Are the Local Election results the beginning of total Tory annihilation? | Crooked Media
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May 03, 2024
Pod Save the UK
Are the Local Election results the beginning of total Tory annihilation?

In This Episode

While the results from elections across England & Wales are still rolling in – the signs so far are pointing to a disastrous outcome for the Conservative party. So Nish & Coco have jumped on for this special bonus episode to pop the champagne – asking exactly what it means ahead of the General Election – whenever that will eventually be called! 


Liz Bates from Sky News joins Nish and Coco to explain why the historic result of the byelection in Blackpool is so seismic. They also discuss whether results for Reform UK will scare the Tories into more extreme right-wing rhetoric, whether Boris Johnson forgetting his ID was a publicity stunt and whether Keir Starmer is not a good leader, but a lucky one.


We also throw ahead to the general election – if there was a dreaded hung parliament – would that work at all? And how might the Tories be trying to claw their way back into favour before they finally allow the UK to have a general election?


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



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Liz Bates, Sky News


Audio credits:

BBC Newcast

BBC News

Sky News




Coco Khan Hi, this is Pod Save the UK.


Nish Kumar I’m Nish Kumar.


Coco Khan And I’m Coco Khan.


Nish Kumar And in this special bonus episode, we’re breaking out the champagne.


Coco Khan The local election results are in and it’s a nightmare morning for Rishi Sunak.


Nish Kumar We’ll be joined by friend of the show, Liz Bates, to learn exactly how much of a celebration this is.


Coco Khan Hi, Nish. How are you feeling? Bright. And early on this Friday, you’re ready to talk election results.


Nish Kumar Yes. This is earlier than I’m accustomed to being awake, frankly, which is quite a damning indictment on my general life because it’s 11:30 in the morning.


Coco Khan I heard on the radio that the mayoral elections for London, which is where we both are, won’t be until tomorrow. So those are the sort of deadlines I think you and I could ordinarily work with.


Nish Kumar Yeah, it’s a but it’s always exciting. The morning after voting day is always exciting. I went down there with my passport to cast. My vote felt really strange. I don’t know whether I’m reading too much into this, but the people running the polling station did look semi apologetic when they asked for the photo I.D. then there was a look of slight sadness in their eyes.


Coco Khan I seem to always. Whenever I’m in there, I always have this, panic experience when I get to the booth, even though I know exactly who I’m going to vote for. I always have a moment when I’m there in the quiet of the booth. Oh, God. Oh, God. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I really. Yeah. And then as I came out of the booth, yesterday, I remember just walking along and one of the people that were there was like, miss, you know, it’s up to you, but I would just say it might be good for you to follow your path, because at the moment, everyone can see what you’re doing, and where you’re going. Oh, yes. Well, you know, try to style it out like I’m proud to vote for. Oh, but really, I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I have no idea what’s happening.


Nish Kumar My my main concern is always that I, don’t accidentally vote for one of the racist parties. Like, there’s all there’s always it is always some variation of the British. It was the British National Party for years that was like the British Freedom Foundation. And you’re always like, just don’t. Whatever you do, don’t accidentally vote for the racist party.


Coco Khan You should be careful because, you know, one day it’s going to be like Manchester United fans and then you’ll think, oh, that’s me. But little did you know who it is, really. It’s been a disastrous result for the conservatives. There will be results pouring in over the rest of the day and across the weekend. But where we’re sitting right now, recording this on a Friday morning at 1130, it’s clear that it’s been a bad night for the conservatives. So Rishi Sunak will certainly be quaking in his boots. I like to imagine I just I just like to think, what what are you doing right now? I’ll tell you what he’s doing.


Nish Kumar He’s getting his CV bang up to date. He is making sure that his CV is bang up to date so that he can send it out to all the various tech companies, in Silicon Valley that he’ll be applying to a job for.


Coco Khan He’s like working on his Linkedin.


Nish Kumar He’s sharpening up his LinkedIn.


Coco Khan You know it. He’s just there being like, I’ve suffered a bad time at election. Here’s what it’s taught me about B2B marketing. That’s what it’s going to be.


Nish Kumar I was prime minister of the United Kingdom. Don’t Google it.


Coco Khan But here to discuss the results with us is Liz Bates, political correspondent at Sky news. Welcome, Liz.


Liz Bates Well, thank you so much for having me. I’m still glowing. After Nish described me as friend of the show because I think of myself as fan of the show. So it’s a huge upgrade in my mind, but I’m being really cool about it, so that’s fine.


