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October 19, 2023
Pod Save the UK
Sunak in Israel, by-elections and back to Bibby

In This Episode

The crisis in Israel and Gaza presents a huge challenge for our politicians, both internationally and at home. With protests on the streets and spikes in religious hate crimes, every word uttered by our leaders is diplomatically loaded. Nish and Coco discuss the difficulties of Labour’s position, and then return to record a fresh section at the start of this podcast in reaction to Rishi Sunak’s surprise overnight visit to Israel.


Pia Sinha of the Prison Reform Trust helps us understand why our prisons are full to bursting, and whether emergency action from the Justice Secretary will solve the problem. With asylum seekers being returned to the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge, Anoosh Chakelian of The New Statesman, tells us about meeting some of those men. Plus she also gives us the lowdown on two very intriguing by-elections this week.


Heroes and Villains returns, which is more bad news for disgraced former Tory MP Peter Bone. Plus find out why Coco and her cat could be heading for a divorce.


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


Contact us via email: 

WhatsApp: 07514 644 572 (UK) or + 44 7514 644 572








Pia Sinha, Director of The Prison Reform Trust

Anoosh Chakelian, Britain Editor of The New Statesman


Audio credits:

Sky News






Nish Kumar Hello Pod Save the UK listeners, this is Nish Kumar, and I’m here with Coco Khan.


Coco Khan Hi, guys.


Nish Kumar Unfortunately, we’re watching a war unfold on a terrifying scale and events are moving rapidly. So we recorded our show yesterday and at that point there hadn’t been significant moves from the UK leadership. But since then the UK government has launched a twin pronged diplomatic mission.


Coco Khan Prime Minister Rishi Sunak flew overnight to Israel and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to Egypt. This morning Rishi Sunak expressed his solidarity with the Israeli people. He also met with President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


Clip I know that you are taking every precaution to avoid harming civilians in direct contrast to the terrorists of Hamas, which seek to put civilians in harm’s way. But I also want to thank you for the support that your government has given to the families of British nationals caught up in this horror, including your efforts to release the hostages, secure their release. And I know that we will continue to cooperate, particularly with regard to the British nationals that are involved. Can I also say that we have seen the scenes over the past day that have shocked all of us, particularly at the hospital, and we mourn the loss of every innocent life, civilians of every faith, every nationality who have been killed. And we also recognize that the Palestinian people are victims of Hamas, too. And that is why I welcome your decision yesterday that you took to ensure that routes into Gaza will be opened for humanitarian aid to enter. I’m glad that you made that decision. We will support it. We’re increasing our aid to the region and we will look to get more support to people as quickly as we can.


Nish Kumar So, look, the most important piece of information that’s come out of that press conference is that Israel is going to allow the opening of the Egypt Gaza border to deliver desperately needed aid supplies. That was actually announced after President Biden had a meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu. And look, it’s a it’s a hugely complicated, difficult situation. I think that any push towards diplomacy and the cessation of violence is absolutely key here. And I think that is the that’s the most important message that we need to stress. Biden yesterday warned Israel against failing to learn the lessons of 9/11. He sort of specifically invoked the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack, which where a kind of justifiable outrage about an atrocity committed by a terrorist group ended with America landing into wars that had no specific aim and no specific end, and have led to more tragedy unfolding throughout the Middle East. So I think that the point that Biden made was incredibly significant in the context of what’s going on.


Coco Khan Absolutely. I mean, look, hearing that there’s routes available for humanitarian aid is, of course, very, very welcome. I suppose my first question is, why did it take so long? Is it that the politicians were behind the people in this respect? I think many of us who feel very emotionally connected to what happened over there, both in terms of the Israeli hostages, but also just the loss of life amongst the Gazans. So it was really refreshing to hear Sinek mentioned both. I was very concerned at the beginning of this latest iteration that there wasn’t enough mention from our political leaders of the humanitarian aspect from kind of both sides, innocent civilians, basically from both sides. So that was that was really good to hear that finally. But yeah, I just keep wondering, you know, why did it take so long? And I think probably that means for us as the people we might need to keep on at them as well to keep going in terms of pushing for peace, pushing for diplomatic resolutions and ensuring that international law is followed.


Nish Kumar And all of these events stem from the horrendous terrorist attack by Hamas. And in the interest of full disclosure, we should say that members of the UK family have been affected on both sides, and that is very much reflective of British society as a whole.


Coco Khan Absolutely. And like you said, you know, learning the lessons from the past, these situations can cause discord in the UK amongst our own communities. And that would be that would add tragedy to tragedy. So, yeah, I agree. It’s been great to hear community leaders speaking up about this.


Nish Kumar So just to highlight, you’re about to see and hear a show that we recorded yesterday. Here’s the plot. Hope you enjoy it.


Coco Khan Hi, this is Pod Save the UK.


Nish Kumar I’m Nish Kumar.


Coco Khan I’m Coco Khan.


Nish Kumar This week our politicians walk a fine line through the Israel-Gaza crisis.


Coco Khan And it’s all aboard the Bibi Stockholm. The boat trip that no one wants to go on.


Nish Kumar And our prisons are full. Yes. They’re so popular that they having to turn people away.


Coco Khan Joining us this week are Pia Sinha from the Prison Reform Trust and Anoosh Chakelian of the New Statesman.


Nish Kumar Hi, Coco.


Coco Khan Hello. Quiet voice. Hello, Nish.


Nish Kumar Why do you sound so meek. What’s going on?


Coco Khan Because this is one of the first times we’re doing this little intro chat where I’ve got nothing to say.


Nish Kumar Nothing has happened to you in the last seven days.


Coco Khan Nothing. No


Nish Kumar What do you mean? What was going on? You haven’t been raving? Normally you’re raving at the weekends.


Coco Khan Aw that’s so sweet. I’m just raving mad at home. That’s all I’m doing.


Nish Kumar Do you want to tell everybody about the fact that you sat on your cat? That was when we arrived at the studio Coco was like, I haven’t really done much this week. I sat on my cat.


Coco Khan I mean, look, all I would say is, why do they make furniture? The same color as cats? It was a very simple mistake to make. But it really I got quite anxious afterwards because I was just so I didn’t put my full weight down because I’m a, you know, elegant lady. I sort of glide down to my seat.


Nish Kumar Do you really? I collapse into it.


Coco Khan Yeah.


Nish Kumar Like crumpled paper in a bin. Like, that’s how I sit down.


