Abortion rights & ending hunger with Aisling Bea | Crooked Media
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May 09, 2024
Pod Save the UK
Abortion rights & ending hunger with Aisling Bea

In This Episode

“A hung Parliament” – it’s not quite admitting defeat, but the new media lines from Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party suggest that even the Government knows its days are numbered. Nish and Coco unpack Sunak’s shock admission and some of the highlights from the local elections. 


Comedian, actor and activist (and old colleague of Nish) Aisling Bea drops in to talk about campaigning against food insecurity. The “Essentials Guarantee” campaign championed by the Trussell Trust asks that political parties prioritise all citizens having basic essentials as part of their election manifestos.


Aisling also talks about the fight for abortion rights in her homeland of Ireland, while Coco reminds us that the abortion laws in England, Scotland and Wales are incredibly archaic. Abortion buffer zones, 150m no-protest areas around clinics have just hit their one-year anniversary of receiving royal ascent for England & Wales, however, the Home Office has yet to roll out the change to the law – leaving protestors free to approach women outside. 


Finally, the gang mix together a metaphorical soufflé of villains, stirring in a healthy dose of uncapped banker bonuses, adding a dash of Susan Hall, and a pinch of the Labour Party’s surprise new MP. 


Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.


Contact us via email: PSUK@reducedlistening.co.uk 

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Aisling Bea


Audio credits:


The Guardian 

GB News


Useful links:


Come to see Pod Save the UK live at Edinburgh Fringe!


Essentials Guarantee Campaign – Trussell Trust


Could there really be a hung parliament at the next UK general election? – The Guardian 


Anti-abortion activists ramping up protests outside clinics after failure to introduce buffer zones – The Independent 


Goldman Sachs’s UK gender pay gap widest in six years – Financial Times  


On abortion culture wars, Britain takes a different path – Politico

What a sad little life Jane  – Come Dine With Me







Coco Khan Hi, this is Pod Save the UK.


Nish Kumar I’m Nick.


Coco Khan And I’m Coco Khan.


Nish Kumar This week the good news keeps rolling in from the local elections, and.


Coco Khan We’re joined by comedian Aisling Bea to talk about how activism can make breakthroughs. Hi, Nish. How was your long weekend?


Nish Kumar I work through the whole thing.


Coco Khan Yeah.


Nish Kumar No long weekends for the self-employed.


Coco Khan No.


Nish Kumar How was your long weekend?


Coco Khan Mine was actually good.


Nish Kumar Oh great.


Coco Khan I took some time off.


Nish Kumar What’d you do?


Coco Khan I watched all. Well, I had a bit of a cold. My third cold of the year. I like to get to about ten annually.


Nish Kumar Ten colds.


Coco Khan Ten colds.


Nish Kumar Ten Cold Khan.


Coco Khan That’s what they call me.


Nish Kumar They call her Ten Cold Khan.


Coco Khan Yeah. And then I just sort of melt away because I’m constantly sickly and ill. Yeah. You just need to blow London Underground air at me. That’s my Kryptonite. That’s how I get sick. Anyway, so I stayed at home and had quite a chill one and watched every single equalizer film.


Nish Kumar Can I shock you? I’ve never seen a single Equalizer film, which is surprising only if you know that I’m very pro, Denzel Washington, and I’m also very pro deeply stupid action cinema.


Coco Khan Oh, well, deeply stupid it is. And then I would tell you about The Equalizer is it gets worse every time, but it’s very much a diminishing returns a series. Yeah. In the latest one, though, Denzel Washington is a pensioner who goes on a killing rampage in Italy and takes on the Mafia. She just don’t see that, really. It’s kind of great for representation, I suppose. So last week’s election results across England and Wales gave us a whole bunch of good news stories. We’ve already done a bonus episode covering the disastrous result for the Conservative Party. Another key takeaways if you haven’t heard it, please do check it out. But now that all the votes have been counted and all the results are in, there’s even more good news to dive into.


Nish Kumar Yes. So the biggest story of the week is that Rishi Sunak appears to have acknowledged that the Conservative Party’s goose is cooked up, but he’s been quick to say that doesn’t mean he’s ready to give up the fight. In an interview with The Times over the weekend, Sunak said that the local election results suggest that the UK is heading for a hung parliament, with Labour as the largest party. That specific claim for a hung parliament was Sunak, drawing on research and electoral projections from experts Colin Rawlings and Michael Thrasher. Here’s a clip of the Prime Minister using that independent analysis to plan his next moves.


Clip And what the independent analysis shows that whilst, of course this was a disappointing weekend for us, the the result of the next general election isn’t a foregone conclusion and indeed actually is closer than the situation is closer than many people are saying or indeed some of the opinion polls are predicting.


Nish Kumar But look, the hung parliament claim has been disputed by other analysts. There’s a great piece from journalist Pippa Crear in The Guardian that explores it and basically says, take all of this with a grain of salt. It makes sense that the conservatives would want to push the hung parliament narrative. It does acknowledge that there is seemingly no conceivable universe in which the conservatives win this next election, and that’s the way the Conservative Party feels about it. One of the main things that the hung parliament claim assumes is that Labour wouldn’t do well in Scotland. It’s a line that conservative MP Maria Caulfield used when speaking to Justin Webb on Radio Four’s Today program.


Clip These are not our analysis, and the BBC did their own analysis as well and showed that actually it would be a hung parliament based on these results. But it also based on. But that’s the point isn’t it, based on these results. But nobody is suggesting that these results would be replicated at a general election. The experts aren’t suggesting it. And I put it to you that really the Prime Minister, if he is suggesting it to his own side, he’s taking them for fools. Well, you know what we can see from these results. And it was consistent whether it was in local elections, police, crime commissioner elections, the Blackpool South by election is that people are not switching to Labour.


