Check, Change, Oh – Masks, Let’s Get Going, Cummings Cronyism and Laurie MacFarlane on just what was in the Summer Statement

Released on Tuesday, July 14th, 2020.

Check, Change, Oh – Masks, Let’s Get Going, Cummings Cronyism and Laurie MacFarlane on just what was in the Summer Statement

Get ready for the Brexit we told you to get ready for last year then didn’t get ready for QUICK BUILD A LORRY PARK. Yes its the time of the year when you have to prepare for a Brexit you don’t actually understand while MPs insist you may or may not have to wear a mask on your face or maybe your arse indoors, outdoors or in space. Another week of confusion, a look at how Dominic Cummings gets cash for his pals and a chat with economics editor for OpenDemocracy (@OpenDemocracy) Laurie MacFarlane (@L__Macfarlane) about Rishi Sunak’s Summer Statement.



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Get ready for the Brexit we told you to get ready for last year then didn’t get ready for QUICK BUILD A LORRY PARK. Yes its the time of the year when you have to prepare for a Brexit you don’t actually understand while MPs insist you may or may not have to wear a mask on your face or maybe your arse indoors, outdoors or in space. Another week of confusion, a look at how Dominic Cummings gets cash for his pals and a chat with economics editor for OpenDemocracy (@OpenDemocracy) Laurie MacFarlane (@L__Macfarlane) about Rishi Sunak’s Summer Statement.

Key links and sources of info from Laurie’s interview:

All the usual ParPolBro stuff:


Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast, the comedy politics podcast that refuses to wear a mask while recording but only because otherwise the show would sound like this *MUFFLED SPEECH*. I’m Tiernan Douieb and this week as porridge that you’ve eaten then spat back out into the bowl Michael Gove says he doesn’t think face masks should be compulsory in shops is that just because he isn’t sure which of his two faces to put one on? Or because he knows he’s being harmful to others not wearing a mask over his trampled pomegranate face at all times?


Will face masks in shops be compulsory in England like they now are in Scotland? Prime Minister and exploded chicken coop wreckage Boris Johnson says they should be worn in shops as he says they have a real value in confined spaces, just not in any that he’s been in for the past four months obviously. Boris Johnson wore his mask in several different shops for photo ops to show he’s done it for once, but he looked constantly uncomfortable probably on account of the bullshit he spouts now forcefully trapped by his mouth. The next Conservative Party slogan should really be ‘Better Late Than Never Eh?’ I mean take the new Brexit slogan ‘Check, Change, Go’ which sounds like our routine when we leave the house now my daughter, sorry agent, is out of nappies. It’s the new ‘get ready for Brexit’, that has cost them £93m in the middle of an economic crisis and is now being rolled out after they told us all to get ready for Brexit last Autumn but then they still weren’t ready so you had to wait around, eventually getting unready because what’s the point, before they then decided now, when everyone busy with coronavirus and absolutely not ready, to suddenly say it’s time to suddenly get ready again. I don’t want to compare everything the government do with the plight of one specific toddler, but again it’s pretty much exactly like when we want to take our daughter, sorry my agent, to the park and we all get ready and get her dressed and she doesn’t want to go if it means putting her shoes on and actually doing the prep to make it an easy journey, but instead later when she’s not wearing any of the right clothes and we’ve given up, she demands we go to the park. It is toddler irrationality that we’re seeing in Westminster right now, with similar park-based tantrums too, only this time it’s a whopping great big car park in Kent, the garden of England, essentially rushing through a shitty version of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi. Yes if you live in or near Ashford, you’ll soon be finding out that you’re living in a glorified truck stop as the Department of Transport bought the land without much warning to turn it into a post Brexit customs centre for up to 10,000 lorries. This is without any consultation at all as you know, everyone did vote for this and if you don’t remember all those national adverts saying ‘vote Brexit and suck on an exhaust pipe as all the bits you like about your area become theme park based on the 1971 film Duel’. That’s not what the new adverts say now though, instead it’s all ‘UK’s New Start: Let’s Get Going’ followed by information that if you do want to get going anywhere other than the UK it’ll cost you a lot more travel insurance, your phone bill will look you only use it to call a premium party line and if you’re a business it’ll be easier just to throw your products in the sea and hope someone on the beach finds them and hits up your Paypal. Still, while it might be scary for most industries, it’s nice to hear that even in these uncertain economic times start-ups like Project Fear are being supported till it can become fully realised.


