Panic Surviving – COP26, Budget 21, G20 and a chat with Dr Garfield Benjamin about the Online Harms Bill and Meta

Released on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021.

Panic Surviving – COP26, Budget 21, G20 and a chat with Dr Garfield Benjamin about the Online Harms Bill and Meta

Somehow the podcast has made it to its 250th episode. But how long will the planet last? Well with Boris Johnson hosting the COP26 probably only another 5 minutes or so as he forgets its to do with tackling climate change and thinks its about copping off with the staff. All the acronyms this week with COP26, G20, Budget 21 and a chat with Dr Garfield Benjamin (@g8enjamin) about social media and the Online Harms Bill.




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Further Reading

Linear liner notes 

Somehow the podcast has made it to its 250th episode. But how long will the planet last? Well with Boris Johnson hosting the COP26 probably only another 5 minutes or so as he forgets its to do with tackling climate change and thinks its about copping off with the staff. All the acronyms this week with COP26, G20, Budget 21 and a chat with Dr Garfield Benjamin (@g8enjamin) about social media and the Online Harms Bill.


Key links and sources of info from Dr Garfield’s interview:


All the usual ParPolBro stuff:







Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast, the comedy politics podcast that wants it to be known that in the great English French fishing wars of 2021, it has no plaice in the fight. I’m Tiernan Douieb and as Prime Minister and leader of House Harkonnen Boris Johnson says there are no excuses for not tackling climate change, does that just mean he’s run out and will have to go back to using old ones such as how it’s the EU’s fault, or the public’s for panic surviving?


COP26 sounds very much like a name given in caught to the Met Police’s latest offender. But in fact it is the event we’ve been waiting for, the big climate change conference where global leaders will finally halt climate change and save the planet. You know, just like how they did at the 25 UN Climate Change Conferences before this one where it solved everything every single time and we’ve never had to worry about it since. It is being held in Glasgow, a curious choice of location because if you wanted to show those in charge the dangers of climate change, maybe you wouldn’t choose a city that proves people can indeed survive the most extreme of weathers. Delegates from 200 countries flew to Scotland over the weekend, to make sure they could discuss in person how to curb causes of emissions like unnecessary flights. It’s very much a fighting fire with fire approach but one where you go into a burning building while actually on fire and then wonder why and how, just more things are now on fire. The building in this instance, would of course be made of coal. Because the conference is in the UK, that unfortunately means that the Prime Minister gets to pretend he has some idea of what needs to be done, even though we’ve seen enough examples of him not being able to grasp what the atmosphere in a room is like, let alone the planet. I’m not saying it’s clear the planet is doomed, but it is supposedly up to our absolute fuckwit of a Prime Minister to get the world to agree on climate change curbing measures, when everyone is aware that he’s the sort of person who’ll say it’s the best agreement ever and then a year down the line say it was terrible once he realises it means he’s not allowed to do an election campaign stunt where he wears a hard hat and drives a diesel powered tree cutter into an ancient forest while shouting ‘time to clear out the dead wood’. Then he’ll get angry at whoever put it forward and try to have it removed. Take the current situation where France have detained a British scallop trawler, because of disputes about post-Brexit fishing rights. France are angry because the UK has granted them very few licences to fish in British waters, something I’m not sure they’d be all that bothered about if they knew they were now thanks to sewage dumping, the only thing they’re likely to catch are floaters and various diseases. France are now threatening to ban British fishing boats which the UK are complaining would breach international law and that’s our brand. The situation has been further enflamed by a letter from France’s Prime Minister asking for the UK to be punished by the EU, except it didn’t say that and it’s been poorly translated. If only the French authorities had just shouted it and pointed at things then maybe it’d have got through correctly. Foreign Secretary and bluebottle repeatedly flying into a closed window Liz Truss has given France 48 hours to back down in the fishing row and abide by the trade agreements that we don’t want to abide by and keep complaining about, so I’m sure that’ll go well. Truss says the British government not going to roll over, which does at least admit they’re already lying in some way. Still nothing like making sure the world pays attention to what’s happening at COP26 quite like spending the week firing bait into a fishing war.