Nish Kumar The Lib Dems did very well collecting 104 new councilors and Coco you don’t seem to be the only one enjoying a flirtation with the Greens.


Coco Khan Yeah, I know, it’s all getting very hot under the collar here, isn’t it? This is another good news story for the Greens, as they saw their best ever result in a local election with a record 181 councilors, 74 of which were new additions in Bristol. The flirtation has turned into I think they’re going steady now, with the Greens becoming by far the largest party on the council and also becoming the largest party in both Stroud and Hasting councils.


Nish Kumar Yeah, Bristol is a really interesting case because they’re moving away from a system with a traditional mayor and switching instead to a system where the role of mayor is distributed across a number of council committees. And it’s quite a big deal for the Greens, as they’ll be able to have greater influence in the area. Though Bristol Council remains under no overall control, the Greens only just fell short of a majority, taking 34 of the available 70 seats, and will now begin talks to establish an administration in what would become their largest council. And it does suggest that these parties, whether it’s the Greens or the Lib Dems, are going to be a threat to both Tories and the Labour Party in the elections, for sure. Though the but my only caveat with some of this is historically, there has been a trend for local elections for people to be more willing to support, third parties or other parties. But the success of the Greens in Bristol is very. Very significant for them because that’s why I call it. And yet the co leader and former guest of the show is going to be standing in the general election. And so I, I guess we have to say the indications are very positive.


Coco Khan Absolutely. And some other good news to point out is that the anti-trans campaigner Posie Parker, her party of women, failed to secure any council seats. Do you know how you were joking on the bonus episode? Being like, oh, I hope I don’t unwittingly tick the box for a racist policy because of that confusing name. Party of Women would be the sort of box that I would fix. Oh, that sounds fun. Sounds like a nice time in the girls bathroom. We say we love each other, but her version would be very bad vibes and they just ID you in the bathroom. Not at all what you want. But that’s some. Yeah, it’s a bit of a silver lining there.


Nish Kumar Yeah. PinkNews did the job nobody wanted to do and crunched the numbers on this. Five candidates stood and one standout result for all the wrong reasons was Sally James in the Wolverine board in Cheshire, where she came in fourth with a huge 42 votes. Absolutely trouncing the Conservatives and Lib Dems on 31 and 35 votes respectively. Labour brought home the council say that with 576 votes.


Coco Khan And one final fantastic result was in the London Assembly, where the infamous actor turned politician turned troll Laurence Fox received 0.005% of votes as he stood for the reclaim party. That breaks down to just over 13,000 votes from the nearly 2.5 million cast overall.


Nish Kumar Yeah, I mean, my only thing to say is there were 13,000 people that voted for that clown.


Coco Khan Yeah, that is that that is concerning.


Nish Kumar Of itself is concerning. I mean, listen, you know, I think this is, you know, we’re a political podcast and we want to stay in the side of reasoned analysis, but I think we can all agree it is objectively funny that that man failed. It turns out people don’t want a failed actor running the capital city of this country.


Coco Khan But what about a successful actor? Would that be different?


Nish Kumar Daniel Day-Lewis A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.


Coco Khan Joining us now is Aisling Bea, the comedian, the actor, the screenwriter and the activist. She does it all. Welcome.


Aisling Bea God, I do seem to do it all. You forgot to mention my line of homeware. I’m currently designing avocado peelers and the like. You know, just the things that most girls need.


Coco Khan The essentials?


Aisling Bea Cushions and avocado peelers.


Nish Kumar I would definitely buy a brand avocado peeler.


Aisling Bea Yeah, you would actually. You gave me as a housewarming gift. Well, I say you, but it could have been Amy picked them out. Avocado holders.


Nish Kumar Yeah. That’s right.


Aisling Bea Yeah.


Nish Kumar Okay. Yeah. I for the in the interest of full disclosure and disclosing all relationships aboveboard. Yeah. You and I have been friends for about 50 years.


Aisling Bea I would still call us colleagues, but. Yes. Okay. You’re pushing your narrative, but my narrative is colleagues.


Let me rephrase this. Aisling and I have been colleagues for many years, and Aisling and my partner have been friends for many years.


Aisling Bea Yes. That’s it. That’s the one.


Coco Khan Look. I think all of that is important, but I’m sorry an avocado holder.


Aisling Bea So there’s small bowls that are in the shape of avocados that you would put your avocado in. Yeah, we grew up with them in our house because of prawn cocktails. And so they were very 1980s stuff.


Nish Kumar Amy and Aisling share a love of, I’m going to say, absolutely useless tart.


Aisling Bea Thank you. Yes, yes.


Coco Khan The reason I was so interested in that is because I use a banana holder. It’s revolutionized my life.


Aisling Bea As in like the hanger thing.


Coco Khan A yellow plastic container shaped like a banana for you to put your banana in.


Nish Kumar So it doesn’t bruise your banana?


Aisling Bea They’re very much for, like, busy ladies. Do you know what I mean?


Nish Kumar I am a busy lady.


Aisling Bea You are very busy lady. Yes. You give off big busy busy BBE big busy lady energy. You know they are those things you can give someone as a present on a birthday that’s not totally useless. Yes. You know, gals on birthdays are basically fueling, like, terrible economic. Like good, like plastic industry factories. Because you can’t go without spending a tenner on a girlfriend to a party, whether you like it or not. And you have to spend about a tenner on her and you’re like a banana holder. So some shop that also sells knives, cards.