Coco Khan Oh, wow. Okay.


Nish Kumar It looks like I’m anxious to relax at all points.


Coco Khan So when you. Have you ever lived above anyone?


Nish Kumar Yes.


Coco Khan Have they ever complained about, like, the sort of sound of a body hitting the floor?


Nish Kumar They. I will say this. About 12 years ago, I had downstairs neighbors. I subsequently then had downstairs neighbors. And we had very good relations. But about 12 years ago, I lived above somebody who would always complain about that noise that we were making. Yeah. But it was it was countered by the fact that her son would every so often at 2 a.m. do some very bad karaoke rap like s crew. Cruciate ugly, bad karaoke rap.


Coco Khan Okay. But if it was good, would that have made a difference if they had given anything?


Nish Kumar So you really think it would have had. Okay. If I’d been living above Andre 3000? I don’t think I would have been complaining. But as it was, it was insult to injury that it was happening between two I abbot’s ribs and also the mine had absolutely no flow.


Coco Khan Were there any other people? There was just this like quiet moment,to himself.


Nish Kumar Quiet moments, Just quiet moments. The middle of the night, he decided to bust out the karaoke room machine.


Coco Khan You know what? There’s a I don’t know who it is because I live in a flat. And so obviously, if all the windows are open in the summer, there’s this sort of palimpsest of sound that comes from all sorts of places and you don’t know what is bouncing. We don’t know where it’s from, but there’s someone who lives near me who plays the sax. Yeah, And I if you’re listening, mate, please make yourself known to me. I think it’s great someone’s playing the sax.


Nish Kumar Yeah. Yeah. Is it good?


Coco Khan I mean, what is. What is good? What’s good with the sax?


Nish Kumar What do you mean, what’s good with the sax?


Coco Khan I mean, like.


Nish Kumar John Coltrane.


Coco Khan Alright he’s not John Coltrane? Because you miss it. I would say it was more like Bleeding Gums Murphy of The Simpsons.


Nish Kumar But Bleeding Gums Murphy was a very good saxophonist.


Coco Khan Really? Yeah. Okay. Well, he’s obviously very good. Anyway, let me tell you about my cat, Right? So I sit on this. I don’t fully sit on the cat, but it’s like a half second before I realize that what is underneath me is a cat.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Coco Khan And then I get back up and I turn around, and she was shell shocked.


Nish Kumar Yeah, of course she was.


Coco Khan The look on her face. She didn’t even make a sound. So then after that, I started googling. Do cats. Do they hold grudges? Like, how will it affect our relationship? The jury’s out, basically, then, that someone might see you. It might be over for us. It might be a divorce.


Nish Kumar Your cats in search of a new owner. Well, listen, do write in. If you’ve ever sat on your pet or you have any agitating reasons why you’re upstairs, downstairs, or even left or right, neighbors have upset you or you’ve upset them. And Peter finally returned to work this week after the extended break for networking and karaoke, otherwise known as party conference season. And they found themselves with a long to do list to catch up on. The business of the week included grappling with the news that our prisons are full and there were two high profile by elections, plus potentially another one on the horizon. With the news of the suspension of Tory MP Peter Bone on Monday for bullying and sexual misconduct. To help us discuss some of the goings on, it is our special guest, Anoosh Chakelian, who is the Britain editor at The New Statesman. Anoosh, thank you very much for joining us.


Anoosh Chakelian Thanks so much for having me.


Nish Kumar How are you?


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, good, thanks.


Coco Khan Britain editor is a funny title.


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, well, someone’s got to edit Britain. I mean, look at your intro.


Coco Khan Yeah.


Anoosh Chakelian It is a weird title. It basically means that I go and report on sort of how politics and policy is affecting Britain.


Coco Khan We do need to start with the Israel-Gaza crisis. It’s just horrific. There’s no other word for it. It’s terrifying. The latest news is that at the time of recording, hundreds of people are feared have been killed after a hospital in Gaza was hit. Both sides have blamed each other. We don’t know the full truth of it at this time, but innocent men, women and children have been have been killed. And really, what we want to gather from from you is how that’s affecting the UK.


Nish Kumar Well, yeah. It’s it’s a there’s obviously a serious issue in the UK in terms of so many people living in this country, have family in the area and are being very, very directly affected. And this kind of time of international crisis that has serious national ramifications, obviously there is a challenge presented to politicians for how they conduct themselves. I mean, in terms of American politics, as we record, President Biden has flown in this morning to meet Benjamin Netanyahu and reinforce the US support for Israel. Meanwhile, here, a consensus has emerged between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party in terms of supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas. And there have been murmurs from the Labour backbenches about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. And what’s your sense about how the Labour Party’s kind of handling itself in this kind of crisis? Because I mean, as we said last week, Labour is trying to present itself as a government in waiting. And obviously, when something like this happens that is by some distance the most significant event happening in world news, you can look to the Labour Party to see what their response might have been if they’ve been in power. How do you think that they’re handling at the moment?


Anoosh Chakelian Well, it’s interesting because the Labour Party under Keir Starmer has a very different foreign policy outlook than it would have done under Jeremy Corbyn, who was, you know, more anti-NATO in terms of the Russia Ukraine conflict. You could see that they might have had a different line on that under his leadership. And also, you know, he is, you know, famously pro-Palestinian as well. So they’ve taken a completely different line from his predecessor. And it means that they do show a united front with the conservative government on most of these big foreign policy issues. And that’s what you’ve seen with the Israel Gaza crisis so far. The news was breaking while Labour Labour conference was happening, so you could see Keir Starmer developing the lines that he was taking sort of in real time. And it was very, very you know, it was very to the message, very down the line. Israel has a right to defend itself. Even went so far in one interview to say Israel have the right to cut off power and water to Gaza, which is something that has been controversial among some Labour figures. You’ve had some councilors resigning over that comment. And David Lammy, his shadow foreign secretary, has slightly softened that in more recent interviews urging Israel to show restraint.


Nish Kumar I mean, as a lifelong Labour voter, I’m sick of saying that phrase, but you didn’t find ourselves saying it at the time. But as a lifelong Labour voter, I would like to not hear that line from the Labour leader. Yeah, I think that the the specific interview was with Nick Ferrari in LBC. Starmer was asked about whether cutting off water and electricity supplies in Gaza was a proportionate response. And he said that I think Israel does have that right. It’s an ongoing situation. Obviously, everything should be done within international law, but I don’t want to step away from the core principles that Israel has the right to defend herself. But that is a contradiction in terms, because cutting off electricity and water supplies, as we’ve seen when it was being done by the Russians, is a contravention of international law. So I don’t I’m struggling to understand how it’s possible to both break and respect international law in the same.