Nish Kumar Liz, if anyone’s a friend of this show with you, we have to wheel you out to explain things. Just ev, any time something happens, we’re like, well, we better get Liz on, because, she knows things.


Liz Bates Yeah, and I literally do nothing in between coming on the show. So it is very much open, a little door. Wheel Liz out. I’m just always available.


Nish Kumar I don’t think you could call raising your child doing nothing.


Liz Bates Well, it depends how you do it.


Coco Khan So, Liz, lay it on me. Exactly how bad is this for the conservatives?


Liz Bates I will lay it on you, Coco. It’s it’s pretty bad. It’s. At this point, it’s not a surprise. It’s. It’s what we’ve been expecting. They had a really bad time. The local elections last year. They’ve been on a downward trajectory under Rishi Sunak. He had a bit of a bounce when he came in, but it looks like they’re heading to a complete wipeout in the general election. The interesting thing for all of us working in politics, in political journalism is how bad it’s going to be. And that’s what everybody’s looking at, these, local election results for trying to dissect them, looking at various different bits of the country and seeing what new or interesting dynamics are emerging to try and figure out exactly what this what we’re expecting is a Labour government. What will this Labour government look like? Where will they gain seats? Where might they struggle to hold on to their previous vote? And what so is Labour on for a landslide, I suppose is the question and the results so far. I mean, we’re comparing them to a very high watermark last time around because these local elections are cyclical. So we’re comparing them to 2021. But when you think about back in 2021, you know, Boris Johnson there was a a by election. Hartlepool Boris Johnson took Hartlepool in that byelection. We couldn’t be in a more different place. Labour of regain the Hartlepool council this morning so I think. We’re still early days. About a third of the results, have come in, and it’ll be the next couple of days that we’ll be looking at. But it’s in terms of the polls are absolutely disastrous for the Conservative Party at the moment. And the polls are reflected, in these results.


Nish Kumar So as things stand, as we recall, the conservatives have lost three councils and 124 councilors. Labour have gained three councils and picked up 54 councilors. But the kind of standout result so far is the Blackpool South byelection. This is a huge seat pick up for Labour. It’s a 26% swing. I mean, how big is this list?


Liz Bates It’s huge. Absolutely huge. I mean, when you talk about the the by elections that this is a trend and by elections, this is not a one off. So we’ve seen I think it’s five by elections in the last year that have been over a 20 percentage point swing from the Conservatives to Labour. I mean, that looks like an absolute collapse in the Labour vote. When you look at this, seat, Blackpool South, this is a representative of the red wall. So that would give you a sense that that area, that that type of seat is going to go back to the Labour Party. But it couldn’t be a worse result for the conservatives. And it’s not mid-term blues because we’re nowhere near mid-term anymore. We’re like galloping towards the general election. So it is a it’s a sign that the Labour Party is on, for a big majority. It’s a sign that the, the conservative that has completely collapsed. And the important thing to remember within all the noise around the general, around the local elections and the mayoral elections and all of that, that one by election and the by elections that have come before, that they are the best indicators of what the general election is going to look like because local elections, lots of local issues, the mayors up and down the country, a they have a personal vote and I’m sure we’ll consider talking about that. But the byelection is a terrible, terrible result, and the Tories will want to move on from that really quickly and start talking about other little results all over the country, some of which are bad for Labour, some of which show the conservative vote holding up. But, you know, make, make no bones about it. Blackpool is the worst and the most indicative of what’s going to happen within the next year when it comes to a general election.


Coco Khan But in this same byelection, the Tories only just beat reform into third place. I think there was only like 100 or 120 or something. It was a small number between them. Following on from what you said about this being a great indicator, does that give you an indicator about reform as well?


Liz Bates Yeah, and it’s a absolute shocker. For the conservatives, it’s and reform reforms are really interesting because you see that vote going up in the polls and they they don’t have a huge, national profile. They don’t have that person in Nigel Farage anymore. I mean, Richard Tice just doesn’t have anywhere near the type of platform that he had. But that reform that is still there. I think that reform, though, the sense that I get is it’s that kind of Brexit vote Boris Johnson, vote Disenfranchized, ex-labour voters, a lot of them all kind of smushed together, you know, kind of Ukip voters and maybe a bit of BNP and, you know, throw all in together. It’s that, that vote seems to be creeping up and creeping up and that it seems, you know, I’m getting you get the sense that there are lots of conservative, a big chunk of conservative voters that are just heading straight towards you folks. They just feel like they cannot vote for the Conservative Party. That in the general election will just help the Labour Party. It will just eat that conservative vote and help Labour in quite a few seats.


Nish Kumar Does that mean and I’m sort of almost afraid to ask this question because I think kind of what the answer is, does that mean that Sunak is going to tack further to the right in his rhetoric and possible policy announcements?


Liz Bates Probably. I mean, it’s so difficult to decide. I feel like he doesn’t know what he’s doing week to week, but certainly he’s getting pressure from within the Conservative Party. They’ve all got this idea that they keep sort of saying to each other, they want they want to find the kind of right wing, divisive single issue that they can use that they think could divide the country in the way that Brexit did, and that will kind of deliver for them. And, you know, one of the things is, on immigration, Rwanda, the European Court of Human Rights, all of that stuff, they think, can we just get, you know, can we get this one wedge issue, and keep pushing and pushing and pushing it? But I just think it’s I think it’s too late. It’s too late for that people to stop listening to them. But I think you’re right, Nish. I think there’s always the pressure on Rishi Sunak is pushing him to the right.


Coco Khan So in our episode yesterday, we had a really forensic chat with the journalist Rebekah Pierre about Britain’s care system. She grew up in Blackpool and spoke extensively about the struggles of poverty that people face there. One of the statistics that really chilled me and has stayed with me. Is that 1 in 52? Kids in Blackpool are in care. So you know quite there’s a lot of poverty there. And so I’m, I’m just keep thinking to myself, you know, when we quantify, how well we’re feeling about the world, really it’s going to come down to economic narratives, right? The Rwanda stuff, it’s just not going to capture people. And if it’s true that the economic narrative is important one. Have the Tories lost total control of it?


Liz Bates Yeah. I mean, I think cost of living is, right up there in terms of what people are voting on. And I think just speaking, just speaking to people generally, it has taken such a toll, on so many people’s lives that that is the thing that they will be thinking about, when they vote in the general election. Blackpool’s really, you know, interesting area because it’s one of those places. And you’re right to highlight it. There’s so many, issues there. And one of the things that happens is, you know, things like care homes, children’s homes, things like that, tend to be based there because they have this really interesting problem of in Blackpool, which is they’ve got loads of housing, you know, there’s no there’s no lack of housing. So but it’s all very cheap and there are no jobs there. And the husband, I remember speaking to an MP up that there’s a, there’s been a lot of investment over the years that an infrastructure. But he said to me there is no investment here in people. And I think there are so many areas across the country where that is replicated. You know, money has poured in, to some of these areas, but it hasn’t been targeted in the right place. And I think people are finally, starting to feel that whenever you speak to voters, they say something has to change. I think that’s where a lot of people are. Immensely. They don’t love the Labour Party. They don’t love Keir Starmer. There are lots of other issues that people are talking about around the election, including immigration. But I think in the end it will be the cost of living crisis, that that pushes people to decide where they’re going to vote just because it has it has hit so many people so acutely.


Coco Khan You know, before I came onto this, recording, I was listening to Kwasi Kwarteng give an interview and he was saying, everyone keeps blaming me for the crash in the economy. It wasn’t me. You know, he’s. Something’s wrong. You know, when? A little bit too fast. But fundamentally, we were trying to change growth. And that is the problem. Do you think those kind of conversations around growth is something that, like the average voter would be interested in or, or actually it’s it’s just about like, you know, the cost of your shopping, the cost of petrol, that sort of thing.


Liz Bates Yeah. Of course. I mean, I think, yeah, theoretical conversations about growth just don’t even touch the sides. Of course, it’s like the day to day how much things cost. I mean, you look at people like Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss in her latest, you know, trotting her little book around that hardly sells any copies. And in some ways, you know, these people inspire me because I, I’m full of like, anxiety and self-doubt and I always think got am I, am I good enough for my job and am I doing well enough in life? My good enough mother? And then I look at them and I’m like, well, they don’t give a fuck, you know, blame yourself for anything they like. They’ve both got their dream jobs and made the biggest mess of it possible in a way that was so humiliating. And afterwards, instead of like slinking off of being like, wow, that was embarrassing. They’re like, well, I was wronged, and I should probably write a book about how, everyone was against me. But in the end, you know, I got it, all right? It was just the everyone else is wrong.


Coco Khan You know that used to be like a girlboss kind of early internet feminism slogan. It was something like, you know, when you go into a conversation for pay raise, think, think of yourself like a man. Have the confidence of a man. It’s like, I see that, but I raise you, conservative Chancellor. Let’s try let’s try that level of confidence.


Liz Bates They both read that book, Lean In and just, like absorbed.


Nish Kumar They’re leaning way too far in. That’s too far in.


Liz Bates Lean back.


Nish Kumar Lean back.


Liz Bates Someone needs. Someone needs to write abook called Lean Back Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng.


Nish Kumar Richard Holden is the Conservative Party chair. Acknowledge that these were not a great set of results, which feels like an understatement. Here he is speaking to Sky news’ Sam Coats.


Clip Are you confident that won’t be a challenge from parliamentary colleagues? I think if parliamentary colleagues need to look at this and say actually is, you know, and we also need to see wait through the weekend as they’ll be seeing their seats going at general election. I don’t think. We’re late. I don’t think these results show that. I think what these results are is typical for a government in midterm, coming off a very high level of election results like we saw in 2021.


Nish Kumar As you’ve already observed, it’s very, very it’s really stretching the definition of made to breaking point to describe. This is a midterm. As we enter the final year of the cycle of the Parliament. Is there a chance that they try and remove Rishi Sunak? Is Penny Mordaunt going to be sharpening her ceremonial sword and getting her stand up and fight slogan down to the printers as quickly as possible?


Liz Bates I mean, I would love to hear that stand up and fight speech again. This is a great speech. I want to I always wonder she wrote it down. Did she just run it down, stand up and fight 17 times? And then she was like, you know what this is? This is good shit. This is going to get me leadership. You know, they’re all a bit fractured in terms of actually challenging Rishi Sunak and I think even the most mutinous of the Tory MPs just a bit exhausted, and they think it would make them look a bit mad to try and get rid of him. They’re just not organized, you know, if they don’t have a single figure that they can kind of gather around. I think what’s actually going on is that there’s that maneuvering waiting for after the general election, trying to figure out who’s going to take over from Rishi Sunak. That’s the real fight that’s going on. But, you know, when you said, you know, Rishi Sunak’s, sharpening up his CV and, you know, getting, getting into LinkedIn, that’s, that is actually what a lot of Tory MPs are doing. They are looking for jobs. Even the ones that haven’t sat there, they’re standing down, actively looking for jobs. They’re preparing for damage control.


Nish Kumar [AD]


Nish Kumar Liz, I want to move on to Labour. But before we do that, let’s talk about the Liberal Democrats. Pretty good results for them. They’ve held on to all of the councils that they were defending. They’ve picked up a few extra council seats along the way. What’s the story that they’re going to be trying to tell this morning for their party looking forward.


Liz Bates You know, I’m just not interested in them.


Coco Khan Yeah.


Liz Bates I think that’s it. They’re doing all right. You know, they’re just gonna. They’ll pick up a bit here and there for them. You know, I just I actually haven’t looked in any detail at their results. But they seem pretty happy. That’s it. All right. They’re picking things up here and there in the Tory heartlands. They actually look like they’re doing, well in some of their kind of Labour areas as well. That’s slightly rehabilitated. They’ve not done that well the last few times round. They’re picking up votes, certainly in the Tory heartlands. They’re doing reasonably well with local elections. The role that they will play in the general election is, they will take some Tory seats that will help the Labour Party out, you know. So, yeah, I think in terms of the polling that kind of on that, that the results today suggest, that that kind of on, a reasonably good trajectory, although the, there are other areas where reform are picking up votes, the Greens are picking up votes. So, you know, certainly the Greens, I think we’re eating into a bit of the Liberal Democrat vote.


Nish Kumar Let’s talk about Labour and Keir Starmer. And I don’t know whether it’s clear it’s obviously too soon to tell whether the case over is a good leader or not. But he is definitely, a lucky leader. And I wonder if that’s a big part of being a good leader anyway. But here is a clip of Sir John Curtis speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.


Clip Labour are wet that are are where they are. Not at least primarily because of the way in which Sir Keir Starmer has repositioned his party, but primarily because of the mistakes made by their opponents and Labour. Yes, they’ve done enough for voters to go to them when they’re dissatisfied with the conservatives. Basically say why you couldn’t possibly do any worse than the current law. But the idea is Labour. Keep on saying Sir Keir Starmer changed the party, and that’s why we’re 20 points in the ahead in the opinion polls. That just doesn’t fit the timeline at all.


Nish Kumar What’s your response to that, Liz?


Liz Bates I think yes or no to that. People calling him a lucky general, he could not be luckier. I mean, to be honest, the conservatives have collapsed, in England and, the SNP have collapsed in Scotland. Everything seems to have kind of shifted in his favor. I realized the other day his football team might win the league in the same year that he becomes prime minister. Like, does it get any. There’s nothing that he see it seems like he can’t achieve. At the moment. He has been incredibly lucky, I think. You know, so John Curtis is like all that. Since John Curtis, everything he says, is basically right. But I think you cannot underestimate how difficult it is, in the UK to, to detoxify the Labour Party to the extent that you can get a majority of voters to thank. All right. We’ll give it a go. This is not a naturally Labour voting country when you look back at history. So it takes good leadership to get into that position. And it also takes lots of things to fall into place. And I think Keir Starmer has certainly. Yeah he’s been he has been lucky. But I think you you can’t take away from the fact that he has got voters to vote Labour. And that is a very, very hard thing to do.


Coco Khan Well, as you say, you know, you can’t take it all for granted. And actually, it’s not been all sunshine and roses for Labour this morning. They lost their majority in the Oldham council. It’s an electorate with a large Muslim population. And commenters have speculated that it may have been Labour’s response to the situation in Gaza. I know that Oldham’s been difficult for the Labour Party even in more recent years. But here’s McFadden, Labour’s national. Sorry, but here’s Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator. Speaking to Sky news about it this morning.


Clip I think it is a factor in some parts of the country. I think there’s no point in denying that and I understand why people feel strongly about this. Thousands of innocent people have been killed. People want it to stop. They want to do something about it. And if there’s a case or parts of the country where we’ve lost support on that issue, then we will work hard, to regain it. But it is a fact that there’s no point in me, denying that.


Coco Khan So, Liz, do you think this issue is going to be it’s going to be a thorn in the side of Labour going into the general election. And to what extent do you think this might actually change their position on the conflict?


Liz Bates Well, it isn’t isn’t that one of the things about so if you look at the type of seats where this could hurt the Labour Party, they have huge majorities, huge majorities, so they’re not going to worry too much, especially because given the timeline. Look, George Galloway in Rochdale, George Galloway is an expert campaigner. He really knows how to galvanize about this kind of antiLabour because of their stance on Gaza and the voter base, which are predominantly Muslim voters in, large Muslim communities, that they are going to find it difficult to know where to go in the general election. So there will be some people that defect from Labour that stand as independents. You know, some. Some voters will decide to go for the Green Party. There might be areas where the Lib Dems capitalize on it. The Workers Party under George Galloway might stand some candidates. I think it will fracture, so I don’t think the can. I don’t think Labour will worry about it too much because of the first past the post system that we have in this country. It would be difficult for it to really shift the dial in terms of the general election, actually, and actually take seats from the party. But that doesn’t mean, in my view, that they shouldn’t worry about it, because these are voters that have been very loyal to the Labour Party. They have supported the Labour Party, and they feel deeply hurt and let down by what has happened because they feel like, what is this, this party? Some of them have, you know, gone knocking on doors, have been councilors, have, you know, dedicated their time and their their lives and believed in this party as a force for good in this country, in the world. And they feel totally let down, and they feel that the party at the beginning of the conflict and, and still now didn’t listen to, didn’t listen to them at all or engage with them or get where they were coming from. And I think that’s at the heart of the problem for me. It’s not it’s not really the position that they took, but it became so clear that they were not listening at all to their voters, to their Muslim MPs and to the the pain that they were going to it. That wasn’t reflected at all in what the leadership was saying. And I think you still see that, actually. And you can I know exactly what they’ll be thinking now. They’ll be thinking, we’ve got to focus on the general election. We’ve got to think about what we’re going to do in government. They’re not going to think, oh, we need to we need to reach out to these communities because they feel let down by us and that and it will fester. It will just faster and faster. And we’ve seen it happen before. They lost touch with working class communities across the North and across the Midlands, and it doesn’t always immediately hurt you, but it will hurt you in the future because eventually they’ll just leave you.


Nish Kumar The UN flushable turd in British politics is toilet bowl up. Boris Johnson, the greased piglet, squealed in favor of his favorite Tory mayor, Ben Houchen in the Tees Valley.


Clip Look at the progress that Ben Hutcheon has made since he has been reopening Teesside Airport, which is Labour, and it was going to close and turn into a housing estate, creating the UK’s biggest free Freeport in Teesside, the home of the green jobs green industries of the future. He’s brought steelmaking back to Teesside, the Treasury to dollars and he’s investing in roads and rail. He’s got a fantastic vision, but above all, he is a guy who does what he says he’s going to do.


Nish Kumar And in support of Andy Street in the West Midlands, Johnson wrote Forget about Westminster. This election is about the next four years in the West Midlands and who you want in charge. If it were my vote, I’d want the person with a record of getting stuff done and that’s Andy Street now. We’re still waiting for the result of the West Midlands mayoral election, but we know now that Ben Houchen has won in the Tees Valley. But Liz, is this case of Rishi Sunak essentially snatching defeat from the jaws of victory because on paper you think, well, you know, that’s a big high profile marriage that they’ve retained, bucking the trend of the Conservative Party losing seats. But at the same time, is it pretty damning that Houchen is one, having wheeled out Boris Johnson and the messaging on top of it already being bad that it’s Johnson? The messaging is very much hyper focused on local issues and doesn’t seem to really engage with the conservatives. This as a national party is this bad news even though it’s good news?


Liz Bates Yeah, yeah yeah. Exactly. Right. And Rishi Sunak of course will try to try to cling on to this, try to attach himself to this win. But Ben Houchen has a massive personal vote, in the Tees Valley. And I know because I’ve been in Covid that election before and people really like I’ve spoken to people who voted for him that didn’t even know that he was a conservative. So he has a big personal vote there. There’s no question that the Prime Minister will go up and, you know, try to pretend that this is a win for the Conservative Party. I mean, the images, I think it kind of reminds me of, you know, when you try to sort of we try to hug someone that just really doesn’t want to be hugged and they’re like, oh, get away from me. That’s kind of what it’s going to be like. It’s interesting. I’ve just had a look at the results. It looks like a swing still, of 16% to the Labour Party. So that’s a big swing. Yeah, that’s the thing that’s more interesting because they he had a huge huge vote last time out. It was 73% down to now 53%. And the Labour vote has increased from 27 to 41. So big, big swing that that’s the thing. That is more interesting. And as you say, Ben has spent, a lot of his time as Andy Street has done in the West Midlands as well, just trying to separate themselves as much as they possibly could from Westminster politics, both of them, very successfully. So it doesn’t reflect well for Rishi Sunak, but they’ve got to take the winds where they can get them.


Nish Kumar Also, we should note that Houchen in the Tees Valley reform didn’t actually stand a candidate. So once again, there’s another factor that needs to be considered in terms of that. Wasn’t that eat into the Tory vote from the front party either? Do you think there would have? Any advantage for them in becoming independent. So why didn’t they? I mean, some of the campaign literature, they literally didn’t. It wasn’t even blue. Like they were sort of so actively trying to distance themselves. Would it have been a smarter move for them to run as independents?


Liz Bates Well, I mean, I think they I think to be honest, either of either of them could have run as independents. But why would you want to, that then you don’t have all the party machinery in the cache behind you. I mean, one of the, one of the interesting things and I mean, this is interesting for me, but please stop me if it’s too boring. You know, the conservatives have really taken local government and devolution in this country and politicized it. So they’ve they’ve taken a lot of money, resources away from local councils and handed them to people like conservative mayors in the West Midlands and the Tees Valley. And it’s given them this kind of political hold, and they have poured cash into these areas and that has and then they’ve kind of said like, look at our mayors, you know, doing all this amazing work. Well, that was money that would have usually gone to the local councils. And then around them there are all these like struggling Labour councils that have got no money. And then all the conservative MPs in those areas are say, God, look at these councils, I’m rubbish. But look at this Tory mayor. He’s doing really well. And it’s like, well he’s the one with the government checkbook. So that’s the kind of dynamic, that has emerged. And, yeah, they spend the money, they’ve got the profile, and that might mean that they hang on, but it’s not, you know, the idea that that is in any way a boost for Rishi Sunak. It it just isn’t.


Coco Khan Well, as we’ve had the former prime Minister Boris Johnson already in this episode, I feel like it’s only okay to mention that he was out making a fool of himself yesterday. Did we all see it? So apparently he was turned away from his polling station in Oxfordshire after reportedly forgetting to bring his ID. Just want to say that the new rules requiring that all voters have ID were introduced by him, by his government. What are we thinking? Publicity stunt?


Liz Bates I personally think if I had to put money on it, I. I reckon I would go that he did it on purpose just to get a little bit of attention. I mean, I don’t know the guy, but his, his character to me comes off like he really reminds me of to remember those like, kids in your class at school, that they they had a kind of weird personality, which was they just wanted attention at any price. So they were like, I’ll eat this piece of dog poo, or else I’ll set fire to my socks just literally for it, because they’re just like, I’ll do anything for attention. And I think that is, in my mind, that is what Boris Johnson’s kind of kind of main driver is.


Nish Kumar I mean, I’m always surprised when people say this incident would have been embarrassing for him because I don’t know what basis or what evidence people have that he has the capacity for shame. It seems like a very strange thing to be like, oh, he’s it. Why? Why would he be embarrassed by this and not everything he’s done in his entire fucking life? So looking forward to the general election. Labour’s tone has been quite modest in some places, and at a rally in Blackpool South where they had, as we said, this huge by election victory, deputy leader Angela Rayner introduced Keir Starmer as hopefully the next prime minister of this country to work is cheering. And then here is Starmer speaking to the BBC’s Helen Cat shortly afterwards.


Clip Why so cautious when you’ve had such a big win this week? We want a general election. We want to win that general election, we want to take our country forward. And I think every single person who voted Labour yesterday.


Nish Kumar Why are Labour staying so humble as they really are, trying to avoid a tone of triumphalism here?


Liz Bates I think it’s because, well, there’s a couple of things, you know, and until they’ve got it over the line, it still feels like, you know, you could grasp defeat from the jaws of victory. I think that’s possible. We’ve seen it happen before, and there’s been a lot of discussion around whether this is at 92 and John Major just hangs on, or if it’s going to be the type of 97 landslide. I think all the, all the signs point to, it, you know, being a Labour government and potentially them getting quite a good result. But I think they they really don’t want to, preempt that and that, that love for Keir Starmer. I mean, there is no love for Keir Starmer, but it’s, it’s still a little bit soft that Labour vote because it is disenfranchized, conservative voters primarily, but also, you know, Scotland people turning away from the SNP. Nobody that I’ve, I’ve spoken to is like I just think Keir Starmer is so wonderful. That’s why I’ve joined. So there’s still that, kind of sense that people could, could, could turn on him. But the other thing is they really, really don’t want to give that impression that they’re already in the door, that they’re already measuring up the curtains, because as soon as you become the establishment, people want to kick you. And so you don’t want to get to that position where in people’s minds you’re already the government, which is I think some see see some of that happening. You know, when you look at the Oldham vote, people are already thinking, well, you know, solve the Labour Party because that, you know, that they already feel like the establishment party that deserve a kicking, and you really don’t want to get into that position because then everything could go wrong for them.


Nish Kumar What’s this done, in your view, to the timing of the election? Because obviously there were so many rumors about him possibly calling it this week. Well, is this giving you any further indication of when the election might be?


Liz Bates No. And look, I, I, I’m a political, obsessive. So I love talking about when the general election is going to be. But, you know, when you hear rumors, rumors in Westminster are literally Labour people talking to each other, then talking to journalists, then someone tweets about it, then someone tells the other person about that. Today, Rishi Sunak will tell maybe three people when he’s going to call the general election, and it will don’t leak like we just won’t know. My sense is that but you can obviously you can assess, you know, what the what the kind of shifting dynamics are and what the strategy might be in number ten based on what’s just happened. Why would you call the general election now? I mean, you would just be going into a complete shitstorm. So, my sense is that they’ll push it. They’ll push it long. They’ve convinced themselves, I think if the economy gets a little bit better that they can they can use that as a platform for their general election campaigning. I think that shows how how out of touch they are with normal people, because just, you know, a slight change in inflation rates or mortgage rates is not going to make a difference. People have been going to go through a terrible time financially for the past, you know, two, three, five years. But I think they convinced themselves of that. They want to get this right. Flights of the want to have a party conference where it gives a big speech, then they’ll want to have a budget where they cut taxes and then they’ll say, you know, don’t go backwards with Labour. They just think, let’s just hold on. Let’s just hold on as long as we can. Maybe something will turn up. I think there’s not enough momentum in the Conservative Party to overthrow him. I just don’t think they’ve got the will to do it. I think they’re just exhausted, as we all are.


Coco Khan I just want to mention that, you know, everyone was talking about Penny Mordaunt being a possible replacement, but did everybody see that? She said she won’t be installed like a boiler. Did everybody see that?


Nish Kumar Yeah. Yeah.


Coco Khan I love that so much. Not least because I’m currently looking at getting a new boiler and it’s expensive stuff. So actually I think it’s a luxury item these days. Penny, I think this will work thanks to go yourself. So we’ve already heard from him earlier in this episode, but Sir John Curtis also said this morning that it’s almost certain the Tories have done okay, but, you know, there could be a hung parliament. What do you think of that, Liz? And for clarity, if it was a hung parliament, what kind of iteration, what combination are we looking for?


