It’s important at these times to have nuance and eschew political tribalism. Luckily the past week has made it very easy to acknowledge that actually all political factions are shit and we should probably give up and eat crisps. Article 16, the South African Variant, the government doing everything they could, and a chat with Ramya Jaidev at Windrush Lives (@windrushlives) on the shambles of a compensation scheme for victims of the Windrush scandal.
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It’s important at these times to have nuance and eschew political tribalism. Luckily the past week has made it very easy to acknowledge that actually all political factions are shit and we should probably give up and eat crisps. Article 16, the South African Variant, the government doing everything they could, and a chat with Ramya Jaidev at Windrush Lives (@windrushlives) on the shambles of a compensation scheme for victims of the Windrush scandal.
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Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast podcast, the comedy politics podcast that like the government says it has done everything it can to minimise suffering, but at the same time still insists on releasing weekly episodes so is obviously lying. I’m Tiernan Douieb and this week I am hearted by how we all thought post Brexit relations between the EU and the UK would be frosty, yet it turns out its so friendly they aren’t even willing to trade jabs.
With so much of life on planet Earth facing extinction in our increasingly unstable future, it was heartening to see that just as Brexiteers were teetering on the brink of destruction via their own pyrrhic victory, the EU insisted on using its collective might to step in and save them from having to find something else to blame for their lives being ultimately disappointing. Who knew that the only type of nationalism not accepted by those who repeatedly vote for as much of it as possible, was that of vaccines? You think they’d be all for something that says it cures dangerous foreign bodies but maybe they got confused. Before we talk about this any further, I should quickly mention that it is hard to remember in these times of ever increasingly tribal politics, that it’s very possible and in fact sensible to have far more nuanced views about the current situation we’re in than just deciding one side is betterer than the other and the one side is the baddies, and one is the virtuous freedom providers of all things bountiful and lovely and have never even returned a library book late and not just because libraries don’t exist anymore. Last week is case in point. Last week showed it was perfectly reasonable to say, ‘wow the EU are massive terrible dickheads AND the UK government are some of the worst people in existence’ and for both to be completely true. The EU had a deal with AstraZeneca for 300m doses of COVID vaccine, but due to production problems, were likely to only get a quarter of that, a bit like when the EU pledged to help Greece and then only did a bit but not really at all. Having never made a vaccine myself, despite a certainty that some of the older items in the back of my fridge have grown close, I imagine it’s pretty fiddly making the things as threading DNA does require a very tiny needle and steady hand, so of course there are currently supply and demand issues on account of everyone in the goddamn world needing two of the things. So President of the European Commission and Umbrella Pharmaceuticals employee Ursula Von Der Leyen demanded some of the supply made in the UK come to them, AstraZeneca said contracts mean they can’t and then someone near the Commission end decided the smartest thing to do would be to stop people in Northern Ireland getting any. It felt a bit like finding out your mate wasn’t going to lend you that video game they promised, so to get revenge you went and punched the arm of the younger sibling of someone you used to go to school with but don’t know anymore.
Only a true idiot would think that vaccine nationalism is an idea worth entertaining when the coronavirus has already tanked up more airmiles than the most avid of frequent flyers and hasn’t ever filled in a customs form or handed over its sandwich. But for a brief period article 16 was invoked by the EU anyway meaning they opted for the last resort first like a trade version of shoot then ask questions later. Northern Irish First Minister and flip book accident Arlene Foster said it was an incredibly hostile act, which must be annoying when
that’s usually her party’s playbook tactic. The Prime Minister and scrapings off the side of an old ship Boris Johnson informed Von Der Leyen he had ‘grave concerns’ which I assume was about the EU’s decision to suspend part of the Brexit deal agreement on Northern Ireland, but could also be because there’s now over 100,000 dead in the UK from COVID and he was confiding that we’re running out of space to put them all somewhere. It was probably quite a shock to Johnson that the EU were able to do such a thing as it was far into the Northern Ireland agreement that was rushed through in a matter of days last year and there’s every chance, he’d never made it that far, especially if it didn’t have his name on it to make it seem like something he’d find important. Not only that but it must’ve been quite a blow to be reminded yet again that Northern Ireland is a country in the UK, and not just an umbrella term for things he didn’t have to pay attention to. The world health organisation criticised the EU, saying that their attempts to hoard the vaccine could set a worrying trend, like you know, the Western world not being able to equally buy all the vaccine for themselves so they can together deprive third world countries of it. Very quickly the EU u-turned on the Article 16 idea, blaming it on a misjudgement but as Irish Taoiseach and your tired, tired dad Michael Martin, the disaster had already happened and it had played into the hands of EU haters and shown up that despite all promises for no hard border in Northern Ireland, it turns out, as anyone who had actually read the agreement knew, that they can get one within minutes if their divorced parents get miffed with each other. There are now calls to re-examine the Northern Ireland agreement, or in Boris Johnson and it seems Ursula Von Der Leyen’s case, examine it for the first time.
