Essential Confusion Only – Lockdown, PM in ICU, the new Shadow Cabinet and Sue Tibball from the Sheila McKechnie Foundation on civil society during the pandemic crisis

Released on Tuesday, April 7th, 2020.

Essential Confusion Only – Lockdown, PM in ICU, the new Shadow Cabinet and Sue Tibball from the Sheila McKechnie Foundation on civil society during the pandemic crisis

A slightly later podcast than usual what with the PM’s coronavirus symptoms being touch and go, which is probably not the term I should use though it is likely that’s how he caught it. We now have acting PM Raab, no end to the lockdown and lots of confusing advice about what you should and shouldn’t do. Is there an end in sight? Will the new Labour cabinet help or just fight themselves again? All that plus a chat with Sue Tibballs (@Sue_Tibballs) at the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (@SMKCampaigners) about the important role of civil society during the pandemic crisis.




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A slightly later podcast than usual what with the PM’s coronavirus symptoms being touch and go, which is probably not the term I should use though it is likely that’s how he caught it. We now have acting PM Raab, no end to the lockdown and lots of confusing advice about what you should and shouldn’t do. Is there an end in sight? Will the new Labour cabinet help or just fight themselves again? All that plus a chat with Sue Tibballs (@Sue_Tibballs) at the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (@SMKCampaigners) about the important role of civil society during the pandemic crisis.

Links and sources of info from Sue’s interview:

All the usual ParPolBro stuff:


Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast, the comedy political podcast that says ok, I know I’m only allowed out for essential exercise, but what if my preferred way to keep fit is to pretending to sunbathe in the park before running away from the police? I’m Tiernan Douieb and as, can’t believe I have to say these words, as irate stomach ulcer and acting Prime Minister Dominic Raab says the government have been as transparent as possible, I wonder if he understands that means in terms of information given on COVID-19 strategies, and not just how completely vacant everyone involved in tackling it seems to be.


Yes, at the time of recording Prime Minister Boris Johnson has gone into intensive care. Which was so concerning I hadn’t even given him an awful description this week although it was going to be bleached sea anemone. Luckily it seems according to the latest comments from Number 10 spokespeople, he is in good spirits which either means he’s on the mend or gone so badly they’ve pickled him and are preserving him for a later date. And of course, I don’t want any of this to come across as callous, I would not wish for the Prime Minister to die and I’m aware that as everyone says, this virus doesn’t discriminate based on anything. But the issue is that the system does and a big part of that is currently to do with the Prime Minister thinking the best way to handle the virus was to shake everyone’s hands in a hospital and lie about how much money the NHS would get from Brexit. I do however very much wish Johnson would get a lot better soon, as well as recover from the coronavirus. But we have been given some very odd information about his condition which makes you wonder if we aren’t allowed to see him as fallible and human, the first quality we are all already very aware of. A friend of Johnson’s told the news that the Prime Minister was fitter than he looks, a sort of backhanded compliment which at best suggests that on a normal good day he could roll over without collapsing. He went to hospital on Sunday night, which is groundbreaking as it means he’s finally admitted to something. Apparently, the PM is just undergoing routine tests, as a precautionary step. An unusual move for Johnson, a man whose recent notions of precaution have involved herd immunity and just getting things done. It’s a wonder Johnson hasn’t tried to unlawfully prorogue the coronavirus so he can carry on. Why is he having reoccurring symptoms? No one yet knows, but the last time he was seen in public was outside Number 10 clapping for the NHS, so maybe the vast insincerity lowered his immune system. Then suddenly it ramped up and he was taken to the intensive care unit, with many worried for the PM’s life. Tributes came in from global leaders wishing him well including US President and thrown out fairground decoration Donald Trump who offered the PM some experimental drugs to help him, like the sort of friend of a friend who’d insist hair of the dog was the way to go after you’d been diagnosed with alcohol poisoning. Russian President and play doh filled morph suit Vladimir Putin said that Johnson’s energy, optimism and sense of humour would help him defeat the deadly bug, but that’s assuming the coronavirus has really basic taste and if it did, wouldn’t the recent Mrs Brown’s Boys repeats in place of Match of the Day have killed it off weeks ago?


