding a horse for its entire foal-hood then throwing it a Tesco value meal in the hope that’ll give it enough gee gee power to help you win Ascot. But also, when it comes to containing and dealing with the virus, there’s little joined up thinking. The migrant surcharge has been increased meaning the amount people from abroad have to pay to use the NHS is now £641, which doesn’t really encourage anyone to seek medical help if they need it, but also it doesn’t raise much money at all and applies to lots of foreign workers who work in the NHS. So they heal you from coronavirus, catch it then can’t afford to have it dealt with.


Statutory sick pay now kicks in from day one of employees being made to self-isolate, but that’s £94.25 a week, less than a third of the average full-time employment wage. Self-employed chumps like moi and zero hours workers might qualify for Employment Support Allowance, which should now have been made easier to claim, but would only be £73.10 a week. Don’t go to work and stay indoors until your lack of going to work means your house gets repossessed or your landlord kicks you out. There’s been a further £650m pledged to tackle homelessness but that’ll likely have to be used just gathering all sick leave workers off the streets before the entire country has a zombie island feel. It’s very short term thinking as increased sickness benefits would leave less people in poverty meaning the economy would eventually benefit again as people emerged from their bunkers and started spending again, whereas at the moment a move like this can only really lend to more impossible to pay back individual borrowing of the kind that lead to the 2008 crash. Still at least by then maybe we’ll all just be so happy to be outside and see other humans we’ll spend a year or so doing free social activities such as fighting or fucking or both at the same time.

There is £7bn for small business support through the pandemic but there are 5m businesses in the UK, so that’s £1400 each which will be really supportive when all of them need to buy three loo rolls from the black market.


And then the rest of the budget is as blindly hopeful that somehow a whole ton of money will just arrive from somewhere. The whole budget was based on the Office of Budget Responsibility’s growth forecasts from February, you know, before the lurgies happened and even then, it was pretty bleak at just 1.1%. So, with that the Chancellor is going to do some borrowing, you know that thing that when Labour said they might do it were told it was unrealistic and dangerous and would ruin the country. But its ok because when the Chancellor does it, it won’t be enough to actually do anything useful except mean they owe a lot of money and then they’ll be able to blame it on someone else for not being optimistic about it or something. The borrowing is meant to mean they can make a rise in current spending aka day to day costs, and spending on capital spending aka some real fancy new shit, but the idea is that all of that will be within the government’s old fiscal rules meaning that within 3 years all the current spending would be paid for with current revenue and la-di-da some lovely budget times for this entire parliament. Except that some of the day to day revenue is meant to come from fuel duty which has never raised as much as has been predicted for years, and again Sunak froze that tax so it likely won’t again and also bear in mind eco-anxiety might mean less car use over the next five years, combined with how once we’ve all been in doors for 3 years all our car engines will have rusted and died. Then there’s the Treasury’s calculation that they’ll have £11.7bn to spare with all this, even though the Resolution Foundation say the average error margin for a forecast on this is £29bn. And all of this ignores that the last 10 years have meant cuts to all public services and councils meaning day to day spending is at a minimum and so have no financial wiggle room left. The IFS has said that while on average the annual increase in day to day spending sounded substantial, most of the new cash has already been designated for Tory manifesto promises and to replace EU income meaning areas hit by austerity will still be having a shitty time. The Chancellor’s budget showed that the money saved by not sending it to the EU would be around £42bn rather than the £91bn as promised by the big lie bus and then barely any of that will go to the NHS because it’s probably got to go on something ludicrously boring like retesting all electrical goods to exactly the same but now different standards or I dunno, renaming Patisserie Valeria and Pret A Mangers so they’ll now be called Val’s Café and Dinner’s Fucking Well Ready, Hurry Up.


The rest of the detail included absolutely nothing to tackle climate change, instead putting money into road repairs and potholes. Well not literally as that would be an even worse waste. There were no announcements about social care funding at all, finances for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales that will leave massive holes in their finances, and while the removal of the tampon tax was in essence a very good thing, the money from tampon tax was being put towards services tackling Violence Against Women and Girls or women’s health services, and there was no news of what would replace the millions a year they’d need to keep going. You can’t be all about one type of feminine care but not the other.


So, will any of this budget mean anything in a week? Yes, I guess it’ll mean that where ever the country is, we’ll be certain that the people in charge of all departments really like making big announcements without actually doing anything substantial. This what levelling up means to the government. Like in an online game where you’d spend a ton of money getting a series of different costumes, none of which will help at all when the stages get increasingly harder? So when it comes down to it, again it seems a bit off for Sunak to criticize John McDonnell’s book for its fantasy content when he’s announced an epic fantasy movie trilogy without having confirmed the cast or production house and currently all he’s holding are a novelty pair of elf ears having sold off all the other costumes and artwork.



And now back to Mat…




Thanks to Mat for having time to chat. Ooh that rhymed. You can find him on Twitter @DantonsHead and the Common Wealth think tank @cmmonwealth or, where you’ll find all their blueprints for a green new deal as well as lots of proposals for democratic ownership and more.


Who do you need to hear from while we’re in a global flu dodging lock down? I am trying to get pandemic related guests, whether that’s people who can explain its effects on an economy, or society or just someone who might bug all of you till you feel ill. But if there’s another aspect you want to hear about right now, let me know what or who it is and I’ll get on the case. Drop me a line at @parpolbro, the Partly Political Broadcast facebook group, the contact page at or email me at Or why not just spray your suggestion onto the streets with disinfectant and when we all emerge from our isolation in years to come, I will find it burned into the scorched earth but by then I won’t have a podcast as I’ll be too busy scavenging for old Nintendo Switch games. So as always, it’s probably just best to email isn’t it?





Thank you, tons, for listening to this week’s show and I hope wherever you are you are flu and over-zealous panic shopper free. However, you are, you’re about to be instantly better after hearing this week’s top secret political goss fact because you, you hard core Team Listen to the Enders you, team audio periphery. Yeah, I’ll find a better name for you at some point. Anyway, this week, did you know the Conservative party leader at the time of the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 was called Bonar Law but didn’t at all prevail over any policies to do with pornography or anything at all related to his name. He was the shortest serving PM of the 20th century, serving just 211 days from 1922 to 1923, so maybe his name was referring to how he was done before he wanted to be? He did actually die after that, so this is all a tad callous. RIP Bonar, which is something that usually happens when you think of a Conservative leader. So maybe that’s the reason. Anyway, that’s this week’s hot goss and there’ll be more next week unless coronavirus starts to infect people’s ears through airwaves and we all have to live in a very boring version of A Quiet Place for 6 months. Whatever happens, don’t forget to tell others about this here podcast, review the show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever does that sort of thing and donate to the ko-fi or patreon, not just if you like this show but also to basically keep me alive.


Disinfected shout outs to Acast, my brother The Last Skeptik for the musictimes, Kat Day for the linear liner notes and Mushybees for all art goodness.


This will be back next week when after outrage the government announces that the coronavirus is now the Health Minister.




This week’s show was sponsored by Boris Johnson’s guide to social distancing involving such tips as ‘stab all your friends in the back’, ‘never apologise for things’ and ‘endlessly lie’. Boris Johnson’s Guide To Social Distancing, follow Boris’s expert advice and you’re very unlikely to have any friends at all within weeks meaning the only infections you’ll have are the myriad of STIs you house on your nether regions like a macrobiotic zoo keeper.

Email Tiernan