In This Episode
Nish and Coco jump on for an emergency bonus episode to reflect on a day of high political drama. Rishi Sunak reshuffles his top team, with the axe finally falling on his controversial Home Secretary Suella Braverman. That was followed by an even bigger shock…the appointment of former Prime Minister David Cameron as Foreign Secretary.
Nish and Coco reflect on Cameron’s questionable legacy since leaving politics, and wonder what it means that he’s been appointed to the House of Lords in order to be given the job – can it be right that MP’s won’t have the chance to question him in the Commons?
Also, beyond the headline moves, Nish wonders what it tells us that we now have our 16th Housing Minister since 2010. Whilst a reshuffle might be exciting for politics watchers, what are the consequences for the rest of us, of ministers being switched between jobs at such an alarming rate?
Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.
Contact us via email: PSUK@reducedlistening.co.uk
WhatsApp: 07514 644 572 (UK) or + 44 7514 644 572
Nish Kumar Hello Pod Save the UK listeners. This is Nish Kumar and I’m here as ever with Coco Khan.
Coco Khan Hi guys.
Nish Kumar We are recording a special mini episode, a minisode, if you will, to react to a busy Monday morning of UK political news. A quick summary of the events is that Suella Braverman, as many people predicted, has been sacked as Home Secretary and replaced by James Cleverly, the former Foreign secretary. However, in a move that less people had anticipated, James Cleverly, his replacement as foreign Secretary is former prime minister and disturber of pigs David Cameron, which is obviously a huge surprise for any number of reasons. Chief amongst them that David Cameron is no longer a member of Parliament. So in order for this move to take place, he has been made into a life peer so that he could be appointed as foreign secretary. A lot of stuff has happened. Coco, what are your sort of initial thoughts on this?
Coco Khan I mean, it’s been a whiplash morning, hasn’t it? You know, being the childless freelancer that I am, I woke up at 9 a.m. and saw that Suella government had been sacked. I mean, we’ve spoken about on previous episodes that we think she was probably looking for that. To a certain extent, this is fulfilling her plan. I mean, you saw the pictures of her. I’d never seen someone look so happy to be sacked. Nonetheless, I thought, I’ll give myself this little moment to enjoy it. Pull me one out for Suella Braverman, and then next thing you know, just tip that down the sink. Nish, because no time for toasting Lord food banks is back. He is back in a prime position. Yeah, it’s been a rollercoaster morning. My first thought was, Wow, how good of the king to be so readily available to make this man a peer? Yeah. I mean, what what were your first instincts about it?
Nish Kumar Well, how I feel about all this cocoa can actually be summarized by some correspondence we’ve had in from the listeners. We put a quick call out on socials to positive UK listeners about how they were feeling about today’s news, and they’ve really summarized my feelings. Alpern on Instagram said, Any joy I feel here Braverman is gone was ruined by hearing that David fucking Cameron is back. And @KatrinaClarke said, I mean, basically just what the actual fuck? How can we have both an unelected prime minister and an unelected foreign secretary? Katrina also said, and I think this is a very, very important point and worth raising. It’s a pretty terrible indication of what Sunak thinks of his other 350 MPs that clearly not a single one of them is up to the task of being foreign secretary. And that what a great point from Katrina. Rishi Sunak has looked at his bench, seen the absolute festival of no talent factoids and thought we have to get back the useless motherfucker who did this job a few years ago. Let’s let’s start with Braverman. So we had talked in previous weeks about how Brafman at this point appeared to be agitating for the sack issues almost. I think when we talked to Zoë Grünewald from The New Statesman last week, Zoe said, what’s the effect of she’s almost daring Rishi Sunak at this point to sack her? And if he does sack her, it positions. It puts itself into a position that, you know, she’s going to be able to lead the kind of right flank of the Conservative Party and it positions her as that flanks candidate for the next the next time that they’re looking for a leader. Right. That’s the kind of angle of it. And, you know, it’s good to talk about those things in kind of political and analytical terms. Her comments about the pro-Palestine protest and her comments about the police, particularly suggesting that they were expressing a bias in favor of Black Lives Matter protests. Listen. If there’s one group of people who have been biased in favor of black people, I think we can all agree it’s the Metropolitan Police with their consistent, unblemished track record of favoring black people.
Coco Khan You’ve seen them at Carnival.
Nish Kumar Yes, I’ve.
Coco Khan You’ve seen them. You’ve seen them. I mean. They tried to twerk. They try very much. It’s a different form of hate crime. I think that one is.
