Skills, Skills, Skills – The Prime Minister’s on holiday again, Brexit Fallout and Jonn Elledge on if we’ve learned anything at all from the conferences

Released on Tuesday, October 12th, 2021.

Skills, Skills, Skills – The Prime Minister’s on holiday again, Brexit Fallout and Jonn Elledge on if we’ve learned anything at all from the conferences

Boris Johnson is on holiday again, so that means, as we all know, there are several crisis going on at once. Pigs are on fire even though gas for that sort of thing is too expensive and David Frost is having a tantrum about his former self signing things. Plus a chat with Jonn Elledge (@JonnElledge) about all the party conferences, which are the exact opposite of his new book.

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Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast, the comedy politics podcast that always has an energy crisis, but I think that might just be middle age. I’m Tiernan Douieb and this week as Prime Minister and the sound of a trumpet being thrown into a pond but made human Boris Johnson has decided to go on holiday in the midst of shortages and rising gas prices, maybe he just misinterpreted all of us telling him to please go away?


As the Prime Minister gave a speech to the Conservative conference –  if you can call 40 minutes of babble ‘speech’ when had a 3 year old expressed such incoherent toss you’d be worried about their cognitive development – one of the many sentences where you could replace the words with just a list of things you can see in front of you right now and it’d still have the same level of meaning, was about how they are investing ‘in skills, skills, skills’. Saying it three times, into a room of Tory delegates that look like a horror hall of mirrors, sadly doesn’t just make them appear. Which means we have to ask, exactly what are these skills the government are investing in when there is so clearly an absence of any sort of expertise from anyone in the cabinet? None of them have a clue about anything, know where anywhere is, are able to say the right thing at the right time, send money to completely the wrong places, can’t tell the truth and they don’t do their job. But maybe we need to be more supportive here, because to be quite so shit in everything you need to be good at, is in itself, quite a skill. Take the Prime Minister, though sadly before you get a chance, he’ll probably have gone on holiday. He has the incredible power of being able to go on holiday at the least convenient moments. If he was part of the X-Men, with his superhero name being something like ‘Lump’ or ‘Shitwagon’, they would charge into battle against a foe like Magneto, only to find that Shitwagon left for a cruise round the Caribbean that morning. Though arguably, they’d be relieved.


It currently feels like National Crisis Week in the UK. Energy prices are going through the roof which makes you wish they’d had it insulated years ago. A shortage of workers means Pig farmers have had to cull tons of boars, though sadly I mean livestock not MPs. Yes they were going to be killed anyway and as a veggie I am confused as to why it’s sad to kill them one way and not another way. Is it less honourable or something? I mean if I was a pig and the choice was a cremation or eaten then shat out of someone, I know what I’d go for. Sorry, I mean energy price crisis, pig deaths, there’s still a fuel shortage in many places – only 27 HGV drivers have applied for the temporary visa scheme so I’m reckoning that every EU country is sending one person they really wanted to get rid of – there is a food shortage in others and so where is the Prime Minister? That’s right, in a private villa in Marbella, like the world’s most expensive panic attack. It’s a skill Johnson has honed for years. When he was Mayor of London, he refused to return from holiday during the riots in 2011. He was away for two weeks at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 after referring to it as the new swine flu, in Scotland while the A-Level results went all wrong, then away while the Taliban took over Afghanistan and now again this week. It’s not so much taking back control as actively running away from control and really hoping that by the time you come back someone else will have sorted it out. It’s the sort of behaviour of someone who’s never had to check if everything’s unplugged or all the gas hobs are turned off before heading to the airport, because for Johnson he’s either had a lackey do that for him, or its all burned down, and he’s not given a shit and blamed it on someone else for not having the wherewithal to stop him having a gas cooker in the first place when he’s clearly unable to use a microwave without causing some sort of mini Chernobyl.