So, a stupid arse move from the Commission, but not at all helped by the Prime Minister’s comments in the middle of it about how lucky it was that we were no longer part of the EU’s vaccine roll out. And he’s right as that’d mean that all of ours would be stuck in lorries somewhere in Kent. It is pretty grim for anyone to think that anywhere can be patriotic about vaccines, especially when Johnson is far less keen when people point out that actually what Britain has been best at is death toll. Figures of deaths by COVID-19 reached over 100,000 last week and Johnson took to the podium with his hair looking like a very ill cat had just coughed it up and mumbled with all the sincerity of a DJ that’s been asked to pause their set so they can ask someone to move their car, that he offered his deepest condolences to everyone who’s lost a loved one. Which we now isn’t true as Johnson has specialised in purposefully losing loved ones for quite some time and claiming deniability if they manage to track him down and ask if he’s their dad. The Prime Minister’s now refused six times to meet a group of bereaved families of those who died from COVID despite having promised to, but maybe Johnson is being considerate by avoiding them as he’s realised they’ve already suffered enough.
Johnson said it was hard to compute the sorrow contained in the grim statistic, which is the sort of thing a robot might say if was told to emulate human emotion based on input of abstract pictures of material goods. But the most galling was his insistence that the government did everything they could to minimise loss and suffering, which is definitely not true, unless he means of his friend’s financial situations. Well maybe it is true, but we’re unfortunate enough to have a government who’s doing everything they could is giving their pals lots of money and causing more loss and suffering and maybe anything else is outside of their skill set. The past year of boasting of shaking hands with people in hospital, not bothering to turn up to COBRA meetings, and opening schools for a whole day during the middle of one of the endless waves, means that Johnson may as well have stood at the podium and said he was ‘sorry if you feel that you have died.’ Johnson has also still been hammering home the message that schools are safe despite also saying they won’t reopen till March because it risks the spread of coronavirus. Great, so they’re definitely safe but also definitely not safe. Or maybe they are safe but only if you don’t put anyone in them and just let the occasional pigeon wander in? Maybe they should reopen schools as soon as possible but just to air them out and not let anyone in? The Institute of Fiscal Studies says that pupils in the UK could stand to lose an average of £40,000 each in lifetime earnings due to lost time in school thanks to COVID, which is a shame as they’d really notice that hit out of the salary from the jobs that don’t exist that they can’t get. One education think tank is suggesting that pupils be allowed to repeat a year, but let’s face it, no one wants to do 2020 to 2021 again, that’s just cruel and they’d only have to stay at home throughout, so it seems pointless.
It’s now taken over a year to consider closing travel corridors to the UK and its only now that anyone trying to leave the UK will have to declare a valid reason for doing so, so I’m hoping that announcing ‘I’d like to leave this leper island please for survival purposes’ will count. Of-course some still believe that actually the government have done everything they can and that it’s still the public’s fault, but as a normal public person type, I spent some time googling just how I could go about closing borders and it just kept telling me how to make quilts which I don’t think would have helped.
Nearly 9 million people in the UK have now had their first vaccine jab, and all elderly residents of care homes have now been offered one something Johnson called a crucial milestone, though again he could have been referring to his finding out that care homes exist. It does feel massively condescending to claim the achievement of getting care home residents the offer of a jab when by failing to protect them last year, there are just a lot fewer people to vaccinate. Right now, there are three approved vaccines in the UK, and two more potentially on their way including the Johnson and Johnson vaccine which is 66% effective, presumably as the name suggests because that’s the equivalent of two Prime Ministers working together. It does seem like everyone’s making vaccines, but I guess we are stuck in lockdown and those without kids don’t have anything else to do. Worryingly the vaccines could be less effective against the new South African variant, which has now been found in various places around England, but it wouldn’t be a SA variant if it didn’t like to travel. It should be easily tracked by finding people who keep talking about how many brews they’ve had and insisting on holding a bry despite the weather. Health Secretary and talking Nerf bullet Matt Hancock said they have to come down hard on the south African variant because he can only talk in middle aged man sexts now. He is however very positive about everything and said he gets excited about every photograph of someone being vaccinated that he gets sent, which I think means he’s given his consent to receive prick pics. He’s also very optimistic about summer holidays, but again he didn’t specify what year. Cabinet Office minister and 6 out of 10 of the pictures google brings up if you type unusual rash Michael Gove, said that unlike in the EU, there will be no interruption of UK’s vaccine supply, which I think means is a guarantee it won’t have to have a conversation with him. However, during the interview Gove’s cat interrupted him and tried to knock over his laptop, but they do say felines can sense evil.