Coco Khan And I think, you know, similar to Nish. I’m also a lifelong Labour voter on the rocks, though. On the rocks. You know, and I just I really believe I want to see a diplomatic resolution to this crisis. And when you’re a Labour leader who is meant to be a human rights lawyer, does not seem to understand international law. It’s it’s a bit scary. It’s a bit scary. And I get the sense that other Labour voters this could be a breaking point for them. I don’t know what your thoughts in terms of the ramifications of this with Labour.


Anoosh Chakelian I think I think it is a vulnerable position for them to be in. You can see why they’re taking these stances because they are so haunted, they’re so scarred by the Jeremy Corbyn years when there was a problem with antisemitism within the party. And one of Keir Starmer’s main mission since he became leader was to move the party away from that and to get rid of some of the people who were taking those positions within the party. And he has successfully done that. You know, he’s still got standing ovations at Labour Conference for having done that. So you could see how he didn’t want to veer at all from his support for Israel. And particularly, you know, when he did that interview, it was you know, we were just seeing the atrocities that Hamas were committing. So, you know, you can kind of understand that at that point in time, he felt very, very tied to that line. But it can’t hold. I think you’re right. It’s it’s really difficult because a lot of Labour backbenchers want to hear more from their frontbench about the human humanitarian crisis in Gaza. And yes, you’ve seen just councilors resigning, but you could see more disquiet because a lot of people feel very, very strongly about this issue on the left. So I do think it’s a difficult line to tread. Keir Starmer is a lawyer. David Lammy is a lawyer. You know, they know international human rights.


Nish Kumar She’s also a lawyer. Yeah, they are. That’s what they present themselves as kind of technocrats. So.


Coco Khan Yeah, yeah.


Nish Kumar It starts to muddy the waters, I think, when they say stuff like this.


Coco Khan Also, I know that they are haunted, to use your very good words there in terms of Jeremy Corbyn. But like, what about like Iraq where you are old enough to remember that crisis that didn’t solve anything internationally and there was lots of bloodshed and it really disillusion lots of Labour voters and it caused kind of disquiet and discord amongst kind of our diaspora. And and it’s all happening again.


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, Well, I mean, I think Iraq is something that is always, you know, another thing that haunts the Labour Party as well, because it scars the Tony Blair legacy. And that’s something, again, that this Labour leadership has been very committed to championing. Starmer opened his speech to the Labour Party conference, talking about Labour’s record in government. And of course, you know, it didn’t mentioned. Yeah, right. Yeah, yeah. So, you know, again, that does weigh heavy on them, but I think it weighs heavy on this government as well. You know, there is there is a bit of a reticence there to intervene too heavily in these issues. But again, you know, mistakes can be made in terms of ignoring what public sentiment will be. And I think if we see more and more of these horrors play out in Gaza, as we’ve seen with the bombing of the hospital and how many people have been killed there, then I think public opinion is going to shift. And I think politicians are, of course, going to have to respond to that.


Nish Kumar There was this nauseating clip of Richard Madeley interviewing Layla moran, who was a guest on our show a couple of weeks ago and who has family in Gaza and Richard Madeley. In as many words as this. Asked Layla moran if her family had any knowledge that the attack was about to happen. And I guess. I guess Richard MADELEY is better than Piers Morgan because that’s the job he’s occupied. Alan Partridge. Well, it all just feels a bit like salmonella is preferable to E.coli. I’ve no idea why he was in a position that he was talking about such a serious situation. It seems like a profound failing at the heart of our media establishment that someone like Richard Madeley is in a situation where they could be talking about this kind of thing. Just before we move off this, the sort of undignified spectacle of Grant Shapps and Oliver DOWDEN sharing a private joke and laughing openly during the Prime Minister’s statement on the terror attacks in the Houses of Parliament. It’s an absolutely nauseating clip because the best case scenario is that they simply weren’t listening to the Prime minister of this country talking about the most significant issue facing the entire planet at this current moment.


Anoosh Chakelian I think one thing that will be a problem is his home secretary, Suella Braverman, saying things like waving a Palestinian flag could be, you know, tarmac to terrorism and things like that. She’s taken this really harsh line, sort of trying to tell police, too, to track down these people who are doing certain things. And, you know, if the Home Office can’t deliver on that because the police will be reluctant to make arrests just for protest, then it just shows, again, the impotence, I think, of this government, particularly the inadequacy of the Home Office as well. So I think that’s probably an area of vulnerability for them because, again, you’re going to see more of this play out in society. And some anti-Semitic attacks have been going up since this crisis broke. So you’re going to see more tensions in society in Britain. That’s something the prime minister needs to be on top of.


Nish Kumar And I did think that actually seeing the Archbishop of Canterbury giving a kind of public press conference outside Lambeth Palace with the former assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council for Britain and the senior rabbi from the new North London Synagogue, that was actually an example of leadership. Yes, I thought.


Clip Sheikh Ibrahim McGrath, a scholar and an imam from Leicester and a former assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, and Rabbi Jonathan Whittenburg, the senior rabbi of Masorti Judaism, UK, and Rabbi of the New North London Synagogue. They speak for their own communities and networks and not for any others, but they speak out of their particular friendship as a muslim and as a Jew.


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, those images were actually really quite nice to see. Yeah, they were in a way quite reassuring. Even if you’re not religious or part of any of those religions. You’re right. It demonstrated leadership, I thought, as well. James Cleverly, the Foreign secretary, and David Lammy, his opposite number, embracing in the Sky News studio. You know, you could see that as a bit of politicking maybe. But I again, you know, the fact that they’re showing a united front shows a bit of maturity on those two politicians part, whereas I think other conservative ministers she’s seen, I concluded, have tried to sort this slightly odd cultural with the BBC saying, why are they calling Hamas terrorists? And you know, that feels quite immature to me.


Nish Kumar One inevitable result of any conflict is the displacement of people and of course, the pledge to stop the boats of asylum seekers trying to get into the UK has been one of the signature policies of Rishi Sunak’s government.


Coco Khan So one of the most visible symbols of that kind of failed policy is, of course, the baby stock. The hulking great barge that’s moored of Portland in Dorset is supposed to provide accommodation for 500 asylum seekers in order to save money on putting them up in hotels. It’s been empty since August, when the first group of 39 people to be put on board had to be evacuated following the discovery of Legionella in the water supply.