Nish Kumar Tiger. Just say tiger. Just say.


Aisling Bea Tatties. Also available in another in a number of other establishments.


Coco Khan In a way, aren’t you two as comedians banana cases.


Aisling Bea Because when people go, we like to be referred to as our official name as legal clowns.


Coco Khan So when someone sees a banana case.


Aisling Bea Yeah.


Coco Khan They’re like what is that? You don’t need a banana case. It looks silly. It’s garish, it’s yellow. It’s ridiculous. Just use a normal Tupperware box. But what you don’t realize is that a banana case fulfills you in ways you didn’t know. It makes you happier about your day.


Aisling Bea And it doesn’t make you waste what you’ve been given.


Coco Khan Yeah.


Nish Kumar You’ve really.


Coco Khan Comedy is one big banana case initially ridiculous. Overtime essential.


Nish Kumar You’ve really pulled that out of the fire, Coco.


Aisling Bea Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because you’re like, you’re both banana cases. I was like.


Nish Kumar You’ve become absolute banana cases.


Aisling Bea Don’t sound like my ex-boyfriends. Don’t try to gaslight me. I know I’m a banana case, but I’m also quite kind at Christmas.


Coco Khan Okay, so there’s a whole bunch of places our friends of the pod might know you from. There’s your fantastic stand up comedy, your original series This Way Up. More recently, you’ve got a new series on channel four, Alex and Jack, and you’re joining Romesh Ranganathan for the second series of avoidance.


Nish Kumar And I am always trying to avoidance Romesh Ranganathan. But we didn’t just get you on the pod to pick you up or to get you off the pod to thank you for having me over for lunch, and then I will be leaving. I want to talk to you about, just as a starting point, some of the fundraising and campaigning stuff that’s very close to your heart. You’ve run several fundraisers for the Hackney Food Bank?


Aisling Bea Yes.


Nish Kumar And I joined you there last Christmas, which we can get into because I think it would be it would be hard pushed to describe my contribution to those events as activism.


Aisling Bea Well, it was activism, I suppose, in a way, in that you went on, on, on Sky news, and I do believe you might have cursed while dressed as Father Christmas or Father Nations, as we might have known. And no, I got involved with the Hackney Foodbank kind of over lockdown, to be honest. I’ve been living in Islington just like all other boujee girls with banana cases, just like all of the banana case holding gals.


Nish Kumar Absolute. That is banana case central, Islington.


Aisling Bea It is. Busy gals needing a little cover for the banana snacks. And it was sort of during lockdown. Like I’ve been there for so long and I’d known the area I live in, but I think maybe over lockdown we all discovered the areas we lived in a lot more in our, government allowed walks, and on one of my walks I stumbled across, the Hackney Food Bank, Volunteer Center, where they were. And distributing the things to other food banks. And there’s an amazing lady there called Tanya who is like running the show. And it just made me so acutely aware of there’s sort of bigger things I think you can do with your platform as as we all sort of shouldn’t feel we can. But then there’s the very immediate way sometimes you can be of help to your own local. One thing I learned when I did a bit of work with social enterprises was people who care and and do caring work, like working in hack and food banks. Working in care homes aren’t an unlimited source of giving, like they’re working for religious orders or something like that, is not it. They’re they’re normal, regular people who also do deserve a clap on the back. Nice nights out.


Nish Kumar Yeah. So the, the, the there is a sort of event where people come and bring food. Yeah. And there are various from I’m going to say A to Z list celebrities, there present and correct. Helping out.


Aisling Bea How are you A to Z. You don’t call yourself a Z list comedian. You’ve got a podcast for Coco. She’s allowed you to be on a podcast.


Nish Kumar And the first year I decided to dress, I dressed up as Father Christmas had, I would say, between 4 and 7 pints. Yes. Referred to myself as Father Nish and scared all the children. And that appeared on the news with you, dressed as Father Christmas? Yes. May have use of expletives. Then, did the gig dressed as father father dishes and the. But then this year. Yeah, we did it all again. But then we did two nights. Yes. In Hackney, which is a very big.


Aisling Bea But let me tell you, we did not use a single penny of the, food bags, money to dry clean, bash Santa Claus effect. So that was worn, you know, in terms of sustainable fashion that was neither washed nor a drop of water was used to clean us after all of those sweaty nights.


Nish Kumar Some of Amelia Dimoldenberg.


Aisling Bea Yeah. Some chicken shop dates.


Nish Kumar Chicken shop dates.


Aisling Bea Yeah.


Nish Kumar The sad truth outfit. I was like, well, chicken chop dates is covered in my 12 month old sweat.


Coco Khan Well, obviously, it’s, wonderful to hear that the plot of Bad Santa is living and breathing on us. This is obviously a really important topic, and I do think it’s important to just share some statistics, because like you say, you know, this is an enormous problem and it’s only getting worse. So according to the Food Foundation, in January of this year, 8 million adults in the UK experienced food insecurity. That’s 14.8% of all households. 3 million people also reported going a day without food because they couldn’t afford it, or they can access it. And 4 million children live in homes that have experienced food insecurity in the last month. I mean, you hear numbers like that, it’s you know, it.


