In This Episode
It’s groundhog day at Westminster as Rishi Sunak’s Safety of Rwanda Bill returns to the Commons – will all the talk of rebellion come to anything this time? Nish and Coco discuss whether an opinion poll in the Telegraph was used to try to influence the debate and encourage the rebels. Plus they ask how it is that the UK has granted asylum to Rwandans AFTER signing a deal that deems the country safe.
Labour MP Clive Lewis and journalist Laura Trevelyan went on a fascinating journey together, after discovering a shared connection on the island of Grenada….where his ancestors were enslaved and hers were slave owners. They discuss whether countries involved in the slave trade should pay reparations…and what goes into the traditional Grenadian meal of Oil Down.
Find out why Manchester United fan Nish is full of praise for Liverpool fans, and what Avanti West Coast Trains have done to annoy Coco. Plus there’s some disagreement over whether we should be helping lonely Pod Save the Uk fans find love…Pod Shag the Uk anyone?
Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.
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Laura Trevelyan, campaigner and journalist
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South
Heirs of Enslavement, Persephonica
The Traitors US, Peacock
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 like the turd that won’t flush the government’s Rwanda policy is back and stinking up Westminster.
Coco Khan Plus, should countries that got rich off the back of slavery be forced to pay reparations? Yes, we mean you Britain.
Nish Kumar MP Clive Lewis and journalist Laura Trevelyan will be here to tell us about the fascinating journey that they went on together after discovering a shared connection on the island of Grenada, where his ancestors were enslaved and hers were slave owners.
Coco Khan Hi, Nish. How are you?
Nish Kumar Very good. Coco, how are you?
Coco Khan I’m good. I feel like we haven’t, you know, chatted. How is everything?
Nish Kumar Well, that sounds like you’ve heard something’s gone terribly wrong in my personal life. I feel like we haven’t talked.
Coco Khan Yeah, just.
Nish Kumar Is everything okay?
Coco Khan How are you? You know.
Nish Kumar You look *pause* bad..
Coco Khan But what’s what I’ve been up to. What’s going.
Nish Kumar I. I’m struggling to make conversation with everybody this week, because over the weekend, I did, the kind of bonus podcast aftershow discussion program for a show called The Traitors. And for people outside the UK, the traitors is pretty much all people in the UK are talking about. There is an American version that’s hosted by Alan Cumming. I think that the UK version is massive, hosted by National Treasure called Claudia Winkleman. And I did, the podcast over the weekend. That’s also a TV show hosted by my friend Ed Gamble where we discuss the latest episode. And because of that, I am two episodes ahead.
Coco Khan Oh, wow.
Nish Kumar One of our producers already said he’s not speaking to me because there’s a danger of me revealing spoilers about it.
Coco Khan You know, we’ve had that thing. We take out 300 pounds from the cashpoint, and then you have to carry it to wherever you’re going.
Nish Kumar Why are you taking out 300 pounds?
Coco Khan Sometimes I need cash. Sometimes I just do. All right.
Nish Kumar For legal reasons, we can’t go into anything further.
Coco Khan But, you know, for me.
Nish Kumar It’s definitely not buying drugs. Okay, everyone. Just leave it alone.
Coco Khan Yeah. Anyway, listen, sometimes you got to pay a plumber. You’ve got to pay a tradie. They like cash. Anyway, what I’m saying.
Nish Kumar Tradie or someone who trades these.
Coco Khan So when you get the money at the cashpoint? You know, you can’t you.
Nish Kumar Feel you feel the burden of.
Coco Khan Exactly that wondering is that how you feel? You’ve got the national treasure.
Nish Kumar It’s obviously. Yeah, I’ve got I’ve carry secrets for a program that everybody’s obsessed with. It is very tense. I, I spent a lot of like early years of standup. It obviously doesn’t happen so much nowadays being paid in cash and that the walk home with £200 in your pocket, especially because at that point you’re like, if I get robbed not only of I got robbed, but I’m also not gonna eat this week. It was obviously it was very tense.
Coco Khan I remember saying to one of my mates once, this is just an aside, I was like, you’ll never guess what I figured out. Yeah, what you do is you boil eggs and then you put them back in the box, and then you always have hard boiled eggs. And I just remember that moment.
Nish Kumar What you thought you, you you thought you’ve done a life hack.
Coco Khan Yeah. I just remember that moment of telling everyone.
Nish Kumar Coco, that’s just called boiling eggs.
Coco Khan No, but come on, do doing them all at once and then putting in.
Nish Kumar Loads of people do that. Loads of people do that.
Coco Khan I was really proud of myself. I was just that moment when you see their face and you’re like, oh no, oh God.
Nish Kumar This is Coco Khan’s new section Life Hacks. If you’re boiling one egg, why not boil three and then you have two other boiled eggs? Next time you want boiled eggs.
Coco Khan I actually do the whole batch of six to let you know, but it’s really important. It’s really important that you label it hard boiled, because otherwise someone else will go and think that otherwise.
Nish Kumar You’re just gonna. Otherwise you’re just going to peel an egg. For more life hacks, stay tuned to Pod Save the UK.
Nish Kumar Your life. Stay tuned to parts of the UK. Has so much political capital ever been spent. Defending a policy is weak, unworkable and frankly, deranged. Is the government’s plan to send would be asylum seekers to the tiny central African country of Rwanda. Rishi Sunak’s Safety of Rwanda bill has been back in the spotlight as it reached the committee stage of its passage through the Commons. Cue the usual grandstanding by factions on the right and left of the Conservative Party, pushing competing agendas and threatening number ten with rebellion.
Coco Khan We’re recording this on Wednesday, and as things stand, the rebels have given the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, something of a bloody nose, with up to 60 of his MPs voting for amendments to the bill last night. But none of the amendments, which rebels think are needed to make it harder for the bill to be challenged in the courts, actually passed. So Sunak, he’s got what he wanted, but at what cost? Two of his party’s deputy chairman, Lee Anderson, Brendan Clarke Smith and a ministerial aide, Jane Stephenson, quit their roles to vote with the rebels. By the time you’re listening to this, we’ll know how many of them were willing to defy the party whips and vote against the bill itself.
Nish Kumar It’s worth saying that siding with a rebel amendment is very different from voting with the opposition against your own leader, because that would be torpedoing the entire flagship bill and throwing his government into freefall. But, Coco, I want to take you back to the start of the week and the extraordinary front page of the conservative supporting Daily Telegraph, whose headline would have had their Tory readership absolutely choking on their Monday morning cornflakes because it read that the Tories are facing a 1997 general election style wipeout. And it was based on a huge poll by YouGov, which predicted 120 seat Labour majority, with 11 current Tory cabinet ministers losing their seats. And it is worth digging into where this poll has come from and what it could possibly be seen to be achieving. Politico has been reporting that it was commissioned by a group of Tory donors called the Conservative Britain Alliance, who are working with the Tory peer Lord Frost. So you can actually Google the conservative Britain alliance. It just finds one entry on the entire internet, which is the Telegraph article. So it does look from the outside at least, like this organization has been set up by Lord Frost, or at least with Lord Frost backing to try and fuck with Rishi Sunak, essentially. And that begs the question why would a conservative group be pushing data that essentially suggests that the party is heading for an electoral Armageddon?
Coco Khan So the the speculation is that Lord Frost and this group, conservative Britain Alliance, they want the conservatives to go more right wing. So they release this data that effectively says they need to go more right wing in order to avoid this extinction event. So that data is released on Monday. Monday is the start of what we were talking about earlier, all these amendments and all these conversations around the Rwanda bill. So it’s not unreasonable to suggest that this was all timed, it was all planned, and effectively it was to scare people into voting for these amendments, to scare parliamentarians and even constituents, to emailing their MP and saying, like, you need to make this Rwanda bill be harder and tougher. You know, I think it’s important to mention that the the purpose of this bill that we’re discussing this week is so that Rwanda is designated a safe country. But, you know, Home Office has granted asylum to people coming from Rwanda. So, yes, everyone that’s actually working with asylum applications knows that this is completely farcical.
Nish Kumar The I, the newspaper has been reporting that the Home Office has been granting asylum to people from Rwanda, even as the government is trying to declare it safe countries. So we’ve got, on the one hand, Rishi Sunak saying Rwanda is a completely safe country and on the other hand, his own home office turning around and saying, well, obviously we’ll grant asylum to people from Rwanda because it’s not a safe country, right? So it’s the whole thing is kind of a nonsensical feedback loop for stupidity.
Coco Khan Yet. No, it is completely nonsensical. I mean, one of the things I found, you know, really alarming about this, this conversation about the poll, was that it? It was the front page splash on the Telegraph. Right? This is the sort of stuff that consumers of media hate. The idea that press actually is no longer objective, and it’s just the mouthpiece of whoever it might be. That is the that is the the heart of the problem with the British press. And it’s, it makes me really sad because it’s like you’re not even trying anymore to hide it. And I should point out as well, that YouGov was unhappy with the Telegraph’s interpretation.
Nish Kumar Because you should say the poll was the source, but it was the Telegraph’s interpretation of the poll, and that’s what YouGov picked them up on.
Coco Khan Yes, exactly. And there’s always a concern with things like this. I mean, like, you know, my father in law again doesn’t share the politics of the Telegraph but likes the cricket coverage. So he occasionally picks up, a telegraph. And, you know, this front page will be on kitchen counters, it will be in the newsstand. There will be people that will take it on face value, and they will genuinely believe that there are huge swathes of the British public that. Want this Rwanda policy to go ahead, that want us to be more xenophobic and more little England and more kind of isolated. And actually, that’s not 100% true. And in a way, you could you could argue that by filtering out these stories that almost manufacturing this belief that this is what the majority wants, but is it actually true? Is that the case?
Nish Kumar Well, what I would say is Rishi Sunak has made the Rwanda bill the kind of central piece of flagship legislation of his government, and it has not worked in terms of improving his standing in national polls going into an election year. It hasn’t worked at all, because, I mean, I just can’t escape this idea that when you can’t afford to heat your house or feed your children, you couldn’t give less of a shit about this kind of stuff. And I think that, again, it’s the Conservative Party being having their agenda set by a very small group of its own voter base. And our conservative voters are embracing very, very dangerous rhetoric. The AFD is on the rise in Germany. Geert Wilders is winning elections in Holland. The Conservative Party should be taking a stand against the lapsing of center right politics into the grip of the hard right. But it is not because of craven, weak minded cowards like Rishi Sunak.
Coco Khan Exactly. And as much as we can get drawn into this kind of Westminster watching, it’s important not to lose sight of the human cost of all of this politicking. With the recent stormy weather abating this weekend. So the first channel crossing for nearly a month, the Home Office confirmed that 124 people crossed the channel in three boats on Saturday. For some, though, it ended in tragedy. Five people died on Sunday in French waters after boarding a boat near the resort of Wimmer Row. I mean, it’s just horrible and like the government will say, we need to stop the boats, but they can’t stop the boats. So I don’t know. It’s we’re going to talk to Clive and Laura later and they’re talking about the, you know, legacies of slavery and, and by extension, the legacies of colonialism. And one thing I often think about all the time was like, if you don’t want people to come here, you could maybe make their homes safe places to live by not participating in wars or not participating in the exploitation of their resources, or even just the climate like, you know, stop pumping fossil fuels and carbon into the air, burning fossil fuels, sorry. And and pumping out carbon into the air to make these places more hospitable. And actually, I think here’s a Tory slogan hate ethnics, love cycling. What do you think?
Nish Kumar What you tried to appeal to racist, conservative voters?
Coco Khan We can trick them.
Nish Kumar Well, you could stop immigrants coming by getting ugh hybrid car.
Coco Khan More green policies, more green policies, international aid, peace, ceasefire.
Nish Kumar Keep Britain white by going green.
Nish Kumar [AD]
Coco Khan Joining us now in the studio are our guests Laura Trevelyan, former BBC journalist, and the Labour MP Clive Lewis. They co-present a fascinating podcast called Heirs of Enslavement about their shared connection to the shameful days of British slave ownership in the Caribbean.
Nish Kumar And this is, I guess don’t call it a comeback for Clive. Our very first guest was actually in the studio. It’s nice to see you.
Clive Lewis Yeah, lovely to see you as well. But, yeah, I’ve just come back from Antarctica. Yeah, a parliamentary trip. They’re looking at climate issues, geopolitical issues. So, yeah, it’s been all, all systems go.
Coco Khan And Laura is joining us from New York City.
Nish Kumar Yeah. Would you like to tell the listeners what you did as a British person returning to her motherland?
Laura Trevelyan Well, Nish, Coco, Clive, I had to celebrate with a full English.
Coco Khan Yes.
Laura Trevelyan This morning, because you know.
Clive Lewis Your arteries are clogging up as we speak.
Laura Trevelyan Americans think that black pudding is the most disgusting thing on the planet.
Nish Kumar They’re not completely wrong. They’re not totally right.
Clive Lewis Fried blood and fat.
Laura Trevelyan When you have it with the bacon and the egg? Come on. Yeah. It’s amazing.
Clive Lewis I’ve never had it in my life.
Laura Trevelyan What?
Clive Lewis No, no.
Nish Kumar You’ve never had black pudding in your life?
Clive Lewis The thought of it just. Just fills me with dread. No no no, no. Not sure.
Nish Kumar For non-British listeners, black pudding is. I mean, it is. It’s a fried blood cake.
Laura Trevelyan Yeah.
Coco Khan Yeah.
Laura Trevelyan It’s all the bits of the pig that you don’t really want to eat.
Nish Kumar Listen, we absolutely love the podcast and we’re looking forward to chatting about it. But before we do that, Clive, we’ve just been discussing the Rwanda bill, and I know that you’re leaving us as soon as we finish this record to go to the Commons to vote on it. How do you see that vote playing out?
Clive Lewis I think, the government, the government will get their way. I mean, we what? We saw the rebels defeated last night. Frankly, I was disgusted listening to the rebels. I think millions of the people in this country are. Look, there is nothing wrong with discussing immigration policy in this country. I mean, it’s all we ever seem to discuss in this country since Windrush, but there’s nothing wrong with that. But I draw the line at people who want to now unpick and overturn, human rights legislation that was born out of the genocide of the Holocaust and, frankly, genocides that took place for centuries before that. And we look around Europe, we look at the rise of fascism. We look what’s happening in Germany. And it does feel like a slippery slope. And I feel that we have to draw a line in the sand on our international obligations to the human rights legislation, which is so important. And if we don’t do that, we can look around the world, you know, the Middle East, and see what happens when that legislation isn’t there or isn’t able to protect people. We need it. And this is what that’s about. You know, it’s connected to Empire. Yeah. It’s also connected to here and now. And I think people should be very alert and aware of what’s going on. I know it’s very easy to always say, you know, oh, they sound like fascists. Yeah. Unfortunately, we’re getting to that point. Maybe we’ve passed it, and I think people should be very aware of what these MPs are trying to do because it affects us all, not just asylum seekers.
Nish Kumar And we should also just briefly say, as a former member of the armed forces who served in the Middle East, I’m fascinated to know what you think about the current situation with the UK has joined the US in carrying out military strikes against toothy targets in Yemen.
Clive Lewis It’s complicated. Yeah. One of the things that I found as a member of Parliament is there’s this, Abraham Maslow said, if you think the only tool you have at your disposal is a hammer, then you begin to look at everything like it’s a nail. And I think the the use of airstrikes, I’ve. I’ve only been in Parliament ten years, and I think there have been three different, three, four different airstrikes that we’ve been part of, probably more if you include drone attacks. And it just think you look at the way the world is in a moment and you think, I think there might be a better way of going about solving some of the world’s problems. I’m not a pacifist, and I understand there’s some very scary and dangerous organizations and countries out there. Some of them are there because we were over there and have done things. But I think we need to think very carefully as a country, looking at the escalation that’s taking place over there, whether this is the right thing to do. In these circumstances, I have questions. We didn’t even get to debate it before it happened. That’s problematic.
Nish Kumar That’s the situation in the US and the UK as well, because there’s been a huge amount of consternation, about Biden’s decision to bomb without consulting Congress. Laura, you’re obviously a journalist based in the US. How is that playing out for him at the moment?
Laura Trevelyan Well, it’s just so complicated for him because the left of his party is already up in arms about the Americans unequivocal support for Israel and the Gaza campaign against Hamas. And now you have what’s happened with the Houthis? I mean, the administration is saying that it has right to defend itself against attacks. But I guess the wider picture is it’s just as Clive is saying, you know, it’s a scary world. And the way that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has now extended into the proxies of Iran and the allies of Hamas. So now you have Hezbollah, you have the Houthis taking pot shots. It’s very alarming, and it feels so finely poised. I know Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser in Davos, is talking about a time for diplomacy. But it feels like that window, it’s really, really running out.
Clive Lewis Also in the US as well. You’ve got the bizarre situation of Trump saying, you know, I’m doing the hand. I had no wars on my watch. I had no wars. And I think Biden needs to be careful. It could be a close election race with Trump. It looks like Trump was going to be the candidate. And if if Biden alienates the left progressive voters and they simply don’t turn out for him, that’s problematic for all of us, frankly. So, you know, Biden’s got to be careful here. He can’t just assume that people progressives are gonna they might not they’re obviously not gonna vote for Trump, but they might not turn out for him. And he needs them.
Coco Khan Let’s turn to the podcast, Laura, I believe the story of this whole project started with you discovering about your own lineage. So tell us about that. And then also, I’d like to understand how you two linked up.
Laura Trevelyan Yes. Oh my gosh. Well, I I’ll, I’ll give you the, you know, the very brief the 45 second version, but essentially, University College London put online about ten years ago the database of people in Britain who claimed, if you can believe this, claimed compensation for the loss of their property when slavery was abolished, the property in this case being their slaves. And when that database came out, I was in the US. I didn’t look at it. I read some story in the newspaper which said, oh, database crashes as everybody logs on to try and find out whether they were compensated. But some years later, a family email begins. Someone says, oh, Trevelyan, if you log in to the UCL database, it says that Trevelyan’s were compensated because we owned enslaved Africans in all these plantations in Grenada, in the Caribbean. And Laura, you were journalist. You were supposed to be a historian. What do we can do about this? I was like, oh dear God, I have no idea.
Coco Khan This was never spoken about in your family?
Laura Trevelyan No. No one had ever mentioned that because it’s so classically British under the rug. Once the abolition happened in 1834, it was as if slavery had never happened. And the whole narrative is rewritten. And, oh, Britain abolished slavery. We led the world. Aren’t we fantastic? Not. We were up to it in our necks turning a tragedy into a triumph, isn’t it? And George Macaulay Trevelyan, this historian, my great grandfather, his bestselling, English social history. So he in his histories he celebrates abolition of slavery as being, you know, a founding principle of 19th century liberal Britain doesn’t mention that he is descended from enslavers in the Caribbean. So Clive is of Grenadian descent. And we figured out that Clive’s dad was born close to the boat as you sugar cane plantation. In fact, we went in there together for the podcast and that was part owned by my ancestors. And so we talk to historians in Grenada who said, well, Grenada, such a small island, you know, it’s just over 100,000 people that live there. Trevelyan Paul owned ten plantations. Clive’s father didn’t. Move. You know, we’re still living close to a plantation part owned by traveling. So basically, it’s not a stretch to say that Clive’s ancestors could have been owned by mine.
Nish Kumar Right. Can we just briefly, before we get into the specifics of the podcast, talk about the slavery bailout and the compensation package? Because I do think it’s one of the most extraordinary and I believe lesser known. Yeah, lesser known and under discussed elements of British history. So just just just for the listeners that don’t are not aware of this, please just run them down. What what you’re talking about.
Laura Trevelyan Yeah. We’re 20 million pounds in 1834 is paid to 46,000. Claims are made for the loss of what’s termed property, that properties enslaved Africans by all the little old ladies in Britain and the big plantation owners and anyone who’s linked to slavery. Because when slavery is abolished, they can no longer have slaves. So therefore they have to be compensated. And the backdrop to it is Clive parliamentarian then is now in order for there to be parliamentary support, there needed to be this compensation package trailed because the West Indies interest, as it was known, meaning the planters, meaning the slavers, basically, you know, they were very they were a powerful lobby.
Clive Lewis I think it’s important to get a size, the scale. 20 million doesn’t sound like much, but.
Laura Trevelyan That’s back then.
Clive Lewis In 1834 was half half of government spending. Yeah. So that would be.
Laura Trevelyan 40%, I think.
Clive Lewis Yeah, 40%.
Nish Kumar 40%.
Clive Lewis So it would be it would be hundreds of billions of pounds.
Laura Trevelyan So they had to take out a massive loan that was only paid off in 2015. And it was only a tweet from the Treasury which alerted Britain to this fact.
Clive Lewis It was then hastily deleted. Many of the victims of the Windrush scandal have been paying back their own. I’m paying off the debt that.
Laura Trevelyan Was British taxpayers paid off this loan that was taken out, to benefit those like my ancestors who had lost their property, i.e. lost the right to enslave people when slavery was abolished.
Coco Khan Them. Right. You mentioned the, Treasury’s tweet and it reads, here’s today’s surprising Friday fact. Like, it’s like. It’s like a Friday fact is something like, oh, did you know salamanders can grow back a tail? You to me. Like, that’s my Friday fact. Not this like, national state, you know, national shape. And you said, here’s today’s surprising Friday fact. Millions of you helped end the slave trade through your taxes. And of course, a lot of people were like, I’m sorry. What what what are you talking about? For a lot of people, that was the first time they realized so that happened.
Clive Lewis So part of the part, the really interesting thing about both slavery and empire is the deliberate forgetting it’s taken place. And it’s a deliberate thing because the reality is, if you deal with the issues of empire, you have to talk about slavery, you have to talk about why there is wealth inequality in this country, why there are people with great wealth, vast wealth institutions, individuals, and why we have the kind of almost feudal, constitution that we have. And empire opens all of that up. So they want to put it back. They want to say simply, oh, you’re only interested in digging up the negative past you don’t want. Actually, it helps you, actually helps you come to terms of why we are the country we are today and how we can improve ourselves, how we can take ourselves forward.
Laura Trevelyan Right. We’re trying to look at the current day legacies of slavery, which is why we went to Grenada and to Barbados. And when you go to Grenada, so there’s an epidemic of obesity and hypertension, and that is related to the poor diet that came from slavery and the amount of sugar consumption. And Grenada’s national dish is called oil down. And it’s it’s pig’s feet and coconut milk and other things which are incredibly unhealthy because this was the pudding.
Laura Trevelyan Yeah. Actually I did really like oil down.
Clive Lewis I don’t like it. So I’m being consistent. I’m not biased in any way.
Laura Trevelyan But it’s the one pot dish that the enslaved made. Yeah. And so there are the health consequences today in Grenada from that the fact that poverty and illiteracy were legacies of slavery. There are still pockets in rural Grenada where people can’t read. Yeah. Today, which is why, you know, the Caribbean has a ten point reparations plan, which Clive and I have been talking about and trying to advocate for. And it begins with that, a complete apology for slavery from the former colonial powers. And then there’s a call for investment in health and education. And then on top of that, you now have climate change, which Clive, having just been in the Antarctic, can bring us all up to date on. But if you think about it, nobody asked to be in the Caribbean. Their ancestors were dragged there against their will. And now these islands are at risk from climate change with more severe storms, hurricanes. I mean, we drove down the coast road, which is flooded every time. There’s even just a super high tide. So there’s no climate. About resiliency funding, which I think you can argue the former colonial powers, you know, Britain has a debt to these.
Coco Khan Caribbean because that’s what I always thought as well, you know, because just using cotton as an example. You know, cotton slave produce cotton helped create Manchester’s industrial revolution. That was the beginning of the, you know, the cities of Britain becoming the big smokes, just pumping shit into.
Clive Lewis Couldn’t make it up, could you, that that the carbon pumped out that was kind of funded and powered by the slave trade. Cotton, sugar, is now creating, you know, hurricanes on every few, you know, category five hurricane once every few years as opposed once every half a century. You couldn’t make it up that the poorest, most vulnerable islands that are there because of slavery to populations of their because of slavery, chattel slavery, are now at the forefront of, the climate crisis.
Nish Kumar There’s an idea on the podcast that, you know, climate funds are a way of getting reparations packages into these countries. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan killed 34 people in Grenada and caused $900 million worth of damage. There’s also an idea that debt relief could be a way of getting reparations to these countries, and a way of dealing with legacy for the slavery. But there were points where both of you seem unsure about that. And I think there’s a really interesting thing that, Clive, you say about the significance of reparations not being essentially laundered into these countries under the guise of climate compensation and as a way of making it more politically expedient within Britain?
Clive Lewis Yeah. And I think that’s it’s really key. The the conversation around reparative justice is critical. And if you kind of cover that over. Yeah. Through the conversation on climate, it begins to get muddied and covered up. And what this is about is I think Dickon Mitchell, the prime minister of Grenada, who we did interview in the podcast, one of the things reasons he gave for poetry, justice being so critical is that we cannot rule out that these kind of activities will happen again in the 21st century, and actually dealing with it now is about saying never again. We won’t allow it to happen. And look at the world, look at the world around us. So I think it’s really important that we have the conversation about about why preparatory justice, why it’s right to support these countries given what happened in the past, in our part in that and what we’ve extracted from them. And unless you have that conversation. Yeah. And I think the fear is you give them a hand, give them a handout. And because of the global economic system and the way it’s structured, they’ll be back, to square one after 4 or 5 hurricanes. And the debt and the continuous debt repayments will be back to square one in a decade or so. And they don’t want that. I mean, the example I would use is Germany and Israel. After the Second World War, Germany paid Israel billions of pounds in reparations. It was established that that’s what you could and should do. And Israel invested that in energy, shipping, infrastructure. And Israel now is one of the most powerful economies in the Middle East, in part because of those of that justice that Germany paid to it. So there’s a model already out there, and I think it’s one that we should be looking at as well.
Coco Khan But isn’t the reason there’s a resistance to it. And correct me if I’m wrong, it’s just because the bill would just be simply too big.
Laura Trevelyan Right? And for people in Britain, I mean, Clive talked about this a lot during the podcast. You know, your constituents are facing high inflation. They don’t feel rich. They don’t feel that they should be giving money to the Caribbean because it’s something that happened hundreds of years ago. And so the the difficulty is trying to explain how the past informs the present. And it definitely does. Yeah, it’s obvious. And there are also just all of the social and psychological costs of slavery in Grenada and, and the tragedy of the Windrush generation and how people were persecuted. I mean, one of the most interesting things about the podcast to me was Clive’s father, Bernie, because he was born in Grenada, comes to Britain at the end of the Windrush generation because there are no opportunities in Grenada, makes it here and encounters discrimination in Britain. But battles on through becomes an incredibly successful trade. Eunice now has retired to Grenada, where he’s organizing the fishermen, of course, because he’s trying to trade unionist. But his story in Clive story and mine, I mean, it’s the story of of modern Britain. And for Tony, the double diaspora ization of him. And you said it was so interesting. You said my dad sounding so African now his back in go off.
Clive Lewis Yeah, they do.
Laura Trevelyan Closer to his ancestors. There’s just something about it which is really mind blowing and, and the, the fact that, you know, the West Indies were regarded as the slums of empire. That’s what David Lloyd George said to the mass. And people had to come here because there was no opportunity. All of that is really under appreciated in Britain and the harm and the hurt.
Clive Lewis And I know I think. So I think I can’t speak for every, you know, descendant of, of enslavement. But, I think the conversation, the understanding, like the journey that Laura has been on, if people if more people in this country could go through that journey, I think that would do more for race relations, for issues of immigration, for our, our place in the world where we are in this kind of post-imperial kind of hiatus that we exist in at the moment. I think it would help this country. And I think for a lot of black people, both in the Caribbean and here, that’s worth a lot. And so it doesn’t I mean, it could be billions and billions, but I think that understanding that kind of coming to terms with that and that healing process is so important because it will color relations, it will color economic relationships, it will cut a racism, the immigration debate. But if we are talking about money, Ali Gill, the chair of the Grenadian Caricom reparations kind of, committee, he I asked him the question. Well, my constituents, you know, many of them aren’t going to be able to pay their energy bills. How are they going to pay? And he said. I agree they shouldn’t be paying it per se. He said, but the people who extracted and exploited us are the people who are extracting and exploiting them. Now the corporations, the banks, the wealthy, the financial institutions. And he said it’s about making sure that they pay their fair share. And he said, the people that you need to be kind of getting a better data on when it comes to wealth distribution and the same people that we’re looking.
Coco Khan It’s mad when you follow that line. I mean, I only learned recently from a Burna Boy song, that Unilever had links to slavery, and was part of, you know, colonial projects that were in West Africa and the Caribbean. Unilever. So the companies we would know them, their household names.
Clive Lewis I’ve either in my David at the historian David.
Laura Trevelyan Olusoga.
Clive Lewis Olusoga. He basically in a program explains that one of the families that got received the biggest payouts. The son went on to set up an insurance company. That insurance company then merged with another insurance company, Imperial Insurance, something like that. And the two merged together at the start of the 20th century as Norwich Union. Yeah. Which is my constituency. Which then became Aviva. And that was in part funded, originally funded by the compensation that the slave owners were paid. So it’s it’s everywhere you look at. I didn’t know about Unilever. Yeah, I didn’t know about Aviva. I’m sure the many, many others. And they all and I think now Laura’s aware as well that there are many now corporations, banks, Lloyds, others who are beginning to look into this. Yeah. I’m beginning to kind of unpick their role in it.
Laura Trevelyan Church of England. Lloyd’s of London.
Nish Kumar The Guardian newspaper has been doing a big investigation into which financier. We were talking in last week’s episode about why is that, after all of the reportage around the Post Office scandal, it was an ITV drama that has really fast tracked the process of accountability in that issue. How important is it that you stress the personal element of this for you?
Laura Trevelyan I think you were talking about the power of storytelling on on the podcast last week with, in relation to the post office drama, and I think that Clive and I, we’re a microcosm of modern Britain. He a descendant of the enslaved in Grenada, may a descendant of those that enslaved his ancestors and the pain of that, but also the promise in acknowledging it. It is about storytelling, and hopefully it’s something that everyone can understand.
Coco Khan Yeah, it was interesting to see an interview with you, yourselves. I can’t remember what it was, but the interviewer kept wanting to pin. Did you get on? Did you argue about it? I think that’s the anxiety British defenses.
Clive Lewis We have differences but we are friends.
Laura Trevelyan Clive is much more left wing than me. And he doesn’t like English breakfast.
Clive Lewis I don’t like English breakfast. But I’ve learned a lot from, you know, Laura, my my favorite centrist mum. You know, it’s.
Laura Trevelyan American soccer mom
Clive Lewis This is the, this is the complexity of the story. You know, this doesn’t have to be about finger jabbing shame.
Laura Trevelyan No.
Clive Lewis Me and Laura have become friends through this. And despite the despite the history of what’s happened. And this isn’t about finger jabbing. It’s a story of a relationship. But we are the complexity of modern Britain. And we’re proud of that is our story. But that’s half the story.
Laura Trevelyan We’re out and proud.
Clive Lewis Yeah, we’re out and proud, but we’re not. Let’s have that story out there. And it’s not about making people feel guilty.
Nish Kumar The conversation around reparations for slavery has been growing louder. So let’s hear a quick clip on that topic from the podcast. So this is Hilary Beckles, who’s the chair of the Caribbean Community, also known as Caricom Reparations Commission I.
Clip I’ve said over and over again, and many economists have said this, that Britain has had 200 years of free Labour, unpaid Labour from 20 million people. 20 million people unpaid for 200 years is a phenomenal extraction of wealth. And just to put back a portion of that to facilitate infrastructure, schools, bridges, education, health is not only legally necessary and correct, but is also morally and ethically sound.
Laura Trevelyan Almost a year ago, our family went to Grenada and Hilary Beckles, who you just played a clip of him in the podcast, we worked with him and he said, look, you know, you descendants of enslavers, you’ve been we haven’t been able to see you for dust, but come to the Caribbean and apologize. You’ll set an example and see what follows from that. And he was so powerful that he convinced us. So we went to Grenada. Donated money to educational causes there. And now we’ve set up a family charity. And Clive was following all this and stood up in Parliament and said very simply, if a family can apologize for slavery and pay reparations, why can’t Britain’s government? And for me, that was like a light bulb going off. So and that was.
Clive Lewis Your first question? That was your first question.
Laura Trevelyan Sorry about that. That’s how we connected. And then we talked on a dodgy WhatsApp line that weekend. And then and Clive, you know, has taught me so much about I mean he said the thing, the most interesting thing and maybe this will resonate for everybody as I sit here with Children of Empire, he said, he said.
Nish Kumar Shout out the parents of Empire.
Laura Trevelyan Right, exactly. He said, the thing is, Laura, that, you know, you’ve opened up a space for me to jump in, but it’s partly systemic racism that has enabled that because you have the voice. You know.
Clive Lewis White privilege. It’s that that thinks.
Laura Trevelyan About, like, the world’s most ghastly phrase. But yes, if anybody has it, it’s definitely me and Clive. Just help me to understand so much, really.
Clive Lewis I mean, I use term white privilege. I mean, it’s that that’s obviously quite that’s obviously a big kind of flashing klaxon over there. But actually it’s really interesting. There have been lots of black people talking about this for decades and they have listened. And so Laura and her family came along and it’s kind of been given a fresh and new lease of life. And that’s kind of almost inevitable when you think about how structural racism works, who’s listened to, who has a hearing and who doesn’t. And it was always probably going to be the fact that Laura or a family like that were going to come forward and do something of this, but I’m just I was just when I watched Laura and her family, John Dahl, stand up and make that statement, I, I was blown away by it. I wasn’t I wasn’t going yeah. Bout time! I was just absolutely amazed that people would do this and take, you know, and put themselves forward to do that. It’s not been easy. It’s not been an easy journey.
Laura Trevelyan But that’s the power of storytelling, isn’t it? You know, 30 years at the BBC, if you can’t hold, you can’t hold other people to account. If you can’t tell the truth about yourself. You can’t tell the truth about other people. So coming from that tradition, when Henry Beckel said, if you set an example, it’ll be meaningful, I felt immediately that he was right and that we should do it. And who the heck knew what would follow from it.
Coco Khan My final question is, when you guys go out for drinks, Laura, do you get the rounds in?
Clive Lewis She does. No, we get the rounds in each. You know.
Laura Trevelyan We split everything 50/50.
Nish Kumar I’m a huge fan of making rich white people buy me drinks and every time they they’re reluctant. I got a partition that was pretty bad. That was pretty bad guys.
Laura Trevelyan I think you’ve set a time limit on it. 2024 is the year that everyone pays for their own drinks.
Coco Khan Well, Clive I’ve, I just got a push notification about a very important vote coming up that I think you need to go to.
Clive Lewis The phone is going. The bat phone is going next to me. Get yourself back in here.
Coco Khan Yeah.
Nish Kumar We’re about to let Clive go to attend to the business of government. But in terms of the process of storytelling, I would really urge people to check out the podcast. It’s called As of Enslavement, and I hope it’s the starting point for, a more enlightened conversation on the subject. And Laura and Clive, thank you so much for joining us.
Laura Trevelyan Thank you both so much.
Clive Lewis Thank you, thank you very much.
Laura Trevelyan This was great.
Coco Khan You. It’s time to name our hero and villain of the week, and every so often we like to switch it up. So put angry Nish away and get nice cuddly Nish out of his box. Who’ve you got for hero?
Nish Kumar Well, as much as it pains me to say this as a Manchester United fan, I have picked the fans of Liverpool Football Club. Oh, this is a real. This is a real wrench for me. But it is an amazing story. Last week, the former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson revealed he believes he has at most a year to live after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. And in an interview with Sky, looking back at his life, he also revealed an unfulfilled wish.
Clip My father is still alive and he’s still a Liverpool supporter. And I’m a Liverpool supporter as well. I always been so. I always wished to be the manager of Liverpool and that will not happen for sure. But I’m still a Liverpool fan.
Nish Kumar So after revealing his love for the football club and his dream of managing them, Liverpool fans have started a campaign on social media to get the club to make him manager of the Liverpool Legends team for their charity match against the Iax Legends at Anfield on the 23rd of March. The Liverpool Echo has already got behind the campaign, and Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler has indicated that a call had already gone into the organizers about it. So it’s over to you, Liverpool FC. Watch this space.
Coco Khan It’s a genuinely nice story.
Nish Kumar As much as it pains me to say this, the Liverpool fans are doing something genuinely nice. And I would say even if it doesn’t happen, which it seems absurd, it feels like that should happen. But even if it doesn’t happen, it’s nice that Sven, as a Liverpool fan, got to feel the love from his fellow Liverpool fans. Coco, get your angry face on. Who’s our villan of the week?
Coco Khan Well, you know how I feel about the trains, Nish.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Coco Khan I have a separate well of rage about the trains in this country. And so this week, I’m going to point the finger at Avanti West Coast. So it’s been reported that Avanti managers joked as a company meeting, joked about receiving free money from the government and about performance related payments being too good to be true. One slide at an internal presentation was titled roll up, roll up, get your free money here, and described how the Treasury Department for transport supported the firm with taxpayers money, provided third party suppliers and inspections, and then paid Avanti fees on top. The RMT union has called the presentation first revealed by Novara media as a disgrace. Fair play. All this from a firm I should point out, that has a unbelievably poor record of canceled and late running trains. It’s slashed timetables in December and has seen punctuality decline and cancellations worsened in recent months. Of course they don’t care because they’re going to get paid anyway, and if they do happen to meet their performance targets, well then it’s just more money for them. Avanti has confirmed the contents of the presentation and called it regrettable.
Nish Kumar Doesn’t quite feel strong enough. Regrettable. Before we go, we just got time to fit in some correspondence from our listeners.
Coco Khan Here’s a voice note that’s come in from one of our American listeners.
Clip Hi, Nish and Coco. My name is Ellie. I am calling from Oakland, California. In addition to being an avid Pod Save the UK listener, I am also an avid reality TV watcher. And it’s for this reason that I’m calling to ask about John Bercow, who appeared on my screen this week in the US version of the reality show The Traitors. I’m calling not only as an uninformed American wondering who this man is, but also to ask if you have any thoughts about him, either in general or in particular about his choice to appear on an American reality show? I love your show. Thanks so much.
Coco Khan So here’s a clip of John Bercow on the show being interrogated about his breathing.
Clip There was extreme intensity in the room and I was pleased it was at an end. I’ve never breathe particularly well. I was asthmatic in my youth. So they regard myself as asthmatic today. But when you took the mask off, you said, I have asthma, but you just said I was asthmatic as a child. That’s obviously true. Is that what you told her when you told me you had asked them? Look, is asthma a lifelong condition I don’t regret is. Not the question I’m asking you. If you ask me. Do I use an inhaler? I’m asking you. Did you say that to her? I’ll be absolutely honest. Well, that’d be good. I don’t remember the exact words I used in response, but what I do recall, you’re answering this just like a politician. Well, I mean, forgive me, but that’s just because you’re not answering the question.
Nish Kumar I should say, for British people. He hasn’t just wafted over to America and got into the normal Traitors. In America, the Traitors is a celebrity show. In Britain. It’s ordinary people like essentially playing a game of werewolf or mafia, whatever. However you play that game or whatever you call it by. But yeah. So for context, John Bercow was, a British politician. He was also, not just an MP, but he was actually speaker of the House of Commons from 2009 to 2019. And he did become something of a kind of celebrity. It because of the amount of coverage of Parliament, because he was the speaker of the House through all of the debates around Brexit, because he had quite a distinctive way of calling the House to order where you’d go, it he, he’s, he sort of became a kind of minor celebrity.
Coco Khan Right.
Nish Kumar In answer to your question. We think this is really weird. And it’s basically like Nancy Pelosi turning up on Celebrity Love Island.
Coco Khan Yeah. No, that is it is very strange. I would just say that generally what I’ve learned from most American films and TVs is that if they are a British person, they are the villain. That is generally he’s the traitor is what I’m saying. I don’t know, I have no idea. I’ve never seen this show, but I think he is the traitor.
Nish Kumar It does look like he was panicking under pressure.
Coco Khan I mean, my favorite bit is when he said, she’s like, oh, you’re answering like a politician. I mean, he is a politician. That’s fine. It’s like if someone said, okay, you’re being a journalist or you’re being a lawyer, you know, which has happened to me loads of times. If I’m at a dinner party and I ask too many questions, people are like, okay, all right, you don’t need to be a journalist. I don’t think it’s like, wrong. And I just loved how he said that you’re being abusive. Now, this is a term of abuse. I didn’t know politician with term of abuse.
Nish Kumar The only thing worse than somebody saying you really behaving like your profession is when someone goes, sorry, you’re a comedian. Let’s just dip into the mailbag. Look, let’s not play around the bush here Coco.
Coco Khan Yeah.
Nish Kumar Against all reason and logic, we have had our first applications to join the Pod Shag, the UK dating club. For anyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about. Coco suggested, last week, because dating apps are so awful, we start kind of dating out for people to be like minded people. How better to do that than to bond over their shared love of this podcast? And I, as a joke, called it Pod shag the UK.
Coco Khan Very vulgar.
Nish Kumar People have genuinely submit profiles.
Coco Khan I mean we if it was real just just it’s not real for clarity. No, this is definitely not a real thing. But if it was, there’s no way you could call it pod check the UK. How are you meant to tell your mum that? Where did you meet?
Nish Kumar Pod Shag the UK.
Coco Khan Outrageous
Nish Kumar Here’s the thing. We. I happened to read, read this letter out. I don’t know how with all the kind of data protection we would possibly go about setting do people up. But I am going to read out the email. John has emailed, the, has said this. I humbly submit my pod Jack the UK dating profile. I’m a home only millennial who isn’t a Tory.
Coco Khan Ooooh. Hello.
Nish Kumar Married, home owning millennial Coco Khan’s interest is inexplicably been peaked.
Coco Khan I’ve got friends.
Nish Kumar I’m a home-owning millennial who isn’t a Tory, which statistically makes people as rare as a unicorn. And I can send cocker spaniel pics on request. I don’t think that’s a euphemism. I think, he may actually have a dog. What more could a woman possibly want at that in brackets? This isn’t a joke. Please set me up. Dating apps a Tory Britain a bit horrendous for everyone’s mental health. Looking forward to the tsunami of matches. That’s from John and his spaniel Maya from South Wales. So I guess if you live in the South Wales region, email it.
Coco Khan No, no, don’t email in. This is not an area we can go into.
Nish Kumar But John wrote quite a funny dating profile.
Coco Khan Yeah, no it is nice.
Nish Kumar Well, I feel so conflicted right now.
Coco Khan Did you ever set anyone up in real life? You ever done it.
Nish Kumar Of course I’ve never set anyone up in real life.
Coco Khan It’s weird. As I’ve only done it once or twice.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Coco Khan And you, you feel genuinely personal responsible.
Nish Kumar That’s exactly why I’ve never done it.
Coco Khan It’s. It will be a nightmare for us to get involved in this.
Nish Kumar People ask me if I have single friends. I’m like, no. I do.
Coco Khan Even if you do?
Nish Kumar I do. I’ve got loads of single friends.
Coco Khan How rude.
Nish Kumar I just, I just I don’t want the strain of it.
Coco Khan You want to hoard the love because you’re happy you just want to hoard the happiness.
Nish Kumar I just don’t want to be put under the pressure of having set two people up. I genuinely don’t know how South Asian aunts manage it. They’re constantly trying to get people married. I don’t know how you can live with the stress of that.
Coco Khan Well, the main thing is to tell people to lower their standards. That seems that that’s that’s the main way you do it. But I guess the thing that is, I mean, this is just a digression now, but like, you know, I’ve got loads of mates who are lovely.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Coco Khan But, in relationships are different people.
Nish Kumar Yeah. Right.
Coco Khan So I can’t be 100% sure that who I put forward was anyway, whatever. I digress. So I’ve got. On two, though sadly it’s not a match for John. Sorry John. This is from Jay in Yorkshire and the profile reads hopeless romantic lesbian 24 terrible barista, giant fantasy novels, nerd looking for someone to go on cafe and bookshop dates and watch Nish’s stand up specials with.
Nish Kumar Oh, that’s genuinely nice. These are funny and charming people. How could these people not be finding love? Also, thanks for getting a plug in for my stand up special chat. Thank you so much! Available now at NishKumar. Co.Uk wherever you are in the world. Thank you Jay.
Coco Khan If you got something you’d like to share with us, comments on what you’ve heard or a question about British politics, or maybe you’d like to make use of our Pod Shag the UK service we can’t. This is in the script. We can’t have this. You can get in touch with us by emailing PSUK at Reduced Listing dot co dot UK. This is bad now. It’s always nice to hear your voices so do send us a voice note on WhatsApp. Our number is 07514 644572. Internationally that’s +44 7514 644572. Please don’t send us your dating profiles please.
Nish Kumar But but maybe do. Don’t forget to follow Pod Save the UK on Instagram and Twitter where we are at Pod Save the UK. You can also find us on YouTube for access to full episodes and other exclusive content. And if you’re as opinionated as we are, consider dropping us a review. And if you’re interested in John or Jay, email the email addresses.
Coco Khan Okay, just for clarity, you individually are responsible for this.
Nish Kumar I can’t believe I’ve said I don’t like setting people up and now, I’m trying to use my own podcast as a matchmaking service.
Coco Khan Legally, I am not responsible. Just wanted to say that out loud.
Nish Kumar I told you I’m middle aged and I have genetically Indian. It’s just even though my rational brain is fighting it, my urge is to marry people off.
Coco Khan It’ll be so good. It’s going to be so good. Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listiening production for Crooked Media.
Nish Kumar Thanks to senior producer Musty Aziz and digital producer Alex Bishop.
Coco Khan Video editing was by David Kaplovitz and the music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos
Nish Kumar Thanks to our engineer David Duggahe.
Coco Khan The executive producers are Anushka Sharma, Dan Jackson and Madeleine Herringer with additional support from Ari Schwartz.
Nish Kumar Remember to hit subscribe for new shows on Thursdays on Amazon, Spotify or Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts. Why are you looking at me with the look of I hope you’re happy with what you’ve done?
Coco Khan I’m just I’m just going to sit back and watch this car crash. I’m gonna sit back and let you do it.