Secretary of State for International Trade and the sort of person who gets thwarted by automatic doors, Liz Truss sent a letter to the Prime Minister that was leaked to the press, saying she was concerned that border plans won’t actually come in until July 2021, because there’s nothing like getting going 6 months after everyone else has crossed the finish line and packed up the race. Truss said this delay could lead to smuggling from Europe which they don’t want as the whole point of Brexit was just to benefit British criminals. Truss was apparently rebuked for this letter by the actual Prime Minister and anaemic matchstick Dominic Cummings who blamed the leaking of it on her, as though she’d be capable of such a thing when all she knows how to do is poor photo ops of her holding a phone in different countries. Farmers protested against lowering of food standards & supermarkets say they won’t stock chlorinated chicken, so Truss was wheeled out post admonishment to insist it isn’t on the table for a UK/US deal. Still though if you need your beef full of hormones, I’m sure we can find someone with a lifeboat who can drop it off at the beach after January. Home Secretary and personification of catching your finger in a car door Priti Patel laid out the new post Brexit immigration rules, which includes a special health and care visa for workers who have a confirmed job within the NHS, but it doesn’t include anyone doing social care. So, it’s a health and care visa in the same way affordable housing is only one of those things. Is it because social care has the word social in it, that Conservatives can’t bring themselves to help the sector? It might explain why Boris Johnson refused to apologise to care home workers after saying it was their fault so many died in care homes, because I just don’t think he understand what it is that they do, and why they don’t just leave the residents for some younger ones. It must be really upsetting being clapped one week and derided the next, and I say that as a stand-up comedian who’s had an entire career like that.


The whole post Brexit border infrastructure is going to cost £705m because I don’t know if you realise but what’s really needed as we head into the worst recession since the 1930s is throwing cash at an entirely unnecessary traffic jam. This wasn’t really mentioned in the Summer Statement by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, a constant game of is it a smile or is he in severe pain, but I guess it doesn’t really fit with the idea of a Plan for Jobs, if the only work will be in roadside greasy spoons on the M20. Nor was it mentioned that most of the government’s money is just going to Dominic Cummings friends with an £840k contract handed to one of his and Michael Gove’s pals to research public opinion on government policies, presumably so they can then bin any critical ones before Dom reads them and turns up at the person’s house pissed and threatening to bottle them. The company is called Public First which is either a joke or is alluding to who has to get sacrificed first. There’s also the AI firm that worked on Vote Leave that has had 13 contracts with central government since 2018, even though its arguable that there’s enough artificial intelligence in No.10 as it is. Cummings is also advertising for a £135k a year data expert so he can set up a skunkworks in No 10, so called because everything they do stinks and you’d have to be high off your tits to think it seems good. But use of data did deliver a Leave vote successfully so it makes more sense for the government to focus on that than the announcement that the man who’d not just drop a clanger but somehow make them extinct while spending money on a government program to save the moon whistlers, Chris Grayling, has been made chair of the intelligence committee. And no, not in the furniture sense which I still wouldn’t have faith in him managing to do. Grayling will oversee the publication of the report into Russian interference in the election, and suddenly you can see why his new position makes sense as on the day of publication he’ll have to announce that a seagull stole it from him, and he’s paid someone who doesn’t believe Russia exists £15m to rewrite it using a melted crayon.


So, there’s always money for monumental wastes of money, but for you? Well don’t worry as Rishi Sunak wants you to eat out to help out, which is very much an admission he’d like the hospitality sector to go down. It’s a shame as I think the tagline ‘give head as there’s 50,000 unnecessarily dead’ works better. Or even ‘suck because we really do’ or ‘fellatio because the economy is very, very slow’. I mean, the options are endless. Unlike yours which seem to just be that you can get a voucher for £10 off certain restaurants and hopefully you’ll be able to wave that at your landlord and they’ll be so excited about the sheer notion of going to TGI Friday’s not on a Friday that they’ll let you off three months of rent arrears. It’ll cost £500m to make sure everyone can have money off a Nandos, which is more than four times the cost of giving free school meals to kids during the summer holidays, something a footballer had to persuade the government to do. The issue I guess is that it’s harder for Conservatives to do photo ops with children without there being a risk one of them is the Prime Minister’s. Whereas Sunak was able to show off that he knows how to steal economic policies from a takeaway menu, by doing a stint as a waiter in a Wagamama’s, where he failed to wear a mask or follow any of the safety procedures needed meaning he really increased the risk of customers getting COVID19, though it’s unlikely they’d get it all at the same time or in the order they expected. I’m sure Rishi learned from his experience and the Autumn budget will consist of a load of random numbers scribbled in biro on a placemat.


The other big economic announcements were a job retention scheme which gives businesses money to keep staff furloughed until they’ve received the money and then they can make them redundant. There is also a kickstart scheme for young people which is so called as it makes sure their future gets a kicking before they’ve even begun to plan it. There was still no support for small businesses, Sunak said the furlough scheme can’t go on forever as that might make people incorrectly think the Conservatives have empathy and apparently there will soon be an announcement of support for those who are out of work for a longer period with a new large scale employment offer which probably means you’ll be weighing all the fruit you’ve picked as part of your farming chain gang. But a lot of the not very good ideas to get the economy started, revolve around whether everyone is feeling safe enough to go out and well, eat out or you know copulate in a shop to make sure the pound doesn’t drop. Or something. It’s a confusing message when coupled with the Conservative Conference being cancelled due to coronavirus spreading fears, though I suppose they have the worry that Boris Johnson will insist on shaking everyone’s hands himself. Instead they’ll be having a virtual conference, though arguably that is what they have every year considering there is never anyone of substance that takes part. My hope is that they’ll run it on Zoom, forget to unmute everyone and have to blame themselves for cancel culture.


How can you have a conference when your own ministers don’t know when it is or isn’t best to wear a face mask? Priti Patel wore won outdoors during her visit to Calais, but took it off for her indoor meetings, presumably wearing it because she was more worried she might breathe in European air and have to deport herself in a few months’ time. Lord Chancellor and 70s newsreader Robert Buckland said he is mandatory perhaps on masks, which sounds like a shit Richard Curtis film involving several scene involving cue cards as everyone is too symptomatic to get nearer to each other. Michael Gove said he trusted people’s common sense when it came to mask wearing, you know the same people that Boris Johnson said were taking liberties when they overcrowded beaches just weeks ago. In Scotland, the first minister and guinea pig with insomnia Nicola Sturgeon said that Scots should get used to wearing facemasks for the foreseeable future, but due to age expectancy, that’s not that long for most of them. Though its likely to be a lot longer than any English person on account of the masks. Especially with factors such as the Health Secretary and shin pad for a head Matt Hancock, saying that the UK won’t be joining the EU COVID-19 vaccine scheme as he says Britain is further ahead. In what? Unnecessary deaths? The big issue is that apparently if we joined, we’d get no say in which pharmaceutical manufacturers are used, and the British government would probably prefer to spunk all the cash it has for vaccine use on one of Dominic Cummings friends who reckons they got rid of coronavirus by eating the dirt from round the rim of the fridge. It’s good to know that these decisions are coming from Matt Hancock though, a man so on the ball he accidentally claimed there had been a spike of infections in Keighley, causing panic among local residents, when it was in-fact in Kirklees 25 miles away and had already been contained. Still it must be hard for Hancock to know the difference as both places are roughly 60 miles from where Daniel Rashford was born. It’s good to know the strategy for local lockdowns is to close everywhere with the same first letter as an initial response. The culture secretary and last plank in the wood shop Oliver Dowden announced that outdoor performances can take place, which is great news for all the theatres that will need 4-6 weeks of rehearsal time meaning they’ll have a show ready in time for the weather to be too cold again for anyone to come along. Glyndebourne opera will be starting outdoor concerts soon though with limited audiences as what could be more fitting for our current times than willingly paying too much for some sort of European tragedy. Cricket has restarted even though everyone in the government has been stumped for months and pools and gyms will be open from July 25th as nothing helps you lose weight like using a sweated-on machine and then being in an induced coma for two weeks. Will you have to wear masks for any of those activities? Hard to say but for the government they’ll have a hard time stopping theirs from slipping whatever they do, showing a face underneath that couldn’t really give a shit what you do.


In other news, the UK is to sell arms to Saudi Arabia again as they say that possible war crimes committed in Yemen are isolated incidents, like somehow the entire Middle Eastern regime are just lone wolves. The announcement came a day after sanctions were placed on Saudis who were involved in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, almost as though the government’s plan was to say hey, we’ll help you with unlawful killing as long as you do it somewhere else. Currently the UK is selling spyware and wiretaps to 17 repressive regimes around the world, but I guess it fits that post-Brexit our main export would be listening to people be absolutely miserable.


Labour have demanded the publication of the report into allegations of bullying by Priti Patel, after there are suggestions that Downing Street have demanded a senior civil servant clear the Home Secretary of all charges. It’s a great move to prove your minister isn’t a bully by bullying someone else till they agree with you. Maybe this is what they see as negotiation skills, which is why upside down cake Mark Francois threatened the UK’s most senior army general by telling him Dominic Cummings was going to sort him out, and not just because Francois is the sort of idiot who’d shout don’t tell me what to do at a traffic light green man before breaking his foot giving it a kick, and promptly being run over. The idea that Cummings would sort out a top army general is hilarious at best, and just adds to my theory that he’s a weedy villain in a Disney film who may invent some clever things but will eventually get beaten by a baby in a cape. And it’d be a good twist if that turned out to be Francois. Cummings is going to tour the UK’s top military sites during a big defence spending review, though I’d argue if any of them let an unelected advisor in to begin with they’re already not doing a good enough job to be kept. Should all Cummings plans go ahead, the army will be cut by up to 10,000 staff. Fingers crossed we’ll then get invaded and taken over by a more compassionate country like, I dunno, North Korea.


Keir Starmer aka the lovechild of spare plane parts and a rejected Eurovision singer, has been Labour leader for 100 days, and a YouGov poll says that he is seen as more similar to former Prime Minister and carbonite spillage Theresa May, than to former Labour leader and sickly terrier Jeremy Corbyn. But does that just mean he’s dead behind the eyes and will be forced out by his own party within three years? Yougov’s poll also has Labour 10 points behind the Conservatives though I bet if they had a new leader, they’d be 20 points ahead, oh. Oh well. Still I do understand the Conservatives’ huge lead. I mean I’ve definitely had moments where I feel like the best hope for this country is if we were all wiped out.


And lastly, US President and irradiated klegnut Donald Trump wore a face mask for the first time, which must have been unusual for him to opt for a small head covering than his usual pillow case with eyeholes. While dangerous populist Brazillian President and Sith game show host Jair Bolsonaro who claimed coronavirus was a hoax, tested positive for it after having symptoms. Sadly though he’s doing ok, because trust karma not to work and make COVID the only thing he’s not got zero tolerance for.





S’up pod types. I hope you are all wearing your face masks while listening to this, either to stifle those laughter droplets from piercing the faces of those near you, or just to muffle any comments about ‘well that was shit’ that you might make throughout. I cannot fathom why people are so upset about wearing a mask. It’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. Isn’t this why superhero costumes are popular now? I mean, I can’t wait to have to wear one when going to the bank. It’s incredible tempting to get some sort of Dick Turpin hat to go with it. I’m just saying, it’s just a little material mask, you pop it on to go to the shop, you take it off when you leave, and you potentially save yourself and/or someone else. The fuss people are making you’d think they were being asked to suffer like the man in the iron mask. The only reasons I can think why you wouldn’t are 1) well, because you have a medical breathing condition then that is valid. 2) Because you know your breath smells bad and you don’t want to subject yourself to it and would rather let other people know you can’t brush your teeth properly. 3) Because you’re worried people won’t recognise you as ‘that dickhead’, or 4) because you’ve always wanted to be a serial killer but didn’t have the ambition or energy to do it, so this is the next easiest thing. Someone on the socials told me they didn’t like being told what fashion accessory they had to wear as it limited their freedom. I mean, it’s not a fashion accessory unless you want to get a funky designed one. I’m not seeing people go round saying ‘have you got the latest chic face mask, it really goes with my asymptomatic COVID’. I just cannot wrap my head around why you’d not want to do it for other people? It’s like shouting ‘I refuse to wear trousers in the park, it’s limiting my freedom.’ ‘I refuse to wear my spacesuit when fixing the International Space Station. Its limiting my freedom.’ Freedom of movement in the EU going. Fine with that. Having to wear a small mask for all of 5 minutes in case your cough commits murder, somehow that is tantamount to a human rights abuse. People’s priorities are so baffling to me.


Your priorities however are 100% correct for you are here, and I don’t know where that is, you could be anywhere, but you are listening to this and for that I am super gratefulness. This week a big huge sloppy thanks to Jeremy, Jackie B, James DL, Claire, Kim and Helen for donation to the ko-fi which is again so very helpful in these times where I’m wondering if I need to retrain in something COVID proof like I dunno, being a warden of a remote island or something. Would that be COVID proof? Knowing my luck, probably not. Anyway, thank you for donating and if you too fancy bunging me some dosh to live off of because you like this noise, then please head to or join the which I understand you should now be able to set to either dollars, euros or pounds making it work however is best. Let me know if you manage to work it out. Also thanks this week to AnnePank in Spain, who gave a lovely review of the ParPolBro Live show that I broadcast live as an experiment on Friday and while it didn’t quite go to plan, was a lot of fun. Then I released it as a bonus episode to all you subscribers if you want to listen for some reason. Anyway, Anne said in her review she didn’t know it was happening or she’d have called in, but I did post it on the Twitter, Facebook and mention it in this here podcast last week. So, what’s the best way to let you lot know about stuff if those aren’t the best methods? Let me know as I’m planning to do another live show maybe in a couple of weeks and I’d love it if more of you fancied listening and especially calling in for a chat, even more so if you actually listen to this show unlike my one caller last week. Let me know and I’ll shout about whenever I do another one with as much notice as possible. Oh and obviously please do give this show a tasty review too, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Castbox or any of those places that allow such things.


Quick other bit of admin this week as I keep forgetting and should have done this week’s ago. My brother, rapper and producer The Last Skeptik whose music I steal for this here show, had a new single out a couple of weeks back called ‘No Good Mess’. Its great and I’ve been listening to it loads even though, as his brother, I should hate it. Do check it out if you like.


That’s it for admin things, so let’s get to the show and this week I have chat with the economics editor for Open Democracy, Laurie MacFarlane all about just what was in Rishi Sunak’s Summer Statement and if any of it at all was any good. Spoilers: It wasn’t. Plus I was going to bring back Brexit Fallout this week but there’s really not much to say that hasn’t been mentioned on previous episodes, it’s just still the same, again, but with even less time for some sort of intervention from the gods. So instead it’s a little look at PPE shenaniganry.





I don’t know if you heard but there was a budget the other day. Sort of. It was actually an economic statement or a summer statement or a mini-pop-up-limited edition budget or whatever it is you want to call it when Rishi Sunak was doing his 18th work in progress show before the big performance in the Autumn but still hasn’t really done any of the prep for it and it shows. Like with all the Chancellor’s recent announcements since this pandemic started, it’s felt a lot like we’ve all been part of a baying mob hoping that it’s our turn to catch the few breadcrumbs one of the rulers from the Capitol might sprinkle from above. So far it hasn’t really been anyone’s feeding time apart from those who have been consistently overstuffed since 2008 and unsurprisingly, Sunak’s new statement for the post-COVID world that we’ll likely never ever see, was more of the same. To summarise, it was great for people who have the money to buy a ton of houses, hate the planet which is odd as they’ll have lots of houses on it and would like to hire young people to do work for free. Oh and also all of Dominic Cumming’s friends who are really, really good at getting paid to not supply PPE. For anyone else, especially the 2m people who are registered as small limited companies, or people with disabilities who’ve had less access to care and funds since this started, well don’t worry as all your financial fears can be allayed by going to Pizza Hut on a Tuesday and not eating that much. Rishi Sunak wouldn’t want to buy a man a fish or teach him to fish, he’d be far happier giving him a voucher so he can get a discount on some overpriced fish, while Sunak gives tax relief on a massive privately-owned trawler. But who am I to explain exactly what this flashmob money shouting means for everyone when I am just a simple idiot who doesn’t understand financials apart from all the ones that mean after August I’ll get no support because the comedy industry isn’t important to Rishi as he’s happy still laughing at the thought of a mop he once saw that looked like skinny person with blue hair.


So, this week I thought I’d get someone clever on the podcast to explain exactly what was and more importantly, wasn’t in Sunak’s statement. Thankfully Laurie Macfarlane, economics editor at Open Democracy had time for a chat. As well as writing about all the money situ for Open Democracy, Laurie is also a fellow at the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose looking at how public value is imagined and evaluated to tackle social issues, he’s a trustee at the Finance Innovation Lab, working on a financial system that works for the people and he also occasionally still works with the New Economics Foundation too, where he used to be based. So basically, Laurie knows what is and what isn’t the good economics and so even though we all aware Sunak’s statement was shit, I asked him to tell me exactly why it is, what it should’ve been for any of us to benefit and if there’s any hope at all other than us all having to befriend Dominic Cummings and promise we’d be unable to find a gown or facemask for several million pounds. Hope you enjoy. Here’s Laurie:




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






Now look, we’ve spent money on silly things during this crisis. For me it was booze and a box full of tomato ketchup crisps. Do I regret those things? No. Does my liver and growing waistline? Yes. But at least I knew what I was getting for that not very much cash. Whereas the government don’t quite have the same excuse. To say there’s been some shenanigans with government money during the COVID crisis, would be an understatement. For the shenanigans be so many, they be shemanygans. The government have, as they’ve often stated, spent quite a lot of money on areas that we needed such as testing or PPE, but when you look into just how and who they spent that money on, it’s a lot like me saying I’ve definitely given the money I raised to Charity and then you find out that Charity is the name of my drug dealer. It’s not, I’m far too old to have fun anymore. So here is a quick run down of what I’m talking about and I should say that all these things are being followed currently by either the journalists at Open Democracy or by the Good Law Project lead by fox enemy Jo Maughm and Fawcett Society CEO Sam Smethers, the latter of which you can donate to the crowdfunders to help take to court should you wish. I mean, it’d definitely be a more sensible use of money than anything the government have done for a while.


First up is PPE spending, which the government took ages to do and then in late March after most of the rest of the world had already got theirs in, they spent a massive £5.5bn on contracts for. You might think that maybe it’s because it was so last minute, it was more expensive, like when you try to buy a ticket for an event and the only way to get one is to buy off a scam website that will charge you life savings to sit near a bin where the only sound you can hear is someone being sick outside. But it doesn’t seem to be the case as to why it was so much. More it’s because a lot of it was going to companies that weren’t suitable or incorrect equipment. You know about the 400,000 gowns from Turkey that weren’t even suitable to go to the ball in, let alone treat COVID patients with. The way the government got contractors was by opening its portal on March 27th and they received 24,000 offers from 16,000 suppliers, which sounds good, except they didn’t respond to the places that were best suited to help. Volker Schuster, a Liverpool based supplier to the construction industry said the government took so long to respond they ended up sending their 10 million face masks to other countries instead. Same happened to hand santizer companies and textile companies offering to make PPE. So who did they hire instead? Well £108m went to a Clandeboye Agencies Limited, a company that has no evidence of experience in supplying PPE, but what they do do is the wholesale of sweets, so you know, maybe you could say there was a confusing in what exactly Life Savers are, but they got the contract without any tender process. Another £32.4m went to Crisp Websites Limited who trade as Pestfix, a pest control company. It does make a bit more sense that they’d have PPE or at least know what it is, in order to stop ants in their pants-based issues while on the job. But the company only have net assets of £18,000 and they were paid £24m upfront without any tender process, for isolation suits before they were even delivered. The suits were then held in a warehouse and not tested and the government hasn’t followed its own rules and published the agreed contracts which is meant to within 20 days of the transaction. The department of health have been pretty cagey and Pestfix’s lawyers have responded to the good law project asking for claim for judicial inquiry by saying it’s an unwelcome distraction from their work and they should withdraw, which is a polite way of saying please don’t ask any more questions as we might have to answer them. To be fair the lawyers do present a background of Pestfix supplying NHS Trusts with equipment for 11 years and that there were no recalls of the PPE they supplied, but it should still be questioned why such a large contract was handed to them with no tender process at all and why the contract itself isn’t being released.


Then there is Ayenda Capital Limited, which is a company with net assets of £322 and they say they are a family office, which is when a family has so much money they need to make a company to manage it, and they trade in currency and are owned by a family with assets in Mauritius which is a tax haven. One of its senior board advisors is also an advisor to Liz Truss’s board of trade. The government paid them a quarter of a billion to supply face masks, which hey, maybe this family are super rich as they all gather round the dinner table and churn out specialist face masks all day long raking in the dough, but again the government hasn’t published the contract so at the moment, it just looks a lot like one of their pals cashed out. So far, the government response to the Good Law Project has mainly been just ‘well we paid them this money for this thing’ which still leaves all the same questions as to why unanswered. Maybe I’m the one who can’t think outside the box and maybe the best places for protective medical equipment are a sweet factory, a wasp murderer and a rich family, in the same way during the No Deal prep just last year, a company that owned absolutely no ferries was obviously the best place for a £50m ferry service contract. Perhaps the government are just operating their own Field Of Dreams scenario, enabling these minor sweet makers the funds to become much more, or at least, help the government make lots of ghosts gather in one place.


Second possible shenanigans area is Public First, a company that has been awarded £840,000 for researching public opinion, which is silly as I look at Twitter most days and could tell you within minutes for half of that. Still, Public First is a small company run by James Frayne, who has worked with Dominic Cummings several times over 20 years including running the campaign against joining the Euro with him and co-founded a right wing think tank. And Rachel Wolf, who used to be an advisor to Michael Gove and obviously wasn’t good at it or she’d have told him to wear a paper bag on his head before going outside. She ran the New Schools Network promoting free schools and was giving half a million quid at the time on the basis that she had the only organisation able to give expert support as quickly as they needed it. There was no tender process to give Public First a £840k contract because emergency COVID law means there doesn’t have to be. So instead it was just handed to them willy nilly, for research done on the coronavirus crisis. The contract didn’t appear until 3 months after they were commissioned to do work and included the transfer of Public First partner Gabriel Milland to No.10, a man who worked at the Department of Education when Gove was Education Secretary and Cummings was his adviser. When questioned if the company were only given the work because they were chums with the boss, the cabinet office spokesperson said it was nonsense and they got it due to their experience in the area, but without any competition it does look like cronyism. Again, the Good Law Project believe the contract is unlawful without correct tender, regardless of coronavirus legislation and are trying to take it to trial.


This is not the first of Cummings’s friends’ companies that have had contracts, with Faculty, the firm that provided AI for Vote Leave, getting contracts of up to £1m in just 18 months, with the chief executive attending SAGE meetings back in May. Cummings own company also paid them £260k but won’t reveal what for. We also know 11 private companies were involved in the failed track and trace app that cost £11m but the Department of Health has not yet revealed who they are and £400m has been spent on OneWeb for the UK’s own satnav system despite them not having the correct type of satellite. Cummings was the one to push for that specific company.

Now look, I’m not saying any of it is definite shenanigans, and sure the Westminster bubble is small so everyone knows everyone. But some of it sounds particularly dodgy with a lack of transparency, obvious links between parties and the fact that look, I’m an idiot, and I still reckon I could find companies actually good at doing stuff to hire rather than ones who are best known for, I dunno, gobstoppers and space junk. The fact is, its public money that’s being used, so we should all have access to finding out what its being used for, and knowledge that there has been fair competition in allocating it, even if looking all that stuff up is massively boring and no one has the time. Am I jealous? Well of course, because I’d love to give all my friends dosh or at least be hired for something I’m completely unsuitable for and handed money without question. Stupid me for having the wrong friends. But this is much more than that, as the wonderful Wikipedia says, crony capitalism corrupts public-serving economic, political and social ideas. So either we all have to question it and call it out, or, oh god, we all have to make friends with Dominic Cummings and I don’t want to do that as he seems like an utter tit. I mean, he didn’t even spend any of that money on tomato ketchup crisps. Loser.


If you want to donate to any of the the Good Law Project’s crowdfunders you can find them at and please support Open Democracy’s investigative work too at



And now back to Laurie….




Thank you to Laurie for having the time in what was already a very busy week for him post mini economic budget statement. You can follow Laurie on Twitter at @L__Macfarlane and you can read his articles and many other brilliant investigative articles at Open Democracy on or @openDemocracy on Twitter. The Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose are at or @IPP_UCL on Twitter, and the Finance Innovation Lab is or @thefinancelab on the twitters.


I think I’ve got the next few weeks of guests lined up, but what about the next few years of guests assuming we make it to 2021? Lemme know who and actually more importantly right now, just what I should be talking to people about. Do we need some political philosophy about new ideas that will help a post corona no deal wasteland that aren’t some sort of Mad Max style race to the death? Do you want climate experts explaining pro-active methods of making sure we don’t all melt? Or maybe a defence expert talking about how best to build a bunker and live in it for 50 years? What do you need? Let me know and you can do that, as always, @parpolbro on Twitter, the Partly Political Broadcast facebook group, the contact page at or email me at Or you could write it on a letter and physically post it but when I get it, I’ll assume it’s a cake after seeing that video where everything is a cake and then I’ll eat it, not see your suggestion and be sad I haven’t had cake. It’d be the worst of days. Please don’t do that. Please do send cake. But obviously, you know, its probably just easiest to email.





And that’s all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast podcast. Thank you for listening in and of course, as you’ve made it all the way to the end of the show, here is your reward, a fascinating PARPOLBROHOTPOLGOSSFACT! Yes, this week’s political fact that politicians have kept hidden from you by not even knowing I’ve made it up, is all about masks. Which masks have made the most impact in political history? Is it the infamous Guy Fawkes mask which was made famous by literary wizard Alan Moore and his book V for Vendetta, and has since been used by hacktivists Anonymous, the Occupy movement and many more anti-government protests, as well as the online garbage fire right wing blog site Guido Fawkes.  Despite the fact that actually Guy Fawkes was a religious terrorist who wasn’t against oppression, he just wanted Catholics to do it. Is it balaclavas? Worn by the IRA during the Troubles in Northern Ireland but also by activist Russian punk group Pussy Riot when staging guerrilla shows against undercooked sausage Vladmir Putin. Oh and balaclavas are also worn by toddlers in the park in winter. No actually it’s the one that has been worn by former Conservative MP and train wanker Michael Portillo as despite it being obvious he has a big rubber face, absolutely no one has ever realised it’s a mask and were it to be removed, they’d find a series of pullies and gears controlled by angry gerbils who use the railways to visit their allies and transport illegal seed mix around the globe. True story. Entirely. I’m not even going to say allegedly with this one. And that was this week’s PARPOLBROHOTPOLLGOSSFACT. If you liked that or it made you so sad you cried a river, then why not share the secrets and benefits of diy land irrigation with everyone you know and tell them about this here podcast. Better yet, give the show a review on those there podcast apps like Apple Podcasts or Stitcher, and if you can afford to, please fling me some dosh at or or on the Acast supporter scheme which you can do with the press of a button or something.


Thanks, big time to Acast, my brother The Last Skeptik, Kat Day and Mushybees.


This will be back next week when it turns out the government say that face masks are mandatory but not necessarily on your face and Dominic Raab is seen parading around Harrods wearing one on each elbow and knee and telling staff they’re definitely safe around him as he knows karate.




This week’s show was sponsored by Dominic Cummings. No it wasn’t, I was just hoping he’d give me several million pounds. Ah well, worth a try.




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