Aisling Bea But I think when you hear numbers, numbers sound like economics. Numbers sound very far and far away. And the what strikes me is the sort of the nuanced conversation around food, like we’re all obsessed with food, watching Instagram Reels of, of, of, recipes and all this sort of stuff and how much something as simple as food is part of our dignity, our cultures, how we share lives together, and how our brains just purely function to be able to get through the day, even emotionally, you know, your banana in the box type of thing, you’re like, that’s to keep you going. Yeah, yeah. And we are removing as we become the society that lives online that seems viscerally seems to be angrier, especially post Covid and broken how something as simple as food is not the biggest fix, but it’s something that if we can nourish people on a very basic level, that we can maybe look after each other a little bit more. And what the Trussell Trust are trying to push for is the essentials guarantee, which is them trying to say, hey, governments, no matter who you are. Labour Tory Greens don’t make people have to choose between deodorant and milk. Like it’s the basic stuff to be able to just wash yourself and have the very basic dignity. Because I do think, and I suppose why I want you to do stuff with the Trussell Trust and talk about there is no shame in having to go to the food bank. The shame is that there’s a government in place that has made food inaccessible or a luxury in your week, and and that part of it is, is just so heartbreaking because this is a very rich country. And this sounds. Again, it’s the sort of thing that gets picked up that people don’t understand is, is it is an investment in people? Actually, I think it was you guys maybe on this podcast talking about like the amount of money that got invested into Blackpool, but that didn’t get invested into the people and the lack of understanding of of humans in a lot of policies. And I think that’s across politics.


Nish Kumar Yeah. I just I just want to return to the kind of policy element of that because like that, that was a big part of this year’s food bank drive in December was this essentials guarantee. So just to clarify, the Essentials guarantee is something based on Joseph Rowntree Foundation research that the Trussell Trust is calling for, that enshrines in principle in law that Universal Credit, always at a minimum, provides enough to cover the cost of essentials such as food, utilities and vital household goods. Research from the Rowntree Foundation has shown that from April, the 90 pound, a weekly Universal Credit standard allowance is 30 pounds less than the weekly cost for a single person. So that that choice that you mentioned about, are we going to meet or are we going to have toothpaste that will deodorant that that’s one of the kind of huge problems here. And the reason that they’ve needed to push for this is because of government inaction and also this kind of spiraling inflation that we’re dealing with. And what all the Trussell Trust is asking for is that political parties make the essentials guarantee part of their 2024 manifestos. And I think that that especially for progressive political parties like the Labour Party, feels like a really essential thing. We’ve actually all signed the petition calling for this, but I think it feels like that should be an essential part of the Labour Party manifesto.


Coco Khan Well, I think it would be quite, bold, though, right? Like, I mean, if you just think about how.


Aisling Bea It’s sad that it’s considered bold.


Coco Khan You no, it is. It is really sad.


Aisling Bea Know, because you can’t have an NHS that says, oh, our health care is free. You can go down there, but when you go home you’ve no food. So if you’re going to guarantee people basic health care, this is basic health care. To be able to eat and clean yourself is basic health care. There’s no point discharging people from hospitals to go home to food insecurity and not being able to, like, even recover from whatever you might be have going on with any food. And that’s that. That essentials guarantee is still removing any joy. It’s just the basics.


Nish Kumar This is just a personal, constant rolling fear and gripe of mine. But we’ve ended up in a situation where in 2010, when Cameron Osborne, you know, take power, they hack the state to the bone. We talk a lot about austerity and critique austerity, and we’re right to. But they also had this idea of the big society. And there was this idea that, you know, we could return to an almost like Victorian culture of patronage. But that is such a fallacy that what you’re saying is that you’re completely reliant on charities and organizations.


Aisling Bea And they should. The Trussell Trust doesn’t want to exist. It doesn’t exist. Yeah, completely and utterly. And I suppose where my brain sometimes is just a member of society gets stuck is people need to eat now. But what’s the long term thing? What’s what’s a short, medium and long term solution to this? And because people are starving, there isn’t time to focus on medium or long term. And you almost need enough different types of heads involved in any society as your network to try and fix those things. Which is where I think at the moment most countries are suffering from a real, dearth of of leadership, you know.


Coco Khan Well, I infer from this is that your you are not 100% optimistic about the incoming Labour government. If it does indeed.


Aisling Bea Come, I think to I think, again, being an immigrant in this country, it’s been hard to see leadership that I, that I trust because I’m not I didn’t grow up being like in a hardcore family from any one particular thing. And it’s also like there’s two parties in this country, like in Ireland, there’s two big parties, and they’re kind of the same thing here. There are two parties and there’s such from different backgrounds, and they really divide people like football teams where it’s blind following sometimes. And I suppose my trust has been broken by a number of things, and it’s hard to feel hopeful at the moment. But hope and empathy are muscles that you have to constantly work on. So I try not to get into the like, oh, we’re all fucked type of thing because you have to work at it and hope that the next person is is good or has the right intention. But it definitely is. It definitely is difficult.


Nish Kumar So let’s we’ve got a question from one of our listeners is also feeling a little disillusioned.


Clip Hello everyone at Pod Save the UK. My name is Jane, I’m Welsh but currently living in England. I had a long term Labour membership, but with their refusal to fully support trans rights and their worrying continued pungent the right, the repenting of green policy and their stance on Gaza, I cut my membership and I voted green for the first time, with the Greens in independence, taking some of the Labour vote this time round, do you think? The label rethink its priorities ahead of the general election or, as mentioned by Labour figures. Do you think they can just afford to lose us and they won’t change their tactics? Thank you very much.