So, depending on which side you’re on, either the EU showed their true side by blocking vaccine trade, or by apologising they showed they can be more responsible than Johnson’s government who must’ve watched the Italian Prime Minister resign last week citing it was over COVID deaths, and assumed it was because he hadn’t let there be enough. The fact is,
in reality, they’re both really shit. Really, really shit. Currently, as grown-ups pretending we have a democratic choice in anything we may as well save our energy blaming other people and resolve that we are just part of an endless juggling of least worst options. The Conservatives are greed driven psychopaths, but that doesn’t mean you have to like the opposition who include MPs like Shadow Secretary of Health and lost Beano character Jonathan Ashworth who took to all the news channels to call the government responsible for the high death rate thanks to the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, but when asked if his party had opposed it at the time, had to sheepishly say ‘no.’ It feels no wonder that again the Conservatives are still several points ahead in the polls, not just because most of their voters would really like to see more people in Britain dead, but also because when the Speaker of the Commons introduced Labour leader and unused Nespresso machine Keir Starmer during Prime minister’s questions as ‘the virtual leader of the opposition’, it’s hard to imagine he meant only because he was live streaming from his home. I mean what sort of opposition is it when Starmer wrote a piece in the worst punishment for paper after toilet and folded fortune tellers, The Daily Mail, vowing to get every child back to school. Yes, we know but maybe not right now as I don’t know if you’re aware Keir, but there’s a bit of a virus going on. Aside from seemingly just parroting the least constructive opinions of the time, there’s no way Labour will keep the youth vote if you kill them all off first. Really why do any of us bother? If 100,000 people dying isn’t enough to make everyone demand something much better then really what will? What is it that matters to people enough to get them to want change? The pubs are already closed so it can’t be that. No one can go to football. Sigh. Someone’s going to have to turn off the internet aren’t they? Sigh, ok I’ll get some shears but only after you’ve got this episode.
In other news, Boris Johnson visited Scotland to supposedly try and strengthen the union, in the same way you might try and sway someone to get a pet by running around their living room shitting in all the plants. Johnson insisted that independence is irrelevant to most Scots, and that most people want to beat the pandemic, because it hasn’t occurred to him that the latter might be more possible if the former occurred. The only reason he thinks it’s irrelevant to Scottish people is because it’s irrelevant to him and he once asked Michael Gove what he thought, and he didn’t reply as he was too busy building a saliva cocoon. The prime minister very boldly stated that ‘we don’t know what the point of another referendum would be’, but it’s a bit like how if you can’t work out which one of your friends is prick no one actually likes, then it’s definitely you. The SNP currently have their own internal issues to deal with First Minister and background extra in TOPT2 Nicola Sturgeon is being investigated over her handling of complaints about former SNP leader and blobfish Alex Salmond. Sturgeon has been accused of misleading Holyrood and planning to take down Salmond, as well as having colluded with him, both of which the First Minister says are not true. But if she didn’t conspire or collude, doesn’t that mean she did nothing at all which is just as bad? Meanwhile SNP MP and concertinaed Sue Pollard Joanna Cherry, has been sacked from the Westminster frontbench team, after what the party said was a reshuffle, but happened after Cherry supported transphobic campaigns online. It is a strange stance to be passionately pro your country having an identity that differs from what it’s told it should be but is hypocritically anti people feeling the same about themselves.
The British government are applying to formally join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership of 11 countries, because being over 8000 miles away from the Pacific Ocean it obviously makes sense, like me here in London, joining the NextDoor group for somewhere in the depths of Siberia in the hope I can borrow some sugar. There hasn’t been any sort of referendum for joining this, which you’d think might
enrage Brexiteers, and the government are refusing to publish any documentation about how we might economically benefit from it, so I can only assume it’s because International Trade Secretary and jelly mould Liz Truss wants to go on holiday there to take overly filtered pictures for social media of her looking amazed at how everyday items work. Truss says that Asia-Pacific countries will provide big markets, so that’s good for when we need to buy big things such as giant novelty pencils or a headband for Matt Hancock. One thing that may be a hurdle to the deal is an ongoing dispute with China, as the government are allocating a special visa for Hong Kong residents that want to emigrate to the UK, after China imposed a new security law. I can’t think of anything more inviting for citizens of Hong Kong than the offer of leaving an authoritarian rule with an archaic and draconian security law, just to arrive in the UK where it’s nearly the same but with more rain and COVID. In other Asia Pacific affairs, milkshake duck of peacekeeping and Burmese State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi has been arrested by the military after they declared last year’s election results fraudulent. Johnson very quickly condemned the coup on Twitter, saying that the vote of the people must be respected. So that likely means he’ll suggest to the Myanmar military to make it look like the people have got what they wanted but in reality, there’s a large airstrip full of lorries and no one can travel.
