In This Episode
Nish and Coco are reunited in the studio following a tumultuous week in politics that saw Boris Johnson resign and Nicola Sturgeon arrested. Sky News’ Liz Bates tells us why Johnson’s demise could be good news for the strength of UK democracy, and explains why the independence movement is holding firm despite the SNP’s woes.
Given it was Johnson’s party-ing during Covid that brought him down, it’s timely that the public hearings in the Covid Inquiry got underway this week. Labour frontbencher, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, tells us why she went back to working 12 hour shifts in hospital during the worst of the pandemic. She reveals some of the harrowing things she saw, and why she felt pity for Matt Hancock when she faced him in the Commons.
Is Manchester United fan Nish bitter about Manchester City’s success? His choice for villain of the week answers that question, while Coco’s hero is an acting legend who always keeps an onion in her handbag. Plus get ready for the latest bit of PSUK merch – the “left-wing Barbie”.
Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.
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Liz Bates, Sky News Political Correspondent
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Shadow Minister for Mental Health and MP for Tooting
UK Covid-19 Inquiry
Nish Kumar Hello Pod Save the UK listeners. This is Nish Kumar. I am here with Coco Khan. Here we have recorded an episode in the studio and in my opinion it’s an excellent episode, maybe our best so far, and you will hear that anon. However, we’re recording a special introduction to you because the Privileges Committee has published its findings on Boris Johnson and that has happened this morning after we completed the recording. But we’ve decided to hop on and just have a quick chat about it. Let me phrase it like this. When the film Cats came out, we had all seen pictures of the film Cats. We’d seen little clips from the trailer of the film Cats. We knew it was going to be bad. And yet somehow when we saw it, it was even worse than we’d imagined. And that is all I can say about this Privileges Committee report. The key findings here are that Boris Johnson had knowledge of the COVID rules and guidance had knowledge of the breach of rules and guidance that occurred at number ten and misled Parliament. And so the committee has recommended a 90 day suspension, which is nine times longer than the ten days required to trigger a by election. Coco, what is your immediate thoughts to seeing this?
Coco Khan My immediate thought is, wow, Commons is a lot like school, so you know how when you got a detention but then you argue their like right to detention and then you argue you get three detentions and then they know your mates got in detention as well. It was a bit like that. The committee were already going to recommend a ten day suspension and that would have triggered a by election. But because of his letter that he released and all the mudslinging, what did he call them again, a kangaroo court. They increased the the the recommendation to 90 days. So that is like one of the largest recommendations they’ve ever given, I think the worst. And that was Keith Vaz. He got 180 days, if memory serves. So it’s really, really bad because of his what they describe as a campaign of abuse and intimidation of the committee.
Nish Kumar Yeah, and he hasn’t stopped that campaign of abuse because along with the Privileges committee’s report being released, Boris Johnson has also issued a 1700 word rebuttal to the committee, where he describes the report as a charade and a load of complete tripe. So, I mean, this may not be the only recording we have to do today.
Coco Khan As a journalist. 1700 words is a lot to produce, and I think this is probably the hardest amount of words that Boris Johnson in his previous journalistic career has ever had to do. I mean, his work ethic is high right now. Definitely.
Nish Kumar He’s managed to turn this out a speed that suggests he really should have finished that stupid fucking Shakespeare book by now.
Coco Khan Yeah, Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I bet you anything he’s chat to. Anyway, the thing that I’m absolutely delighted by is that he is going to lose his pass to Parliament so he can’t access the building anymore. That is unheard of for someone who has previously been Prime Minister. But also I like it because, you know, the bar in Commons is called Stranger’s Bar and he can’t even get into the stranger’s bar. That is delightful for me.
Nish Kumar Yeah, I think they’ve recommended his past be taken off, which is is on top of everything else. A spectacularly petty move. But I respect it. It’s pettiness.
Coco Khan Oh, actually, you make a good point there Nish. That’s a recommendation, we don’t actually know that the the it will be signed off, that it will be agreed by the other MPs. But even so, I’m still delighted. I think it’s a good threat.
Nish Kumar There is a kind of serious issue at stake here and that is that, you know, this is a historic recommendation by a Commons committee. You know, it’s it’s pretty extraordinary that for a you know, for a former prime minister, to have this done to them is pretty is pretty incredible stuff. The Liberal Democrats are calling for him to lose his £115,000 annual allowance that he’s paid as the next prime minister. The SNP is arguing that it damns Boris Johnson but also the entire Tory government. I mean I’m there is something strange about seeing Boris Johnson faced with actual consequence. I think maybe that’s the bit of this that I’m finding most satisfying because the idea of Jonson’s mendacity is well known. You know, he’s lost jobs for it in the past, but then immediately been rehired. But this is just it’s sort of set in stone that this man, you think is a liar, is a liar and was lying. I think that’s why I’m finding this somewhat satisfying.
Coco Khan Yeah. And it is moving really quickly. And Lord knows where we’re going to be by next week. Maybe it will be a 3000 word rebuttal. Or maybe he’ll get straight onto tick tock and start doing distracts. I don’t know. We have no idea.
Nish Kumar This is what I want. I want the escalation. What I want next week Coco, is for escalation. I want Boris Johnson to have written a 70,000 word rebuttal and for MPs to recommend that he is suspended for the entire span of human existence and civilization. I want the Privileges Committee to recommend that Boris Johnson be suspended from Parliament, from watching DVD box sets of Yes Minister, and for that suspension to last until the heat death of the planet. That’s what I’m hoping for this time.
Coco Khan That, you know, we can hope. We can hope. But in the meantime, Lord knows where we’ll be next week. This story will certainly keep going. But here it puts Save the UK. We’re here to prove that politics is not all about Boris Johnson. So we hope you enjoy this week’s pod, where we’ll be focusing on the historic COVID inquiry. Heinisch. Welcome back. It’s good to have you back.
Nish Kumar Did you miss me?
Coco Khan Oh, my God. Yes. I really did. I had a little moment where I was reading Boris Johnson’s resignation letter.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Coco Khan And I recorded this little video being like.
Nish Kumar I saw it. It was great.