Nish Kumar It was a it was an unfathomable comment, but it was also hugely, hugely, hugely irresponsible. And look, I, I don’t think that there’s any way that given what we saw over the weekend, which was a huge protest around the Cenotaph, which again, it’s worth restating that the pro-Palestine protests had worked with local authorities and respected and observed in many cases the two minute’s silence. And also there was no plans for that protest to go anywhere near the Cenotaph, which is central London’s. Probably the most visible and significant war memorial and the focal point of any Remembrance Day services that happen every single year. And so so had confected a row over nothing. However, I believe that her comments I don’t think this is a particular contentious view either Coco are directly to blame for the scenes that we’ve subsequently seen over the weekend where far right wing protesters were out on the streets and I believe the most at the last count, 92 arrests were made. I’m not the only person that thinks this. The Guardian is reporting that police officers have themselves off the record, been briefing the paper that Suella Braverman claims of police bias were a significant factor in the sustained far right attacks on members of the force. And if we had any sort of reasonable functional system of accountability for these politicians, Suella Braverman wouldn’t just lose her job as home secretary. She would be absolutely nowhere near frontline politics ever again. I, I cannot stress enough the extent to which her comments have a direct link, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. There are clearly police sources that also agree with that view. She is an absolute disgrace.
Coco Khan What I mean, I’m inclined to agree, Nish, but given the day’s events with David Cameron, I think it’s fair to say that there is anybody can come back to front line politics. You know, you can cause the biggest civil rift in modern British history and you can still come back to frontline politics, I’m afraid. I do feel that this is not the last we’ve seen of Suella Braverman. I think this is all part of her dastardly plan. I do like the sense, like you said, that there’s some sort of comeuppance, even if it just is a line for someone like James cleverly not to cross. Maybe he can learn from this horrible, horrible, disruptive situation to not go that far. So, yeah, I don’t know, Nish. I think we might see her again. Anyway, she’s already been sacked once before and she’s back, so this would just be a trilogy?
Nish Kumar Yeah, that’s right. The last time she was sacked, she was sacked for six days. She was sacked in the kind of dying embers of the truss administration. She was ordered to resign for sending an official document from her personal email to a fellow MP, which is a serious breach of ministerial rules. And then six days later, Sunak reappointed her to the same job. So again, he has cultivated an environment in which there is no consequence for her various controversies. And once back in office, she’s, you know, she was accused of racist rhetoric by a conservative, Sayeeda Warsi, over her rhetoric around grooming gangs. She’s referred to an invasion of small boats. And then in the last week and a half, she’s called pro-Palestinian demonstrations, hate marches, and said that homelessness and people living in tents was a lifestyle choice of people. So clearly she was emboldened by Sunak’s complete inability to or unwillingness to rein her in in any way. But now she’s going to be on the backbench. So bear in mind, this is the sort of things she was saying when she was home secretary. So now she’s on the backbenches. We could be in for a true golden era of Suella Braverman absolute batshit ness.
Coco Khan But I wonder to what extent these these new appointments, you know, Cameron in particular is soon back saying, you know what, I’m not going to do this anymore. It’s a welcome reprieve, even if it’s just for a year until someone else gets in because she was extremely toxic and I don’t know how far she would have gone. But also, I mean, when the Conservative Party were announcing these new appointments, like it’s like a football transfer with they’re like weird head shots and like announced, we’ve got an agreement, You know, whoever is Laura Trott is now coming to the front line. It was all very strange. But you know, the line they used for James cleverly was James cleverly will stop the boats. So, you know, we can’t we can’t blame all of it on her. There is obviously this kind of xenophobic, anti-migrant, you know, low key dog whistle racism embedded in that party. So it remains to be seen. I think, whether the legacy of Suella will be will be as strong or diluted.
Nish Kumar So in terms of the polling around this decision, most people in this country, based on a snap YouGov poll taken today, think that Rishi Sunak was right rather than wrong to sack Suella Braverman as Home secretary. 57% of the people that responded said that he was right to sack her. Only 20% actually said that he was wrong to sack her. This tactic that she’s going down of appealing to the very hard right of the Conservative Party doesn’t seem to be playing. Particularly well on a national scale. But then maybe it doesn’t need to be, because if her end goal is to be the next Conservative leader, the only people she has to convince are the membership of the Conservative Party, a group of people who elected Liz Truss and were dangerously close to, according to all polling data, reelecting Boris Johnson when given the choice of who is going to replace Truss. But if you extrapolate this out nationally, it didn’t seem to. It didn’t seem to be going over particularly well with the majority of people in the country. Speaking of people that don’t go over well with the majority of people in the United Kingdom, let’s talk about David Cameron and again with Braverman, there was an expectation that this is going to happen. Coco actually sent a text message to our WhatsApp group saying she’s gone. She’s definitely gone on Monday. And I hope that you made some money out of that, Coco, because some good has to come out.