Aisling Bea It’s an interesting one to get into power because power is essentially the problem. But to do anything, you need power. So you see a lot of amazing people get out of politics because they get disillusioned by the system and get into charities and try and help and at least a practical, real way rather than get into the system. And it is like, I feel sorry for anyone who has to go and make decisions in a way, because you do have to give up a lot of your policies. Like if any of us actually went into a position of power, we would have to make disgusting choices all the time that we don’t want to make. So I do understand the idea of if Labour want to be in government, they have to do certain things that are they can’t please everyone. And I’m not sure when I look at Labour, I don’t know what they’re definite things they will always stand on are on the things that they would be loosey goosey. And then you could at least go, oh, well, I’m kind of loosey goosey on the same things, but as long as this is the thing that I’ll always trust, that they will protect, that, you know, whether it’s living wage or, you know, what’s happening currently in the global crisis, that who will they stand up for and that that’s the bit that sort of has me disillusioned, I suppose. Yeah.


Nish Kumar Yeah. I mean, I think, I think that there’s a lot of frustration from progressive voters on that exact reason that there are that Gaza environmental policy and workers rights and rights of the LGBTQ community are red lines that people are not willing to cross. And I think that that’s possibly why I’m sympathetic to the view that there are people that feel that they cannot support the Labour Party.


Coco Khan Well, I think like, you know, what you pointed out there, it’s like they are yet to announce who they are, or rather, who they are showing themselves to be that we, you know, infer from them matching conservative policies and stuff. It’s maybe not who we think the Labour Party are based on their history or should be. Or, you know, many people will have different, ideas about who the Labour Party is and the difference between the membership in the history and the leadership and proper role or whatever. But I think there is just the genuine problem here, which is like we’re all talking about a different Labour Party because we don’t know who they are because they won’t tell us.


Aisling Bea And I suppose that’s why, if you look at Donald Trump or Boris Johnson, their branding is great. You don’t get surprised by them. You know who they are. And please don’t use just that as a snippet.


Nish Kumar As listener, Jane mentioned, the devastating situation across Gaza and Israel was a key issue for voters in the recent election. And we should note here that there has been an escalation in the conflict this past week with an incursion into Rafah. Our friends over on Pod Save the World are delivering consistent, strong coverage on the events, and we recommend you take a listen to their latest edition. And we also, as ever, hope that a cease fire can be reached as soon as possible.




Coco Khan So actually, I also want to talk to you about another issue that you couldn’t, on and you’re obviously very passionate about, and that is abortion rights. So back in 2018, you were part of the successful referendum to legalize abortion in Ireland. It’s now permitted for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. So just tell us about that experience.


Aisling Bea I suppose sometimes when it’s like activism or spoken and you just feel like you’re doing the basics. You don’t really feel like you’re doing anything. There was, a poor lady called Sophie to help in our who died in Ireland. She was an Indian lady who was working in Ireland with her husband and, died essentially by neglect because she was miscarrying. And, the health workers told her that this was a Catholic country and there was nothing they could do about it. So they chose to let both of them die, as opposed to using an abortion to save her life. I think that definitely her tragic death served as a massive sort of sound around the world. So there was this big kind of movement, I think, for a lot of Irish women to sort of at least raise awareness of it, because there have been campaigns over the years, but everyone sort of felt a bit embarrassed to talk about it. And I think the newer generation felt like, oh, we’re not actually embarrassed by this. Like maybe our mothers were. Yes. Even if they knew to do the right thing. There was the stigma, the social segregation. If you wanted to talk about us, like with the gay marriage referendum in Ireland, we had to d other people who needed abortions. Yeah. And it wasn’t, again, the worst case scenarios. Everyone always agrees with things. In the worst case scenarios, pregnancy, children who are abused and a pregnancy that comes about in an awful situation or kind. You wouldn’t want to be put in that situation. But I think the biggest discussion now is in America. Here, everywhere is going, oh, maybe you just didn’t want it. Maybe you just wanted a life where you focused on your banana in your box and and that comes with a judgment in the same way we were talking earlier on about food banks, that people who are on, you know, the bread line should if for some reason not expect joy or hope. Yeah, that if you’re a woman only if you’re having a terrible time should you get something like this, but ultimately you should put up with the lot.


Nish Kumar Yeah, the law is actually abortion in England, Wales and Scotland is allowed within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. If two doctors agree that having the baby poses a greater risk to physical and mental health than termination in a law that gained royal assent in 1967.


Coco Khan Gaining an exception is generally regarded as quite straightforward. But during the pandemic, when obviously, you know, accessing certain health care services was not possible, if you want to terminate pregnancy, you could take a pill, you could get that via phone. And there was a very, very, harrowing case of a woman who misrepresented how far along she was in order to get the medication. She ended up getting prosecuted and received a custodial sentence. So that’s someone being prosecuted and sentenced for having an abortion. It’s a difficult case with her because, yes, there was some deception there. And so in terms of the public, there was a sense of, well, she deserves it. But in being given a custodial sentence, she’s removed from her own children. It doesn’t seem great. That doesn’t seem child centric. And putting the rights and wrongs of it aside, I think it speaks to exactly what you said. Like, whose body is it? At what point does that woman’s body become the state’s decisions or becomes, you know, previously?


Aisling Bea So it takes out of even when you’re saying like it’s relatively easy, you just have to pass by these two gatekeepers. Yeah. And that’s based on to humans and on their opinions, their gender, everything about them. You still have to get through two rounds of something before you can decide something for yourself. And they could be men or women or whatever. But you have to prove, which means you have to sort of maybe go to drama school for a few years to make sure you give an accurate representation of your case, like Erin Brockovich or something like that. And, and the worry going in to that situation rather than going, oh, I’ve decided something for myself. It’s the way I suppose. Women are talked about or seen in all of our healthcare issues, like even having C-sections in Spain. People ask you, which would you rather have a vaginal birth or a C-section? But there’s still a lot of like stigma around a planned C-section. It’s still a massive surgery. There’s only two real ways to get the baby out. One out the hoop or one out. The sort of like, let me cut you open and you go into this and it’s like, oh my God. They’re they’re still both not great options in terms of your health. But there’s a question over a judge. I’m pretty sure you can’t take it out of there. But listen, the hoop, the front hoop. But there is a sort of like question over what type of woman are you? And that you have to be in a really bad situation. This is coming from health care, where it should be about facts and and the same with like, I want an abortion. That’s the full stop.