Coco Khan Yeah, I know. No one else did, but I like recording a little video for the listeners. Well, I was like, Oh, don’t you think that Boris has really strong fall out boy energy here? It’s it’s very. As he departs in his resignation, he takes shots at everyone being like Rishi Sunak and use all very sugar. We’re going down swimming. Yes, going down, swimming, going down swinging.
Nish Kumar Yeah. This is a bit of an emo couple of weeks. I was. I was, in a way happy to be in Canada for most of it. But I think because just because I felt it’s nice to have a full ocean between the Conservative Party. It did make me think like, Oh my God, I’m quite glad because because at the time difference, well, I sort of woke up to a load of text messages on our pod save the UK WhatsApp group being like, What the fuck has happened?
Coco Khan Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Nish Kumar It’s really funny to come into a everyone will know this, but it’s very funny to come into a group chat that’s like 70 messages in because obviously the first message you see is the most recent one said to be like, I have to try and piece together what has happened from this now. But yeah, it was I was very happy to be in Canada and very happy to have an ocean between me and the nonsense. Okay, So, look, while I was away, everything went to shit in the Conservative Party. And I guess in some ways, this might be why a lot of people feel very angry and frustrated and alienated from politics, because obviously there’s a huge amount of stuff happening in this country. You know, there’s the cost of living, the rising interest rates, spiraling rents and the mortgage cost situation. Right. Which is something we were just talking about on our way. It you’re very concerned by it.
Coco Khan Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, ultimately, it is a political choice. I appreciate that inflation is a massive problem, but that is there is a risk of mass repossessions and that is a very, very terrifying prospect.
Nish Kumar So while all of this incredibly serious stuff has been going on, we you know, we’ve seen MPs scrabbling for baubles, squabbling amongst each other, avoiding accountability and unleashing chaos that distracts from the really big things the UK that needs saving from. Listen to this, whinging from Nadine Dorries.
Nadine Dorries It kind of breaks my heart because that that’s what this story is. This story is about a girl from Croton, Liverpool, who worked every day of her life since she was 14 years old, had something offered to her so that people from that background. Didn’t get offered. Removed by two privileged posh boys, he went to Winchester and Oxford and taken away duplicity and cruelty. Because they have known for months that it wasn’t the case. And yet they let me. And they, like Boris Johnson. Continue to believe that was the case.
Nish Kumar I mean, who gives a shit? Like, I’m sorry, who gives a shit? Also. Sorry. Go Coco.
Coco Khan I’m just, listen, I’m a I’m a great believer that meritocracy in this country is a bit of a myth that we have a really entrenched class system. Did nobody tell Nadine Dorries if she was involved with the party, ensuring that goes on.
Nish Kumar Who’s in charge for 13 years? Also, I mean, it is very difficult to talk about the country having a kind of entrenched class system and upward mobility being ossified by existing structures when what you’re talking about is getting into the fucking House of Lords.
Coco Khan I mean, get over it, mate.
Nish Kumar Yeah, right. But the root of all of this, of course, is Boris Johnson’s rule breaking COVID parties inside number ten during the pandemic, which has ultimately brought him down. He has also. So over the weekend, obviously, all of you will know that he has said that he’s going to step down as an MP. There are three potential by elections being triggered. It’s absolute mayhem as the country burns in the background. But obviously it’s also very symbolic that the COVID inquiry is happening this week.
Coco Khan Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I am really aware that I’m beginning to sound a little bit like I don’t know if you played with dolls when you were a child, Nish, but there was one famous doll that you would pull the string and it would say like set phrases.
Nish Kumar Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like Woody in Toy Story.
Coco Khan Yeah, like that. I feel like I am becoming like the left wing version of that doll. But you just pull my string and I’m like power to the people. Pull my string. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And I’m like.
Nish Kumar Coco has a 3D printer and the time and wants to make Coco card dolls. We will sell them.
Coco Khan Oh my God. Left wing Barbie. That is the merch. This is the merch solution that we should do it. What? Save the UK. It can come with like free glue and you can glue it to, you know, unfair institutions.
Nish Kumar Needs to be ethically sourced.
Coco Khan Yeah, but no, I just mean that. Like, I know that I always say the same thing, which is that we shouldn’t be talking about this. But I also accept that lack of faith in politicians is destroying our democracy and we do need to hold them to account. So actually, just to return to the start this conversation, did I miss you? No, I didn’t actually, because I remember that you were right about this privileges committee. You said it would have a result and that it was worth going through the circus and it has had a result. And you went here, so I don’t have to buy you anything. Sorry. That offer expired where I said I’d buy you lunch. So let’s go.
Nish Kumar I hope that we’re in the final days of us ever having to talk about Boris Johnson again. Like, I really hope that. But the only thing that I would say is in terms of a lot of the political obituaries that are being written about his career, there is this slight tendency to try and frame Johnson as this kind of person who broke some sort of consensus and came out of the left field and was a kind of meteor that struck an otherwise perfectly habitable political ecosystem. But the thing that really vexes me about this situation is Boris Johnson was the inevitable result of the previous half decade of conservative rule From 2010, David Cameron and George Osborne created a petri dish that allowed Boris Johnson to thrive. They cut a huge amount of public spending. Cameron needed to do a deal with the right of his party, so he called the Brexit referendum, which is the thing that opened the door for Boris Johnson to become Prime minister. Cameron and Osborne are as complicit in any of this as anyone else is, as is Rishi Sunak, a man who, until about 25 minutes ago seems. To have thought Boris Johnson was a completely honest individual and then suddenly has had a completely virulent change of heart. They are all complicit in the rise of Johnson. He is not an aberration. He was the inevitable consequence of the Conservative Party’s rule since 2010. They created the conditions for him to thrive, and now they’re all trying to wash his hands of it. If I was George Osborne, I’d shut the fuck up for the rest of my fucking life. The fact that Osborne is out there commenting, I don’t really like him. Well, I say he’s got it. Fuck you. I swear to God, if I was George Osborne, I would. So my lips are never out of my goddamn mouth for the rest of my fucking life. Joining us now to help us make sense of what’s going on in Westminster is Liz Bates, the political correspondent at Sky News. Thank you so much for joining us, Liz.