Coco Khan I woke up early and I enough to like, enjoy it. The the return of the specter. David Cameron ruined my morning.
Nish Kumar Yeah. So the sequence of events was this We had the problem was going to be sacked. And then David Cameron arrived at ten Downing Street. And to show you how much of a surprise this is, there is extraordinary footage of news correspondents outside ten Downing Street having no idea why Cameron was going to be there. So clearly, clearly, clearly, this was something that people with their ears to the ground did not have any sense of. He was prime minister, of course, until 2016 when he called and subsequently lost the Brexit referendum. And he quit that morning after the result had been announced. And the last time we saw him in frontline politics, he was whistling on his way back into number ten, calmly walking away from us, immediately detonating country. What? Coco I mean, what’s happened here? Have I? Am I asleep?
Coco Khan Well.It’s difficult because
Nish Kumar Is this a nightmare?
Coco Khan I mean, yes, it is a nightmare. It definitely is a nightmare. Unlike I’ve been trying this morning to sort of get out of my kind of headspace, which is, you know, I’m to the left. We’re all on the progressive side of politics. So, of course, you know, you look at him and you say, okay, well, you are a grubby little man who oversaw austerity, oversaw the emergence of food banks, oversaw school cuts that we’re still dealing with right now. You’re a grubby little man who, you know, after you left, frontline politics was involved, one of the worst lobbying scandals we’ve seen in the UK. I mean, there’s lots of bad, isn’t there? There’s just so many bad things to to think about. I haven’t even started on Libya as well. So, you know, great that he’s getting a foreign secretary role when it’s widely understood that many of the calls he made in terms of the British involvement in the situation in Libya made the situation worse and there were casualties off the back of that. But nonetheless, anyway, I’ve been trying to think about, well, if I was right wing, what how would I feel about this? That is a really difficult thought exercise for me. Anyway. I don’t where pearl necklace is. I don’t like kitten heels. There’s not really much I can do into becoming this right wing person. But I think the logic of it is this Cameron is seen as a safe pair of hands. He is the antithesis to Boris Johnson. When Boris Johnson came in, he was like, you know, trying to kick against the Cameron legacy. Right? And so in a way of cynics trying to shed himself of the Boris Johnson legacy and all of that sort of stink that was around that maybe aligning himself with this safe pair of hands. David Cameron is is wise. Now, obviously, I have very bad things to say about him, of course. But nonetheless, he does have strong relationships to the EU because he was prime minister and he was a remainer. And we do need to go a little bit closer to Europe. He also, you know, again, because of his experience, has a relationship to the US that’s really important as well in the minute. So I think there are people on Sunak’s side of things that will be very, very happy about it. Okay, so then what does that mean for conservative voters? Well, in the red wall, I don’t think David Cameron’s very popular, but he focusing on his kind of blue voters. Right. So the conservatives have gone back to the back to basics being like, let’s focus on the wealthy south east, let’s focus on the wealthy south. It might work. You know, maybe maybe it will. Maybe it’s actually a smooth move. Maybe this is soon out doing actual real politics and doing it. Well, I don’t know. I mean, obviously, like you on a personal level, I’m like, oh, God, not this guy again. But maybe it’s symbols symbolizes the real Rishi Sunak that we’ve been waiting for for a long time. Maybe he is actually a centrist dad.
Nish Kumar This does signal this, you know, trying to shore up his support in the wealthy south east where the Conservative Party have been losing a lot of seats to the Liberal Democrats. So that’s the section of the country that Cameron played very well with in the 2010, 2015 elections.
Coco Khan But also, let’s not forget all of these public school boys, they all reduced themselves to playground politics. David Cameron is big and popular and Rishi Sunak is small and weaselly. This is why I got you to my part, isn’t it? I like to be associated with big names. It makes me look good. Deflected glory is still glories. I think that explains a lot about Rishi.
Nish Kumar But again, I don’t know that a lot of that speculation is based around the an election that happened in 2015, some eight years and a huge amount of news and reappraisal of politics has happened in the intervening eight years. And one of the major things that happens is that, you know, there’s obviously a thing where prime ministers leave their post and they can often do things to enhance their reputation. People like John Major and Gordon Brown probably enhanced their reputation after they left office. Tony Blair went a different direction of grabbing his hair out like someone who was threatening Bruce Willis in the 1980s action film and, you know, doing some lobbying work for some at best, let’s be charitable and say questionable regimes. However, David Cameron’s post prime ministerial career is basically defined by something you’ve already alluded to with the lobbying scandal. So he was lobbying ministers and high ranking civil servants at the height of the COVID pandemic on behalf of Greensill Capital. So after he left number ten, two years after he left number ten, he joined Greensill as an adviser and a lobbyist. And it’s a it’s a lobbying scandal that led to him being described as having a significant lack of judgment by a Treasury select committee. Cameron has actually trumpeted the fact that he said that he didn’t break any rules, but the Treasury Committee’s report actually said that this is a direct quote, that Cameron didn’t break the lobbying rules, but instead said it reflects on the insufficient strength of the rules. So that is not a resounding not guilty verdict that suggests that Cameron, what Cameron was doing, essentially exploited loopholes that exist. And it also alluded to what he called a significant lack of judgment on behalf of the of the former prime minister. So that’s really the thing that’s defined. His post prime ministerial career is a massive lobbying scandal. He was basically lobbying the government for COVID relief money for Greensill Capital, which actually ended up collapsing the following year. And the failure of Greensill Capital is estimated by a parliamentary inquiry to have cost UK taxpayers up to £5 billion. Right?
Coco Khan Although there was one other public appearance which was actually to criticize where he said it. Right, he was in favor of keeping HS2 project going. I can’t believe I agree with something that David Cameron said. So, I mean, even that, like his last show in public was this show he didn’t know how to make decisions.
Nish Kumar Yeah, I suppose his most recent intervention on frontline politics was to criticize the man who is now his boss.
Coco Khan I mean, there’s always been a problem with accountability in this in this party. You know, we’ve talked before about the Trump ocracy and VIP Lanes and Michelle Mone and all the so many scandals. I can’t even really remember them all. And now, actually, with this situation with Baron Cameron, I still can’t really bring myself to say that phrase. You know, there is a accountability problem just from the get go. He is going to be held to account in the House of Lords rather than in Commons, which makes it harder for MPs to hold him to account. And given the situation in the Middle East, which we’ve seen already and we’ve been discussing about on previous episodes, it’s something that means a lot to our listeners and to the UK in general. The idea that the the Foreign Secretary is not being held to account, or rather it’s it’s harder for MPs to do that during this time feels very very it just feels very dystopian.
Nish Kumar Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. So we should say we’re going into quite an extraordinary set of circumstances here where the Foreign secretary at the time of, you know, an enormous unfolding crisis with the Israel-Gaza war, also with the continued war in Ukraine. There are huge global crises and we’re going into both of them with a foreign secretary who will not be sat in the House of Commons so that at the moment will not be held. Be able to be held accountable by. Now we should say the Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle has addressed this in a statement this afternoon and has sought advice from clerks and is, he says, looking forward to hearing Government proposals on how the Foreign Secretary can be properly accountable to MPs. And he said this I can assure the House I’m fully aware of the need for members to be able to hold the Government to account in this area, especially at the current time. I’ll do everything I can to ensure that we are able to do so, but it does present us with an extraordinary set of circumstances of all the points in recent history, to have a Foreign Secretary that is inside the House of Commons. This feels like a particularly bad one.
Coco Khan Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. And what are you thinking in terms of an election date? Because this morning, as I tweeted angrily, that realization that our foreign secretary is not elected. He’s not an elected MP. He hasn’t won an election for over a decade. And our current prime minister didn’t stand for a general election. Okay, fine. He’s an MP. But even so, just in that moment, I could feel this rage inside of me. Just thinking back to Cameron and all that talk as well around the Brexit referendum about unelected officials and our own sovereignty. And here I am being led by two guys I’ve had literally no say on for a really, really long time. For me, I feel like this has got to mean an election date being announced soon, surely? I don’t know. How are you feeling about it?
Nish Kumar Well, there are reports from unnamed associates of David Cameron that he isn’t in it to do the job for five months, so that the inference of that being Sunak’s plan to call an early election is now not happening. And sunak’s presumably given Cameron some assurances that he won’t just immediately be plunged into an election campaign. He has to call the election by the 17th of December, and then there’s 25 working days to hold the actual election.