In other news, the government had to scrap a sexist Stay At Home poster as it only showed four houses with women doing childcare and cleaning, while the only image of a man had him lying on the sofa. It was criticised for showing a 1950s view of women but I guess there is also a chance the Prime Minister asked them to model it on his own life and his various different families that he’s abandoned. The government’s climate change advisors have criticised Housing and Planning Secretary and holder of most slappable face of the 21st century Robert Jenrick, for allowing a new coal mine to be opened in Cumbria. A government spokesperson refused to acknowledge the polluting affect it might have and instead said it’d diversity local prospects, presumably as residents could now choose to get breathing difficulties from either COVID or coal dust. Well, I suppose if you are going to consistently dig the country into a deeper and deeper pit, you may as well make the most of it.
A journalist has been arrested for taking photos of a protest at Napier Barracks and charged with criminal damage, for trying to show that around 400 asylum seekers were being kept in a veritable detention camp which as we know is criminal because without the pictures we wouldn’t see how awful it was and it might ruin our tea or something. It is worrying levels of censorship that someone can be arrested for doing their job, though I suppose that could be seen as offensive to a government who rarely do theirs. The protests saw windows broken and a building being set on fire, which Home Secretary and human permafrost Priti Patel called offensive to taxpayers of the country. Actually, if anything these places were without proper ventilation which has led to COVID outbreaks and no proper heating so as a taxpayer I am pleased the protestors made improvements to the paltry accommodation. Patel said that the sites had accommodated soldiers in the past and it was wrong to say they weren’t good enough for asylum seekers, something I bet she’d also say about a prisoner of war camp.
Lastly what happens if you water a tin of spam with piss daily and shout swear at it, and former editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, is being positioned as the new chair of TV regulator Ofcom, despite him historically being against all possible regulation of the media. Then again, I suppose who better to know exactly how to spot a breach of standards than someone who did it every 5 minutes, and maybe the OfCom staff will be able to quickly spot what needs to be fined, based on how much their boss is enjoying it. Drooping Eyebag and champion failure Chris Grayling has tabled an amendment to the Environment bill in order to save hedgehogs. So yes, there is every chance within a month he’ll have handed £35m to someone who’s never seen a hedgehog before to place a plate of cheese and pineapple cocktail sticks into a shelter in the middle of the M5. I assume Grayling is fond of hedgehogs because they embrace having to work with pricks.
And wife of former Prime Minister, and collage of bits cut out of the index bits of old catalogues Samantha Cameron has said that her fashion business has been badly hit by Brexit. So, I have to admit, I take it all back. It turns out there are some sunlit uplands.
Hey hey ParPolBrods. How’s it all going? Sideways? Yes, that’s probably right. I came very close to trying to make a point on this show this week but couldn’t quite manage it. It’s hard isn’t it because I’m really angry that the death toll is so high, and at the same time, I’m so exhausted by it all and in need of watching and reading things that have nothing to do with it, because dwelling on it is overwhelming. Also, I want to be surprised that this hasn’t brought mass protests and call for change, but we’re all stuck indoors not wanting to get ill, also the country wasn’t remotely bothered by 130,000 people dying from austerity and blamed that on people not being smart enough to be born rich, so this feels sadly much the same. It’s so easy to be apathetic and distance yourself from it which is frightening really. I sort of always assumed that this sort of thing would haunt me and yet here I am perfectly capable of switching the news off and focusing on why my daughter is trying to colour in the radiator or some other small world problem.