Liz Bates Why thanks so much for having me.
Nish Kumar What I found out is your day off. We’ve brought you back in to talk about British politics after what I imagine has been a pretty heavy week.
Liz Bates It has been quite a heavy week. And I am that much of a nerd that this is kind of my preferred option on my day off. I mean, what else am I going to do? Right? So when Boris issued his resignation at 8 p.m. on the Friday night, you were like, Oh, I’m so happy to go back to my desk, your dedicated person. So I was the only person in the office when that happened. And the interesting thing about that was that he released, as you probably remember, an enormous statement that was like, you know, the type of thing that you write after you’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. You write that you say, I’m going to really go to town on everyone. And I’m still really pissed off about this thing that happened at school. And, you know, it was like, Yeah, I says it was like a real diary moment. The problem for us was that they then released it and at the top of it it said it was like a huge news line. The privileges committee could suspend him for ten days. Oh my God. There’s going to be it’s going to go to a parliamentary vote. There might be a by election, all of that. So we will I write, get on telly, you know, Sky’s rolling news, get on telly and say that what we didn’t realize was that, you know, 24 paragraphs later he also said, I’m standing down as an MP. And so I went on TV having just realized that, and the presenter said to me, Well, Liz, what do you think about this? You know, it looks like the privileges committee are going to suspend Boris Johnson. So I had to say I had to say to the presenter, I know. And that’s not the that’s not the best bit. He’s also standing down right now as an MP. So, yeah, it was utterly hectic. And as always with Boris Johnson jaw dropping and annoying, but he always does it on Friday night when we have no staff in the office. That’s news
Coco Khan I think is his great revenge. He used to work in press. He knows, he knows full well.
Nish Kumar And can I just say I’m sure when he when he did work as a journalist, the man never made a deadline in his life.
Liz Bates When he was prime minister, I’m not sure that he hit many deadlines either.
Coco Khan Touche Liz.
Nish Kumar But to what extent of his our whole faith in the political system and the kind of covenant that exists between politicians and the people damaged by this entire affair.
Liz Bates I mean. I think this has been a period of time where the structures that kind of keep the political the British political system on the straight and narrow have been tested to the absolute limits. So much of the political system is about precedent. And Boris Johnson has been a prime minister that has tested that precedent. You know, we have ethics advisers and we have the House of Commons and we have the things like House of Commons committees. And Boris Johnson, I think, has over a long period decided that those things are things to that that really apply to him. And so that has really tested our institutions. All of our checks and balances. And clearly that is going to filter through to the public. I think what we’re seeing now is that some of those some of those institutions are pushing back, looking more robust than they than they were before. So we’ve got a body within the House of Lords that vets you know, Boris Johnson’s on on his list, who he who he wants to put in there for a peerage. And clearly, Boris Johnson wanted to put in who he wanted. That institution has pushed back. Number ten have said they won’t interfere in the process. The Privileges Committee has made a decision on issues relating to contempt to Parliament in the ministerial code. And in the end, all of those institutions that that that Boris Johnson has previously been able to get around have won. You know, he’s causing a lot of a lot of trouble. He’s getting a lot of attention. He’s making a lot of noise. But be clear about this. At this moment, he has lost in in lots of different battles to Rishi Sunak, to the House of Lords, to the House of Commons. The you know, you look at his support on the Conservative benches, benches. That is really a lot of that I think was very much reliant on him being a winner and being in the House of Commons and that is dwindling. So he this period where the Prime Minister and political institutions are at loggerheads, I think is over.
Coco Khan I wanted to talk to you about Scotland. You know, there’s a former leader there also hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons. Humza Yousaf has rejected calls from both inside and outside the party to suspend Nicola Sturgeon. His predecessor was arrested, questioned and then released as part of an ongoing investigation into the SNP’s finances. What do you think about this situation with the SNP? How damaging is it?
Liz Bates The whole thing really is extraordinary and actually in some of the reporting, what I find quite revealing about all of this is how Westminster focused a lot of our political coverage is. Because when you think about the utter dominance, not just of the SNP but of Nicola Sturgeon as a political figure, I mean, she’s not even comparable. I think it’s five five UK prime ministers. At the same time as Nicola Sturgeon has been at the top of Scottish politics, she’s basically Blair Thatcher. You know, she is a towering political figure. And then, you know, I remember when she stood down in February and we were all a bit like, what, you know, where on earth is this come from? She was gearing up for this big battle at the next general election over independence. And then to see her arrested and obviously released after that without charge. But the thing that does surprise me is that there’s a bit I think a bit of a lack of focus on it, if anything. But you have to in terms of the damage that it can do to the SNP, I think no question. I mean, Humza Yousaf looks totally out of his depth and unsurprisingly so in your first few weeks of the job, it’s like, where’s the kitchen? Where’s the toilet? Nice to meet you. This is Kevin from accounts and they’re like, okay, literally the building is falling apart. Everything is on fire. Your predecessor’s in the back of a police car. Like.
Coco Khan Although some of the polling data, some of the polling data is saying that it hasn’t dampened support for the SNP, though. That’s quite unusual, isn’t it?
Nish Kumar Yeah, well certainly for independents.
Liz Bates Yes. Yeah. I mean that’s what I suppose. The interesting thing about the SNP, I mean a Nicola Sturgeon is at the center of that SNP support but there’s also the totally separate and you know, incredibly this, this feeling of wanting independence which is a real emotional attachment for many voters that they’re not just going to give up because the people at the top of the parties change. You know, there’s people on both sides of the argument are really committed. And so I don’t think it’s made any difference as far as I can tell for. Latest poll as to how people feel about independence. I think in terms of the SNP, it could be difficult for them. I mean, when you look at some of the polling, it looks like the Labour Party are potentially going to make gains. They might take over 20 seats. That’s massive. I mean they have one MP at the moment of that and you know, it could chop the SNP poll in half ish, but that’s based on the latest polling. We don’t know where will be at the next general election, but they I do I don’t think it’s going to dampen the feeling about independence, but it could have a huge effect on on the general election. I mean Keir Starmer is the luckiest leader of the opposition that we’ve seen.
Coco Khan I think they can all agree it is quite the time to be alive. Thank you, Liz. Thank you.
Nish Kumar Thank you so much. So that was brilliant. Thank you.
Liz Bates Thanks so much. It’s been a pleasure.
Coco Khan So the public phase of the COVID inquiry got underway this week. Government figures show that 227,321 people have died in the UK with COVID mentioned on their death certificate, with the UK recording one of the highest death tolls in Europe. The pandemic, of course, touched all of us in various ways, and the first session began with moving video testimony from some of those who lost their loved ones to COVID, including Jane and Hazel.
Jane and Hazel So within half an hour of me being home the evening, my dad, my sister was being rushed to hospital, unresponsive. And then all week they were saying it’s not going to make the night. She’s not going to make the night. And then I said, Can you try and call us then if you know you can if this time to get so that we don’t want to die alone. She was only 54 and she died alone five days after my dad. It’s something I will never, ever get over. And the time they needed me most, I wasn’t there at all. And I felt guilty. Even though it wasn’t my fault they had the bodies in bags. You could even give them an outfit to bury your family in an outfit. They said they were in a zipped bag and it’s got some luck on it. And they’re not allowed to break the lock. I’m angry. I need questions answered. I’m just still her. I’m still upset. And it’s been a couple years now. And we’re still upset. And it’s not going to go away just like that.
Coco Khan That painful testimony from Jane and Hazel. I’m sure our listeners are as moved as we were in the studio’s pretty horrific hearing to they are just two of the thousands of people who shared their experience with the inquiry. The first of six modules is examining how well prepared the UK was for COVID up to January 2020. Lawyers representing the COVID Bereaved Families for Justice Group believe this module is the most important. If the UK had been better prepared, some of the difficult decisions in terms of restrictions may not have had to be taken.
Nish Kumar It’s probably some quick points we should raise about the remit of the inquiry. It’s about learning lessons and finding out what happened. There’s no scope for people to be found innocent or guilty. And also, crucially, any recommendations made do not have to be adopted by governments and as no formal deadline. But there are public hearings that are due to be held and findings at this stage will are thought to be published in 2026. Scotland is also holding a separate inquiry in addition to the wider UK one.
Coco Khan So we’re delighted to be joined in the studio now by Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan, Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Labour MP for Tooting. And a kickboxer, I hear.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Oh yeah, not too shabby.
Coco Khan Kickboxing. Some Tories actually no, lets not say that that’s going to be it.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan You get in trouble
Nish Kumar Yeah exactly. Immediately.
Coco Khan Door knocking, door knocking.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Yeah door knocking. Yeah. I can knock with my kicks.
Coco Khan That’ll get her in trouble as well. Oh no.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan And make for some really awkward pictures.
Nish Kumar You’re musician as well.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Yeah
Nish Kumar You do you record music?
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan I used to. I used to do a lot. Yeah, but I have a long story. That’s. That’s. I basically did loads of music while I was while I was growing up, and I wasn’t too bad at it. And I got sort of a scholarship to go to like a music school same time as studying. And then I got offered a record contract and had to choose between that or medical school.
Coco Khan Oh, that’s great though. Like, we’re glad you did it. But also.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Oh, yeah, No, don’t worry. You know, there’s that there’s no rule saying I can’t sing. I was in loads of bands and loads of fun stuff, but then I kind of haven’t been able to do much lately because politics is well was unfolding before our very eyes and it’s kept me busy.
Nish Kumar But doctor, politician, musician and kickboxer and mum.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan I’m Mum. Mum. That that’s, that’s busy.
Nish Kumar That’s it. I have one job and I do it quite badly.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan No, I think you’re fine if you think about it, most people have multiple jobs.
Nish Kumar Yeah, right.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Most people have multiple jobs. It’s about the frequency at which you do that thing, really, isn’t it?
Nish Kumar Yeah. Well, look, I mean, let’s just jump straight in here, because we just started the public phase of the COVID inquiry, but it’s been a long time coming. Have you managed to see much of it so far?
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Well, I watched it yesterday. Yeah. And if I’m really honest, I found it incredibly triggering.
Nish Kumar Yeah, I was going to say. What was that experience like for you? Because just. Just give us the background. Obviously, you’re a qualified medical doctor, and at the start of the pandemic, you went back into you actually went back into the hospital. I was born in St Georges in in to.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Explain a lot about how magnificent you are on this. AM born into is is a solid shout out also sort of jokes aside. I mean I mean I fell into politics by accident. That’s a that’s a whole nother story in and of itself. But I never stop being a doctor. I my specialism is emergency medicine. So A&E and I’ve done a lot of intensive care as part of that training. And I’ve spent over a decade been a humanitarian doctor working in war zones, natural disaster areas, seeing genocide, all sorts of things, you name it. And I thought I’d seen it all. And then the pandemic broke out and I just sort of offered myself up to the hospital where I work to do more shifts than ever before. And I chose that.
Nish Kumar Decision for you as a as a person. Yes. Because I you know, I family members that basically did similar things. What’s that decision like for you? Is it an easy decision?
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan A no brainer
Nish Kumar Right?
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan It’s a no, it’s literally a no brainer. It’s like I’m hardwired to be a doctor was the thing I always wanted to do. The thing that I, I couldn’t do for various reasons, and then I could. And so for me, like, if you were to sort of like, cut me open, apart from seeing some liquid courage in there, you’d find you’d find literally like that is who that’s the core of who I am. So I always was, was doing shifts anyway. But the moment you know that your colleagues need you more than ever. For me, even though it was scary because obviously it’s a virus that no one knows anything about, it just seemed like the right and obvious thing to do. And so I went back and I was doing three or four shifts a week, and then I was asked by a colleague to join the Family Support Liaison team at another hospital as well, working in intensive care to be the one that delivered the messages from loved ones to their families who were dying. And on a number of levels. Personally, it was really hard because I remember because we did have PPE at the beginning. I remember that and I remember coming home and just sort of shouting through letterbox, Don’t let the kids come anywhere near me, you know? And they were little. So I was like, tend to stay upstairs. And I remembered like getting undressed in the porch and trying to it’s not really a flashy porch. It’s like a little like one centimeter square area. But I was like, if I can take off my clothes that travel to the hospital, cause obviously I would wear scrubs. But if I could take off my clothes and then go jump in the shower before the kids touch me, maybe I won’t infect them all. This was really sort of prevalent in my mind in messages at two or 3:00 in the morning from colleagues saying, we’re scared. And so all of that was was was really difficult. But for me, nothing will ever. Let me forget how traumatic it was taking those messages so people would phone up saying, I want to inquire about how my dad’s doing. Or we would find them up with an update and they’d be saying things that, Oh, can you just tell him to hold on? The grandkids love him. They miss him. Can you please tell Mom that we love her? We’re all thinking of her because these are people who said goodbye to their loved ones in the back of an ambulance. Tell them that meet him at the hospital and need to realize that they couldn’t. And then before they knew it, they were going to be dying. And then you would have a family of five show up because we were in the privileged position of sometimes being able to take a family member in to say goodbye. Family of five would show up. You’ve got to pick one. Like, how do you do? How do you do that? How do you pick one? And then. And then going into intensive care. Just seeing rows and rows of people that looked like my dad, that looked like our family members that would be working in the shops, driving the busses and working in the sorts of jobs where they couldn’t work from home. They were keeping the the economy go in the communities is surviving and food and stuff. And they were the ones lying there. You know, my colleagues from hospital lying there, and I remember finishing my shifts. Just feel and I. I was having an out-of-body experience and feeling just anger. Just just a sense of anger. Because even though I’d seen in my career. Genocide war, the very worst of what humans could do to each other. I thought to myself, this is this is avoidable. This was avoidable. And it laid bare for me all the inequalities that led me into politics in the first place. All the inequalities that we know exist in our community. And I had this burning sense of pain and anger. And when things get get tough in politics, because a lot of it is just campaigning, fighting for a better country for your family and everyone’s families. You always have to have a Y. Why did you do this? And that applies to people in all sorts of jobs. What’s what’s your why what’s the thing that keeps you going when it’s hard? And for me, I’ll tell you what my wife became. I was in the second wave of the pandemic when actually it seemed even more overrun in the NHS than than than the first wave. And we were seeing people coming in younger and younger. And I was in the intensive care at the Royal London Hospital again as part of the Family Support Liaison team. And this time we had PPE and I was behind this, you know, seven layers of staff and. Taking an iPad to bedside. I was asked if I could take this iPad since bedside and there was this 28 year old mixed race lady who had been pregnant and had her baby, Kyle, with her in the intensive care. And the baby was in the neonatal intensive care unit. And there was. On the other side of this iPad screen, there were three children under six. I turned it on and I was like, Hi. You know, I’m the doctor. One of the doctors looking after your mummy and. I witnessed a discussion that I’ll never forget. As long as I live to my dying day. I’ll never forget this. And they discussed how they could wake them up from sleeping.
Coco Khan Oh, God.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan And they. Said, Doctor can kind of mom hear us? And I said, She can feel your love. She can feel your love all day, every day, whether or not you on the iPad or not. And they shouted in unison to their mom. Mommy, Mommy, wake up. You’ve been asleep too long. And for me. That shattered. Me. And I knew that their lives would have been shattered in a immeasurable way themselves. They’ll never move on from that. And so when I watched the testimonies of the people who are talking about the goodbyes they never had about the promises they made to their moms, that they’d be okay about losing a parent and a sibling within five days. The anguish on their faces as they’re presenting this, I think. It’s so powerful and it’s so important that we remember, as we’re all excited to be able to book holidays again and not get Marc Anthony and all the things everyone was happy about and the world moves on. It’s that feeling that for millions of people, they’re never going to move on. They’re never going to get that closure. And I carry with me a level of pain about that really and truly. And I know that. So many of my colleagues do. And the coffee room that used to be a place of. Bars and chat in between shifts just full of staff, just looking blankly out the window. And it took a real it took a real toll on people.
Nish Kumar What’s it like to go from that experience of those three kids on their iPad trying to wake the mother up and then go into the House of Commons and be have and this is a specific phrase that he used the then health secretary comment on your tone.
Clip Does the secretary of state acknowledge that many frontline workers feel that the government’s lack of testing has cost lives and is responsible for many families being unnecessarily torn apart in grief? Secretary of State no. I don’t, Mr. Speaker. I think that the I welcome the honorable lady to her post as part of the Shadow Health team. I think she might do well to take a leaf out of the shadow secretary of state’s book in terms of tone.
Nish Kumar Just on a personal level. What is it then like to have to deal with Matt Hancock?
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Pity overriding pity for him. Firstly that. That he was so out of touch with reality. And I believe in karma and his column has come around. But for me, what that exchange truly epitomized. Was when people say that the public feels that politicians are out of touch with their lives. That that exchange epitomized that for me. He wasn’t even going to give me the respect of recognizing what I was saying as a clinician. And I and the question that I asked him at the time wasn’t about me personally. It was it was about a collective group of people who were working on the front line. And, you know, did he acknowledge what they were going through and what they were experiencing and having to tell families and. I could sit here and say, Oh, I was outraged. You know, I thought he was racist because I’m a brown woman. And I could say all of these things and all these lovely soundbites about how I felt, but all I did is think. Good grief. What people think about politicians is often very true. Mm hmm.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan And actually people said, you know, do you want an apology? Are you demanding an apology? And I was like, what would an apology do? What I want what I wanted from him was an acknowledgment of what was going on in our NHS. What I wanted from him was to acknowledge the care for carers package that I put forward on behalf of the Labour Party for frontline workers mental health. I mean, even now 6 million sick days are taken alone due to mental ill health in the NHS every year. That’s going to be hugely because of the exhaustion and mental health impacts and the PTSD of dealing with COVID. Along with the fact that a franchise has been decimated from the inside out by the by the Conservative government. But it’s that that that isn’t going to go away for so many people. And I. I think that. My wish is that politicians would would get out of Whitehall and go and try and really walk a mile in some people’s shoes and come and I’m going to invite them to come and do a show for me in A&E, because they would really see, first of all, most people don’t know or care what their names. Just want to know if I need help or my mom needs help. My child needs help. I can get an ambulance, I can get to hospital and I can get seen. And I remember. So my dad was in a care home and I remember what it was like for families with loved ones and care homes and my dad. Had dementia. He had that rare form that Bruce Willis has and where he could recognize us, but he couldn’t talk or communicate properly at all. And I remember feeling he’s going to think when we don’t love him, that we’re not there, that we don’t care. I remember taking my two little girls and and stand standing outside the care home and asking the phone in the staff’s care, can you bring him to the window in Aspen on Pharrell Williams Happy and trying to do a little dance just so he could not feel forgotten about. And he he passed away two years ago. And I remember how robbed I felt of that last year with him. And I was grateful that I could be with him at the end. But I remember at the end thinking to myself. Like that was so painful. Am I? And my grief response was very extreme. But. At least I got to say goodbye.
Coco Khan Hmm.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan And. And what must that have been like for just millions of family members? Because if you look at the number of deaths and then multiply that by the number of family members, that’s millions. It’s a huge proportion of our population who just in perpetual grief cycle.
Coco Khan Yeah. What do you hope from the inquiry? You know, you were saying earlier like there’s no point getting a apology from Matt Hancock, but there does need to be something that comes out of this trauma that we’ve all collectively gone through. Do you think the COVID inquiry could offer some solution? What are you hoping from it?
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan I’m hoping for a couple of things. Firstly, I would like there to be. Where possible, some form of closure for families. You know, even if you can’t bring loved ones back to legitimize people’s feelings that mistakes were made. And apologies given. I think that’s important for people to have that chance. I think it’s really important that lessons I learned. For how we move forward, because this isn’t going to be the last time we’ve been we go for a pandemic. And I think preparedness is a real key. I think we need to say what can we do to mitigate lives lost? If this happens again. And I and I, I mean, it’s hard because it’s going to last years.
Nish Kumar Yeah. 2026, they think may be around that sort of time. We might actually get the full findings. But what just I mean, this is too big a question for you to answer. And so I’m not expecting a full but just like what are some key points that we were not the our preparedness was not there at the start. The pundit What are three ways or couple of ways that we were underprepared at the start of the pandemic?
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Yeah, I mean, look, we we knew something was going to come at some point. We know that. And I think, you know, to be fair to the government, they were probably expecting some flu type illness to come in. They were expecting the sort of virus that we had, but for us not to have. Yeah. I mean, that was sending lambs to the slaughter. We lost frontline NHS colleagues. We lost care home colleagues. You know that. That was that was a travesty. And we know that warnings were given. Yeah, about that. And then what ensued with, you know, dodgy contracts with dodgy mates. I mean, that’s just that’s just laughable. And and I think things like, you know, the prime minister of this country not going to COBRA meetings.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan I mean, it’s like this has to be taken seriously. A deadly virus caper may go to its attendant will be helpful for the country. Doesn’t seem like so it’s just a massive ask.
Nish Kumar Yeah, it’s not, I guess. Listen, in his defense, he had to write a stupid fucking book about Shakespeare.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Well, you know, Shakespeare was was an important dude.
Nish Kumar Yeah. Look, someone must write a book on Shakespeare. Surely we need one out there.
Coco Khan But we just don’t have enough academics or universities or really anyone else writing about Shakespeare.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Maybe if you want to write books like that, maybe don’t be the Prime Minister.
Coco Khan I want to talk to you about mental health. Obviously, you are the shadow Minister for mental Health and what you describe there, the mental health of very, very crucial workers in the NHS that there’s a shortage of and we really need to retain. But also, you know, all the kids who had to stay behind on lessons and everyone who is grieving and people who sector is completely closed down and they’re out of jobs. Mental health in this country is at some of the worst. I wondered if you could just talk to me a little bit about Labour’s plan for mental health.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Sure, I’d be delighted to. So, I mean, we have a huge crisis in mental health at the moment. If I just give you some of the numbers, even it it sort of sets the scene. Got 1.6 million people in waiting lists to be seen by mental health specialists, 900000 hours children spent in a in a in in a year. 5.4 million hours of people in A&E in crisis. Adults and children. I mean, it’s it’s it is phenomenal and when I do my shifts so I do shifts in both adult and children’s A&E see kids coming in crisis. And it’s very difficult to kind of create that trust of them. It takes time. So you go in and you talk to them and it takes an hour or so and they may have tried to take their own life and their parents have given up work to be at home on suicide watch because they can’t get the help that they need. They’ve been in a waiting list for so long and the child tells you, Doctor, there’s no point you being here. No one’s going to come, no one cares. It’s pointless. They don’t touch you. You built that relationship musically, just like. Just. Just give me five. Go. I make that call to CAMHS. They are overstretched, overworked. I just. I. Please, please, I’m begging you. Please, can you just come? Please, I’m begging you. Please. Of promise. A child can just come. Even if you just come for 2 minutes of please. Because we could lose this child otherwise. And I’d love to come. I’d love to come, but I can’t. I’m so lucky. And I’ve got to go back into that room. Parents are in pieces. The child is like, See, I told you, no one’s coming. And that’s where we’re at. And so a key thing is we absolutely have to bring down waiting lists in. Mental health isn’t about shiny machines and technology, it’s about workforce. And we have a workforce that is just so stretched, that is exhausted, that is leaving in droves. I mean, even if you look at psychiatry, doctors and a group of psychiatry doctors, junior doctors who are training that I spoke to recently, that huge proportion of them are planning on leaving as soon as they’re qualified. I mean, why would they want to stay here with the current state? And so so Labour’s pledge is that we would within the first term in office and it really is bold and recruit eight and a half thousand new mental health staff while retaining the ones that we’ve already got to bring down the waiting list so that people can begin treatment within a month.
Coco Khan I mean, that sounds amazing, but where are you going to get them from if everyone’s getting trained and leaving.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan We’re talking about, about a plan to ensure that the staff that want to leave feel that it’s worth staying so that there are possibilities for them to move and grow in their career, that they’re feeling valued. Because right now one of the reasons people want to leave is because they’re not able to take their annual leave because the too short staffed they’re working. Double shifts are so exhausted, they’re falling asleep on shifts. So it is a it’s about saying if you have a bigger workforce, you able to have a better quality of life because you’re not covering everybody else. It will take time to recruit and train, which is why we’re saying it’ll be in the first term in office. But it will be transformative for people to be able to be seen, seen and treated within a month. But beyond that pledge, we’re also saying not everyone can you know, everyone can go to their mum and talk about their problems, will go to their teacher at school. So we would open an open access mental health hub in every community for children and young people to be able to go in and say, I’m really struggling, I’m really struggling. I’m having this.
Coco Khan I’m really scared because I love this plan. I’m going to be honest. I love this. Love the sound of it. Well, I’m on a personal note. I’ve had my life transformed by relatives of mine being sectioned and the lack of provision so
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan I’m so sorry.
Coco Khan I’m so nervous that in the last few weeks we’ve seen a lot of brilliant Labour plans scaled back because of funding.
Nish Kumar Yeah, childcare, the Green Plan, really good plans.
Coco Khan But this is going to happen, right?
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan This is going to happen. And I wouldn’t be sitting there having this conversation if I didn’t think it would. And that’s why suicide prevention was front and center of Care’s health mission just a couple of weeks ago when it was launched. And and, you know, every life lost to suicide is a life that could have been saved, I think. And. You know, I don’t want to ask personal questions about one’s personal experiences, But but if you speak to anybody who has lost someone to suicide, it is it is it is a grief that there’s just no coming back from. It’s not like getting over it, just learning to live with it. And that that that that the mental health impact that losing someone that way has on the whole family is just phenomenal. And yeah and and so having an open access mental health hub getting people to treatment when they need it because prevention is more important and we know people get sicker the longer they’re waiting. But also what we’re saying is, is that we would have a specialist mental health support in every school. And it is bold. And I understand that people are at breaking point now that they don’t believe the cavalry are coming. But I wouldn’t be sitting here and I wouldn’t have had this brief for three years and still be in it if I didn’t believe in it. And I didn’t believe that we. Looking to bring about change.
Coco Khan Well, exactly as you said there about the prevent ability of mental health is one of those areas of medicine where many, many, many people can turn their lives around.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan They can
Coco Khan it’s amazing. And so the fact it gets this far is totally preventable. So it’s great to hear that schools are on the plan. Community work is on the plan, stopping people getting that fall. I am sorry to keep asking the same question, but will there really be money for it? Because I don’t think.
Nish Kumar Because Emily Thornberry was here last week and was so in a brilliant way, so animated and strident about the Green plan. And then, you know, 24 hours later, Rachel leaves is saying, okay, we’re going have to scale this back. And I understand that, you know, there are changing economic circumstances, but just like I really want to we we really want to believe that this plan is going.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan No, I understand. But but but not just on the green plan. It’s not it’s not being scaled back. It’s still going to be delivered. It’s just going to be delivered in the in the second half of the term. Okay. Because of the. The. The way the economy was left was was. Which is crap. Yeah. Yeah. And the and and the the fiscal landscape has changed. Which which caused that to have to happen. But we we will fund our mental health plan for you for through closing tax loopholes. Yeah we know exactly which loopholes that that is. We also will pay for part of it by leaving VAT on private schools. So the plan is there, I believe with all my heart and soul that it is going to be delivered. But the most important thing we can do now really and truly is it’s not you I need to convince. Really. It’s the public. They have to believe it. They have to believe it. And we need to get that. We need to get that message out there so that they they believe it. Because I really think fundamentally and and I see this one of my shifts is that the language that we use in Westminster and then the bubble that that we all live in, to some extent, it’s it’s not the real lived experiences of of most of the country because really when they’re sitting at their dinner table, they’re not talking about our growth compared to the rest of the G7.
Nish Kumar Yeah
Coco Khan Worst dinner party. Please, never never invite me to a dinner party like that, thank you.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan I’m not talking about dinner parties. I’m talking about dinner at home, about. I’m just talking about your fish and chips. Yep. According to whatever is your eating, you’re thinking to yourself, Can I keep giving food to my children? Yeah. Can my mum get her cancer appointment in two weeks so that her cancer doesn’t spread and she dies unnecessarily? Can I keep this roof over my head? Can I turn on the lights and the heating? Yeah. That is what people want to understand. And what they want to understand is, is voting Labour going to give me that? And that is the job that we have at hand, and that is the job that I have when it comes to mental health to try and convince people that that is what they will have. And it’s it’s a look, it’s not an easy task. And I think we cannot be complacent about anything. We cannot be complacent about what’s going to happen in the next general election. We just got to keep going and work, work hard and put one foot in front of the other and keep trying. But ultimately the the people that I see when I do my shifts, the people that have not had that closure, the staff I see that feel like they just can’t come in to work anymore because they are broken beyond belief. They just need to know it’s going to get better and they need to have that hope. And that’s that’s that message that we have to get out there is that message of hope and that it can get better because otherwise what what else is left you’ve even got in your T-shirt? One hope, one quest. It’s a sign.
Nish Kumar That’s from one of our greatest South Londoners, Rich Manerva.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Yes, love it
Coco Khan Rosena we’re going to have to say goodbye to you.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Oh,no. That went quick.
Nish Kumar You gotta go. You got jobs to do. You kickboxing, you got music to record. You got Dr. shift. You go to that place and we go. We go fuck all else to do. We’re podcasters.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Very awesome ones at that.
Coco Khan Aww thank you.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan So true.
Coco Khan I’ll be putting that on my CV, endorsed by the Labour Party. Thank you very much. It’s official. Sorry to tell you.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan You can quote me on that one we’ll get that on our official lines.
Coco Khan Honestly. Thank you so much for sharing the plan and we hope sincerely that it comes to fruition.
Nish Kumar And thanks very much for taking the time. We really appreciate it.
Dr. Rosena Allin – Khan Thanks so much for having me. Thank you.
Coco Khan Well, we couldn’t leave you, of course, without naming our hero and villain of the week. Nish. You’re up first. I know you’re a slightly embittered Manchester United fan, so I’m sure you’re finding it really hard to see Manchester City. Just Triumph’s really strongly famous treble.