What is admirable that Johnson is that up until he was placed in the ICU, Johnson still insisted on being in charge, holding the first ever digital cabinet meeting on Zoom last week, while breaching security and posting an image with the meeting ID number in it. Though cleverly it also showed all his cabinet colleagues that were attending the meeting which was enough to put anyone off trying to join it. Hopefully he will get back to virtual Prime Ministering soon, a phrase that worked for him before the current pandemic too, because without Johnson in charge, it means we are left with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab calling orders even though he’d struggle with getting a takeaway. It is a smart move of Boris’s to give responsibility to one of the few people that will have us begging for the Prime Minister to return to health as soon as possible.


It is unclear just how much power Raab, a man who didn’t realise there was a channel between the UK and Europe, has as acting PM with indications that he’s just carrying out orders until Johnson is back. One journalist asked during the press briefing if the country can still go to war and it was confirmed that the first secretary of state can respond in the PM’s absence, because you know, there’s really not enough going on right now. I can’t imagine how much worse the Blitz would’ve been if absolutely no one was able to evacuate as it wasn’t considered essential travel. Raab didn’t answer questions about whether the lockdown would continue, instead just reaffirming the Prime Minister was a fighter, because I’m certain Raab with his blackbelt in karate thinks he can just kick the pandemic to death. The fatality toll from coronavirus is still rising every day, with more and more frontline NHS staff being among those taken ill and dying. The government scientific advisor and spectacled egg Sir Patrick Vallance say the curve may be flattening but we just won’t know for a week or so, as what we’re seeing now is the fall-out from before the far too late lockdown as the virus has a slower delay than every skype interview currently on the news.


That means it’s at least another week of being stuck indoors and essential travel only, a phrase that is very hard to define, because government guidance has continued to change every few minutes. On Sunday, the sort of sunny the weather must only be doing to troll us, the No.10 account said that you can go to the park for outdoor exercise once per day, before two hours later telling people that spending time in the park may put people’s lives at risk and not just if your exercise regime involves axe throwing. Health Secretary and dog chewing toy Matt Hancock, said that people must follow the rules, as he gave a press briefing less than 14 days after he’d had coronavirus symptoms, breaching NHS guidelines.

It’s like someone wiping cake crumbs away from their mouth telling people to not eat any cake. If we all follow the rules, said Hancock then we’ll be faster through this, which is true and why it was extra concerning when he turned up to the opening of the new emergency Nightingale hospital in London while still coughing. Hey, I guess it’s not an official opening unless you get to give them a patient to kick it all off with at the same time. If people still go to public spaces such as parks and they aren’t the health secretary? Well then further steps could be taken, just not in an outdoor space obviously. Hancock rebuked the minority of people risking the lives of others. Yes, Matt you see, it’s the 1% versus the 99%, we’ve all been saying that for years. Wait, why have you arrested all those people on low income, stuck in small flats with no gardens? Oh no that wasn’t what I meant. Sigh.


What might get us through this crisis faster would be if there were proper levels of testing in the UK, but when questioned on why the promised anti-body tests to see if someone had had the virus haven’t yet been rolled out, Hancock said they have be confident that it’s a good test and that no test is better than a bad test. Ah the old Brexit deal adage that rings idiot logic like someone wearing a chastity belt because no one’s better than a bad one, even though the former may lead to dying alone with a severe urine infection.


Though it has turned out that the anti-body tests weren’t right and not just because we’re now in a more body positive world. They only identify immunity in people that have been severely ill, meaning that money would’ve been spent on millions of tests when you could have just asked ‘have you had a really shit few days and/or died’ and if they replied yes, then you’d have saved cash. The government have retracted their order for the home antibody tests, with new ones likely in several months’ time by which point we’ll need extra tests for rickets. When it comes to those, we’ve now no tests and no bad tests, and when it comes to the main COVID-19 swab tests the UK is still 90,000 short of the 100,000 a day that were promised so much like the Brexit deal, it seems no test is also better or preferred by the government to one that seems sensible but would cost money and investment into the infrastructure needed and then how would you be able to easily divert blame onto it? See also ventilators, as when Chancellor of the Duchy and shoe scraping Michael Gove admitted that 30,000 were needed but the government had only secured 30. Is there an issue in the cabinet with recognizing the difference between decimal points and commas? Are Gove and Hancock thinking they’ve got appropriate medical supplies while simultaneously paying over £300 for a cup of coffee? It might explain why Matt Hancock insisted that now – the time NHS staff are stretched to their limits with work – is not the time to discuss pay rises for nurses. Maybe it’s because he already thinks they earn upwards of £18m a year?