I think the key is that once this is all over, we need to bring the anger back when we can go outside and not just shout at the telly and then we should all gather round Westminster and do something peaceful but haunting for Johnson. I can’t work out whether that’s dressing up with respectful masks of those who have died during the pandemic or just dressing up as his kids and frightening him that they’ve all come home at once. I don’t know. It’d be nice to have an idea about something that could be done. I was totally incensed by all the kids on Reddit taking down the stock market last week and spent a day spending a few quid on a few stocks in efforts to be part of the moment but realised I’ve probably just wasted money being part of the problem. I’ve got a horrible feeling it’ll only be a few weeks before I’m explaining to my wife ‘Yes I’m aware our daughter is starving but if Blockbuster ever come
back we’ll be rich.’ I think I’ve realised that most people just want it to be easy, for crappy things to deal with themselves and are well up for taking down the system if you can do it via an app on your phone. So, the trick is finding an app that can get the government arrested. Any ideas? I bet Matt Hancock would download it in a second.
Once again here I am, with all the jokes and zero solutions, but I’m glad you’re here too and hopefully this provides some respite by being the same as the news only with swears in. Imagine if the news just had swears in? I mean even if every time they had to say ‘The fucking Prime Minister said’ I’d feel so much better about everything. Thank you this week to Christine who donated to the ko-fi.com/parpolbro account, and to LJ who wrote a lovely review of the show on Apple Podcasts, thank you tons for that, it very much made my day one of the days last week, though I will never ever remember which one as they were all the same. So you know the drill, you too can donate if you want to at the ko-fi.com/parpolbro, join the patreon.com/parpolbro or pop a quid via the Acast supporter button if you would like to support the show. Or you can do a nice review like LJ, spread the word about the podcast in general as many of you do, or just invent an app that will get all the government arrested and frankly, I’ll take that. That’s definitely the best idea.
Not much admin this week but as I’ve plugged every week for the last few, obviously the British Boxers sponsorship, buy pants from them with the PARPOLBRO10 code for 10% off. Then there is the Leicester Comedy Festival live online show this Saturday, which is going to be just like this, but you’ll be able to see my face which might ruin it for you. I’ve got two great guests now, local Leicestershire based activists Tim Morton who runs a social housing campaign and artist Abi Harrison who set up a food bank from her house, which is amazing. I’ll be interviewing them, there’ll be a chance for you to ask Qs, plus there will be all the usual jokes about miserable things and I’m going to do descriptions of all the Leicestershire based MPs. Sound fun? Damn straight it does. Tickets are £5 and if enough of you come, I’ll donate most of that possibly to Abi’s food bank if they’ll have it. But not if only 3 of you buy tickets as it’ll be embarrassing handing over a few quid. Don’t embarrass me. Does blackmailing people work as a way of marketing sales? I don’t know. Anyway 4.30pm this Saturday, online and you can get tickets at the Leicester Comedy Festival website and of course, there will be a link in the podcast blurb too.
Also, two quick things. One is I’m currently reading several time podcast Emily Kenway’s new book The Truth About Modern Slavery, which is a really fascinating and eye-opening read. She’ll be the guest on next week’s show talking about it, but I would totally recommend getting a copy of that if you can as it’s a fascinating insight into how issues are framed for political benefit. Second thing is one of you nice listeners, Kim, sent me an email from her MP where he’d replied to an email she’d sent about supporting key workers in a tangible way, by seemingly just copy and pasting some nonsense and it’s the vaguest, emptiest thing I’ve ever read. Now Kim, sorry I haven’t replied to this yet, but I’m wondering what to do with it. My MP also sends equally hollow replies and it’s made me not bother sending him more which I think is the point. Shall I collate a load and get people to record reading them in a sarcastic way? Shall I try and work out a way to get them to reply properly? I don’t know but any ideas send them my way via the usual methods. I think we can have fun with this while also, possibly provoking a proper response.
Ok, on this week’s show, I am speaking to Ramya Jaidev at the Windrush Lives campaign and it’s a good one but one that will also make you angry. Just be prepared. Maybe be near an open window so you can safely throw things through it. Wait, not if it faces the street. Ok I haven’t thought this through. Also, some stuff in the middle that you don’t need but I put in there anyway.