I’m not sure what’s likely to convince the rest of the world to take advice from the UK on climate change more than seeing how good we are at not agreeing to our own terms. Perhaps it was the Chancellor and star of Flushed Away Rishi Sunak deciding that in his budget the week before COP26, he would cut taxes on domestic flights. The only way that could possibly help curb global warming is if he’s opting for the old- fashioned option of catching a child smoking a cigarette and making them smoke a whole pack at once till they’re sick and never do it again. Maybe after everyone in the country has taken 14 EasyJet flights in a year, we’ll never want to pay £5 for a bottle of water or to use the loo or stop the attendant poking you with a pointed stick or whatever it is Stelios has worked out he can get away with now. It may well work too, not least because if we increase domestic flight travel by a very large amount, we’ll very quickly not fly ever again because the only transport available will be by boat. Long haul flights are seeing a tax rise though, and so perhaps Sunak just assumed he would be doing the world a favour by keeping polluted air just to Britain and nowhere else. I mean, that is clearly how he thinks air works or why else would he still refuse to wear a mask in the commons? Obviously, as the press made it clear, the most important bit was that in preparation for the budget, the Chancellor wore socks with sliders, something that caused astonishment and comment across the media. I was unsurprised as it’s the ideal footwear for a man who’s political decisions are all flips or flops. Sunak spent a lot of the budget giving out very confusing messages, such as promising to get the economy back to pre-2010 levels whilst also saying only the Conservatives can be trusted with taxpayers money. If, it appears he’s trying to insinuate, there has been some sort of Secret Wars situation whereby those who we thought were Conservatives and were in charge for the last decade were actually imposters or shapeshifting aliens then maybe the government should let the people know. Though I suppose it would be pretty bad press for everyone to realise completely inhuman beings managed to do a pretty accurate impression. A report was revealed on the morning of the budget that the £37bn test and trace system was an eye watering waste of money, so perhaps Sunak just meant the Conservatives could be trusted with taxpayers money but it’s when they hand it to anyone else at all that things go wrong and so they shouldn’t be allowed to spend without guided supervision. Its like how a kid will grasp onto a £1 coin with all their might but it’s when they spend that £1 on slime and that slime ends up on your carpet and the cat and causing £100s of damage that you realise you shouldn’t have given them anything in the first place. Tax was raised on high alcoholic drinks which means it’ll now sadly be more expensive to numb ourselves through several more years of this shit. On the plus side duty on champagne was cut. You might think that’s not a plus as its clearly an elitist bonus, but I think it’ll increase the chances of the cabinet being knocked out by poorly aimed cork and I’m keeping all things crossed that karma exists. Liverpool is also getting £2m towards yet another Beatles attraction to add to the rest, so that people in the city can have yet another galling reminder of what it was like when ordinary people could afford to pursue jobs in the arts. The money is actually just for the city to consider another Beatles attraction, so knowing Sunak there’s every chance it’ll end up as just an expensive car park run by Ringgo.


If it wasn’t The Chancellor’s budget basically handing a large cheque to Hoggish Greedily – yes that is the villain from Captain Planet, yes I am down with the kids – then maybe the rest of the world will be influenced to cap emissions by hearing our Prime Minister talk at the G20 in Rome this weekend, you know where everyone flew to before then flying to Glasgow to talk about stopping people flying so much. The leaders of the world’s richest economies agreed to increase efforts to limit global warming with meaningful and effective actions, but Boris Johnson said promises without action were starting to sound hollow, probably because it was almost exactly like the sort of thing he would say before then doing absolutely nothing. In fact, when you think about it, maybe he was praising their lack of decisions. Much like how he’s wasting a lot of his energy complaining that other countries aren’t doing their bit, while simultaneously backing a new drilling permit at the Cambo oilfield and saying he can’t do anything about the building of a new coal mine in Cumbria. I mean he probably can’t. He doesn’t manage to do anything much about anything. Even if he lay down on the site as protest, they’d just think see it as being even more fossil fuel than before. I suppose the argument in favour of the coal mine would be without it, the government will find it a lot harder to create all the smoke to go with the mirrors.