Coco Khan Medical professionals have been raising the alarm that it’s creating this chilling effect where women are not telling the truth to their doctors because they are worried what they’re going to say. They’re going they’re worried about what?


Aisling Bea That’s what I mean. You have to learn how to act, yes, in a small amount of time to make sure you’re a convincing enough case. Yes, for people, for your basic rights. And it does make you go, okay, well, I need to look after my life here.


Coco Khan And that’s the concern is the suspicion around women. I mean, you know, as feminists, that’s been the battle of our lives.


Aisling Bea And the suspicion is as a perfect way of describing it because, you know, when I’m if you’ve bought something and you’ve used your own bag, like, so you go into boots or something and you put it in your own bag, you have to act innocent. If the alarm goes off, you know, you’ve paid for the thing, it’s in your bag. But then you’re like, oh, well, I and and you’re like, no, I haven’t stolen anything. Just check my receipts or whatever. But there’s an immediate how do I look toward to to show that I’m innocent type of thing. And if anyone ever is suspicious of you, you start going. Do I come across a suspicious what? What do I look like? How do I pretend to make this person believe me? Yeah. And in your health care, on your basic rights, in terms of health care, that that’s that is essentially the policy is how to make yourself look not suspicious in your intentions. And are you a good enough woman? Are you a good enough, pure enough woman, that you are only intending to end a pregnancy because you don’t feel you could be the mother that you could be? And that’s just bullshit. It’s just shite.


Coco Khan Well, I mean, this is the perfect time to talk about abortion buffer zones. And so, just for the listeners, this is the area around abortion clinics that anti-abortion protesters cannot be in. We’ve just celebrated the one year anniversary of a piece of policy that intended for a 150 meter buffer zone to be implemented across England, Wales. But the Home Office is still yet to roll out this policy. And so it’s currently not illegal for protesters to be in those spaces. The failure to act was first presided over by Suella Braverman and is now under Home Secretary James Cleverly. So while we wait for this policy to take effect, The Independent reported that just this week, anti-abortion protesters are doing things like handing out baby toys whose limbs have been removed and are covered in fake blood, and they sometimes spit from their mouths at clients. Ashling. This was also a big issue in Ireland. And I mean, in terms of how high up the political agenda do you think this is pressing? Does it need to be higher up?


Aisling Bea Of course, of course it is, because it has a direct, real effect again, on women generationally and how they’ll remember what could be either traumatic or just a normal health care, thing in their lives. I think one thing that that’s sort of helped with discussions in the Irish abortion referendum was when two sides would come together that you think you couldn’t. So I, as a pro-abortion person would say, oh, that sounds really evil. That person in their mind is saving a baby’s life and will do anything to save what they deem a baby’s life. And understanding that’s where they’re coming from is at least giving you an explanation, not an excuse for what they’re doing. But that is, they’re not trying to hurt. They’re trying to save in their minds, that’s what they’re doing. And the government has to push it with immediate effect, like a gate around women who on their daily lives are going to get traumatized and potentially hurt by an issue that’s bigger than that Woman’s day.


Nish Kumar But look, there are some positive signs coming on this issue. So POLITICO’s reported that Labour MP Diana Johnson, who’s chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, has put forward a plan to change the law. So, and this is a direct quote, no woman acting in relation to her own pregnancy could be found to have committed an offense. And something we want to do on the show is start making some direct policy suggestions, especially as we’re moving into a period of time where people are political parties are writing their manifestos. I assume we’re all in agreement that two things have come out of this conversation. The essentials guarantee and this abortion law are two things that we would certainly expect to see in the manifestos of progressive political parties.


Aisling Bea And I think you need both. You need going, hey, here’s the massive, messy discussion and here’s some potential solutions. And then what can that do in the short term, the medium term and the long term. So short term we we Irish people got the abortion law changed. Medium term. It is extremely hard to still get an abortion in Ireland. There’s it’s a postcode lottery. There aren’t enough GP’s doing it. So people still have to travel. So after the whole yay and jump up in the air, there actually still isn’t enough places where you can get abortion and people are still having to get the go to England or try and find quicker ways because you are. As soon as you know you’re pregnant, you’re under this mad clock. It’s almost like when a funeral happens in the middle of your busy work week. It’s like you just it’s this mad clock that you have to, manage and manage the decision making for the rest of your life in that small amount of time. And then there’s a long term by how do you change society, where a GP will proudly be somewhere that offers abortion services. And they all take different types of conversations, different types of policies and different types of politicians, and people managing each problem.


Nish Kumar [AD]


Coco Khan So we thought you might like to stick around for our last section as we wade into the worst of the worst in politics this week. And quite frankly, we have many people to choose from. So we’re going to close the show with a couple of our favorite villains, and we’re going to have a conversation now about collective nouns for them.


Aisling Bea Yay! Collective nouns for villains.


Nish Kumar A gang of villains.


Aisling Bea A crow of villains. A dolphin of villains.


Nish Kumar A shit show. A shit show of villains.