INTERVIEW WITH RAMYA
Nothing sums up the past decade and a bit of Conservative governments quite like the hostile environment policy. There is no need for a rain drenched island fuelled on inherent racism that has cabinet members such as Michael Gove whose very mug could ward off the largest ships, to make this environment anymore hostile unless the secret plan is to sell filming rights to use it for Hollywood sci-fi dystopias and nothing else. Yet the policy has now existed since 2012, and while on one hand the government would have you believe this is the best country there is, it’s also working really, really hard to make sure no one can see it to check if they’re wrong. One of the myriad of bleak outcomes of the policy was the Windrush Scandal, where it emerged in 2017 that a number of Black British citizens who had travelled over from Commonwealth countries before 1973 to fill post war staff shortages in our most important sectors like the NHS, had been wrongfully deported or detained. By ‘wrongful’ I mean that the Home Office fully intended to do it, but they got caught out and had to pretend it was actually an admin error. You know like how you or I might accidently send an email before we finish typing it, or double book an appointment. Yes, exactly like that, only it directly led to completely and utterly ruining people’s lives, which makes me really wonder if you can be that careless with google calendar you probably shouldn’t be in charge of things like the safety of other humans. Many who had a right to stay in Britain but whose documentation had been lost by the Home Office, were then deemed to be illegal immigrants, and lost their jobs, right to healthcare, bank accounts and driving licences. Lots were placed in detention centres and some were deported to countries they hadn’t been to since they were kids. The government vaguely apologised by firing then Home Secretary and face drawn on a hand Amber Rudd, meanwhile the person responsible for the hostile environment policy, then Prime Minister and life-size cardboard cut-out of herself Theresa May, mumbled some things and carried on as she was. It’s now been 3 years, and the majority of victims whose lives were torn apart haven’t received an iota of support from the
Home Office, even though current regeneration of the Home Secretary Priti Patel has promised they would get the compensation they deserve. Though actually, thinking about it, coming from she who would have signed up for the Spanish Inquisition if she wouldn’t have been so appalled that they came from Europe, that could be why Patel is trying her best to make sure absolutely no one gets anything. Will the Windrush generation ever see justice when the person in charge of that happening thinks justice is the death penalty and anything else is a waste of time? And how likely is it a scandal like this will happen again when the next steps in the hostile environment policy are likely to involve barbed wire around the coast and rebranding the hospitality industry to be known as the ‘no go away sector’?
This week I spoke to Ramya Jaidev at the Windush Lives campaign. Ramya and her colleagues formed the advocacy campaign to give Windrush victims and their families the help and support they need to claim compensation and seek legal advice. Ramya explained to me about what Windrush Lives do, just how problematic it is that the same people who took away people’s citizenship status are now the ones supposedly sending them reparations and just how worrying it is that the Home Office currently feel one step away from writing ‘Keep out’ on the White Cliffs of Dover. It was great to speak to Ramya but, as you’ll hear, what she has to say is pretty bleak and frustrating, but really important to hear about. Her final point is definitely one of my favourite bits of advice I’ve had on this show too. I’ll talk more about it afterwards too, but the link to the fundraiser for Windrush scandal victim Anthony Williams is in the podcast blurb so if you are moved by what he’s had to endure, please do help out. Here is Ramya:
INTERVIEW WITH RAMYA PART 1
And we’ll be back with Ramya in a minute, but first…
I was trying to think of what might be useful in this middle bit this week and I very nearly did a whole bit on why and how the EU almost made a hard border in Ireland and blocked vaccine deliveries but ultimately, you’d have nodded off several times throughout me pointing out that there was a procedure to it all that would’ve taken at least a month with possibilities to withdraw it and the big endgame really is that, they can because it’s in the withdrawal agreement that the British government agreed and look if no one wants to pay attention to these things then that’s not my fault is it? Hello? Oh, you fell asleep. Well, I’m glad I didn’t do that then. So …wake up…instead with Boris Johnson insisting the government did everything they could to minimise loss and suffering, I thought I’d list all the things they did to fulfil that intention because sometimes it’s hard to remember every single way in which they went above and beyond to make sure the deaths were only over 80,000 more than the predicted worst case scenario last Spring. They really did try so hard. So here in full glory, the step by step guide to how the government definitely beat the coronavirus and saved everyone and the economy except for how they didn’t and also didn’t:
The first thing that makes us know how seriously the Prime Minister took the coronavirus was when he didn’t attend any of the five initial COBRA meetings, starting in January 2020, about how to deal with the new pandemic and what protective equipment they were sending to China. We know that these means Johnson was taking the virus seriously as by not even being there, there’s a high chance those meetings were taken more seriously and contained actually useful information. Michael Gove insisted that most COBRA meetings don’t have the Prime Minister at them and I’m sure even if he insists on attending they just leave some Lego on a table outside and he rarely makes it in the door. Public Health England moved the risk level to the British public from very low, to low on Jan 22nd, and it was only in early February they thought it might be best to advise Brits in China to return home if they can because germs obviously don’t travel on planes due to a lack of passports.
Next was the Prime Minister’s speech at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich in early February where he let us all know that he’d heard about COVID by mentioning that the virus might cause a panic and suggesting that Britain was ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles, leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion of the right of the population of earth to buy and sell freely among each other. Obviously, he knew that what was most important then was commerce because in the early stages it was believed the coronavirus could only be transmitted to people who didn’t like bargains.