Instead Hancock said, now is just the time for everyone to be doing their best, because nothing helps people push themselves to 110% quite like knowing their earnings mean they also have to queue at a food bank on their one day off a week. Just do your best, push yourself and next week we’ll see if you can push yourself even harder and achieve the same after we’ve confiscated all the chairs and your shoes. Instead Hancock has two solutions. One was that the government are wiping out £13.4bn of NHS debt, something that most people responded to by saying ‘oh why didn’t do you that ages ago and then we might have enough ventilators by now’. But before anyone could question how unnecessary austerity was or just how much of the financial issues within the public sector could be solved by someone having a good day and deciding willy-nilly to put a vertical line through the minus sign in the finances account, the Health Secretary said that actually we should all be blaming footballers for not taking a pay cut. Yes, that’s right. I’m not sure if you knew but the state we’re in now is all down to premier league players not single-handedly funding everything, and absolutely no other reason. Of course, it is. And that must be why in order to tackle the issue, the government keep moving the goalposts.


It’s not just the Westminster government that are giving mixed messaged. Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood, a woman who looks exactly like a chief medical officer might in a daytime Channel 5 soap, contradicted her own advice of staying in, by travelling to her second home 44 miles away. Maybe she thought that if absolutely everyone else obeyed, she’d not risk spreading COVID-19 while she made a completely unnecessary journey? Dr Calderwood made an official apology on Sunday morning, saying she had made a mistake, but it was a bit more than that. If you’re chief medical officer, travelling while telling everyone else to stay in, is the same as a chief fire officer saying people need to keep naked flames out of reach of children and pets then hosting a flamethrower and dogs themed 4-year old’s birthday party. First Minister and anemic matchstick Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted Calderwood to stay in her role as her advice was invaluable during the pandemic, and it is, as what better guide to have than someone who walks around like a public service broadcast demonstrating all the things you shouldn’t do. Catherine Calderwood resigned on Sunday night, saying that she was deeply sorry for what she’d done but had to resign as she didn’t want her behavior to become a distraction from what needs to be done, though if she’d only distracted people beforehand they might not have noticed her sneaking off to Fife. Dr Calderwood said she would work to ensure a smooth transition to her successor, so chances are she’ll be shaking their hands after not washing hers in the next few days.


Infection numbers and death tolls have been dwindling in Spain and Italy, which gives hope for the effectiveness of a lockdown, assuming the Health Minister and former Scottish Chief Medical Officer aren’t single handedly carrying coronavirus round the country. Nothing gives the British people hope though, quite like a rare speech from Her Majesty and worn slipper lining The Queen, who broadcast to the nation at 8pm, across all channels on Sunday evening, meaning it was obviously perfectly acceptable to have a Christmas dinner around 5. Not sure The Queen is the right person to speak to the public right now, when she’s only ever travelled for non-essential reasons, but it was nice that she thanked everyone for paying her bills in these difficult times and that she’ll be doing a livestream on twitch with a donate button so she can get some craft beers in. Ha! No she actually thanks the NHS, and that we should take pride in our response to the pandemic, because in what other country did people say that it was a travesty that pubs were closed as they didn’t do that in the blitz, or did the country’s leader say he went round shaking hands with everyone? Ah so proud. The Queen ended her message with a nod to the classic Vera Lynn song, iconic during the second world war, by saying ‘we’ll meet again’ which is not true as most people don’t get to meet her maj. Has she secretly met all of us? Was it a nod to an undercover mission she’s been on her whole life where, through a series of elaborate disguises she’s somehow met every single person in Britain? And if so, why isn’t she being arrested for potentially being the main spreader of coronavirus? It is odd just how often this being referred to as like a war, and I’m worried about just where that will end with Britain’s usual habit of vilifying and othering everything to do with what it sees as the enemy. Will a post-coronavirus country involve anyone not covered head to toe in plastic overalls being called a traitor? Will Domestos become the new national icon? Will anyone who has ever sneezed or coughed be sentenced in a secret, sterilized court? I don’t know but what I do know is that if that was the case, someone like Matt Hancock or Catherine Calderwood would be explicitly condemning the public for being irresponsible while licking a penny they found on the floor and flobbing into the crowd.