Nish Kumar The Home Office says the issues have been resolved and the first group of asylum seekers will be returned to the ship by the end of this week. Now, this is a story you’ve been following closely since you went to Portland yourself in August. What did actually being there tell you about this situation?


Anoosh Chakelian It was completely bizarre. So the barge had docked on this private port that they have in Portland. It used to be a naval base. It was sold off in the nineties to this family. So it’s, you know, this private area. So there’s no need to sort of consult the public properly about what goes on in this port. It’s a very strange looking barge. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of it almost looks like a piece of Tetris or like Lego. And they were boarding people onto the barge that the week that I went and I actually managed to speak to some of the asylum seekers who were living on the barge. And so, you know, I’d rather give their voice to what it’s like on board before we discuss the politics of it. But they were saying, you know, it’s very cramped, it doesn’t feel safe. You look out of the window and it’s just immediately water. There’s not enough crew on board. You know, you don’t get the sense that there’s like a captain of the ship or anyone who would know what to do if there was a fire. They were worried about the plumbing. They also said that, you know, it’s very echoey and just like a sort of prison like atmosphere as well. And they were given no choice. That’s probably the main thing to do other than to go and live on this barge. They were taken from hotels around the area. As you know, asylum seekers are being put up in hotels now because there’s such a big backlog for their applications. And so the government is now spending £8 million a day on asylum hotels. So this is supposed to be that cheaper solution. But I think one website worked out that it’s actually more expensive than putting them up at the Ritz so far. More than that by now, because I think it’s been costing a huge amount of money just sitting there empty. Yeah, since August.


Coco Khan What did the locals feel about it?


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, well, none of the locals want it there, whether they’re pro or anti migration. Everyone I spoke to was really unhappy about it because, you know, it is a lot. I think the capacity for it is something like 222, but because they put bunk beds in there, it could house 506 men. And if you, you know, bring all of these people into this tiny community, it’s an island. It’s like a rock off the mainland. And then, of course, it’s going to have an impact on the day to day lives and the services that people are accessing in the in their home. So, I mean, it’s really disquieting for people who live there. But the main issue that people had who I spoke to was that they were worried about tensions between sort of racists who might come and try and stir up problems and the the men on the boat who aren’t allowed to work, they barely get any money to to do anything. So, you know, there was potential for tensions. And, you know, people people on the island were worried about that, whether or not, you know, they were pro taking in asylum seekers or not. And I think that is, you know, a legitimate worry for both the men and the and the locals. So it’s it’s a really bad idea. Basically, there’s issues with the plumbing. I actually spoke to someone who works at the port who who told me privately that there’s even a risk of it tipping over. One might go, yeah, because if there was a fire, if you were trying to put the fire out with hoses, as would be the case on this island where it’s just fire engines, you know, then there’s even the risk of it listing. So it’s not a safe place to keep people and.


Nish Kumar They the people on the boat, they receive £9.50 a week, we’ve been told, and they’re legally not allowed to work either. What kind of life is that, realistically, in terms of what what kind of life can they actually have?


Anoosh Chakelian They can have no life. So the two guys that I spoke to who were on the boat, one of them had been a police officer back and they were both from Pakistan. The men that I spoke to and one of them had been doing a computer sciences degree. You know, they wanted to get on in life, basically, and they couldn’t. And they were just saying to me, can you just tell your government, let us work? Because, yeah, we are, you know, you’re paying for everything and we’re doing nothing. And it’s ironic because saying that is exactly the same phrase that I was hearing from the people who were really not happy with having these sort of asylum seekers housed in this boat, thinking that they were living the life of Riley. You know, they’re getting everything, we’re getting nothing. So but everyone’s saying the same thing. You know, it’s is illogical. It doesn’t.


Coco Khan Work. But the baby Stockholm, I mean, it might be the only boat for a while, but there are plans to use former military bases to to roll this out. Do you have a sense of a will it have. And how far along it is and what that could look like.


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, I think two further barges have actually been commissioned. So this is this is not going to be the only one. Basically, the Asylum Hotel policy is incredibly unpopular with the public. People sometimes, you know, legitimately have had, you know, weddings and things booked at these hotels. But they’re there at the last minute, commandeered by the government for asylum seekers. So that feels unfair to people who live locally. And also just the word hotel makes it sound luxurious. Even though I’ve spoken to people living in some of the asylum hotels, it is not luxurious at all. You know, I’ve been sent photos of people’s like with chronic bedbug bites and stuff. They don’t they don’t getting a good service in these hotels. Nevertheless, the perception is that it’s a big waste of money and that people are sort of getting an easy ride. And MPs who have these hotels sort of put into their constituencies are really unhappy with the government as well. So it’s politically, really difficult for the government to carry on with this policy. That’s why they’re trying to find other places that sound less palatable to the general public to put them in. So I do think they’re going to try and persist with doing that. One of their big things is trying to reduce the Asylum hotel population. But as you can see with this.


Coco Khan The only way to do that is just to reduce the backlog. So why can’t they fix the application process rather than look for more prison like spaces?


Nish Kumar Yeah, visibly horrible things to do.


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, I mean, that is exactly it. So the problem is that there’s a massive backlog because the Home Office hasn’t been able to work through it. So there’s a lot of people, there’s thousands of people waiting for their applications to be processed, and that’s why they have to be kept in limbo in these places. So it’s a government failing. But Robert Jenrick almost and almost admitted in an interview that it would make Britain more attractive to asylum seekers to come to if they started efficiently working through those applications. So there is almost this kind of status where the government doesn’t want to say that, you know, you will have your application process quickly if you come here for asylum. So there is yeah, there’s the stalemate. But yeah, it’s absolutely a home office failing and it has been for a really long time.


Nish Kumar It’s the Home Office still fit for purpose. Is it trying to hold too many responsibilities or is it, is it that it’s been run so badly that it seems like it’s not fit for purpose?


Anoosh Chakelian I mean, it seems from, you know, its core responsibilities is failing on a number of them. I mean, look at the state of our police forces as well. How much scandal has have surrounded them. And policing is probably the main way that the general public kind of collide with home office services. Most people don’t really know about how the asylum system works, what doesn’t work. I mean, it’s just isn’t it? At the moment, it doesn’t feel fit for purpose because it isn’t delivering its sort of general aims as a as a department, and it’s ramping up the rhetoric more and more. You know, we’re going to stop the small boats. That’s one of Rishi Sunak’s five missions. You know, we’re going to reduce net immigration. Actually, immigration is at a record high now. The small boats are still coming, so it’s failing on its own terms. So I think it would be fair to paint his as not fit for purpose at the moment.