I know it’s a regular joke on this podcast, but it is hard to tell sometimes just what Johnson means with his statements. I mean he said that if the Glasgow COP26 fails, the whole thing fails, but coming from a man who regularly fails this might not be a warning but be a promise. Or his concerns that history will judge what they achieve at the conference, even though he’ll happily ignore history in order to make up his own events anyway. Over the weekend Johnson claimed that the Roman Empire fell due to uncontrolled immigration, which isn’t true. In fact, if he’d bothered to look at the history, he’d maybe see some similarities in a powerful institution collapsing due to a number of factors including a failing civil administration, a failing economy, internal power struggles, changes in the climate, disease and invasion by barbarians. Though in 2021, attacks from those of a primitive culture appear to mainly be within Westminster and aiming outwards. Rather than blame everything incorrectly on immigration, Johnson would have been better to compare his leadership to when Nero fiddled as Rome burned. Only this time, it’s the planet and as Johnson has no musical ability, he’s just playing with his nads again.


At the COP26 opening, Johnson’s speech warned that we have run down the clock on climate change and its now one minute to midnight. Forever the journalist, that’ll be why he’s left it till now to do anything. Following him the UN Secretary General and Fred Armisen character Antonio Guterres did a veritable subtweet of a speech, saying that we have to stop using nature as our toilet, so clearly he’s never been caught short on a woodland walk. Those words must’ve felt like they were directed right at our government though who’ve only partially u-turned on allowing companies to dump sewage into the rivers and seas, but there is a chance they’ll also feel proud that they’ve shown everyone at the conference exactly what not to do so they won’t make the same mistakes. Then he said we’re digging our own graves and it was a wonder he didn’t then make some reference to running out of fuel or the fact that people go on holidays too often just to go for the full roast the host. I hope this next fortnight means changes happen so that we don’t look back and think Dune was a great documentary film. Climate activist Greta Thunberg said, when interviewed about COP26, ‘it’s never too to do as much as we can.’ Which is true, but I worry the British government will hear that and assume it means they won’t need to do anything much now.


In other news, the Home Secretary and if only we could send her into the atmosphere she’d immediately tackle global warming by being so, so cold Priti Patel, told the Lords Home Affairs and Justice Committee that many people crossing the channel are not genuine asylum seekers but people who really want to live in UK hotels. There speaks someone who’s never had to stay in the Citrus hotel in Cardiff. According to a report by the Refugee council, refugees entering the UK and put up in hotels are given £8 a week and often have to share with complete strangers, usually given inadequate clothes, shoes or food and hotels that house them are targeted by right wing groups. Still though, there’s usually a bottle opener attached to the desk and possibility someone has pissed in the kettle so I can see the global appeal.


Conservative MP for North Shropshire and man with the appearance of someone who’d star in a Midsommer Murders episode about dogging Owen Paterson is facing a 30 day suspension for an egregious breach of the lobbying rules, and using his parliamentary office for business meetings with clients. So luckily it’s only alleged corruption of democracy, which means he’ll be back at work within a month. Actually it may be sooner than that, as MPs will debate and vote on his suspension this Wednesday because as you know, it’s a very complex issue. I mean, did he, as all the evidence shows break all the rules and enact cronyism? Or alternatively is it fuck you because the whole country is broken? It’s very hard to say. Paterson is of course, claiming that the investigation into him was biased, you know, because it was against him committing misconduct, and that it likely contributed to his wife dying of suicide last summer. I mean, if that isn’t enough of a ghoulish thing to say in the first place, I’m sure its definitely more stressful knowing there is an investigation into your partner commiting breaches of their job and not at all knowing that you’re basically married to a wrong un. I mean really, if only everyone who acted in such a highly suspicious and unethical manner wasn’t investigated and were just left alone, everyone would be much happier right? Back when he was Environment Secretary in 2013, Owen Paterson said of the government’s failed culling efforts that badgers keep moving the goalposts. Turns out though it was him that was doing it, the prick.


As Paterson’s suspension is debated, an MP who sexually harassed a member of staff has now been allowed back into the Conservative Party after 12 weeks. Rob Roberts, who looks like if someone drew a face on gnocchi, kept making unwanted advances on a member of staff, but defended himself by saying they were romantic rather than sexual, something that would be hard to prove when you look like a walking penis. Roberts is now back on the benches having learned his lesson, which is that the Conservatives treat sexual harassment really seriously. For about a week, then hope everyone’s forgotten about it.