Coco Khan I mean, the notes that our very helpful producer has put together. Have put the souffle of villains.


Aisling Bea Oh, I love, I love a bit of elegance. Yes, yes, yes. All right. Or do. Well, you know, depending on the temperature of the, the situation.


Coco Khan So first up, in our souffle of villains, we have some fantastic news for bankers.


Aisling Bea Yeah. Finally, some good news for them.


Coco Khan So Goldman Sachs has announced that they are reintroducing banker bonuses, the first firm to do so in the UK. Richard Nord, chief executive of Goldman Sachs International, justified the move, saying that this will bring the UK in line with the firm’s international salary packages. Yes.


Nish Kumar So the important background here is that the cap was originally introduced as a countermeasure against the kind of risk taking that led to the global financial crisis in 2008, and the cap was implemented by the European Union. So I think it’s very important to remember that when the leave campaign said that they were taking back control, the rest of that was so that we can give it straight to Goldman Sachs. This is the first bank to do, make this kind of change. Following Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwartengs controversial decision to remove the bankers bonus camp, which was 200% okay, 200%. But it also doesn’t help the optics of the situation that Rishi Sunak used to work for Goldman Sachs between 2001 and 2004, and Goldman Sachs has also been one of the biggest advocates for reforming the law, and other banks are likely to follow. On top of all of this, the Financial Times reported earlier April. The Goldman Sachs gender pay gap has been widening from 53% to 54%, and that’s the highest that the gender pay gap has been in the past six years. But this returns to the central problem that we have in this country. When we talk about doing things like lifting the Universal Credit minimum so that it covers people’s bare essentials, we are told that there is no magic money tree when we’re talking about investing more in schools and hospitals. We are told that there is no magic money tree when it comes to allowing wealthy people who are already objectively wealthy to become even more wealthy. We are consistently told that that is absolutely fine and anyone opposing it is a pathetic, pinko, liberal, communist leftist. There’s this incredible suggestion that the 2008 financial crisis was the result of excessive public spending. It was the result of risk taking by investment banks and the investment banking sector. The bankers bonus was not done as an attempt to spoil their fun. It was supposed to be a deliberate countermeasure against encouraging the kind of risk taking that blew up our economy’s real. Wages in the United Kingdom have not recovered to their pre 2008 levels. We are not done with the effects of 2008, and the idea that we can move on from it is absolutely sickening. And if I talk about it anymore, my head’s going to fucking explode. So.


Aisling Bea Like a souffle.


Coco Khan Well, I don’t want the explosion of the souffle to make our listeners think that it’s over. There is another villain in the the souffle.


Aisling Bea Who?


Coco Khan I know, I know.


Aisling Bea Just when we thought the movie was over.


Coco Khan We thought it was over. So in the studio, we’ve just had the news that Tory MP Natalie Elphicke has crossed the floor and defected to Labour. For those keeping track, that’s the second MP in two weeks, following on from Dan Poulter last weekend. Good news for Labour. Well, that’s a bit tricky. Natalie Elphicke has been a hardline campaigner on illegal immigration. She wrote a piece for the Mail on Sunday titled when will the left admit this is no refugee crisis but simply illegal immigration in 2021? She said the footballer and anti-poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford should spend more time perfecting his game rather than playing politics, after the Man United star missed the penalty in the Euro 2020 final. The BBC is also reporting that, just like Dan Poulter, Elphicke is retiring at the next election.


Nish Kumar Yeah. Again, it’s what are the terms that you want the Labour Party to exist on? Because we’re kind of consistently told that if you support a ceasefire in Gaza or if you’re angry about encroaching privatization in the NHS, or you’re angry about the rollback of green policies that you’re a middle class left in, you can just vote for somebody else. You know, that’s the message coming from this, as.


Aisling Bea If any of those policies aren’t directly going to affect everybody’s.


Nish Kumar Life. Purely my personal opinion, a huge amount of Natalie, Elphicke and many other people’s criticism of Marcus Rashford also comes down to the fact that they couldn’t stand to see a poor black boy who’s made good from his talent rise up and actually try and lift some other kids that were in a similar condition that he grew up in, to a kind of acceptable level by giving them free school meals.


Aisling Bea I think you are not supposed to be here and you are not supposed to be clever.


Nish Kumar And so, I mean, I, I. I. Think it stinks personally. I think absolutely.


Aisling Bea Also, this idea and of course, we’ve come up against it a fair bit. This idea that you should stick to your job rather than becoming a member of society, like all of us are members of society, and that the only people we should leave social change or social policy or decisions to are politicians. And then once a year or once every couple of years, we get one little piece of paper into a box and that we shouldn’t be engaged in our society. This idea that you’re not part of the system and shouldn’t have a voice unless you’re in Westminster is crazy.


Nish Kumar And look, I understand that people will feel that there are nuances to this, and the Labour Party should be accepting any Tory MP that’s wishing to cross the floor. I’m learning this now, and I’m reacting in the moment and telling you that I think it fucking stinks. Now our final villain is the failed London mayoral candidate, Susan Hall, for her in insane speech following Siddiq Khan’s victory. Let’s listen to a clip of it.


Clip The thing that matters to the most unto me is reforming the met, making London safe again. I hope Sadiq makes this his top priority. He owes it to the families of those thousand people who have lost lives to knife crime under his mayoralty. And I hope, too, that he stops patronizing people like me who care. This isn’t an episode of The Wire. This is real life on his watch. I will continue to hold Sadiq to account, to stand up for the hard working families, to motorists and to women. I love London and I urge the day to try harder to make it better for all our sakes. Thank you.