In other news, the Labour party has a brand new leader in the shape of wind blasted celery stick Sir Keir Starmer, as after insisting the party needed a female leader who could appeal the Brexit voting North, voters saw a man in a suit and oh wait, no that one. The well-spoken white man version of only a good guy with a gun can defeat a bad guy with a gun. Starmer said that under his leadership they will engage constructively with the government, which as everyone knows is impossible to do, unless he means he’s on board with Boris’s bridge plans. Many supporters seemed happy with Keir’s win, saying that Labour is now no longer institutionally anti-Semitic within minutes of his win, seemingly misunderstanding what institutionally means and just how much anyone can do on their first day in the job. Others were less pleased saying it’s a return to the Labour centrism that voters turned against in 2010 and 15, and let’s face it, retro trends usually only come round again 40 years or so after they die out. But Starmer has a very tough job in front of him in that with the Conservative government actually spending money, he has to somehow persuade voters that his Labour party will do what the government are doing but be less shit about it. Yes we too want to put money into the NHS, just, er, in a slightly different way, isn’t really a winning campaign slogan. What if Ariel lived in a canal Angela Rayner was elected deputy leader while she is self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms. She said hearing she’d won while not being able to leave her home was like being in a movie, though there is also a chance she’d got confused in her feverish state and put on Disney Plus. Starmer’s shadow cabinet includes MPs from across Labour’s political spectrum and with former Shadow Financial Secretary and Herge drawing Annalese Dodds becoming Shadow Chancellor, and former party leader and sad Dogtanian Ed Milliband being energy secretary, it’s looking a lot like a sort of compilation show of Labour over the last 10 years. While that shows that Starmer is keen to unite the party, it should be noted that most compilation shows don’t include what people really want to see and often leave you wanting more.


While the death toll is increasing, the rate of recorded infections has started dropping which is good news. To keep everyone excited about staying indoors the BBC have announced that they will be showing a repeat of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. I hope this time it has an Arrested Development style commentary throughout saying things like ‘but it turns out they didn’t care about the NHS after all.’ Culture Secretary and overexposed photo Oliver Dowdon is going to order social media companies to be more aggressive at dealing with conspiracies that 5G networks cause coronavirus as people have been setting alight to masts across the country, which goes to show why you always need a firewall. Scientists say any connection between COVID-19 and 5G is complete rubbish and biologically impossible, but I’d argue that in a climate where social distancing is advised, maybe everyone is just concerned about having faster connections?


And Michael Gove is now self isolating as a member of his family has coronavirus symptoms though it is probably hard to say how serious it is when most people feel unwell around him. Meanwhile people are concerned about the whereabouts and health of the Home Secretary and the sort of person who’d call the police on you for taking the bins out during lockdown Priti Patel, who has not been seen or heard from in weeks. Maybe she’s just been completely thrown off by having to detain herself for an indefinite period.





Hello you. So sorry this was late but look, if things had gone badly for the Prime Minister I’d have felt like a total arsehole putting this out. As it is, I wasn’t even going to put his out today but No.10 are insisting that he’s basically well enough to leap over lampposts and physically fight things despite still being in intensive care, so I thought I’ll trust in their words for once and if anything changes I’ll take this episode down as soon as. It is so weird isn’t it though? I mean every day the news of people dying from this is so, so grim. Word today of prisoner deaths rising as they haven’t put the correct precautions into the system, unsurprisingly. And yet I sort of feel it’s important to keep joking and having a laugh about it all to stop you descending into a spiral of misery and endlessly watching Disney Plus with a  daughter, sorry agent, who will currently only respond to me if I do a Mickey Mouse impression. But there’s something about the morality of it all isn’t there? I did a gag about Boris on Twitter when he went into hospital on Sunday but he didn’t seem at death’s door then and the reporting was that he was fine. I wouldn’t have done one yesterday and didn’t put this out just in-case, meanwhile everyone on twitter was saying anyone who makes a joke about it is inhuman, many of them having said they wished Jeremy Corbyn was dead several times over the past few years. My thing is it’s about punching up. If the PM is not dying, but is unwell but it happens to be very much the expected outcome of his cavalier attitude to this horrific pandemic, and he is receiving treatment that so many won’t because of his party’s cuts to the NHS, money spent on Brexit No Deal preparations that were never needed and a horrific belief that British exceptionalism works on germs, then I think it’s not out of order to poke fun. I saw someone on Twitter and so sorry for not crediting this but I’ve tried to find it and can’t, but someone said they hoped Johnson got better but then his first step out of bed is onto a Lego piece and I feel that’s the perfect way to sum this up. I’m happy to hear otherwise though. Humour in dark times is very much a tricky subject, not least on social media where most people don’t like it or enjoy it even when things are relatively normal.


But as I said, odd times, people are very sensitive right now and rightly so. Its also not an easy time to write gags, not just because of the massively miserable part of this but also because the less scary parts of being on lockdown are experienced by everyone so finding a unique angle on it is hard. What a privileged complaint eh? But the reason I’m saying that is I was planning to have a week off this show for Easter next week back in the days when things were normal, everyone had loo roll and could walk down the round just to criticize your neighbours’ shit parking and not get arrested. While things have massively changed, unless there’s a lot of news between now and then, I’m planning to have a break next week while I get my head around how on Earth to do things like pay rent or give my daughter, sorry my agent, things to do that aren’t just watching TV shows I then have to imitate for days on end. I know some of you rely on this podcast which I’m humbled by and I had a couple of messages this week from key workers who are still commuting and listening to this on their journeys and I’m so pleased I can be of even the remotest of help to you if you’re doing that. So I will put something out, maybe just a short intro gag bit then some of my stand-up or something but I need a tiny break from writing half an hour of new stuff every week.


But before that, this is a full episode, largely recorded on Monday, so excuse any now out of date bits and as always I’m so grateful to you for listening especially in these weird times and my agent has thankfully agreed to record the call out for donations again this week:




No don’t clap for her. She didn’t eat her dinner tonight and through it on the floor, so no claps deserved. Thanks tons to Christine, Veep, Richard, Vicki, Dev, Claire, Somebody, Emma, Fern and Mark for the ko-fi donations and to Julia for joining the Patreon. If you can donate even a few quid to or fancy joining the patreon at it is an unbelievable help right now. But I am also aware that so many other places need cash right now too including charities like Help Refugees, the Trussell Trust and tons more so please only get me a coffee that I have to make at home anyway if you can.


Oh and it’s a tad late to plug this now but I’m doing the nextupcomedy twitch stream on Wednesday April 8th at 9pm, where they’ll be showing some clips from my past comedy specials and some poor comedian has to ask me about them, then on Thursday 9th at 9am I’m doing a kids show on the same stream and April 14th I’ll be hosting Bec Hill showing some of her comedy clips. That’s all at I’ve also been playing around with my own twitch stream too, and thanks to those of you that endured my trial gig last Friday. It’s still watchable at should you want to see what garbled shit I spouted for 35 mins, but I do plan to do some more.


On this week’s show I am interviewing Sue Tibbals at the Sheila McKechnie Foundation about the importance of civil society during the pandemic and well, all the time. Plus a little look at the new Labour shadow cabinet because it’s not like there’s anything else to do. Yes, I did think about doing more positive news but then I thought no, let’s give you this unexciting shit while you’re stuck and have nothing else to listen to, then I’ll lure you back in with more interesting stuff once you’re allowed outside again and can pick between this podcast or more exciting sounds like someone being sick in a bin outside the pub.





If you, like me, are an idiot, you might assume civil society just refers to the people who always say please, thank you and hold doors open for others. You know who I mean, those people. The ones who are entirely absent from social media. But you’d be wrong. Not me, I’m not, but you would be because while civil society does indeed refer to some lovely, giving people, who work in the interest of citizens, distinct from business and government because, well, they work in the interest of citizens. Right now, civil society is working its face off, trying to keep supporting those it already did, while providing aid to now millions of others whose lives have become more difficult due to the myriad of problems a global pandemic causes. But if civil society is supporting the people, whose supporting civil society? Sadly, charities aren’t getting donations they need and there is little support from the government because civil society combines two-words they don’t appreciate individually, so together it’s not something they can even contemplate. Back when he was Prime Minister in what now feels like a millennia ago, belly flop rash David Cameron touted his idea of Big Society, a system that was like civil society only with the public holding it all up with lots of volunteering while austerity kicked in and the cost of living rose and everyone had to not be a shirker but also work for free. Good times. Since then charities have been all but gagged from speaking out against government policies and now, while many other sectors are receiving support, the one that is really vital right now, isn’t. Yet situations like the pandemic really show the importance of communities and small charities, and their ability to bring social change, everyone now being more keen than ever to meet and rely on their neighbours. Although that could be probably because they don’t have anything else to do, and aren’t allowed to go near them, so it’s finally quite appealing. So how do we support civil society during this, and how do we make sure everyone, including politicians, remember its importance once this is over? And will it be ok to just ignore our neighbours again when the lockdown ends or will I have to struggle to think of inane small talk about their garden hedge for the rest of my life?