Coco Khan Here’s a not so fun fact for you. Since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, they’ve had 11 justice secretaries, including Nish, his favorite, Dominic Raab. He’s been in twice.


Nish Kumar It’s been a rough week for Alex Chalk, who is the latest holder of this poisoned chalice, after it was reported that judges were being told to delay sending criminals to prisons because they were too full. Two thirds of prisons in England and Wales are overcrowded, with record numbers of prisoners being doubled up in single cells. Back in September, it was reported that London’s HMP Wandsworth was holding 1600 men when a terrorism suspect managed to escape. And to be clear, the capacity of that prison is supposed to be 900.


Coco Khan The prison population peaked last week at 88,225, with only 500 beds left. And it looks like these latest stats have made the government finally bite the bullet. On Monday, the Justice secretary announced an emergency temporary measure to release some prisoners a few weeks early to ease the pressure. He also laid out plans to deport more foreign prisoners, build more rapid deployment cells, AKA water cabins in exercise yards and cut prison sentences of less than 12 months.


Nish Kumar But will any of it work? Pia Sinha is the director of the Prison Reform Trust and an ex prison governor. Welcome to Pod Save the UK. Thank you so much for joining us.


Pia Sinha Hi, thank you for having me.


Coco Khan Why is this happening now? Why are prisons so full?


Pia Sinha So it’s not now. It’s been building for a number of years. So the government themselves have known that we were we were kind of moving towards this crisis in probably in 2020. And some of that has been because, you know, there’s been 20,000 additional police officers and they expected that demand would rise as a result of that. Then you had the pandemic, then you had the court backlog, then you had the barista strikes. All of these reasons have been kind of they’re not it’s not like they suddenly come around the corner and beat them. It’s been known for a number of years. So the projections of population rise were kind of clearly documented. They were building capacity as a result of that. But the crisis or the debate about what we do about it has been kind of stymied by the reluctance to have a full, proper conversation about what’s wrong with our prison system. And and that has prevented decisions and solutions from coming up ahead of the curve. We’ve waited to the point that it’s past the point of no return to announce these because it feels really difficult and unpalatable for this government to say anything that makes them look soft on crime. Hmm.


Nish Kumar Before we get into the solutions, I just want to ask you, what are the problems that you’ve witnessed that are being created by this overcrowding?


Pia Sinha Okay. So overcrowding is it’s incredibly inhumane for a start. So when you have a cell, which is a tiny cell, its purpose is for one person. It’s built for one person. It has in-cell, sanitation. So there’s a toilet in it. And literally there’s enough room for a toilet, a single bed, a desk, a chair and a sink. Right. So when you get overcrowded cells, what you essentially do is put a bunk bed in there. So you’ve got two people in there, and that makes that whole living experience even even worse. It’s inhumane. So when you have a situation where prisons are overcrowded, you’ve got suddenly much more, many more prisoners and too few staff. So you can only deliver a safe regime if you’ve got the right ratio between prisoners and staff. When you have overcrowded prisons, you have a really impoverished regime for those prisoners, and that means they’re locked up in those tiny cells, often doubled up without any purposeful activity. They get half an hour of fresh air, which they’re legally required to get, but apart from that, they get nothing else. And that builds a kind of absolutely, you know, awful environment in the presence of prisoners are frustrated. They’re angry. They can’t have contact with their family. They’re not able to come and look after their wellbeing. They’re not getting access to snuff. They’re bored. And all of that builds a pressure cooker within the prison and it compromises safety, compromises, wellbeing of staff. And that’s perhaps what the issue is.


Nish Kumar So in terms of solutions, I mean. And this comes back to what you were saying about perhaps part of the problem is there’s a lack of political will because they don’t want to appear to be, in inverted commas, soft on crime. Does that mean a possible solution involves reduced sentencing?


Pia Sinha So possible solution involves Well, actually, this solution requires a cross-party conversation about what the purpose of prisons are. You know, all we know is the purpose of prison to rehabilitate people. Or is it about punishing people? And obviously, we know that it’s not one or the other. It’s obviously a kind of mixture of two things, but it needs to be proportionate. And what we’ve got into is that we’ve got into this fixation of punishing people and punishing or punishment looks like longer and longer sentences, but that the kind of other primary purpose of prison is also to rehabilitate. And if you want to rehabilitate people, giving them very, very long sentences doesn’t achieve that. It’s much more about investing in prisons, investing in interventions, and also looking at early interventions, you know, ahead of the sort of pipeline. What can you do before someone gets that bad? Then you have to put them in prison in the first place. You know, what can you do meaningfully in the community to give them the help to address some of those underlying issues so that they’re not drifting into prison in the first place? But actually, what we need to address is, you know, why are these crimes being committed? You know, the case for women, particularly in a majority of women and I’ve worked as a psychologist in prisons with women, majority of women dressed into prisons because they’ve had devastating histories of abuse. They’ve gone into the track of drug use and alcohol abuse as a way of coping with the trauma in adult life. And that’s one drifts them into prison and then you give them short sentences whereby they lose contact with their children and their families and lose their homes and lose their jobs. And then you spit them out six months later in a far, far worse position than when they came in. So these are these are the kind of honest, sensible, rational, evidence based debates that we shouldn’t be having. Are we not having those debates because people get really alarmist as soon as you try and say, well, actually we shouldn’t send people to prison because it becomes such an emotive subject, but we have to impose some rationality to this rather than just, you know, be spent by our emotions.


Nish Kumar Over half the women in prison are sentenced to less than six months. And there’s so many, you know, campaign groups and you yourself have written a huge amount about this and done a lot of research into this and advocates more community sentencing for women because of the nature of the majority of the crimes being low level, often driven by addiction and mental health issues. Why is it so difficult to bring up something like that, which is rational and evidence based in this particular forum? And I was sort of it sounds naive, even as I say it, because even as I say, I am imagining a hypothetical Daily Mail op ed piece.


Pia Sinha Yes.


Nish Kumar About about this a week kind of constrained by the wider conversation culturally and across the media about the purpose of prison.