On February 28th the first confirmed British victim of COVID died on a anchored cruise ship and British authorities had confirmed the first case of the illness had been passed on inside the country but they didn’t want to be too nosey and check where that person had been who they’d licked or coughed into the face of, because goddamit, we’re not a nanny state ok?
In early March, Boris Johnson knew how serious the virus was because he suggested on morning television that we could all take the virus on the chin, or we could take the measures we need to, to support the NHS, but it was best to strike a balance. Of-course COVID can’t be transmitted via just your chin, as you’d have to inhale it and actually had we all listened to the Prime Minister then and covered our entire bodies except for chins, we’d all be ok. Johnson said we all had to sing happy birthday at the sink because he loves to celebrate washing his hands of things.
Then on March 16th the government had watched Beijing, Wuhan and other Chinese cities endure lockdown for over a month and Italy for several weeks and France announce they were about to do the same, with rising infections and death tolls worldwide. So very sensibly, Matt Hancock announced that the UK would also do a lockdown but not for another week as you don’t want to rush these things in-case people have errands to run first like being one of thousands and thousands of people at the horse races their friend ran, or collecting all of the toilet roll or filling your spare room with pasta shells. Johnson told everyone very clearly that they should work from home if they could but they didn’t have to and they should avoid pubs and restaurants but they’ll still be open, which is smart as by closing them then everyone would probably just congregate inside hospitals for fun and that wouldn’t help the NHS. Smart.
Even though Europe had closed its borders to all travellers outside the bloc and even the US which was at the time led by a radioactive haemorrhoid, had closed its borders to all European countries except the UK. Our government though sensibly didn’t do that as otherwise everyone who wanted to go on holiday might’ve gone to a hospital instead and that’d have been bad because they had to protect the NHS and save lives. Then a few days later the government decided maybe they should close schools but not for a few days and then also pubs, restaurants and gyms. And you should only go outside once a day for food, but you don’t need to wear a mask because if anything not being able to cough directly on people might make it worse. Then Johnson made a big effort of saying it was ok to shake everyone’s hands in a hospital, then he very bravely got the coronavirus where throughout he was in good spirits even when unconscious and on a ventilator and then obviously fought it off because he’s strong and British or something and he only took a whole month of work which is less than when he wanted to avoid talking to people who’s houses had been flooded. Matt Hancock also got the virus but no one cared.
Meanwhile the government were making sure all NHS staff had enough PPE by ordering it from anywhere they could including, loads of friends of theirs who’d never supplied PPE before or had any experience in doing, but were so eager to help they only stepped up for millions and millions of pounds. Matt Hancock also made sure his friend, who was very good at horse races, was allowed to help as she was really keen to run the test and trace app and so keen she only needed £12bn to find one that didn’t work so the government could make sure the next one definitely did. Important to get these errors out the way early.
At the end of April Johnson announced we were past the peak of COVID because he’d had it now and so it was almost certainly fine and everything would be back to normal by Christmas. Oh god we’re only at April. OK so let’s speed things up. Then they spent billions on anti-body tests which didn’t work but that was good as now we know they didn’t so we wouldn’t use them. Then it was discovered Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s special advisor, drove all the way from London to Barnard Castle while riddled with coronavirus and the government said that was fine because he was just being a good dad and it’s important to know that good dads can’t get the virus which must’ve been why Johnson got it. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick also broke lockdown rules but it was only because he wanted to see his parents which saved someone else having to.
Then the government made sure that because everyone had been stuck in doors that they would get a chance to travel if they wanted a COVID test, because your nearest one would be far away. With all the music festivals cancelled, it was very thoughtful to make everyone drive to a car park, have things shoved up their nose and then find out days later if they’d caught something. If they were really lucky the results would have been lost and then you wouldn’t have any proof of the event like a true festival experience. Better yet, whether you had a positive test or not, the test and trace app still wasn’t working so you were saved the embarrassment of all your friends knowing. Win!
Then the Prime Minister eased the lockdown meaning you could do all the exercise outside that you liked, and you should definitely go back to work as offices would be safe from COVID because it finds your chat by the water cooler as boring as everyone else does. And schools come back to because they’re definitely safe because in the walls contained magic COVID killing knowledge or something. Oh and then shops could open and you had to wear masks on public transport but not in any shops or anything it was just incase COVID got on at a different stop. And you could still travel abroad but only if when you came back you had to quarantine for 14 days but absolutely no one would check because we’re not a nanny state alright? It’s so nice they trusted people.
Oh, then there was Eat Out To Help Out, where the Chancellor told everyone to go to restaurants to help them and that was nice because then people could catch covid somewhere other than the workplace and it was nice to have variety and potentially a last meal. Oh and now you can all meet outside. And scientists said there’d be a second wave if people weren’t sensible over the summer, but the government very kindly said ‘hey suns out bums out’ and aren’t those scientists such party poopers and oh if you’re travelling to the UK from a whole load of places are friends live then don’t worry about quarantine.
OH GOD THIS IS TAKING FOREVER. So hyper speed. Then they withdrew from the EU’s coronavirus vaccine programme, then banned travel to Spain but only for a bit, then locked down bits of Northern England but nowhere else, 50 million masks bought for the NHS were deemed unsafe and had to be binned, ok in August you now have to wear masks in museusm and in cinemas but not while you’re eating. Or drinking. Schools reopened, operation moonshot because hey its nice to have hope, oh operation moonshot gone now oh well it sounded silly, lets not have tighter restrictions it’ll be fine, but pubs should close at 10pm because then COVID can’t get you at night unless you invite it in, oh wait maybe that’s vampires, then Johnson gets the restrictions wrong in a press briefing, then definitely no lockdown because tier system, oh no wait now lockdown because tier system didn’t work but now lockdown over, back to tier system but its ok because at Christmas you can all have a nice time, oh no you shouldn’t have mixed at Christmas, quick schools go back, no wait what are you doing go home and oh ok, we’ll close the borders now if you insist.
So, as you can see with that definitive guide, the government did absolutely everything they could and so it’s definitely not their fault so many have died. And with capability like that, we should probably question how they manage to get dressed. But, don’t worry, they’re very optimistic about the summer holidays.
And now back to Ramya…
INTERVIEW WITH RAMYA PART 2
Thanks so much to Ramya. You can find the Windrush Lives campaign at windrushlives.co.uk which has details of the campaign but also resources and ways to contact the team if you or your family have been affected by the Windrush scandal and inadequate, sorry I mean absolutely bullshit compensation scheme. They are also on twitter @windrushlives and on Facebook too. Most importantly, as I mentioned earlier, their current fundraiser to help claimant Anthony Williams, survive while he appeals to the Home Office to be eligible for compensation, can be found on GoFundMe but I will pop the link in the podcast blurb and will tweet it out over the week too. Please, please help if you can.
Ok, next week it’s the return of the brilliant Emily Kenway on her new book The Truth About Modern Slavery, but after that I will still need more guests. More! Feed me interesting interviewees! I mean, don’t feed me them. That would make them very hard to interview and the podcast would be full of terrible eating noises. So I mean, suggest podguests to me or subjects to interview people about, and if you wanna do that, you can do that @parpolbro on Twitter, the massively underused Partly Political Broadcast group on Facebook, the contact page at partlypoliticalbroadcast.co.uk or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or why not design a poster full of outdated 50’s sterotypes with your message on and then have to retract it very quickly after realising no one thinks like that anymore but I will still see your recommendation as it’s shared everywhere by people calling you a disgrace, but also won’t take your recommendation seriously because I’ll assume it’s of someone who wears brylcream and slaps people they don’t know on the bum while smoking a cigar. As always, it’s probably best to email isn’t it?
And that’s all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast podcast. Thanks tons and other various weight measurements for listening and should you have even vaguely enjoyed the show or at the very least not minded it enough to scrawl something rude about it on a public toilet wall, then please consider spending 30 seconds of your precious life minutes recommending it to someone you think is a reasonable human being who likes using their ears to absorb politics shouting, give the show a 5 star review on one of the many, many endless podcast apps that now exist and possibly even lob a penny or five at the ko-fi, Patreon or Acast supporter sites. But don’t lob it too hard now, as you might chip it and I have no idea where I’ll get another one during lockdown.
Appreciation stations to Acast, my brother The Last Skeptik, Kat Day and Katie Coxall.
This will be back next week when its discovered that the door to door testers for the South African variant have single handedly spread it to every home in Surrey but when we find out that includes Dominic Raab’s, everyone starts clapping for the testers every Thursday at 8pm.
This week’s show was sponsored by BIG MARKETS! Need big things? Come to big markets! We’ve got big stuff, like big onions, big socks, big flossing sticks, big boxes full of things we’re too scared to check, big mistakes, big wastes of money, big journeys for food that will pointlessly pollute the planet so you can have something tasteless, big load of shit straight from Liz Truss. BIG MARKETS! FOR WHEN YOU’VE FUCKED ALL POSSIBILITY OF GETTING REASONABLY SIZED THINGS!