This week I spoke to Sue Tibballs, CEO of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, a group who give support and training to those seeking to bring social change. Supporting civil society is at the forefront of what they do, and Sue has worked at the forefront of the social change sector for over 20 years and as she recently written an excellent article featured on the Compass think tank website, about the importance of civil society during the COVID-19 crisis, I thought it’d be great to ask her just what civil society is, why we need it, how we support it and if its ok to just put on a fake moustache and pretend you’re someone new that’s moved in so you don’t have to talk to next door about how bin night has changed again for three hours. Ok I didn’t ask the last one because it’s not remotely helpful. But Sue was fascinating to chat to and I hope you enjoy. Now, before we go into this, I made a stupid boo boo when recording where my computer – yes I’m blaming the machine – switched the microphone in use to the crappy one attached to my headphones instead of my proper mic and it took me a minute and a half to realise. So at first, it sounds a bit like myself and Sue are talking through opposite ends of a bee hive, but then magically, one and a half minutes in, it’s all very clear and normal. I AM SORRY BUT ITS DEFINITELY THE MACHINE WHAT DID IT. Hope you enjoy, despite temporary bees, here is Sue:




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





The shadow cabinet always sounds like it should be the name of a secret cabal of ninjas or something. Beware the shadow cabinet could easily be a Wu-Tang album title. Sadly it’s not that exciting but if you, like me, find politics gets you as worked up as ‘Protect Ya Neck’ or any other Wu-Bangers, then actually it is still pretty exciting. There is a new opposition leader in town and while he looks as though he’s been quickly drawn with a ruler and an HB pencil, Keir Starmer isn’t as sketchy as you might think. I’ve already seen Twitter explode in upset, with big time fans of previous leader and something you’d find on the beach Jeremy Corbyn saying they’ll leave the party because Starmer will drag things back to the more centrist Labour days of anti-immigration promises on a mug and giant tombstones with pledges on, while those who hated Corbyn so much they wanted the Conservatives to win the election got all upset when some members of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet have still ended up on Starmer’s, claiming that Labour will never learn. An ironic statement from people who largely thought Change UK might be a powerful force in politics. But actually, while it might seem that Starmer is already embracing the position of Labour leader fully by upsetting all factions at once, the truth is that within his first few days he’s shown that he might actually be attempting to pull the party together, in maybe a sort of soft left, whatever that means, direction. Whether or not they then tear themselves apart again is to be seen and chances are several members will say only communists want people to work together then stand a leadership coup against him where he has to run against a Nespresso machine. So this week, I thought it might be useful to have a quick run-down of Starmer and just who is in his all new except not entirely shadow cabinet:


First up, Starmer himself. As a defence lawyer and then QC he worked on abolishing the death penalty in commonwealth countries, represented the Mi5 whistleblower David Shayler and the McLibel activist too. That work is often countered by critics though with his time as Director of Public Prosecutions where he did help get justice for Stephen Lawrence’s family but also prosecuted benefits cheats. Thing is with that job he didn’t get to pick which cases he wanted and I don’t think you’re allowed to look at certain ones and go ‘nah’. That’s sort of how law defence works. Keir became an MP in 2015 for Holborn and St Pancras, and was given a position in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet as shadow immigration secretary which he then resigned from when lots of other MPs resigned from the cabinet. Starmer said that he resigned because everyone else had. It is lucky all the other MPs hadn’t decided to punch themselves in the face. When Corbyn won re-election against office furniture catalogue of a man Owen Smith, Starmer then took the position as Shadow Brexit