Coco Khan To plus sides for you, though.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Coco Khan Two positives. One. I’m sure many of our listeners and myself have shared in the feeling when Danny Dyer let loose on television, I said, Where is David Cameron, the twat? He just caused this chaos and scuttled off. And now where is he? In Nice, probably with his trotters up. And I agree. You know. Absolutely. So it’s good in a way. I was always really resentful of him leaving and just scuttling off and sitting on his pile of money, probably. And, you know, walking around the Cotswolds and being everyone’s friends. And I didn’t get my chance to throw a tomato at him. As a journalist, let me say. And now that opportunity may arise, we’re going to see more of him on screens. And I’m looking forward to seeing, I hope, members of the press really gunning for him and bringing up all of those things, asking him every time, why should we trust you after Greensill? Why should we trust you after all of this? So I hope to see that. And the second one is that Nish, we have managed to speak about David Cameron and not once talk about the pig shagging. And I think that means we have grown personally through this.
Nish Kumar I would love to agree with you, Coco, but I think you’ll forgetting that I mentioned it immediately. I believe I described him as an ex prime minister and pig disturber.
Coco Khan Oh, yes. Sorry. Yes, you are right. Okay, well, just the one one upside, then.
Nish Kumar And we should also say, look, it’s been a day where political reporters have kind of been in a frenzied state of excitement about the state of this reshuffle. And it’s been a day where the news is sort of been dominated once again by the kind of internal machinations of the Conservative Party. But we should also say there is. You know, we should also say that this is an impediment to the business of governing. All of this internal infighting, reshuffling and restructuring. One of the elements of the reshuffle that is understandably just going to get less play because of the headlines about Brother Ben and Cameron is that Rachel McLean, the housing minister, has also been sacked and she’s been quite public that she didn’t want to go and she was removed from the post by Rishi Sunak. Now what this means is that the UK is going to get its 16th Housing Minister since 2010, and the other reason that this was significant was this was supposed to be the the first day of the committee stage of a bill designed to help protect the rights of private renters. And Tom Darling, who’s the campaign manager at the Renters Reform Coalition, had this to say. It is frankly shambolic that we will now be onto our 16th housing minister since 2010 and incredibly nine just since the government promised to end no fault evictions. Now, just before the first day of the important committee stage, which involves poring over the detail of the bill, she is sacked. It makes a mockery of government and shows a shocking lack of respect for England’s 11 million private renters. So whilst everybody is very excited about the comings and goings of various MPs, let’s be very clear about this. This kind of infighting, restructuring and reshuffling is an impediment towards the business of government and blocks the government from doing things that could help ordinary people in their day to day lives. And it’s part of the reason why huge numbers of people in this country do not feel that politics and our system of government works to represent them, because all we are seeing today is people’s personal ambitions play out and we are seeing political journalists be very, very excited by the theater and the sport of it. But whilst this theater, sport and personal ambitions are playing out, people’s lives are being affected, things that the government should be doing to help, to help people that live in this country are being affected. And so it’s on days like this where I have tremendous sympathy for people in this country that feel like politics has absolutely no bearing on their lives. And they feel like the people at the head of government have no interest in doing things that actually could improve their lives. And it is days like this that alienate people from politics and make them feel like government has nothing to offer them.
Coco Khan Well, I couldn’t agree more. Really? I guess the only thing I’m hanging on to is they always say that revenge is a dish best served cold. And Cameron has been away so long that he’s. He’s a chilled pudding. And I’m ready to eat less. Let’s eat this guy.
Nish Kumar Thanks for listening, everybody. I think I speak for everyone when I say I wish Suella Braverman nothing but a lifetime of diarrhea. We will actually.
Coco Khan I was going to say to you Nish this as well, because obviously it was Diwali over the weekend. You know, as a metaphor is the triumph of light over darkness. And I was like, I bet I know what Nish was praying for.
Nish Kumar You know, it was a real gift. It’s a real gift for the Indian community that one of our embarrassing representatives has temporarily been forced to the margins of politics. Thanks very much for listening. Thanks very much for watching. We will be back for full episode on Thursday, where we’ll be joined by LBC presenter and author James O’Brien. He has some very spicy thoughts on David Cameron in particular. There’s a whole chapter devoted to him in his book on the people who broke Britain. Now, if you have a question you’d like to put to James O’Brien, email us at PSUK@ReducedListening.co.uk That’s PSUK@ReducedListening.co.uk. Thank you very much to everyone who got in touch today. I’m sorry we didn’t get to all of your correspondence. The general tenor is fucking livid and rightly so. Thanks very much for listening. We’ll see you on Thursday.
Coco Khan Thanks, guys. See you soon.