Liz Bates I mean, I think there’s definitely the possibility that it could be a hung parliament. That would that would be, I think, a complete nightmare. I mean, I think that would just be so difficult for the Labour Party. They are. The thing that people forget about the Labour Party is that it is actually quite fractured internally, and there’s still a lot of left leaning MPs. There’s a lot, a lot of, anger about the way the party has positioned itself on Gaza, this anger about watering down, things around workers rights. The still the still loads of MPs that came in under Jeremy Corbyn that are just pissed off that, Keir Starmer made them loads of promises and kind of pretended that he was going to be a sensibly dressed version of Jeremy Corbyn. And it turned out, that he’s probably closer or certainly seems at the moment, like he’s moving closer to kind of Tony Blair territory like this, this, this annoyance. About that. And I think if, if we were in a hung parliament situation where Labour didn’t have a majority and they found it difficult to govern, then, you know, it would be difficult for them to get anything through Parliament. And we get into one of those situations where we’re constantly obsessing about parliamentary votes. Is there going to be a big rebellion on this? Is it going to be a big rebellion on that? And the whips would be, you know, always trying to buy off, you know, these this group of rebels of, you know, 5 to 20 people that constantly need placating. And we would just be in a scenario of Labour psychodrama rather than conservative psychodrama. I don’t think that it would even last the parliament. So it would be it would be a terrible thing, I think, for the future of the country if that happened, it’s never a good thing under our system, to, to get into that kind of situation because then it becomes just about party management rather than having you can’t have any long term plans for the country because you just can’t get them through Parliament.


Coco Khan But who would be the party that would, you know, support them? Do you think it is likely to be the the Greens who are the kingmaker, or is it going to be the SNP or is it who do you think it will be?


Liz Bates Well, the Lib Dems. So then you’d end up with a kind of Labour Lib Dem coalition. Because Lib Dems certainly aren’t going to, get into bed with the Tories.


Coco Khan No after last time.


Liz Bates Not after last time?


Nish Kumar I think I actually have broken out in a, like hives at the mention of the words Liberal Democrat and coalition.


Coco Khan You know, in one of our very first episodes, we talked about a Lib lab coalition, didn’t we? I our very sort of hot political take. And by we, I mean me was I was like, well, it has a vaginal air. And I think that’s what is needed in politics. So perhaps that’s a good closing. Parting shot.


Nish Kumar The Libia Libya coalition.


Liz Bates Yeah. Just a whole bunch of cuns all together.


Nish Kumar So look, just final thoughts on this, Liz. Obviously so far. Good night for Labour. Bad night for the Conservative Party. What? What do you see in the kind of between now in the general election, what sort of attempts do you see the Tory party making to kind of win back the public support before a general campaign?


Liz Bates It will be Rishi Sunak going through his list of, his five priorities and say, we’ve done this, we’ve done that, we’ve done the other. There’ll be a lot of, you know, trying to pretend that the Rwanda is a huge success, even though it’s actually wildly expensive, the most expensive immigration policy that could, you could have ever imagined, you know, incredibly inefficient. So there will be a lot made of that. They are absolutely pinning their hopes, I think, on, the idea that the economy will shift, in a better direction. They’ll be able to, campaign on that. And they will also hope that this issue and this is how pathetic party politics is sometimes, but they will hope that Gaza continues to divide the Labour Party to the point where they actually get themselves into a bit of a mess on it. You know, I mean, there are there will genuinely be people in the Conservative Party that hope that conflict doesn’t get resolved so that it causes problems. The Labour Party, genuinely. That’s how people think in Westminster. Some people I mean, that’s just, you know, why we need to get to a better place in British politics, I think.


Nish Kumar So things are going to get worse before they get better.


Liz Bates They might just get worse worse and worse and worse worse forever.


Nish Kumar So let’s just in conclusion, is there any hope left for the Conservative Party?


Liz Bates No.


Nish Kumar That’s perfect.


Liz Bates Just kidding. Just kidding. No. Yeah. Yeah, I think this this always look when you look at these local elections, basically what we’ve been seeing in the polls is reflected in the results that we’re seeing already. If you look at the swings and especially in the by elections and, you know, look like pulls south, but the ones have come before that the Labour Party are on to form the next government, no question. And if we even get to the point of a hung parliament, you know, the Liberal Democrats will be forming a government with the Labour Party. You know, no one’s going to touch the Conservative Party at that point. So I think it seems like there is no way back from them. Things can change very quickly in politics. But, you know, at this point, I think they’re they all need to be they all need to be sorting out their LinkedIn and CVs.


Coco Khan Well, thank you so much for joining us, Liz. And we hope to catch you on the couch soon.


Nish Kumar Thanks, Liz, and thanks for listening, everybody. We’ll be back as normal next Thursday. You can get in touch with us by emailing We also 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 + 44749493344.


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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 The executive producers are Anoushka Sharma, Dan Jackson and Madeleine Herringer, with additional support from Ari Schwartz, and the music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos.


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