We’ve all rushed getting work done just before we go away on hols right? Maybe that explains why so much of the Prime Minister’s speech sounded like he wrote the first few words himself then just hit the autocomplete suggestions till he filled the word count. He once again talked about the 48 new hospitals they are building which they aren’t unless they are virtual hospitals that you can look around by putting a headset on in the new cupboard they’ve made in an existing hospital that still needs funding. He announced a £3000 bonus scheme to send teachers to struggling areas after they’ve cut a £5000 bonus scheme to do the same and then called it levelling up. God forbid we ever reach the end level where you’ll be given £5 and a knife to teach 12 schools at once in areas where the kids are fed only on a diet of past teachers. There was the usual slamming of everyone in North London presumably because they all thought he was a wanker to have as a neighbour, and a really weird bit about how if you can steal a dog or a cat then there’s no limit to your depravity. Says a lot that he has truck loads of dead cats he leaves everywhere. Of course there’s no mention of what it means if you let thousands of pigs get incinerated, but maybe his speech was too full of unwanted spam already. It all resembled a drunk uncle demanding to make a speech at a wedding they weren’t invited too and really the only good thing you could say about it, was that it didn’t last that long. In fact, it ended quite abruptly as though his phone had simply run out of suggestions and started to be aware of what it had done. One of the waste of trees had the headline the next day of ‘Iron Man Boris’ and I guess he is like Iron Man in that he’s also a rich womanizing, likely heavy drinker who works with the arms industry and has a dad who’s a twat. Only difference is at least Tony Stark isn’t thick, has a cool suit of armour and goes some way to redeeming himself, while Johnson would probably just put a bucket on his head then go on holiday again.


The only bit we can glean any sense from was his insistence ‘the government are dealing with the biggest issues in the country’ by which I can only assume he meant in a gambling way. Actually, that’s not quite right. There was a sentence where he said ‘when I was lying in St Thomas’s hospital last year’, but sadly he didn’t point out all the other times and places he wasn’t telling the truth as well. ‘We must see people back in the office’ was another bit, before once again, within a few days, going on holiday and avoiding the office. Maybe the idea is that if you’re all too busy travelling into work and staring into the void at your desk, then you won’t notice that the Prime Minister isn’t even in the country again? It could be that Johnson’s skills are whatever the national version of close-up magic distraction techniques only he hasn’t yet worked out the sightlines and we’re all very aware it’s a shit trick that won’t fool anyone. Not only that but we’d be far more impressed if he worked on actually making the cards that we want to appear or plucking coins from thin air then actually spending them on social care. All the Conservatives have been wanting you to go back to work this week, with Domo-kun’s unwell Iain Duncan Smith barking on in one of the shitrags that in the 1940’s people still went to the office even when Hitler’s bombs were raining down. For a start, they didn’t, they went to air raid shelters as soon as the sirens went off because they weren’t fucking idiots and secondly, they didn’t have the internet otherwise everyone would have almost certainly stayed at home, but also had to spend most of their working day clicking ‘I’m safe’ on Facebook which would have been exhausting. Considering Duncan Smith is most known for making the life of people with disabilities so, so much harder, because of his demands for people to be ‘fit for work’, you think he’d be all for a society where more can work as the accessibility of their own will be far greater than many an office block. Bet then maybe he’s using himself as an example as he lives in a mansion he didn’t have to pay for and does fuck all except hallucinate that he’s lived through WW2. Five people were arrested after Iain Duncan Smith was allegedly hit on the head with a traffic cone outside the Conservative Conference last week, though I wonder if they were just returning to their job of warning everyone around of a total danger?


Maybe Johnson’s skill is riddles like those used to ploy Batman or to foil heroes in ancient Greece? I mean what greater riddle than demanding everyone go back to the office, while at the same time decrying that it isn’t his job to fix all the problems businesses face, or that a 4-day week won’t happen in the UK because well, we can’t everyone on the same time table as parliament but also they don’t control business. So which door is lying, and which is telling the truth or most likely also lying? If it isn’t the Prime Minister’s job to fix the problems facing business which are all specifically problems he’s caused, then whose job is it? Do we now need to all hire someone who’s job is simply to clean up after the Prime Minister, like a janitor for Britain? Maybe they could just follow him around mopping up and while he’s away on holiday for most of the year, just take care of the maintenance. Maybe the way to deal with a future of endless Conservative governments is that at the same time, we also vote for another government who’ll act as their carers like a very literal nanny state?


Unfortunately, the only janitor we have in charge while Johnson’s away is Lord Chancellor and looks like he’s always trying to escape being encased in alien goo Dominic Raab, who clearly only got the job of Deputy prime minister after showing he too can go on holiday when most needed as he did over the summer. Raab showed his leadership skills during an interview last week when he failed to understand what the word ‘misogyny’ meant, claiming it was bad whether it’s a man against a woman or a woman against a man, but I suppose it must be hard for him to understand a hatred or contempt for someone based on their sex, rather than what he does which is because they are poor. He was being questioned on it because it’s yet another area that the government are doing absolutely nothing about, with the Prime Minister saying the police won’t prosecute for cases of misogyny as it’d overload them. Yes, I suppose it would as if it was arrestable, it’d mean there’d only be three of them left and they’d have to do everything. Meanwhile Foreign Secretary, and Equalities Minister, Liz Truss, living proof that a human can survive without sentient thought, has pushed through £183m of cuts to woman and equalities aid groups as though she thought her job was to make those areas worse. Maybe she just thinks that’s levelling up and the only way to true equality is to make everyone have as shit a time as possible regardless.


Universal Credit was cut on the same day as Johnson’s speech, meaning many families have seen a loss of thousands in their income but I suppose how else will they get levelled up to the point where they have to apply for the upcoming government nationwide Squid Games proposals? There is going to be a Household Support Fund of £500m for vulnerable families over the winter, to replace not quite all the money for vulnerable families they’ve just cut. It’s very much handing them a warm a coat while demolishing their home. Work and Pensions Secretary and like if Roz from Monsters Inc fucked a hairy toadstool Therese Coffey, was filmed singing ‘Time Of My Life’ at the Conservative Conference karaoke session, just as the UC came into force which feels like a very poor, tactless choice of song indeed but I suppose it’d be an admittance of the damage she’d caused if Coffey had gone for Hungry Eyes. Also at the party conference, it’s been reported that BBC Political Editor and woman with an expression that looks like she’s always thinking about an animal dying in an Attenborough show Laura Kuenssberg allegedly faced off against the creature inside that guy’s head in Men In Black Michael Gove in a rap battle. People are saying this proves a lack of impartiality in the BBC’s reporting because how can you be non-partisan when you’re partying with the people you’re meant to be objective to. But I say based on Gove’s rapping and what I imagine Kuenssberg’s to be like, you’d only make someone hear that if you fucking hated them. To be fair to the Prime Minister, that’d make me want to get on a plane and fly almost anywhere else too.


The crisis are likely to keep coming due to price rises and even more shortages due to Brexit issues, not to mention a possible Covid resurgence and knowing our luck, Godzilla or something and then we’ll discover the government had invited him to speak at the CO26 conference about how to be green or something. But does this mean that Johnson will just keep going on holiday? Will there come a point where Johnson is only in the UK for two days a year? Once to give a speech at the annual conference where he’ll say increasingly vague things until he it’s just him shouting ‘wibble wibble wibble’ into a microphone as idiots applaud, then the second to perform some sort of stunt around a three word slogan that isn’t true, like careering a train into a job centre and shouting ‘back on track’ or something. The rest of the time all we’ll get are messages from Johnson sent by telegram or washed up in a bottle on the beach from his villa owned by whichever friend gained a peerage for being a piece of shit that year and will simply read ‘go back to work’ even if there isn’t any. And of course, the Conservatives will go up in the polls as again that’s what their voters want, while the people who hate them will be over the moon they just mostly don’t have to hear or see from the Prime Minister.


In other news, walking landslide Lord Frost is going to press the European Union for changes to the Northern Ireland protocol that yes, it’s worth saying again, Lord Frost created, signed and said was great. We do have to wonder if the Lord Frost that signed the agreement was indeed the same Lord Frost we see now, or if the current one had been imprisoned in a cell with an iron mask on while his evil twin wreaked havoc. Or more likely, the agreement was signed by Frost and Johnson in the hope they could just get Brexit done and then fix it later, which is, as you know, totally how legal contracts work. I mean, you just sign that Apple terms and conditions and then weeks later give them a call and I’m sure old Tim Cook will just say all that music and content is deffo yours. The EU is publishing plans on Wednesday that will hopefully allow for people in Northern Ireland to get sausages from Britain even though all our pigs took part in a hog version of backdraft and so there won’t be any. Still Lord Frost looks like the sort of man that if you told him he could have sausages, he’d be quiet for at least 2-3 hours until he realised that a former version of himself had married someone he didn’t like. During Johnson’s speech, he said Lord Frost is the greatest Frost since the Great Frost of 1709, and I suppose like that, his influence will also cause people to die from a lack of heat and food.


Home Secretary and woman who spends a sunny day trying to get her shadow deported Priti Patel is supporting an initiative by BT for an app that protects women travelling alone by tracking them, you know, like a stalker would. Maybe stalkers have some sort of code whereby you can’t stalk someone who’s already being stalked and so BT have decided to be everyone’s creep in the name of safety. For it to work, the person can either enter their estimated journey time on the app or text it to 888 which is the name of a gambling company, a great way to instil confidence in anyone who’s not really keen on betting their chances of safety. The helpline is going to cost £50m which means it’s probably being set up by Priti Patel’s uncle or something and will only actually cost around £20 to make and it’ll be ready by Christmas, which is handy for everyone who by then will be wandering around at night in search of food. Speaking of safety, the Met Police have added to their protections for the public by saying they’re no longer looking into allegations against flob of uncooked dough Prince Andrew. Which means if you see him in public and feel unsafe, you’re advised to ask him if he’s really a prince or try to wave down a Pizza Express for help.


Education Secretary and grumpy peanut Nadhim Zawahi says he will tackle pupil absences ‘head on’ so I’m excited that we’ll soon see him prancing around the streets dressed as the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Or maybe they’ll appoint Prince Andrew to do it as he already has those skills in place. Health Secretary and king of having a smile that it looks like it hurts to do Sajid Javid has said that people should turn to their family first, not the state, for health and social care. A great bonus for anyone with doctors in their family, and less so for mine who’ll now be having to do my twice annual HBA1 diabetic blood tests using whatever is in the kitchen.


Covid is still killing over 100 people a day in the UK but not if we don’t talk about it right? Sorry, I mean what Covid? The red travel list has been cut to just 7 countries, meaning you can travel all over the place without having to quarantine on your return and therefore able to give airborne souvenirs to everyone you meet. Liz Truss says the changes will allow people to exercise personal responsibility. I had no idea you had to exercise it, guess that’s why the government are so flabby on all their obligations.


And Labour leader and sound of an air con that you only notice when someone points it out and then it’s annoying Keir Starmer said during a tour round the Kellogs factory that his nickname at school was Special K. That does work, as Special K the cereal is very low in fibre which means just like the Labour leader, it’s just a lot of strain with no end results and having retained a lot of shit.





Hey hey hey. There you are and indeed, here I am. Hard one to write about this week you know without repeating myself. The Prime Minister did more lies then went on holiday again, there’s still a shortage of everything and the only other politics news was James Brokenshire dying which despite his politics, was just a bit sad so I didn’t do jokes about that. These are tricky lines to balance on aren’t they as undoubtably, by being a Conservative MP, it means he will have voted for many policies that have definitely killed people but at the same time, it still feels cold and disrespectful to even be talking about his death at all. Is that weird? Probably. I think I’m now in that very middle-aged bit of my life where anyone dying reminds me of my own crashing mortality and spend ages thinking about what music I should have at my funeral and how its impossible to beat an answer Frankie Boyle gave in an interview once where he put the track ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Know’. Bastard. In completely the other way, that Laura Kuenssberg and the other BBC journo partying with Tories both makes me feel a bit vomity in my mouth, but also unsurprised and weirdly at the same time coming from the comedy industry where you spend, for example, all Edinburgh Fringe hating the critics and the PR people and all that horrible side, then end up having drinks with them all at the end, I do sort of understand it. Not that I think I could have a drink with Michael Gove as I’d be too busy retching to actually have any. And obvs there’s major issues with news and political reporting and the control the government have over the media, but I’m just saying I’ve definitely had a drink with some complete shits. Especially if they were buying. Basically I think we’re all complicated except for some people who are awful. Oh god, I’m an awful one aren’t I? Fuck’s sake.


Look thanks for being here and all that, and not really much to say this week apart from my regular call out of help with interviewees. It’s a lot of work to track down people to interview at the moment and I’m not getting many replies, so if you have ideas, particularly of subjects to talk to people about that’d be great. I’m trying to track down someone to talk to me about Afghanistan right now, then obvs will have climate change stuff for when CO26 is on, but otherwise I can’t think of what I’ve not yet covered or need to cover again. If you have sent in suggestions and I haven’t got them on the show, then its either because you need to stop suggesting such terrible people, or more likely, and actually really, it’s because you’ve suggested someone who is too busy to talk to me and won’t reply. So stop that, and send other ideas please, or you’ll just have to suffer more episodes where it’s just me telling you about times I’ve had drinks with bastards. No one wants that. Also, I can’t remember a lot of them as I was drunk. So, ideas please, to the usual addresses addtrousers. Thanks.


Oh, and ta to all you on the site. You’re all still great and your hair looks lovely/swish. Right, on this week’s show, many time pod guest Jonn Elledge is back as in order to plug his book about fun things, I made him talk to me about awful politics. And in the middle a very pointless Brexit fallout just for you.





Conference season is over, well apart from the Green Party because I guess they just use up whatever time is left free so there’s no waste. But we’ve had all the big speeches from Labour with their ‘serious plan for government’ that seems to mostly be about saying it’s a serious plan and telling people who used to vote for them not to bother anymore. Then the Conservatives and their ‘Build Back Better’ bollocks. Which is made worse by them having dismantled society over the last decade before now insisting it’s them that they can fix it again, though we know full while they’ll put on several bits upside down and at the end there’ll be a bag of leftover parts that we were certain were essential.  And the Lib Dems, well, I dunno. It was online and the idea of more zoom meetings only this time hosted by Lib Dem leader and police photofit of a wheelie bin that’s gone missing, Ed Davey, is no one’s idea of a good weekend. The SNP also did theirs online using a platform called Hopin, as I guess many were that it’d actually work and many that it wouldn’t so they could watch something they actually enjoyed. And there was a Reform UK one but you could recreate that by making several loud fart noises and then punching yourself in the face. But apart from political posturing, empty slogans and a place for journalists to get drunk with the people they are pretending to be impartial about, what exactly did we learn from any of them? Apart from exactly how long the Prime Minister can talk for without saying anything of substance? Or further proof that Michael Gove dances like a dead slug being waved about by a child?


The answer is probably not very much really. But despite that, I asked Jonn Elledge to come on the podcast and talk about what not much we did learn anyway. Jonn writes many a political piece for the New Statesmen, Guardian and a ton of other places, but has also just recently released a really fun book called ‘The Compendium Of (Not Quite) Everything: All The Facts You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Know’ which I have been really enjoying reading. It’s got very little to do with politics and is instead a collection of fascinating facts and trivia about life, the universe and everything. So I thought what better way to promote his book than by asking him about all the facts we know we don’t really want to know about the 2021 party conferences. So, we had a nice natter about all that.


Occasional hoovering


Hope you enjoy, here is Jonn:




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




Yeah, sorry about this. It’s back but just very briefly while I once again tell you how all the people that said they’d got a great deal are now angry about the deal they hadn’t actually read. You might’ve seen, or maybe you purposefully haven’t in attempts to keep yourself from sighing so loudly it knocks cats off walls, that Lord David Frost, that crumpled old duvet of a man, had a big whinge on twitter about how the EU aren’t listening to his demands, like a failed villain who’s demanding billions of dollars for the freeing of a hostage no one has noticed is missing. Frost is unhappy with, well, all of the agreement that he was previously happy with, but particularly trade barriers between Britain and Northern Ireland that everyone warned him about when he signed the agreement and him and all the Conservatives pretended wouldn’t happen, and he also wants the oversight of the European Courts of Justice removed. Yes, he’d like a whole new agreement and it being part of the current EU-UK trade agreement not in the withdrawal agreement like the NI protocol is which means it’s already been agreed to. It’s like reading the Christmas wish-list of a really weird child who’s just mainlined on sherbet. Now thing is, while the EU have got to consider the benefits for 27 countries, they are willing to be a flexible on the old sausages to Northern Ireland bit because if sending bangers keeps the peace then it’s necessary, but the other bit is a problem.


The UK government have said the removal of the ECJ overseeing the process is a red line, which either means a barrier or they’re travelling along it on a map in an Indiana Jones film. No, its definitely the former as there’s no going anywhere as long as that bit is there. Red line means no negotiating on it, which means the negotiations will stall again, which means everyone will get angry and Lord Frost will keep blaming the Brexit hating French, as he calls them no doubt trying his best not to follow it was actual racist slurs, and then will trigger Article 16 maybe. You may remember or have repressed it from your mind in order to save your sanity, that Article 16 is a technical term in any Brexit clause that means either the UK or EU can suspend any part of the agreement that, ahem official voice time ‘causes economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or diversion of trade.’ If Frosty does it, it’ll mean the need for a hard border in Ireland and the EU will get all legal on the UK government and then who knows what. I mean I’m hoping a humbling defeat in court for the UK government but they’ll no doubt make us pay the legal costs and then they’ll blame no Christmas in 2022 and 23 on the EU instead. The big lesson is do have a read of the small print before you sign anything, especially if you’ve written the small print yourself and gone round telling everyone how great your small print is.


And now back to Jonn…




It was lovely speaking to Jonn again and his new book which has very little to do with politics is called The Compendium Of (Not Quite) Everything: All The Facts You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Know and is a really, really fun and fascinating read. You can buy it in all the book places but I’ll pop a link in the pod blurb anyway just in-case you can’t possibly fathom the idea of a book shop existing. There is also a podcast that accompanies the book called The Podcast Of (Not Quite) Everything that you should check out. The latest episode has astrophysicist Heino Falcke talking about black holes and its great. And you can also find Jonn on Twitter @JonnElledge, at his substack and his articles which do have politics in them at the New Statesmen, the Guardian and loads of other places too.


Right look, I know I ask this every week, but any thoughts on guests would be super helpful. Particularly on subjects to talk to people about, then I’ll scurry through the internet with some direction as to who to bother. If you have got thoughts on potential parpolbro guests, or potparpolbrogue, which I will never say again, then do get in touch at





And that is it for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast podcast. I hope you gleaned even an iota of joy from these audio parps and if you did, why not make the least effort possible to brighten someone else’s life with all the force of a dying bulb by recommending they give it a listen to? Perhaps even join the and fling money to help make this show or if you so desire, pop a nice review about it on Apple Podcasts or similar pod holes.


Big cheers to Acast, my brother The Last Skeptik and Kat Day.


This will be back next week when Lord David Frost is forcefully removed from a supermarket after having a tantrum that his mum isn’t listening to his demands because he wanted 6 bags of sausages.


This week’s show was sponsored by Autocomplete Speeches for MPs. Do you need a speech written that contains absolutely no policies? Well then at Autocomplete Speeches we have a meeting with our friends at all our kids are coming to us tomorrow so we’re not sure what time we are coming to the park now so we can park run in the park and park run in the park and park run in the park and park run in the park and park run in the park and park run in the park.

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