Conservative MP for Keighley and stock photo of a football pundit Robbie Moore claims that in his constituency fireworks are being set off all year round to let people know where drugs are being dropped. Yes, I’m sure it’s much easier to track wind speed, location and velocity than it is to use a burner phone. Maybe that’s why the saying is ‘remember, remember the 5th of November’ because most people can’t on account of being off their tits. Social media users could face two years in prison for posting content that causes ‘psychological harm’ under the new Online Harms bill. So that’ll be all the breaking news accounts gone then, as well as that one guy who replies to all my jokes with his own worse version of them.


And lastly, Facebook has rebranded in a hope that by putting on a fake moustache everyone will think it’s different from the social media site that has been alleged by its former employee to knowingly make hate worse. Its now to be called Meta, as in short for, Meta Nazi in the groups on there, and will be embracing virtual reality. Likely in the hope that it’ll mean you stop noticing the outside world that they’ve already helped ruin.





Crikey, that’s 250 episodes then. 250 hours, which is the sort of amount of time people have to do community service for after being charged with anti-social behaviour isn’t it? Does that mean now I’m all done, I’ll have to make a nicer podcast? I’m not sure I’d manage one about politics without at least a swear or two in it. What has this podcast achieved in its 250 episodes? Well, looking back, it’s definitely improved in sound quality, sometimes. It’s provided hundreds of different imaginative descriptions for politicians, many swears and me having to do research about things that I then immediately forget by the following week and will occasionally bring up drunk with someone who wants to talk about almost anything else. And it’s had two listens in Uzbekistan, so big shout out to you two people, who I assume only listen to this as light relief. And here we are, 250 episodes in and obviously you can tell that since I started this podcast at the beginning of 2016, it’s made drastic changes to global politics. Admittedly not good ones. In fact, thinking about it, it’s probably really not helped. Hmmm. Do I stop and see if things get better or should I plough on until I know for sure it’s not anything to do with this show? Choices, choices. Thank you all for being here again though and still listening in every week. If you so feel that you have benefitted at all from these 250 episodes, like it perhaps drowned out the sound of the news or you were able to avoid a difficult date by seeing that they subscribed to it and so were obviously not right, then do consider joining the and helping keep this going for another 250 episodes. Ha! I joke, as any comedy that is critical of the government will likely be banned by then and I’ll have had to replace this with a show about Rishi Sunak’s choice of footwear. Fucking hell, I was stuck in a lot of traffic last Wednesday and listened to the pre-budget coverage on Radio 5 live, and it was an hour of ‘should men wear socks with sliders’. Yep. That was it. I had an overwhelming urge to just drive into the central reservation and then walk off into the fields while screaming. Then I thought, maybe there is something here because the public can connect with footwear in a way they can’t with economics – mainly because of the way economics is discussed so patronisingly like ‘the chancellor’s piggy bank’ not realising that if the entire economy was kept in a piggy bank we’d be in serious trouble – and so by hearing the Chancellor wears sliders, maybe they’ll connect that in their brain with him being a slippery fucker and a backless mule. Or more likely, as they said on the radio, it means he’s stylish or something and so you know, its fine if he makes living really difficult for you.


Sorry, got carried away there. What I meant to say was join the patreon if you can, and you know, give the show a review and keep telling people that this exists. It’s harder and harder to do that what with this show not having any celebrities on. So it’s either spread the word about the show, or try to make any of the people I speak to become celebrities. I’m not sure what would be easier. I’ll leave that to you.


For this quarter of a thousand episode, I have an interview with Dr Garfield Benjamin all about whether Facebook is making hate worse, you know, even worse than you already knew it was. And in the middle, a bit about the COP26 and just what it’s all about. No don’t worry, you don’t have to have seen the previous 25 especially as the plots were largely the same but with less immediate jeopardy and fewer ridiculous British characters.