Aisling Bea I’ve loved living in Britain these last almost two decades and I’m very aware I’m immigrant, but that clip to me is so fabulously English. If you remove its darkness in the same way, the clip from Come Dine With Me Without Man goes, you can keep your money, Jane. No, you’re not insane. So what a sad life do you have, Jada? Hope you are me. Whatever the clip is.


Nish Kumar Coco Khan’s phone case is a memorialized tribute for better. For the benefit of listeners to a moment on Come Dine With Me. If you haven’t seen it, I would simply urge you to Google Come Dine With Me. What a sad little life, Jane. Yeah, we’ll put the clip of the show notes.


Coco Khan He lives in my mind rent free and he’s on the back of my phone for that reason. But please go off.


Aisling Bea Because you’ve got this woman going for women. The wire with is a Count Binface is his name in the back ground, respectfully.


Nish Kumar That’s right please just describe what we been looking at.


Aisling Bea So if you are listening to this, this clip has four people in it. No one to, well, three people and one bin man. Yeah. A man made entirely out of a Bin.


Nish Kumar Yeah. Count Binface was a candidate for the London mayor.


Aisling Bea Standing respectfully behind her. And the fact that Count Binface is standing respectfully, not trying to pull focus. And, yes, dressed as a giant Bin who clearly got enough votes to be there to, like, have to, like, have a concession moment and you’ve got, city kind of clearly kind of like compartmentalizing whatever she’s saying and not even acting fair. Do you? So, and think about what he’s going to say next on this woman starting off with a sort of like, I’m sorry, but then referencing The Wire is just so British. It it’s sort of madness. It’s kind of like it really is. That clip for me is like, good old England.


Nish Kumar There’s also like in terms of inherent Englishness during the day, Khan’s like acceptance speech. She is just in the background looking like he is ceaselessly farting in her face, like she has just got the most sour look on her face. Just before we leave says it all, I just want to say, you know, just want to pay tribute to her for running a campaign of absolute divisiveness and ending it with more unpleasantness. Amazingly, as somebody.


Aisling Bea On brand.


Nish Kumar Yes, she’s bang on brand. And amazingly, as someone who lives in London, a candidate did not win the vote to become London mayor who ran explicitly on a platform of I hate London and I hate everyone who lives in London. And I also just briefly want to take a second to acknowledge the remark about The Wire. She said, that he needs to focus more on crime prevention. This is not an episode of The Wire. Now, I’m going to float a theory here that Susan Hall has never seen The Wire.


Aisling Bea Yes, I fully agree.


Nish Kumar Because The Wire is a show about how crime and criminality are intrinsically linked to systemic racism and the continuous underfunding of local government and local services. And it is about how some civic politicians are mired in corruption, and other civic politicians and journalists are doing their best to fight against what is an unstoppable tide of a civic breakdown caused by underfunding and structural racism. So what I would say to Susan Hall is we are absolutely in an episode of The Wire. We Are 100%, that episode of The Wire. And I would also urge her or any listeners who haven’t seen The Wire to watch The Wire, because it’s absolutely fantastic.


Aisling Bea But also it’s like, oh, your writers got the metaphor wrong. And she was like, this is not an episode of Emily in Paris. You’d be like, actually, yeah, that’s right. There’s a lot of knife crime going on. There’s criminality, whatever. And we need to have it fix societal issues. But actually The Wire a lot of good points.  It sort of is like real life, like, oh, I’m sorry, this is something went wrong here.


Nish Kumar Yeah. It’s a listen, Susan Hall, I hope we never have to see you or think about you again. But based on the last decade and a half of British politics and cocktail of dog whistle racism and professional incompetence means she’s probably going to be fucking Prime Minister in five years.


Coco Khan Thanks so much for listening. And just before we go, we have a very exciting announcement.


Nish Kumar Yes, Pod Save the UK is going out on the road and you can come to. We’re doing two live shows this summer as we’re heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’ll be there the whole month doing my own show, but Coco and our production team will be joining me on Tuesday the sixth and Wednesday the 7th of August at the Monkey Barrel, and we want to see you there.


Coco Khan Tickets are on sale now and you can find the link to that in our show notes.


Nish Kumar And you can get in touch with us by emailing suck at ReducedListening.Co.Uk. We do love to hear your voices, so if you’re feeling brave, send us a voice note on WhatsApp. Our number is 07494 933444. Internationally, that’s +44 7494 933444.


Coco Khan Don’t forget to follow us at Pod Save the UK on Instagram and Twitter. You can also find us on YouTube for access to full episodes and other exclusive content. You can also drop us a review. Yeah, we like reviews that way.


Aisling Bea I’m going to review this one.


Coco Khan Oh yeah.


Nish Kumar Just this one.


Aisling Bea Aisling should have washed her hair yesterday so it settled a bit better. And I’ll like it myself.


Nish Kumar Aisling Bea


Aisling Bea Nish Kumar


Coco Khan I’m glad we all know our names.


That’s right.


Nish Kumar Sweet Bea. Thank you.


Aisling Bea Sweet Coco. Nish. Thank you so much for having me.


Nish Kumar Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.


Coco Khan Thanks to senior producer James Tindale and digital producer Alex Bishop.


Nish Kumar Video editing was by Narda Smilionage and the music is by Vasilis Fotopulos.


Coco Khan Thanks to our engineer David Dugahe.


Nish Kumar The executive producers of Anoushka Sharma, Dan Jackson and Madeleine Herringer, with additional support from Ari Schwartz.


Coco Khan Remember to hit subscribe for new shows on Thursdays on Amazon, Spotify or Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts.