In This Episode
While the UK was losing its senses over a sex scandal, the BBC and a tabloid newspaper, Nish brings some sanity. His advice to journalists and politicians: if you know nothing, why not shut up? What we learn from the story is that the UK needs more facts and less speculation.
In Nish’s crosshairs is Tory MP Lee Anderson. He called the BBC a “safe haven for perverts” while his party and Westminster faces an epidemic of sexual harassment allegations.
Carla Denyer – co leader of the Green Party in England and Wales – is Coco and Nish’s special guest. The Greens could offer the most radical policies at the next General Election: taxing on multi millionaires, decriminalising drugs and welcoming migrants. But can the party persuade trans people the Greens are their ally?
President Biden drops in for tea at Number 10 but his British best mate is not the Prime Minister, it’s King Charles. And immigration minister and cartoon destroyer, Robert Jenrick, is villain of the week.
Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.
Contact us via email: PSUK@reducedlistening.co.uk
WhatsApp: 07514 644572 (UK) or + 44 7514 644572
Carla Denyer, co-leader of The Green Party
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 it ain’t easy being green. Just ask the Green Party.
Coco Khan Their only MP is stepping down.
Nish Kumar Groups like Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion are stealing their thunder.
Coco Khan But are the Green Party. Actually, the most radical party in British politics today. We speak to their co-leader, Carla Denyer. Hi Nish. How’s your week been?
Nish Kumar It’s been pretty good. I’ve been doing some standup and I went to Brighton and Hackney, so I’m really branching out of my left wing bubble. I’m hoping to take in Manchester and Bristol next. How was your week?
Coco Khan My week was. Since. Since we last met. I did some work, which was fine. And the weekend I went to a house party and that was really fun.
Nish Kumar You went to a house party?
Coco Khan I know! Hello.
Nish Kumar Thought that was beyond us.
Coco Khan 2006 called. They want to meet you in the kitchen.
Nish Kumar I thought in our mid to late thirties, the year of the house party was over.
Coco Khan I’m so grateful for the handful of friends I have that still do this.
Nish Kumar I thought we’d graduated to dinner parties.
Coco Khan Oh, no, no, no. I’m still in my house party mode. I just don’t get the invite. But it was really good and it went on quite late. And then the next day I had to go into kind of comfort womb mode.
Nish Kumar Would you describe yourself as being in a state of chemical distress?
Coco Khan I would describe myself as being very fragile, extremely fragile. To put it in context, I watched Damien Lewis perform his weird, mumbling version of God Save the King at the F1. Have you seen that yet?
Nish Kumar No.
Coco Khan Oh. Nish, you have got to see it. It’s Damien Lewis from Homeland. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And he’s doing a kind of crooner version of God Save the King while a guy plays saxophone, and it is not parody. Well, the F1. The F1.
Nish Kumar Yeah, well, I don’t think I realized, do they? I didn’t think they, I didn’t realize they did national anthems at the F1.
Coco Khan Yeah. Yeah, they do. Yeah. You’ve got to see it. It’s very Vic Reeves.
Nish Kumar Right. Well Vic Reeves clubs thing.
Coco Khan Yeah. Yeah. And it’s and I had a moment being like, maybe this is performance. Maybe Damien Lewis is Marina Abramovic. Maybe this is telling us something about the state of Britain. But I was fragile enough that I genuinely like shed a single tear.
Nish Kumar Wait you cried because Damien Lewis did a jazz singer version of God Save the King.
Coco Khan I just was so overwhelmed by what was happening, it just was too much.
Nish Kumar That’s chemical distress baby.
Coco Khan But on the bright side, I have now finessed my sort of hangover process.
Nish Kumar Yeah, right.
Coco Khan And my process is, chicken biriyani Fast the Furious and I have nailed it and I bestowing that upon you as my dear friend.
Nish Kumar How many Fast and Furious films did you watch with your chicken biriyani?
Coco Khan Two and a half?
Nish Kumar Two and a half? Which ones did you, were you going chronological?
Coco Khan Yes. I don’t know if that’s actually the right order. By the time I got to Tokyo Drift Nish, I was like, well, I feel completely rebalanced then I realized, this is awful. So I’m turning this off immediately.
Nish Kumar So there we have it listeners, another hot tip from a woman who’s still partying in her mid thirties.
Coco Khan How do you do, fellow kids? Speaking of films, by the way, there’s obviously two big films coming out.
Nish Kumar Barbenheimer baby!
Coco Khan Barbenheimer?
Nish Kumar Yeah, that’s what, that’s the portmanteau that the people of the Internet are using to describe the day on July 21st when Barbie and Oppenheimer are released on the same day.
Coco Khan The reason I was mentioning all the big film news is because we received some post. It’s a beautiful illustration that one of our listeners have created of yours truly, Coco Khan, and they sent it to us. I mean, people who are watching online can see it.
Nish Kumar Yeah, it’s it’s a left wing Barbie in the in the sort of packaging and it says with real accessories to revolt and organize it’s the left wing Barbie is Coco Khan saying power to the people and it says never gives up and there’s a microphone and a megaphone. It is it’s spectacular.
Coco Khan It’s amazing. It’s an amazing piece of work by one of our listeners, Cath Kstner, who I believe does that she must be a professional because this is incredible.
Nish Kumar She’s a professional illustrator. Oh, very much a professional illustrator
Coco Khan So now all I need to do is figure out where to put it in my flat. Where can it have the most impact?
Nish Kumar Right on the front door. So anyone has to look at it. Even if they don’t come in the house, they’re going to see it.
Coco Khan Maybe. But then I’d be worried that people would start like, you know, when you walk down the street and they’re like, Oh, it’s you, it’s a Barbie, do you know what I mean? It’s very that’s the sort of thing that would happen where I live people would know your identity and and throw it at you in hostile ways.
Nish Kumar It’s a spectacular piece of work. It will put it up on all of the socials so you can see it. You can find Cath’s work at Cath Kstner that C A T H K S T N E R dot com. So coming up, despite your being another busy week in politics with the US president in town, a NATO summit is debating immigration and an unprecedented doctor strike. The headlines have, in fact, been dominated by one story ever since The Sun newspaper published its front page exclusive last Friday. There’s been a frenzy of speculation about the identity of a male BBC presenter who the paper alleges paid a young person for sexually explicit images. So look, we recording this on Wednesday lunchtime and at the time of recording, the presenter has not been named. This is almost a perfect kind of viper’s nest of a situation here where we’ve got a story that we don’t have all the information around a kind of 24 hour news cycle that people are just keen to fill with constant speculation. And at the center of it, the Sun newspaper that seems to have an agenda against the BBC is an organization and then the BBC, an organization that has historically had a very serious problem, a very, very public problem with a specifically child sexual exploitation scandal. So I think it’s very important for people to be able to hold a number of things in their head at the same time that it’s possible that the BBC does have questions to answer, that it’s possible. The Sun, in its haste to attack the BBC, has maybe not covered itself in glory in the way that it reported on this story. This is an extremely serious matter and we don’t have all of the facts. So why in the name of God are you openly speculating? Why is Lee Anderson, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, using this story as a springboard to describe the BBC as a safe haven for perverts? I think I would be I would just if I was Lee Anderson, I would be very, very careful about making allegations about a whole organization, given the Chris Pincher groping scandal. The MP that Boris Johnson was keen to protect and actually gave a job in spite of being aware of these allegations, Pincher is facing an eight week Commons suspension after an inquiry found that he groped two men at a London club last year. And a parliamentary standards committee has said that his completely inappropriate behavior was an abuse of power. So just if I was Lee Anderson, I’d be very, very careful about bandying those kind of claims around. But also, we don’t know anything white That’s surely the more responsible thing to do here. The week began with President Joe Biden making a whistle stop flying visit to the UK on his way to the NATO summit in Lithuania for Biden’s first visit to Downing Street as president. Rishi Sunak even bought out the good crockery.
Clip Well Joe welcome. It’s great to have you here back in Downing Street. I think you’ve been here a few times before. I know, but your first time as president. So we’re very privileged and fortunate to have you here. Thanks for coming. It’s good to be back. You know, we’ve only been meeting once a month. We met in San Diego, Belfast, Hiroshima, Washington here. And I’m going to be meeting with a close friend and. Creator. Ally, it’s great to have you here. Oh, my God. There is something in that. We’re in a team that’s really on to a nice take back into. The new Downing Street moment.
Coco Khan That was genuinely worse than watching Damien Lewis do God Save the King on a saxophone. Genuinely, I felt my whole body cringe up. Oh God, what’s happening?
Nish Kumar Yeah, it was. He’s not the most natural public speaker.
Coco Khan Why do they keep doing these highly publicized meetings? What are they actually talking about and achieving at them other than making me cringe to the point of keeling over?
Nish Kumar Well, I mean, I mean, they never quite look as not I’m not sure why they do them is the answer, because it never quite looks natural. Joe Biden was reading off cue cards at the time, which obviously doesn’t look great. It’s very rare that you have to say to somebody, this is one of my closest friends. In order to facilitate a smooth conversation, I will be reading off cue cards. I don’t know whether he was trying to avoid another gaffe, because when Bush said I became prime minister, Biden, of course, referred to him as Rashid Snook. I just think that there’s maybe a chance of the cue cards being necessary so that they stick to topics that they agree upon because, you know, there are vast differences between these two politicians. And I mean, the the conversation this time, obviously, with the NATO summit, the main focus is the US supplying Kiev with cluster bombs. So obviously slightly uncomfortable discussion given that the UK has signed up to a treaty banning them, it doesn’t seem to have produced anything substantive. Yeah, as a conversation between two world leaders, I mean that doesn’t seem to have been anything that comes out of it other than they’re some new Downing Street mugs.
Coco Khan Right, Exactly. That’s exactly what every time I see, I feel like I can see why. So you act like he he’s keen on them. He is in the process of, you know, getting ready for running an election. Right. And he wants to show himself to be a great leader on the world stage. I can see why it works for him, but I’m not sure what’s to be gained from it. I mean, even the conversations about climate, which are so important, the two don’t see eye to eye. And Biden started talking to King Charles about it instead.
Nish Kumar Anyway, that’s what for me, I found made this a slightly uncomfortable summit. So Biden obviously wasn’t just here to see Sunak. He popped in to see King Charles at Windsor Castle, and the topic of conversation was around the climate crisis. It’s reported that the two men had a 20 minute chat over a cup of tea, and then King Charles and Joe Biden attended the Climate Finance Mobilization Forum in Windsor Castle’s Green during live. Now, this is only uncomfortable in terms of its timing because Sunak has been facing huge amount of criticism around his government’s green policies. There was a report which we discussed on the show last week suggesting that they’re about to drop a huge climate spending pledge to fight the climate crisis around the world. And also Zac Goldsmith has quit the government and claimed in protest that it was partly in protest over Sunak’s lack of commitment to green issues. So it does feel a little bit like Biden has gone over Sunak’s head. I thought the optics of it didn’t look right because it also felt a bit like Biden had come in and thought, well, I’ll have a cup of tea and I’ll read some cue cards with the guy. But then when it comes to things like the climate crisis, I’ll speak to the person who’s going to be in a job in 18 months time like it did Phil Sudeikis giving off massive substitute teacher vibes. I would say it did feel a little bit like Biden was like, Well, I’ll talk to that. Like you still could have better.
Coco Khan Well its like you were saying earlier it’s good to see two elderly statespeople caring about future generations.
Nish Kumar Let’s stop beating around the bush. A couple of old fucking dudes, Biden and Joe’s old men, no doubt about it. To borrow an earlier phrase, these are two death adjacent men, statistically, and yet they still came together to talk about something that’s going to affect their children, their grandchildren. I think it is. You know, I’m not one to, you know, lavish praise on people for doing the bare fucking minimum. But I do think in an atmosphere of the UK government may be moving away from a climate policy is something that it needs to focus on in a week where reportedly Keir Starmer claimed that he has a dislike of tree huggers, though that was denied by the Labour Party. It was good to see.
Coco Khan It was good to see.
Nish Kumar Two old guys chatting about the climate. I think it was. I think it was good good thing.
Coco Khan Both Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak are now at the NATO summit taking place in Vilnius in Lithuania. As we record this for great analysis on that, we really do recommend our sister podcast Pod Save the World, where they’ll be speaking to the US Ambassador to NATO.
Nish Kumar [AD]
Coco Khan On last week’s episode, we had a fascinating chat with Chloe Naldrett from Just Stop Oil. If you missed it, you can find it on our feed.
Nish Kumar We have lots of reaction in our inbox at Baby. I love the fact that we read out the handles of people who are often saying quite serious things but are often called Chicken Nugg Nuggs.
Coco Khan Out of just what has been your worst username?
Nish Kumar John Butt Hammer John Butt Hammer is the name that I saw, you know, if you like, like it like public Wi-Fi and it’s not actually going to check, you know, there’s some that send you an email, you have to follow it. But if it’s not going to check, I’m Butt Hammer at Gmail dot com I’m always I’m John oh sorry I do apologize. The Reverend John Butt Hammer the Reverend John Butt Hammer and the email address is Butt Hammer at gmail. That’s my gift to you.
Carla Denyer And just to let you know it does actually exist.
Nish Kumar If it does, it’s got a lot of nuisance emails from various hotels around the United Kingdom. Well, look, the absence of the Reverend Barber, we’ve got a really, really wonderful message from someone called at baby Picture this. So let’s move past that baby picture. Thank you very much for writing it. And also, it’s a lovely message, baby picture. They said this. We’re so lucky to have people like Chloe who are willing to do this work the way we’ve made it socially acceptable or even expected to demonize those brave enough to try and save a burning planet is insane. This interview made me want to do better. Very nice. From at Baby picture this at Maddalena to eight nine. I didn’t agree though. I’m sorry, but this is my reaction to just stop oil. And then there’s a string of eyeroll emojis. Get into politics and get involved in making some policies If you want to change something. I would say that on this podcast we are huge advocates of getting involved in politics, but they were also huge advocates of protest movements, and a lot of the dial of democracy has been pushed closer to progress by active protest movements. I would say it isn’t a case of one or the other and the two are inextricably linked.
Coco Khan We do love a movement here at Pod Save the UK, but nonetheless we thought we would speak to someone who has done precisely that, got involved into politics and is hoping to make some policy. So please welcome Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales and the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Bristol West. Hi.
Carla Denyer Hello. Thanks for having me on.
Coco Khan Thank you for joining us.
Nish Kumar I’m glad that I wish that the first thing people had heard you say on the podcast wasn’t directly related to the reverend, but I know you have some regrets that the first time people your voice.
Carla Denyer Have I degraded my brand?
Nish Kumar Listen, even being in proximity to me can cause people’s brands to collapse. My my brand is so degraded that it, like, operates like a sort of black hole. It can suck in other people’s credibility. David Yeah, it is nice to see you. Call it. We should declare that you would already diversity together.
Carla Denyer Indeed. Yeah, I remember you. I’d be quite surprised if you remember me.
Nish Kumar I don’t know that we actually ever met, right?
Carla Denyer So I was a fan of your comedy. I’ve seen you perform, but you were a big name on campus. I very much wasn’t then.
Nish Kumar I think it’s funny the idea of me being a big Dave on campus, largely.
Coco Khan Because, as we both know, indeed, it was a work university. Abbreviated. Yeah, a B, not because that’s that’s.
Carla Denyer That’s what the youth say these days.
Coco Khan Do they? Yes.
Carla Denyer I learned not go for young green a few years ago.
Nish Kumar Really.
Coco Khan Oh, wonderful.
Nish Kumar Well, you’ve really made Coco’s day because there’s nothing she likes more than learning that she has things in common with people who were ten years younger than us at least.
Coco Khan Correct.
Nish Kumar I don’t think I realize I was a big dope, largely because all we did was write sketches that we performed in university theaters and then got drunk and then processed our various hangovers.
Coco Khan On the subject of been artsy, She’s she’s doing it. She’s doing a Segway. She’s doing it.
Nish Kumar She’s a professional broadcaster.
Coco Khan Let me tell you about a Beano. Caroline Lucas. She’s stepping down. She says she thinks she can make more of an impact outside of Westminster. I’m just wondering, what are your thoughts on the power of political parties at the moment? You know, a lot of them are sort of hamstrung. And as we were talking about earlier, the kind of real sense of activism in terms of green policies at the moment does appear to be just a ploy. And Extinction Rebellion. You think they’ve stolen your thunder?
Carla Denyer Well, don’t get me wrong. I think there’s absolutely a place for climate change, activism, nonviolent direct action, things like just stop oil. It’s not the route I’ve personally chosen, but I think they’ve got a really important role in society to, you know, push the Overton Window and get things in the news more. And that really helps people like the Greens. You know, obviously we’re not the same organization. We’re not having sort of secret strategy conferences or anything like that.
Coco Khan You’re not on a big WhatsApp?
Carla Denyer No, but it is helpful because the policies that people like just stop all are calling for all the policies that the Green Party have been pushing. For decades. And my theory of change, if you like, is to pursue those through the party political process. So I’m trying to get myself and others elected to Parliament so that we can actually make those policies happen.
Coco Khan Can I just ask this on a personal level, What was it about taking that route that appealed to you?
Carla Denyer So I did used to be more of a campaigner on single issues. So rewind a little bit. My background actually in engineering, I did engineering at uni, I worked in the renewable energy sector on onshore and offshore wind farms for about six years. And in my spare time, both at uni and when I was working, I was doing a lot of campaigning on climate like human rights, fair trade. Back before fair trade was really a thing. But frankly, I got tired of repeatedly asking the people in power to do the right thing and having very little faith that they were going to, or at least not without an enormous amount of pressure from NGOs to do so. And even though getting elected as a green is very hard work, I came to the conclusion that it’s less work than having to repeatedly ask politicians from other parties to do the right thing over and over again on every individual issue. Instead, stand for election to replace them.
Coco Khan I mean, the Greens have done well in other countries, in Germany, for example. What are your thoughts on the appetite in the in the UK?
Carla Denyer I think the appetite for green politics is growing massively. We’ve just had the local elections this May where we have had another year of record breaking results. So that’s now four consecutive local elections where we’ve made huge gains. We’ve more than quadrupled a number of local councilors in those four elections, and that’s all across the country as well. You know, it’s not just in green kind of stronghold of leftie green cities. It’s it’s in places like you probably saw in the news, Suffolk, mid Suffolk, very rural, previously very Tory area. We’ve now got an absolute majority, i.e. more than 50% of the seats. That’s the first time that’s happened in the UK. We’ve been part of the administration on other councils, but it’s always been with one or more other parties or a minority administration and there’s less you can do in that situation because the other parties can like team up to vote things down.
Coco Khan Enormous success in Scotland as well, right? It’sactually part of government.
Carla Denyer Yes, absolutely. And I think you only need to look over the border to see what you could have if you just voted for it. Like, you know, I have so many interviews where they’re like, yeah, but that’s never going to happen because you never even get into government. Or how do we know what the Greens are going to do? It’s like, you know, Scotland’s not that far away. Just the news like, you know, bringing in rent controls, bringing in record breaking investment in tackling climate change, working towards a just transition for oil and gas workers in the north east of Scotland, record investment in protecting nature. It’s all stuff that our Green Party of England Wales policy as well and that we want to implement here. And we’re already on councils doing everything we can to do that. But there are some things that councils don’t have the power to do, especially in the UK. We have one of the most politically centralized systems in Europe, so in a lot of European countries, including the ones where Greens are strong, we’re really pleased to get loads more Greens elected at local level. But some of the things we want to do require power at a national level and so it’s a real priority for me over the next year, year and a bit whenever the next general election is to get as many Greens elected into Westminster as possible so that whoever’s in government. Probably Labour. We can pull them in the right direction, hold you know, keep them honest, and I say pull them. Pull them to the left on the areas where they’re not so hot on at the moment.
Nish Kumar There’s a lot sort of talk about to sort of unpack specifically with your relationship with because, I mean, we literally had Emily Thornberry sat where you’re sitting, described Labour as being the Green Party. And if you want the Green Party, you have to vote for Labour essentially if you want the Green Party’s policy platforms. And then after that, in fact, I think actually that maybe even your week for that podcast episode went out, the Labour Party said that, you know, sort of watered down their commitments on green issues or at least certainly pushed them back into the hypothetical cycle of the next government after the next general election. The Labour Party’s also seemingly with this story about a neo lawson who works a compass, who’s been advocating for more kind of a sort of progressive alliance and maybe people voting more tactically. There’s a chance that he might be suspended from the Labour Party. So there’s a concern that the shutters are coming down on that. Is the solution here more of a progressive, formalized progressive alliance or is it just a question of we need proportional representation, otherwise we’re just going to be trapped in a two party system?
Carla Denyer And the best way to get proportional representation is for the Greens to get a load of MP elected so that Labour has to listen. Yeah, because I think it was something like 80% of Labour Party members or of local Labour Party support proportional representation. But because it’s such an undemocratic party, the leader can single handedly veto that and say, I don’t care, I don’t want it in my manifesto. And that’s the end of that. Greens are, you know, cooperation, cross-party cooperation and recognizing that no one person or party has a monopoly on good ideas. That’s really in the core of our nature. And green parties all over the world are all about cooperation. But that doesn’t mean us like rolling over and just handing unilateral gifts to other political parties in exchange for nothing in return. So if there was a possibility of a progressive alliance. We would. You know, our door is always open and we’ve been pushing for that over the last few general elections. But and we would need Labour to to bring something to the table on that as well. And currently their constitution requires them to stand a candidate in every single state and completely forbids any form of formal cooperation. And so we are going to be standing candidates, if we can, in every single parliamentary constituency, and will be aiming to get a good handful of Green MSPs elected. Maybe it will be an outright Labour Government would ideally like to see is a Labour government with a few Greens and maybe a few people from other parties in as well where we can do similar to what the Scottish Greens have done with the SNP in Scotland and got some really, really bold policy commitments out of out of that cooperation.
Coco Khan If you’re talking about winning more seats, getting more and parties elected, you only have one at the minute. Caroline Lucas She’s stepping down. Is that a blow? Are you nervous? She’s quite a titan. Really?
Carla Denyer Yeah. Caroline Lucas has been phenomenal for UK politics as a whole. I think she’s punched well above her weight. I don’t think she likes that metaphor. And. And, of course, it’ll be sad to see her step down. But the party is much more than one person. In fact, it’s 50 something thousand people. And the selection for who is going to be the Green candidate in Brighton Pavilion next time is going on as we speak. We’re going to have the results of that in in about a week. So that’ll be really exciting to see who’s he’s going to be standing there. And yeah, ambitions are much more than just one MP. We want a handful So I’m the candidate in, in Bristol, as you said, and my co-leader Adrian is the candidate in Waveney Valley in Suffolk. Both of those are places where we’ve got really strong chances. So in Bristol, you described me as the parliamentary candidate for Bristol West. Very soon I will be the parliamentary candidate for Bristol Central because the parliamentary constituencies are changing. Bristol West was one of the largest constituencies in the whole country just because populations had moved around. So it needed to be changed. Yes. And yeah, they’ve got rid of Bristol West, replace it with Bristol Central, which is about 70% of the size of Bristol West, and it’s concentrated in the greenest bits of the city. So if you look at the local councilors that are elected in that constituency, 12 out of 14 of them are green already and the three wards that have been carved off compared to Bristol West, two of them are the very Labour voting, at least in general elections areas. So according to our data from boundary changes alone that halves the Labour majority in the seat I’m standing in. So it takes it from something that looks on paper like a fairly safe Labour seat, albeit I came second to being not a safe seat. But in fact what else has changed is the leadership of the Labour Party and I think the majority of voters in Bristol were much more Corbyn fans than Starmer funds my profile. I’d only been selected two months before the general election was called. Last time, nobody knew who I was. Some. Obviously I’m national leader of the party and we’ve just had longer time for people to get to know me and get to know the Green Party. We’ve been knocking on doors all of that time and the popularity of the Greens has increased massively. We’ve gone in Bristol from 11 to 25 councilors since the last general election, so the boundary changes alone are really helpful. But actually everything else that’s changed since 2019 has changed in our favor there as well. So that’s really promising.
Coco Khan I do feel that a lot of people might not know the Green Party’s policies outside of the environment. I think people associate it with an environmental party, but there’s a lot of social justice stuff, a lot of radical stuff. Something we’ve been following a lot is illegal migration. I know the green position is is quite bold. Am I right in thinking moving towards a no border at all situation?
Carla Denyer Well, it’s not no borders at all, but it is recognizing that people move and that migration isn’t a crime and trying to like put up ever higher walls and punish people for moving, which is a thing that humans have always done throughout our existence is is on a hiding to nowhere. So, you know, yes, of course, I want people to stop making dangerous crossings in small boats, but. The way to stop that isn’t to threaten them. It’s to provide safe and legal routes for people to claim asylum. It’s to increase the international aid budget so that so that some of the situations that are causing people to seek asylum in the first place were alleviated. Indefinite detention of migrants. Greenwood would scrap that. That’s completely unjust. Of course we’d scrap the Rwanda scheme. And I think, yeah, the Greens do stand quite apart from the other parties on this because from what I can see of what Labour is saying, I mean quite a lot of it is basically just saying we do it more efficiently. Yeah, yeah. You know, we’d process asylum seekers more efficiently and get rid of them faster rather than we would take a completely different compassionate approach to migration and asylum, which is the Green Party approach.
Nish Kumar Yeah, and look, we’re talking on the Wednesday, which is the day after the illegal migration bill was taken to the Commons. It’s in a ping pong process going between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Yesterday, MPs rejected all eight amendments put in by peers, which was an attempt to make the legislation approaching something more reasonable. I mean, I still think it’s a fundamentally irrational piece of legislation, but it feels like the House of Lords is trying to pull. It was all 82. Those amendments have been rejected. It’s definitely worth highlighting this idea that migration is going to be inextricably linked to the climate crisis.
Carla Denyer Yeah, and the worse we allow the climate crisis to get, the more migration there’s going to be as people are having to leave parts of the world that will become literally uninhabitable. So while my, my and the Green Party’s motivation for having quite a different policy on migration is. You know, it is it is sympathy and empathy for the people that are having to move. It’s not it’s not all everything through a climate lens. Yeah, absolutely. They’re interlinked. And the very reason that I originally joined the Green Party and didn’t even consider any of the others was that the Green Party is the only party that understands that climate and social justice are two sides of the same coin and you can’t extricate them.
Coco Khan I’m you know, I’ve definitely felt just on a personal level, as someone who’s always been interested in anti-racist struggle and struggle for gender equality and all your qualities, I can’t name them all this so many, but you know how they intersect with the environment. And it’s always been a shame to see that those have been disconnected. And I think it favors certain people, which is why sometimes. Can I be honest? I found it upsetting that the breathe the green councilors are often some of the least diverse. What is why is that happening and what’s being done about it?
Carla Denyer I think that is a reasonable observation. But it’s getting better quite quickly. So as we getting a larger number of counselors, we’re doing better at reaching into communities and understanding candidates from those communities. So like in Bristol, for example, there’s 25 of us and we’ve got a really good range of ages, backgrounds. You know, we’ve got several kind of third, fourth generation working class Australians. We’ve got two refugees in all in our camps. A great example, actually. Our diversity could still be a bit better in Bristol, but it’s much better than it was. And that is really important because we recognize that having a diversity in the decision makers in terms of their background and lived experience is so important for the sort of inherent good of of being represented by people who who have the same experiences as you. But also the research shows that the more diverse the group of people you have, the better decisions they make for the simple reason that you’re more likely to spot a potential error in a proposal if you’ve got, say, a single mum who’s like, Yeah, but you haven’t thought about the way that impacts this particular part of my lived experience. If you don’t have someone in the room that has that lived experience. So I think all political parties could do with becoming more diverse and the entire Green movement has historically been more white and middle class than it should be. But I think that that is changing.
Coco Khan Yeah. And in 2015, the ethnic diversity was on a par with UKIP.
Carla Denyer I mean, in 2015 we, we had we were so much smaller a party that we didn’t have as much of the organizing capacity in light recruiting capacity. And we’re building that up now. We need to carry on building that up, becoming, you know, a larger, more organized and more more inclusive party. Absolutely. But yeah, it’s definitely important.
Nish Kumar And one of the areas that there’s been a kind of schism between the Scottish Greens and the rest of the Green Movement is around the issue of the rights of transgender people. And it’s sort of my personal view on this subject is that this is a minority that has been, you know, demonized quite specifically as part of a kind of political campaign by the political right to create a wedge within progressive movements in this country. And I think it’s I think it’s a community that has been extremely vulnerable to acts of violence, but it’s also now extremely vulnerable to exploitation by the political right. And I’m just wondering, what are your views on the way that this issue is being handled and how can we as a kind of progressive conversation, sort of speak as one voice on this issue? Because that’s specifically something that Sian Berry cited when she quit as leader last year, that she said she could no longer make the claim to the party speaks unequivocally with one voice on this issue.
Carla Denyer I’m just going to fact check you slightly. Sian didn’t actually resign as leader. She just didn’t restand when there was an election when her co-leader resigned.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Carla Denyer I agree with you. I’m increasingly really alarmed by the way transpeople in this country are being treated, as I was going to say, political football. But I would say it’s even worse than that. Like specifically targeted by, you know, campaign groups that have been set up specifically to try and reduce their human rights. It’s shocking. I’m I’m bisexual, so I’m part of the LGBTIQA community myself. A bunch of my friends are trans and non-binary so there’s a personal element for me as well. It’s it’s it’s really scary. And I think we can’t we can’t just assume that, like, progress in society is inevitable. I think it can be dealt back and there is a risk of LGBTQ rights being dealt back in this country and in other countries as well. And we have to, you know, yeah, we can’t just sit on our laurels. We have to we have to be active as progressive campaigners and politicians to stand up for trans people’s rights. So I’m never shy about being really clear about our policies on that. So Green Party being, you know, I was policy is that we would bring in reform of the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier, less bureaucratic, less of a medicalized process to to get your gender affirmed, including recognizing non-binary identities, which currently there’s no ability to do that. There’s a lot of kind of bureaucratic things like wedding vows. You’re not allowed to say spouse, you have to say husband or wife, which means that friends of mine, a couple, both of whom are non-binary. They have to choose between not getting the gay marriage, which they want to, or misgendering each other in their wedding vows. Yeah. And for the vast majority of the UK population who are cisgender, this doesn’t affect us. And they may sound like small things, but if it’s you and it’s your relationship, it’s your marriage, then it’s just it’s basic dignity. It’s the basic dignity that the rest of us have. And it’s not unreasonable to expect.
Nish Kumar Who does that. Who does that hurt? That’s what I don’t really understand. You know.
Carla Denyer There’s a lot of misinformation circulating around what the gender recognition reform would mean. Like there’s a lot of people talking about single sex spaces and toilets, but it’s not about that. It’s about dignity in your marriage certificate and your death certificate and so on, and just being recognized for who you are. And I think that’s, you know, that’s the bare minimum that people should expect in this country.
Coco Khan So I want to ask you a question that is, I’m trying really hard to insert a Fast and Furious reference. Yes. But I was watching it over the weekend and I was saying Tunisia earlier that in the eye view, if you watch that, by the way, have you watched any women? So I’m going to take this. Okay, I respect you. And in the first few movies, they all sort of gear up their call us to have nitrous oxide, which makes them go really fast when they’re racing is called knows. Right. And so in the film, they’re constantly talking about like, I really need some noise, get me some noise. And it makes me laugh in the context of the hysteria around nitrous oxide and some of the legislation that’s been brought in. I understand that the Greens have a much more liberal, relaxed policy towards drugs and I just wanted to hear from you what it is like. What is it?
Carla Denyer I mean, legalize and regulate, basically. Yeah, in a nutshell, like, you know, you only have to look at both how the war on drugs hasn’t been working for the last 50 years or however long it’s been going on. Now look at the prohibition era in the US. Like that didn’t stop people drinking alcohol. It just meant that they drank illegal, dangerous bootleg gin made in the path that made them go blind. Do you think there’s any parallels to the current system in the UK? Legalizing regulate is the way to protect people’s public health, and that’s the thing that drugs. Or rather problematic drug use is a public health issue, and criminalizing people for possessing small amount of drugs for their own use when either they’re not doing themselves any harm or they are, in which case they need a public health intervention. And so a Green Party approach would be to and you’ll have seen an announcement from Scotland recently again where Greens are in government and their policy is very, very similar to ours. How much you regulate depends on the the effects of those drugs. So the ones that don’t do very much harm can have fairly light regulation and the ones that do more harm more so. And I think, you know, that’s evidence based like pretty much every organization that is about reducing drug harm. And all the experts say that the war on drugs has completely failed. And so it’s really disappointing to see the conservatives, not so surprisingly, but more disappointingly, Labour just really like doubling down on this war on drugs, criminalizing approach when it doesn’t do anyone any good.
Coco Khan Can I ask you one more question? Costings. I don’t like to be this person, but it is why the Labour Party have said that they’ve pushed back the Green plan because they simply will not have the money from the time they made their first promises. Obviously the economy tanked. Rising interest rates, cost of living crisis. Blah blah blah blah. This is the criticism that’s going to be levied at the Green Party, right? They’re going to say, where are you going to cost all this from? How are you going to pay all this? What’s your response to that?
Carla Denyer Well, I think Labour are really clearly keen on talking about how realistic their policies are now and realistic. Yes, I agree. You know, the Green Party manifesto in 2019 was fully costed and our manifesto this time around will be as well. We’re working on it at the moment, so I can’t give you chapter and verse yet, but it will be fully costed. But my concern is that Labour are kind of hiding behind the word realistic in order to not be ambitious because actually there are ways to fund really ambitious, bold policies and it’s about your political priorities and your political will. So for example, the kind of ways that you can raise revenue to make a really transformative change are things like a wealth tax, which is something the Greens have been talking about for a while, so that a wealth tax would be a you know, it’s not massive. It’s a quite modest extra tax of a percent or so only on multimillionaires who who definitely have broad enough shoulders to take that. And it would only be on their wealth above a certain level, and that would both generate income in order to pay for services, whether that’s about, you know, a nationwide home insulation program, which would both bring down all carbon emissions, but also give people warmer, more comfortable homes and overwhelmingly help those on the lowest incomes.
Nish Kumar Because it brings down heating expenses.
Carla Denyer Exactly. It’s a bit like I bang on about home insulation because it’s a win win win. Like it gives people more comfortable, healthier homes. We’ve all heard about the harms of living in a cold, damp home. It lowers their bills and it lowers their carbon emissions all in one go. It reminds me of this cartoon that Greens are always a fan of, where there’s like a load of people in a lecture theater and on a whiteboard full of the benefits of taking climate action. And there’s a speech bubble saying, But what if climate change is a hoax and we make the world a better place for no reason? There’s so many good reasons to do all this stuff, and it’s about political priorities. A big part of the reason why the Greens are keen on a wealth tax is that as well as raising funds, it addresses the real source of inequality in this country. Yes, there’s inequality in incomes, but the real source of inequalities is inequality in wealth is that some people have intergenerational wealth passed down to them and so everything is easier when you have a massive buffer behind you. And we’re not talking about taking all the money off people who’ve got more, but just taking a little bit and it helps everyone else. It redistributes a little bit in society. It makes everything fairer. There’s also things you can do with income tax. So one of the biggest injustices in our tax system at the moment is that income tax, so taxed from work, is taxed at a higher rate than income from shares and assets. So if you are working, you get taxed a lot. If you’re sitting on your ass while your shares accrue value, you’re getting taxed less. That’s completely unreasonable. And so we would simplify the tax system and unify those. So they’re at the same level. We would reintroduce the highest if income tax, which by the way, Labour Party pledged to do, and then that was one of their many U-turns. There’s no shortage of ideas for how to how to reform taxes and raise more income. It’s about what you’re willing to do, what you know, if you have the political will and the Greens do.
Nish Kumar That’s a lovely place to leave it. Thank you very much Carla.
Coco Khan Thank you so much!
Carla Denyer No worries. That was really fun.
Coco Khan So on this podcast, we are often critical of the of employees and how they conduct themselves. We’re particularly keeping a sharp eye on those on the blue side of things, but it’s very nice that this week we get to flag up something genuinely lovely, genuinely heartfelt, kind beyond tribal politics that happened in Commons this week. So it came during the debate over the way that some conservatives had sought to undermine the cross-party privileges committee’s report, which subsequently found that Boris Johnson had lied to Parliament. Some conservatives allied to Johnson suggested that the person chairing that veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman was doing it all as some sort of vendetta, some grudge against Boris Johnson. But she had someone defend her, someone that we might not necessarily think would have. So here’s the moment that Tory MP Laura Farris stood up to defend Harman against the attacks from some of her own colleagues.
Laura Farris The member for Camberwell in Peckham had already announced her intention to retire from Parliament at the next election. A parliamentary career that has spanned five decades and has been defined probably more than any other person ever sat in this House by her commitment to the advancement of women’s rights. 14 weeks after she took up, 14 weeks before she took up that appointment, her husband of 40 years, Jack, had died. Against this background, I invite members of the House to consider what is more likely that she agreed to chair the committee as a final act of service to this House, or that she did so because she was interested in pursuing a personal vendetta against Boris Johnson.
Coco Khan That is an absolutely beautiful clip. You can actually see Harriet Harman. She’s she’s brought to tears by those words. It’s really, really moving. So it only feels right that we award the UK here of the week to the two of them. Joint winners. Yet for Harriet Harman, for her, just her legacy, hard work and certainly her grace under the pressure from people who supported Johnson and all the horrible accusations, but also to Laura Farris for just, you know, rising above the tribalism, the nastiness showing a bit of humanity to your supposed opponent. And, you know, it’s just nice to see some women showing some solidarity to each other. So, yeah, I’ve got a little joint winner this week. Nish top that.
Nish Kumar Well, I’m going to ruin the mood by immediately bringing us back down to the villain of the week, who’s the conservative immigration minister, Robert Jenrick. A man so petty and so heartless that he ordered staff at an asylum center to paint over cartoons on the walls that were designed to help children. Are these are children fleeing some of the most unimaginable circumstances possible who’ve often made journeys on very dangerous, unsafe vessels. There are cartoons on the walls to make them feel more at ease, but he reportedly felt the center was too welcoming. So they got contractors in to paint over pictures of Mickey Mouse and Tom and Jerry at the center in Kent after staff initially refused to comply with his request. Now, Jeremy is actually challenged over this by Labour during the debate on the immigration bill, and this was his rather weak defense.
Robert Jenrick I’ve been clear in answer to her right honorable friend, that we provide very high quality care at all of the centers in which we support unaccompanied children. We didn’t think that the set up in that particular unit was age appropriate because the majority of those individuals who were unaccompanied passing through it last year were teenagers. That does not change the fundamentals that we support anyone who comes to this country with decency and compassion.
Nish Kumar I mean, painting over cartoons is the sort of thing that I think you would find, too, on the nose if you saw it in a movie and you were trying to depict a really unpleasant, heartless person. I think that Robert Jenrick is a deeply spineless, heartless, unpleasant individual, and he can absolutely go fuck himself. If you’re interested in signing a petition, there is one on change.org. If you search for Robert Jenrick restore cartoons, and also any artists that are willing to offer their skills to repaint the cartoons are being asked to email cartoons, not cruelty at gmail.com. That’s cartoons, not cruelty at gmail dot com. Michael Rosen actually wrote a poem in response to the story and this is how it goes. Paint over Mickey Mouse Burn Where the Wild Things Are pulverized. The Lego set fire to the Christmas tree Star sees all the teddies, bury every skipping rope, paint the walls dark brown, abolish all hope of the back of that poem by Michael Rosen. I have one for Robert Jenrick. Robert Jenrick you stupid fuck. I wish you nothing more than a lifetime of unhappiness, I think. I don’t think that’s technically a haiku, but I think it’s approaching one.
Coco Khan What do you do in spoken word you click, isn’t it? Yeah, that’s what. I’m doing the clicking.
Nish Kumar That’s just me flipping the bird at Robert Jenrick.
Coco Khan Gosh, I’m not surprised you picked him. What an awful fable. Like mealy mouthed, horrible rat. Another thing I just want to point out about what Robert Jenrick has done there, because it’s something I see happens quite a lot when it comes to child refugees, is they kind of this adult ification process, you know, when it suits them. They are they’re adults, you know, they are young adults. Hence why there there’s young men marauding the coastline or however they want to portray these these vulnerable people looking for a better life. But then on the other side, when you kind of contrast that with, you know, white British, 14, 15, 16, 17 year olds, then they are definitely children. And we saw the difference between Shamima Begum and, you know, other young white radicals. And I don’t know this just when you start looking into who gets to be a child, who gets to have the innocence and not you really smell the racism.
Nish Kumar 100%. It’s yeah, it’s it also puts Robert Jenrick in this weird political tradition that’s emerging hatred in America of right wing politicians going to war with Mickey Mouse because Ron DeSantis is now basically in a kind of war of words with Disney. And Disney is actually sort of pulling investment out of Florida as we speak because of a response to legislation that DeSantis has brought forward. And so, you know, it’s as always, it’s good to know misery loves company and it’s good to know that there are assholes on both sides of the Atlantic who, for whatever reason, are now trying to have a fight with Mickey Mouse. Okay, let’s take a dip into our inbox. Sam Smith has what’s up to us to say I love Nick is moving Description of why he loves Cricket in Episode nine. I work in environmental sustainability now, but years ago I was in a film called Wondrous Oblivion, a cricket themed film that’s also about racism and anti-Semitism in 1960s London. The themes are clearly as relevant now as they were then. In any case, thanks for the great work. I look forward to many more episodes to come. Warmest Sam Smith. We actually look the film up and Sam is really underplaying things. It’s not just in the film. He’s the lead. He’s a lead in the film playing 11 year old David Wiseman, who’s coached in cricket by his Jamaican next door neighbor who’s played by Delroy Lindo. People recognize from Spike Lee movies and all those things. It’s it’s it’s really cool.
Coco Khan How wow just on the subject of films because I just wanted to raise a point about me asking Khalid Tanya about Fast and the Furious producer Musty is keeping track of how many times I ask politicians about it. And I’m I would like to see this question become the new do you like biscuits or what football team do you support?
Nish Kumar Do you have you watched the Fast and the Furious? Yeah. Did you think that there was a layer of irony in asking the co-leader of the Green Party whether they seen a film from a franchise dedicated to cars polluting? There’s not a lot of hybrid vehicles in the past. The poorest. Listen, I’m not I’m not having a go. I’m just making that observation. There’s not a lot of people big like, right? Let’s get the Prius. Right. It’s like the rock is not like, where can I find a charging point in South Central L.A..
Coco Khan But you’ve got to admit if that was an answer a politician said you’d be like, all respect.
Nish Kumar Well, if they answer the question, if they were like, Actually, I prefer Hobbs and Shaw.
Coco Khan No, but if they were like, Oh, yeah, Fast and Furious, I couldn’t really get into it because of the kind of glamorization and ultimately worship of the petrol car. I’d be like, Oh, is it?
Nish Kumar That’s my new conspiracy theory. But do you conspiracy theory is the shell financed the first of the Furious films as a process? It was the opposite of greenwashing, like just pollution. Washing is is a reputation management exercise for big oil. That’s that’s my latest conspiracy theory.
Coco Khan Okay. You did not hear that here first.
Nish Kumar They’ve even got an actor who’s named after petrol. They got Vin Diesel. This whole thing, this goes right to the top. If you’ve got any questions about politics, you can get in touch with us by emailing PSUK at reduced listening dot co dot UK or you can send us a voice note on WhatsApp. Our number is 07514644572. Internationally, that’s +447514644572. If you’re new to the show, remember hit follow on your app and you’ll get a new episode every week.
Coco Khan And just finally, the British Podcast Awards has a vote. And you know what we’re going to say don’t you? Like please go and vote for us. It’s free and it’s easy. And you know, we’re all about voting here. We do love we love it when people vote. So vote for us at British Podcast Awards dot com forward slash dot com. I just said?
Nish Kumar Jesus Christ. Don’t go to dot com. That’s a very different podcast. Those are very different podcast.
Coco Khan Is we don’t want to go there. You know what they’re going to do? They’re going to fucking deep fake You put it on that website now thats what they’re going to do. Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.
Nish Kumar Thanks to senior producer Musty Aziz and digital producer Silvia Malnati. Additional production from Annie Castel.
Coco Khan Video editing was by David Kaplovitz and the music is by Vasilis Fotopolous.
Nish Kumar Thanks to our engineer David Dugahey.
Coco Khan The executive producers are Louise Cotton, Dan Jackson, Madeleine Heringer and Michael Martinez.
Nish Kumar Watch us on the Pod Save the World YouTube Channel. Follow us on Twitter and TikTok, where we’re at Pod Save the UK or on Instagram through the Crooked Media channel.
Coco Khan And hit subscribe for new shows every Thursday on Spotify, Amazon or Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.