It’s hard not to read the headline that whistle-blower, and data scientist Frances Haugen said that Facebook is making hate worse, and think anything other than ‘yeah I know, I’m on it and that already gives me an extra thing to hate on a daily basis.’ But thanks to the former employee leaving her position with the social media giant and taking tens of thousands of documents with her, in a move that says Haugen clearly has had enough because she doesn’t care that all her colleagues won’t post birthday messages on her wall now, it’s been revealed that Facebook is making all the hate even worse than you just occasionally getting messages from that person at school you thought was a total prick then and now. There have been allegations about its awareness that it was damaging teenager’s mental health, instigated racial violence in Ethopia and Myanmar amongst other places and helped spread misinformation. No, not just about how you posted that you had fun on that holiday when actually you were a buffet for mosquitoes and somehow caught gonorrhoea 4 times in 6 days. We already knew or at least suspected so hard we pulled a muscle that Facebook had a big role to play in Brexit and the 2017 and 2019 elections but in terms of the damage the site has seemingly willingly caused or at least, not not stopped from happening it’s clear that the man even AI says is creepily inhuman Mark Zuckerberg is in some way responsible for much for 2021 being a total shitshow. Who’d have thought so much trouble would come from a young man getting rich by creating a revenge website for getting dumped? No, me either right? But how do you even begin to control a global corporation with 2.89 billion active users, and indeed should anyone be trying? The UK government’s Online Harms bills seems less bothered about curbing the powers of tech giants and a lot more about making sure that anonymous accounts can’t tweet abuse as then it would leave MPs and radio presenters without anything to do.


Even if you somehow, blissfully aren’t on it, we live in a world where social media has a big say on things and I should know on account of how regularly it ignores me posting about this show. So with the Facebook allegations and the upcoming Online Harms bill returning to parliament any week now, I spoke to Dr Garfield Benjamin, researcher in technology, privacy laws, online content and basically all the things on the internet we interact with and stupidly click accept to without thinking, and just how they will affect the future of society. Garfield is a lecturer in the Sociology Department at Solent University and their most recent policy report was on regulating privacy and content online, so they seemed very much the right person to ask questions to. I found this an absolutely fascinating chat with Garfield and hope you do too. Here they are:




We’ll be back with Garfield in a minute but first…




Cop26 is here and as though it was some sort of message from Mother Earth, a massive storm blew trees onto train tracks meaning a whole ton of people had to fly there instead and arrive as Glasgow was on flood alert. It was not unlike a Roland Emmerich film but if Rishi Sunak had refused to allocate enough funds for CGI and the storyline had people believing in scientists even less. But you and I know the Cop26 is about getting the world to tackle climate change, but what is it really all about? I mean, it is really all about getting the world to tackle climate change but you know, what’s it really really all about? Yeah still the same. But here’s some more details so I don’t just have to keep saying that sentence again and again. Back in 2015, at Cop21, 200 countries all agreed to keep global warming well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, and to only aim for 1.5C which will still cause major earthly fuck ups of the kind that will make all the weather cray cray and some countries to have a terrible time. But at least it won’t be 2C which is basically when the earth gets mad and we’ll all be living in an even lower budget version of Waterworld. That was called the Paris Agreement because, well, it was agreed in Paris, and all the countries that signed up to it had five years to submit their roadmaps, possibly not the right term for an emissions cutting plan, to slash greenhouse emissions which were officially known as their Nationally Determined Contributions. But even with 12 months getting added to that cos of Covid, most countries haven’t managed to get anywhere close with the slashing and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said global warming has got worse and basically by 2030 we’re gonna hit 1.5C a whole decade earlier than previously thought. So now the thought is if the Paris Accord agreements are actually met, they won’t be enough and would probably lead to a 3C rise, when we all get to play the floor is lava 24/7 and if they aren’t met, we’ll be at a 4 or 5C rise which is when no one will need to travel to Mars anymore because we’ll have a pretty good simulation here. I have no idea if those are the real stages of planetary decline but that’s how it plays out in my head even though the flooding at 2C should mean the floor can’t really be lava at 3C can it? Yeah I know.


So Cop26 is all about countries reducing their emissions drastically by 2030. Not net zero mind, just lower which means there’ll be loads of chat about phasing out coal power, cutting down fewer trees, protections against impacts of climate change and that sort of stuff. The US, China and the EU have all agreed to be carbon neutral by 2050, which as you’ll know by how years and time work, is about 20 years later than when things might get bad. To go no higher than 2C by 2030, 15 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions will need to be cut, and to stop at 1.5C it’ll have to be twice that. So it needs some pretty big action, pretty fast. Why don’t we all just stop doing all the things until the planet heals again so we don’t wipe out all life on earth? Well ignoring all the bits about how fossil fuel companies have lobbied governments over years and all that bit, which we shouldn’t ignore as it’s a major reason we’re at this point. But just for a min, as well as that point which I doubt will get much mentioned, the issue is also that while developing countries don’t actually produce much of the world’s emissions, they do suffer the worst consequences of climate change which they don’t have the money to tackle. In 2009, many of the wealthier countries promised $100bn to help by 2020, but that hasn’t happened yet. Boris Johnson has called on richer nations to increase climate support, which is good. But its also at the same time his government has cancelled £12bn of funding to developing nations so again, you wonder why he thinks anyone will think he has a point.


The UK right now, has cut its emissions by 37% since 1990, if measuring the CO2 we create from the goods and services we produce. Which looks great and is better than the other G7 countries who’ve only reduced emissions by 10% over the same amount of time. Except, part of the reason for this is, we don’t make any goods anymore, we’re a services-based economy. So, on our emissions based on consumption we’ve only made half that level of progress and much of our Brexit trade now likely to come from further distances than the EU, means those emissions will decrease, not increase. Loads of people online like to complain about China’s record saying they’re who you should be complaining to, but their emissions based on consumption are only a fraction of ours. Why? Because why keep buying more stuff from them and that all adds to ours. So, we need to buy from countries using greener production methods otherwise we are most definitely part of the problem. And we need a net zero plan that is actually any good, and to insulate buildings properly. Also we’re pouring poo into rivers, opening a new coal mine and allowing new drilling in the sea and in 2015 Johnson was denying climate change was caused by humans. Really a lot of the other countries attending COP26 need to be saying to Johnson, ok but you first buddy. Fingers crossed this week causes rapid global change but I dunno about you, I’m really gonna start practicing at don’t step in the lava.


And now back to Garfield…




Thanks so much to Garfield for having time to chat. You can find them @g8enjamin on twitter, or their website is where you can find all of Garfield’s publications and policy reports, including the recent Digital Society one, which I’ll pop the link to in the podcast blurb. And of course, you can also find Garfield at the sociology department of Solent University should you be looking to study there too.


Right, that is nearly 250 interviewees done, well apart from all the episodes I didn’t manage to interview someone. But there aren’t just 250 political issues in the world are there? What have I missed? What needs to be covered again? Should I just take the hint and sack it all in and interview some comedian that’s already on 500 other podcasts this week but with a vague theme about what their favourite way to lick a stamp is or something that banal? Let me know and you can of course do that at Which is the only method as if you send me a Facebook friend request I’ll block and report you.





And that is it for the 250th Partly Political Broadcast podcast. You can now all get on with your lives while contemplate what on earth I’ve done with 10.41 days of mine. Which actually isn’t that much when you say it like that, it just feels like it which I think is testament to the quality of this show. If you have enjoyed any of the past 250 episodes please consider telling others to jump on this wagon that has never left the wagon station, or indeed has any wheels to join us for the next 250 or until its too tricky to record this underwater. Maybe even give the show a review on the many varied podcast sites and if want to support this continuing for some weird reason, why not donate a mere £1 a month to the too?


Many thanks for 250 episodes of hosting to Acast, 250 stealings of your beats to my brother The Last Skeptik, nearly but not quite 250 episodes of linear liner notes for the website to Kat Day and 250 eps of podcast artwork to the late, great Katie Coxall.


This will inevitably be back next week when Boris Johnson announces that he’d forgotten the clocks went back and so now the clock on climate change is an hour and one minute to midnight, so it’s fine to keep pouring poo into rivers and he goes round handing a lump of coal to everyone at the conference as a souvenir.




This week’s show was sponsored by Boris Johnson’s guide to history. 40 blank pages with headers such as ‘the roman empire’, ‘the dark ages’, ‘that bit with the kings and queens’, ‘when foreign people did stuff’ for you to fill in yourself with whatever’s in your head at the time. Crayons not included.

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