Pia Sinha Yes, I think that’s I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. So when when I was working in prisons, whenever you were going to try and do something innovative or creative, the kind of question was, Oh, does it pass the Daily Mail test? We’re petrified. We’re petrified of the Daily Mail and the headlines and all the rest of it. And I think that influences the politicians. It kind of scares them into not being able to bring honesty into that debates. And I think that, you know, unless we are able to be brave and kind of call the truth for what it is, I mean, so people often say, well, why don’t we have a Scandinavian model where people are, you know, where we have a much more humane and inclusive approach towards people who commit crime? Now, the issue is, is they have a very different society there. Their societal kind of belief system seems to be very different from the UK belief system. And their belief system is about, you know, this is our problem. If someone commits harm to society, then society needs to look inwardly and say, well, what what is our responsibility in getting this person back into the fold? It takes a kind of inclusive approach to people rather than us, which says they have done bad. They need to be punished. Let’s just, you know, lock them up and throw away the key. You know, every time someone liberal like myself does an interview, if you read the comments section, it’s actually really it’s it’s really sad.


Coco Khan Never read the comments, Pia.


Pia Sinha Yes, I know. It’s a note to self that I shouldn’t do that. But yeah, I think I think that What? We need to do. We’ve come to this crisis point and prisons are at this crisis point. And without having this dialog about public opinion and the impact that it has on our politicians and our system, we’re not going to be able to really get to the heart of the problem. What actually fixes the system?


Coco Khan I’m going to make a confession, guys. I have received parking tickets in my time. I’m not great at parking. And I once wrote a piece about receiving a parking ticket and I have never received so much ire from people. Now you get what you’re given. You break the rules, you get a check. And it was like there was a kind of lust for me to get punished. I paid my fine, by the way, before anyone comes for me. I’m just kind of what you were talking about as well, Peer. Like, you know that there is this sort of desire for vengeance, for retribution. So I think when you are talking about the humanity of the prisoners, there will be sections of the public who don’t give a shit. To be completely honest, they don’t really care about that. But am I right in thinking that humane conditions in prison impacts re-offending? And so you should care about that humanity? I guess I just want to hear from you. Just lay that out for people that might think that this is a pointless, wooly conversation.


Pia Sinha Yeah. So it’s it’s not a pointless conversation. I think that anyone with any bit of common sense would know is that if you treat someone inhumanely, you treat them. And then as an animal, you put them in degrading conditions, they going to come out of that experience far more traumatized and worse in their psychological kind of well-being. And when someone’s in that state of mind, they’re less likely to give a shit about what they do to society because they see that what society is done to them is inhumane and degrading. So, you know, part of rehabilitation is also being able to model a different way because if people have people who end up in prison have had shitty lives. Right. And if you go into a prison and what you get is more of a shitty life, more violence, more degradation, more humiliation, how is that actually going to make you kind of reflect and shape differently? Or, you know what, I’m going to go out to society and and do my bit now you know you’re going to be worse off. So having humane conditions, teaching people that there’s a culture of care, that there’s compassion. Compassion is a really important part of justice, isn’t it? You know, justice is not just about punishment. It’s it’s about trying to rehabilitate someone to think slightly differently. And most victims would say that the main thing that they want to happen from someone who’s perpetrated an offense against them or others is that they don’t go out and do that again. And if you put them in a prison where they’re not learning any of that, in fact, they’re worse. What you’re doing is you’re risking them making more victims. So on every level, it doesn’t work. So we really need to be able to arm people with some of the facts and the truths about the situation so we can have an intelligent debate. And that’s that’s the point I want to make here.


Nish Kumar Thank you so much. Joining us. That was Pia Sinha, the director of the Prison Reform Trust, who unfortunately shows us that sometimes common sense fails the Daily Mail test.


Coco Khan So we’re still here with a Anoosh Chakelian and from the Statesman. And I know you’ve been listening in. You’ve written a lot about presidents in the past. I think you’re actually working on an article right now. What were your thoughts on that conversation?


Anoosh Chakelian I thought it was really interesting because this is what seems to happen to every well, pretty much every justice secretary who gets into that position. They see what the logical solutions are to trying to, you know, reduce our prison population and reduce re-offending. And then it’s whether or not they have the political bravery to, you know, to sort of brave the gantlet of the Daily Mail test and suggest that we shouldn’t have these short sentences. Obviously, the government has been pushed into this by circumstance, in this in this instance. But, you know, someone like David Gauke, who was justice secretary, he actually writes for us now quite liberal guy. He wanted to cut prison sentences of less than 12 months. And he’s been writing about that ever since. And so, you know, it’s one of those things that’s like an open secret in government. It’s been like drug decriminalization, but everyone knows what actually works. But then when you sort of collide with public opinion is really difficult as a minister, as a government to to propose some of these measures. I kind of think it’s down to a Tory government to do this. It’s like a Nixon goes to China kind of thing, right? Because Labour, you know, are seen as softer on crime. They are seen as liberals and sort of proponents of, you know, prisoners having flat screen TVs and pool tables and stuff. And, you know, you saw all of that coverage in the new Labour’s when they did actually flood prisons with more money for rehabilitation programs and psychologists and things. So I do think it’s down to the Conservatives to do this, but it is funny that they’ve kind of been forced into making these changes rather than come to the logical conclusion to make them.


Coco Khan Coming up next, we’ll be talking about the forthcoming by elections.


Nish Kumar So this week sees two big by elections that are both the result of high profile Tory scandals. The by election in Mid Bedfordshire is for the seat vacated by Boris Johnson’s number one fan and the day by number one, I mean only only for Nadine Dorries. She announced her resignation after being snubbed for a place in the House of Lords, but then took another 11 weeks to actually resign amidst growing anger from her constituents.


Coco Khan The by election in Tamworth has been called after the incumbent Tory MP Chris Pincher, was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a London club. The town was without an MP for nearly a year after she disappeared from view and only resigned once he’d lost an appeal against his suspension. Pictures Downfall was one of a series of scandals which contributed to Boris Johnson being forced out of Downing Street. So a new two by elections that I’m always pretty excited about. A by election because I think, oh, it’s an opportunity to give a sucker punch to the Tories. But actually, these two, these are there’s a good chance they might hang on to them, right?


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah. Then these ones aren’t straight forward. So mid Bedfordshire that Labour’s never won there before and it’s sort of second to the Tories in terms of the vote last time round. But it was thought at the beginning when Nadine Dorries said that she was going to stand down as an MP, that it would be the Lib Dems to win it because it’s sort of the semi-rural seat and the kind of place that they’ve been winning in by elections where people have been trying to give sucker punch to the Tories, like you say. But since then, sort of Labour’s overtaken in terms of the odds. And there’s this strange situation where both the Lib Dem and the Labour campaigns are fighting for the seat full throated lee rather than one of them being like, okay, you take this one and then we’ll take another one, which has kind of been the kind of informal pacts that they’ve been doing in other seats. So there is the risk that the Tories can come up through the middle, even though the general public, you know, wherever I go to report, are really fed up with the conservatives. And of course in this seat in particular, Nadine Dorries just hasn’t been representing her constituents and there’s a lot of anger that yeah, so there is the strange situation where the Lib Dem and Labour campaigns have been quite hostile towards each other. I was talking to a Labour source who was like, I don’t understand why there hasn’t been our usual non-aggression pact.


Nish Kumar How has that fallen through?


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, I mean, I think, I think really it is because from the start, from the announcement of Doris saying she would stand down, people suddenly assume this is another Lib Dem win. And so Lib Dem sort of got like, you know, excited about it because they are they really like delivering these big blows to the government. Yeah.


Nish Kumar And Ed Davey does a strange visual photo op.


Anoosh Chakelian Of like toys that he wants to use for the photo op and so he wants to make sure that he gets to use them. But then it looked like sort of Labour. So it’s kind of neck and neck. It was looking like, right? So I think both campaigns just have completely gone for it. In a way, it does help both of them because they are constantly having to say, no, no, we haven’t stitched anything up, we don’t have any formal pacts. So at least this proves that actually they are just separate opposition parties and they both want to win.


Coco Khan That’s because, you know, we talk a lot about tactical voting on this show, but this seems like an example in which actually there isn’t an obvious solution in terms of get the Tories out, vote X, Y, Z. Yeah, I do wonder if this is a kind of sign of the times to come in terms of the next election. Actually, the tactical voting approach has these areas where it just doesn’t really quite work.


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, there are certain places, certain constituencies which are basically three way fights and I don’t think you’re going to see sort of like Labour or Lib Dems standing aside for each other in those seats because they do want to win the most seats, you know, And also their local campaigners find it very disappointing when they don’t get the resources and the shadow cabinet members and you know, the big figures coming down to help them campaign because they’re there on the ground the whole year, right? Yeah, You know, so they feel there’s sometimes tension between the central party and the local campaign. So I think there will be certain seats like this in the general election where you won’t see that tactical sort of informal pact style thing going on. But that’s not enough, I think, for it to really benefit the Tories.


Nish Kumar In terms of the other by election. Yeah. Do you think that that is a more clear cut opportunity for the Labour Party because Tamworth was a Labour seat in the Blair Brown years, but they’re still quite a significant Tory majority that needs to be overturned.


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, so I think Tamworth is more clear cut and you know, from sort of speaking to people within the Labour campaign there, I think they do think it’s an easier fight than mid beds because you’re right, it used to be this bellwether seat, so it turned, it actually turned Labour in a by election in 96, so the year before the general election. So we’re kind of seeing a parallel here. And so it went Labour. Then they clung onto it in the general and then it went back to Tory in 2010. So it’s kind of switched with the times, but since then it’s become more and more Tory. So it’s trended conservative and now, now it’s a nearly 20,000 majority.


Nish Kumar That’s right? Yeah.


Anoosh Chakelian Like much of the Midlands, this is a really interesting thing. So people talk about the north south divide and the red wall versus blue wall. Actually, the Midlands is probably the place that have the most significant political trend in recent years, which has just to trend Tory much faster than your average counties. So Staffordshire, which is where Tamworth is all 12. I’m pleased that Tory Staffordshire is one of the top five Tory counties in terms of vote share. So these places are going more and more conservative. It’s very Brexit voting as well. 66% voted leave, so it’s the kind of place where Labour should actually really struggle. But what it looks like is that they’re getting quite a positive reception on the ground there. I went round with some of their campaigners last week and while people were a little bit reluctant to say, Oh yeah, I’m going to switch to Labour, they were definitely saying I’m not voting Tory and Labour all the contender there. So, you know, there is definitely a chance that they could they could potentially win it, which would upset this deeper political trend.


Nish Kumar Is that wider national malaise with the Tory Party or is that in Tamworth specifically to do with Chris Pincher and you know. What he what he has been found to have done. Is it specifically a pincher thing?


Anoosh Chakelian To be honest, that didn’t really come up and Labour campaign is that privately said to be honest, that’s not the big thing here. And the thing that came up most was really the reputation of the conservatives on the national stage after party. So that still comes up, you know, as journalists and podcast, we’ve kind of in a way moved on from that because we’re so sort of following the news day to day. Actually, the public holds grudges for longer. And so party gate comes up. The mini budget came up a lot. You know, someone that we spoke to had lost her job because of that and was trying to sell her house and couldn’t. And so those are all of these things that people are blaming on the conservatives. And really Rishi Sunak’s big mistake. And I was talking to a very long standing, respected pollster about this was to not completely separate himself from that period when he first came in, he had a chance to do it over the privileges committee that ruled that Boris Johnson had misled Parliament. And he he equivocated. And, you know, since then, I think you’ve seen his personal approval ratings have held up. So I think his only chance really was just to completely condemn both in his and Boris Johnson’s leadership. And I think he missed that opportunity before.


Nish Kumar Rich, before we let you go, the SNP conference happened this week in Aberdeen. We’ve really not talked about it a huge amount this week, and that’s largely because next week we’ve actually got the SNP leader and First Minister Humza Yousaf coming on to the podcast. Is it a question you would particularly like to ask him?


Anoosh Chakelian To be honest, it’s not that political, but I would like to ask him how his in-laws are doing. And I think the way that he’s handled this, I think he’s got a really good line given he’s got this personal story going on in the background, must be very worried about it. But he’s I think he’s held himself very well. So, yeah, I’d like to ask him about I mean.


Coco Khan Definitely, you know, we were talking earlier about seeing those religious leaders coming out and that show of leadership. There was one photo of of him. He’s at a synagogue in East Renfrewshire, and he’s hugging the mother of someone who had died in the Hamas attacks. And just that moment of just like put politics aside, we are human beings and we are in grief and we can support each other was so moving and beautiful.


Nish Kumar He visited the synagogue in Glasgow and said, Your grief is my grief. And for somebody who has been very active, you know, in a very ongoing, difficult situation with his in-laws being trapped in Gaza is incredibly powerful piece of leadership. I think.


Coco Khan So if you have any questions for Humza Yousaf, please do get in touch with us. The email address to find us on is or you can whatsapp it to us on 07514644572 and we’ll put the best ones to him. But in the meantime, the only thing left to say is bye Anoosh.


Anoosh Chakelian Bye


Nish Kumar Thanks very much for coming in.


Anoosh Chakelian Thank you so much for having me.


Nish Kumar Come see us again.


Anoosh Chakelian Yeah, definitely.


Nish Kumar Fantastic.


Coco Khan Great.


Nish Kumar Thanks Anoosh.


Coco Khan PSUK’s hero and villain is back. We know you’ve missed it, especially Nick, who emailed to say “don’t think due to your excellent interviews with Rob Delaney and George Parker that we didn’t notice you left us without your hero/villain last week. I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it up to us.” So this is for you. Nick, Nish, take it away. Who’s your villain of the Week?


Nish Kumar So the villain of the week is Peter Bone, who was the Conservative MP for Wellingborough and has been since 2005 and still is and serves as the deputy leader of the House of Commons for a period last year. The Parliament’s independent expert panel found that he had bullied and was sexually inappropriate around a former member of staff. The report said the bullying involved violence, shouting and swearing, mocking, belittling and humiliating behavior and ostracism. The willful pattern of bullying also included an unwanted incident of sexual misconduct. When the complainant was trapped in a room with the respondent in a hotel in Madrid. This was a deliberate and conscious abuse of power using a sexual mechanism. Indecent exposure. In July 2022, Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Mr. Bowen to the job of Deputy Commons leader, which incredibly involves handling how complaints of bullying are dealt with. Mr. Bowen has denied the allegations, calling them without foundation and is appealing the decision. It feels like a party that at the moment is just. I mean, it just feels like it’s filled with perverts like the Conservative Party at the moment does just feel like it’s is just full of misconduct and is turning blind eyes to misconduct. On the subject of Peter Bone. I should say that firm Brady’s a fantastic committee. Did was it drawing attention to some comments he had made about some of her work in the past? Ferne used to host a show with Alison Caldwell of misfortune. And Peter Bone, it actually commented on the content of it in the Daily Mail. He had been very angry with some of the content that Fern and Alison were putting out and said that the majority of young people would find what they were talking about quite offensive. Okay. Well, I would say to pay about is I would get your own house in order. I would get your own house in order. Because I think to people talking about offensive things is not as bad as doing a huge amount of offensive things. Ok Peter Bone, as usual, the moralizing is turn out to have the least morals possible.


Looks a lot like Sven-Goran Eriksson there doesn’t he.


Nish Kumar Peter Bone does look like football manager. Sven-Goran Eriksson.


Coco Khan He does.


Nish Kumar Yes. Yes.


Coco Khan I feel sorry for Sven-Goran Eriksson.


Nish Kumar Yeah, I feel sorry for him.


Coco Khan He had a tough enough time back then he’s going to be walking around people mistaking him for Peter Bone.


Nish Kumar Coco, the day that we’re recording happens to be World Menopause Day and you have a very appropriate here out of the week for us.


Coco Khan I do indeed. It’s actually heroes, so it’s the women who are currently taking on their male bosses who discriminate against them because they are basically just going through the menopause. So the first woman I’d like to mention is Karen Farquharson. She is a 49 year old office manager in Scotland. She recently won a $37K payout after her boss told her that she used the menopause as an excuse for everything. She was told to just get on with it after being of work ill due to her symptoms and employment Tribunal heard that her boss in Aberdeenshire dismissed it always as aches and pains. So, I mean, look, something we talk a lot about on this show is about how rights that are won need to be defended, but they also need to be deepened as we move through the times. They need to be updated. And you know, under the Equality Act, you cannot discriminate against someone based on their sex, based on their age and based on their disability. So you might think that given that lots of women go through menopause at a certain age and sometimes it can be debilitating that being prejudiced against women experiencing that would be covered and I wouldn’t be doing it. That’s not actually been the case. And sadly, women have had to take this to the courts. So another one, Maria Rooney, she took sickness leave from her job as a social worker, very important job. We don’t have enough of them. So even more galling at Leicester City Council due to Simpson, she received a warning for being off so much and eventually she just resigned due to the bad treatment bad vibes she’s taking. Her case to tribunal is being supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. It will be a legal first for a tribunal. I mean, there will be other examples like this and there’ll be women that are doing it away from the headlines just fighting this battle in their own workplaces. And so given that it’s World Menopause Day, I just wanted to give a shout out to all those all those women doing that because it’s vital work. They’re making it better for me when I go through the menopause. And so for that, thank you so much. And yeah, you’re our Hero of the Week.


Nish Kumar That’s incredible and a lovely thing to celebrate. Thank you so much to everyone who got in touch to say how much they enjoyed the conversation that we had with comedian Rob Delaney last week. If you missed it, it’s well worth going back to commenting on X, which still doesn’t seem right. It’s still it’s Twitter commenting on X brackets. Twitter @Icanread said “After caring for my dying mother in the US, I cannot emphasize enough how much you don’t want your health system to turn into ours. And I appreciate how much Rob knows that and fights for the NHS.” Very nice message. Thank you so much for getting in touch. You can get in touch with us by emailing That’s We also love hearing your voices, so do send us a voice note on WhatsApp. Our number is 07514644572. Internationally, that’s +447514644572. We’d love to get your thoughts on what we’ve discussed on this episode, or you can send us in a question about British politics or suggest something you’d like us to cover.


Coco Khan And just a reminder that next week we’ve got Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, joining us, and we’d love to put some of your questions to him. So if you have something you’d like to ask, email us at Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.


Nish Kumar Thanks to senior producer Musty Aziz and digital producer Alex Bishop with additional production support from Annie Keates Thorpe.


Coco Khan Video editing was by David Koplovitz and the music is by Vasilis Fotopolous.


Nish Kumar Thanks to our engineer David Dugahee.


Coco Khan The executive produces a Dan Jackson, Madeleine Heringer and Anoushka Sharma with additional support from Ari Schwartz.


Nish Kumar Watch us on the Pod Save the World YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram, where we’re @PodSavetheUK – all one word.


Coco Khan And hit Subscribe for new shows on Thursdays on Amazon, Spotify or Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.