secretary where he did some excellent calling out of the government’s complete mess of a lack of plan, while also trying to push for a second referendum that wasn’t popular with anyone and saying that immigration was too high based on nothing whatsoever. He also said that freedom of movement had to go, but free movement of labour should be a thing which is not dissimilar to saying ‘cheese sandwiches are awful but I like sandwiches that have cheese in them’. Starmer has been described as soft left, which sounds less like a political position and a lot like a description of how you might hang in your trousers. What it does mean though is that Starmer has said that the Labour 2017 manifesto is the party’s foundational document. He supports social ownership of public services, and wants tuition fees to be scrapped, wants to overhaul Universal Credit rather than scrap it and is anti-austerity, but I mean, who isn’t nowadays? Starmer is no fan of illegal wars, was anti-Iraq war and wants a review of all UK arms which is great as it might mean my sexy guns can get the 4 stars they deserve. Oh sorry, weapons arms? Ah yeah. Cool. He says he sees himself as a socialist, comes from a working-class background despite looking like he was born in Waitrose, and has mainly banged on about unity and how he doesn’t want to be like any previous leader, just be the new leader. Actually during his campaign he said ‘future leader’ which sounded much better and like he might be in charge of robots. So by looking more Blair, but being politically more Corbyn either Starmer can hopefully pull all sides together or alternatively prove that absolutely neither factions of Labour are right. His cabinet probably best reflects this more combination or unity standing already.


Obviously Angela Rayner is now deputy leader and is also chair of the Labour party, being in charge of party administration, election campaigns and all that. I’m not going to talk too much about Rayner here but she was the shadow education secretary under Corbyn, and was seen as very much on his side of the party till, during her deputy leadership campaign she said that Jezza didn’t command respect within Labour. Which is an odd thing to say when she was in his shadow cabinet, I mean why take a position with someone you don’t respect? But again her politics are very socialist, though while Starmer says he’s socialist and everyone says he’s soft left, Rayner says she’s soft left but all her policies are about making the case for everyday socialism and having a National Education Service, which abbreviated would be NES and might upset various old school gamers when they find out that instead of playing Mario they’d have to get a GCSE. While Rayner was elected, the role of chair which Starmer gave her, is a bit more of a hidden position in the party and while you might want to read something into that, it’s also since 2007 often been held by the Deputy so stop reading yeah? If nothing else I’m talking to you and its rude. No I don’t believe you can do both at the same time. No. Sorry.


Next up is Shadow Chancellor who is Annalise Dodds, replacing retired Jack Russell John McDonnell and she is the first woman ever to hold the position of chancellor whether shadow or er, daylight which is exciting. Dodds was Shadow Finance Secretary under McDonnell, and was an MEP before that, sitting on the committee on economic and monetary affairs. I mean as part of that group. She didn’t just turn up and sit on people involved in it, that’d be odd. She’s both praised former Prime Minister and Bagpuss Gordon Brown for his handling of the financial crisis and had backing from John McDonnell too, is very against tax avoidance and has done a lot of work on tackling it and is overall pretty left wing in her policies. But then this is balanced by extra from Channel 4’s Humans Rachel Reeves who is now Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a weird role that will mainly involve telling Michael Gove to shut up. But Reeves herself is very well known for her comments when she was Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary under Ed Miliband for saying ‘we don’t want to be seen, and we’re not the party to represent those who are out of work.’ In 2011, she employed unpaid interns, breaching the National Minimum Wage Act, in 2013 said the Labour party would be tougher than the Conservatives in slashing benefits which at the time would’ve been quite hard to do unless you actively took actual benefits and took a sword to them. And Reeves has also spoken quite loudly about immigration needing to be curbed. While all those things make her sound like the sort of MP many on Twitter would tell to go and join the Tories then, in many ways especially compared to the current government, she’s actually further right than they are. It’s going to be odd having a Shadow Chancellor condemn government financial policies and a Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy demanding a return to austerity. Not so much a broad church as two separate religious factions living together but only because someone took the barbed wire fence down.


Leadership candidate and the sweatshirt ear kid Lisa Nandy has been made Foreign Secretary and her ideology is also sort of weird soft left, as she’s a big unionist but was very anti-Corbyn, leading Owen Smith’s leadership campaign against him. She’s said that Labour need to be more anti-immigration to win back Brexit voting seats but then advocates keeping freedom of movement. Nandy is the chair of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East so we know that her foreign policies will be along the same lines as Corbyn’s party, but she’s also cited how Spain treated Catalonia for how to deal with Scottish Nationalism, which very much sounds like she thinks the police should turn up and hit everyone. Not a great idea and knowing Scotland, almost certainly wouldn’t work either.


Shadow Home Secretary is Welsh MP and what if an estate agent used a funny Instagram filter Nick Thomas-Symonds, who is a former barrister and has written books about Nye Bevan and Clement Attlee. But then in justice is always posing for a school photo David Lammy, who’s more of the Blairite school of Labour, while in Education is politics’ smallest face Rebecca Long Bailey who was seen as the Corbyn continuity candidate. And then Ed Miliband is back as energy secretary. There are of course other appointments but what I’m trying to say is that Starmer really has picked from across the party and now the challenge will be if they all work together or if we’re in for another 5 years of everyone undermining each other while Starmer acts like a teacher who tries to tell everyone to stop fighting but mostly cries in the staff room. But it’s interesting. Is it interesting enough to win back the Red Wall, while keeping on board remainer voting southern areas. Who knows, but we are in a coronavirus era now where spending money isn’t as scary to some as it was just months ago and maybe all it needed was a man who looks like a child has made a draft of him in Minecraft to sell that to us. Personally I still think they should go the Wu-Tang route, give every member a rap name ie A-Doddy, Nan-Dee, Benefit Slasher and so on and then even if they fight as much as the Wu did, we might get a decent album out of it.


And now back to Sue….




Thank you to Sue for that. You can find the Sheila McKechnie Foundation at or @SMKCampaigners on Twitter or all them social media places. Sue can be found on Twitter too at @Sue_Tibballs. Do sign up to their excellent newsletter which you can do on their website, and check out their podcast too, The Social Power Podcast which, much like this show, you can get on all the many places on the internet where podcasts lurk. As per always, the campaigns and groups that Sue mentions, will be up on the website soonish on the page for this episode, thanks to the excellent Kat Day aka @chronicleflask on Twitter who kindly types all that stuff up inbetween all her own writing work.


So again, I ask ye people in these lockdown times, who what where why do you wanna hear about? Shall I speak to only germ experts and if so is that in regards to the coronavirus or just various members of the government? Or do you want to hear about something different? Or should I just leave these bits blank and you can pretend you’re listening to something but engaging in blissful quiet while your children, dogs, housemates, or police who’ve heard you’re occasionally opening a window destroy your home? Let me know who I should be interviewing and you can do that at the @parpolbro twitter, Partly Political Broadcast Facebook page, the contact page at or email me at Or you could use the 5G networks to send a super-fast message but in the meantime somehow, against all science, infect thousands of people with smallpox, hiccups and inability to remember how to make tea. As always, it’s probably best to…no wait. Do the 5G thing. I feel like if that is what it does then frankly, some people deserve it.





And that’s all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast podcast. Thank you once again for listening and fanfare, you’ve made it to the end, like er…look I’ve run out other words that mean the end, so if you listen to the whole show you can just be known as the ParPolWholes. No, ok not that. Look please send in suggestions. Anyway, you’re here, I’m still here because I have no choice and that means it’s time for some more secret politics facts. And this week, it’s a biggie. Did you know former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies (Mingiss) Campbell, was known as Ming Campbell, not because it was a shortening of his first name but because he used to do that thing where he’d hold down one nostril then just snot out of the other and it was disgusting. He doesn’t do it anymore though, he now just spits. So, there you go. Hot facts! You won’t get actual definitely not fake, except oh wait Ming Campbell is still alive so just er, pretend I said allegedly in front of all of that. Ahem. Anyway, more hot pol goss next week and of course if you enjoyed that or any of this show at all, do please tell others to listen in, review it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Castbox or that wall that you walk to everyday because you’re not allowed anywhere else, and do throw us a pound or three at the Ko-Fi or Patreon sites.


Cheers big ears to Acast, my brother The Last Skeptik, Kat Day and Mushybees for contributions and optical illusions. Ok, just contributions.


This will be back next week when Acting Prime Minister Dominic Raab has been admitted to hospital after eating a bowl of wax fruit he found in Number 10, and with no other healthy cabinet members left, Liz Truss steps up and accidentally manages to sell the entire UK to the Falkland Islands within minutes.




This week’s show was sponsored by Lockdown Exercise Pro-Tips, a guide to the most imaginative exercise you can do one your one trip to the outside including the world’s safest game of knock down ginger, stealing Amazon packages then running away as fast as possible, dog flinging and spending four hours trying to pick up a tree in the park and say you have to practice for your international caber tossing event at the end of the year.

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