Nish Kumar Well, it was a dark day for humanity as a species. I mean, listen, it’s very difficult to look at this because it’s very difficult in football because there is obviously, you know, huge tribal loyalties. And also, you know, you’re always open to accusations of bias if you’re a manchester United fan talking about Manchester City. But I just I’ve picked as a villain of the week sports washing as a concept. The Abu Dhabi owned football club Manchester City won the Champions League to claim the treble. Engulf The last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a merger between the Saudi backed Aliyev Tower and the PGA, which essentially means that Saudi Arabia owns the sport of golf. All of this has come in less than a year after we saw the Qatar World Cup culminate in, you know, a final that people celebrated as being one of the best in the competition’s history that was ultimately won by Argentina, whose star player, Lionel Messi at the time was playing for the Qatari owned Paris Saint-Germain. It is something that we need to talk about and it is something that I think that needs to be legislated around because, you know, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, all have all have a questionable human rights record. They are using sport to launder their reputation. I say this with no bias, malice or prejudice, but there’s a conversation that desperately needs to be had.
Coco Khan I feel really bad because when you said Saudi Arabia effectively owns golf, my mind just went, Oh, because they’re a golf state. That’s what that’s what my mind did. I hate that about my mind. It’s an awful situation to be in
Nish Kumar Because it’s because it’s a golf state.
Coco Khan That’s not why. I know its not why.
Nish Kumar Listen, there is a tiny little Tim Vine living in all of us, and we should allow him to flourish where possible. Okay. You’re to doubt Coco, who is your PSUK Hero of the Week.
Coco Khan Well, obviously, just to wind you up, I wanted to say human Benidorm and Jack Grealish.
Nish Kumar Listen, I don’t like sports watching. I don’t think it’s good that we’re just uncomplicated celebrating. But there’s lots of brilliant sports writers. They’ve not been doing that. But I think you could also separate out the fact that Jack Grealish it seems like a laugh.
Coco Khan He does seem like someone you want to go out with.
Nish Kumar Seems like a laugh.
Coco Khan He would definitely buy you a kebab, wouldn’t he?
Nish Kumar Yeah. I mean, I’ve seen some videos of him online this week where it looks like he wouldn’t be able to organize his motor skills sufficiently to even tap a payment out for a cab.
Coco Khan Oh, gosh, he really is. The People’s Prince is me. But I’m not going to pick Jack Grealish because it is Pride Month. Now. I know Pride Month is not without its own controversies in terms particularly around you looking at sponsorship in the commercialization of it. But nonetheless, it is a great source of some wonderful stories. One that caught my eye was Tate. Britain had employed some vibe checkers for its One day Queer and Now Pride Month event, and that seemed to really annoy the Telegraph. They wrote a whole article dedicated to Vibe Check because what is Vibe Check is actually I think a vibe check is a good idea. Politics should have vibe checkers in. That would be great, I think.
Nish Kumar I think any vibe check in British politics over the last decade would have simply quit for big. So let’s celebrity the vibes about guys. They’re bad and they’re getting worse.
Coco Khan But I’m not going to pick the vibe Chick is either. I’m going to go for Miriam Margolyes who I mean, she’s just fabulous and hilarious. And what is her life? I don’t know. But she has got a naked at 82 for British Vogue’s Pride Month special. Here she is telling a Vogue writer what’s in her handbag.
Mariam Margolyes Now I will go. First thing I’m going to take out might surprise you. It’s an onion. I always carry an onion because I love them. Oh, there’s one other little round red thing no, not that darling radish, is it? Almost. Well, I won’t say a sexual delight, but it’s close because it’s a big bag in your mouth if you know what I mean, this book is a memoir. It’s got naughty tales of the people I’ve slept with and the people I haven’t slept with. Oh, shit. These are my knickers. Ugh clean, of course, a spare pair. I’m not very good at holding on to my water, so when I want to pee, I have to get to a loo quickly. The gasset most important. Look how clean it is. I like a strong gasset.
Coco Khan Everything she says is comedy gold. Every line comes out of her mouth. And also, just like, you know, the very few women who get away with her blue sense of humor.
Nish Kumar Yeah,
Coco Khan I think she’s hilarious. And there’s a beautiful quote in her boot British Vogue interview, which says, I think gay people are very lucky because we’re not conventional. We’re a group slightly apart, gives us an edge. We’re good musicians. We’re good artists. I like being gay. I wouldn’t want to be straight for anything, which I think is an absolutely lovely sentiment. And I also really love that she swore about Jeremy Hunt last year on the radio.
Nish Kumar Also, my my girlfriend bought a cameo from her for our friend for his birthday. And let me tell you, she went hard. I really she put the work. It was it was it was fantastic. I don’t think we’re into endorsements on this podcast. But if I was endorsing anything it would be get a cameo of Mariam Margolyes because it’s. It’s she she obviously is literally phoning it in but metaphorically she is absolutely not phoning it in. It was it was very good stuff. Lovely. Let’s take a quick dip into our inbox. There was a lot of reaction to our interview with shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry in the previous episode. Kristen Nelson Patel watched on YouTube and left this comment. I was really disappointed in Emily Thornberry’s response to Nish and Coco trying to share how they felt about the racist impact of the attack out on Rishi Sunak, they’re 100% right and she couldn’t even really acknowledge that her perspective was valid. She just got defensive instead of learning. I mean, listen, I felt that it was a forthright exchange of views, I think. I think, you know, I think with stuff like this view, it’s always important to acknowledge where you feel you may have fallen short. And I feel personally that I didn’t articulate clearly what I was trying to say. You know, the idea that because there’s an element of misinformation to the claims about Sunak
Coco Khan She knew what we were saying. What about are you on about?
Nish Kumar I was I don’t think articulated it clearly enough. You know, there’s a like element of misinformation to it. So why not, like, go after him but go after him for things that he’s done? And any kind of racist dog whistle does probably doesn’t impact him, but it does impact ordinary Asians. And I but I just think, you know, in the spirit of openness, we should acknowledge when we call things right. And I personally felt that I didn’t properly articulate the point I was trying to make was
Coco Khan Well, I disagree. I think it was very well articulated and I think that.
Nish Kumar See now we’re having a disagreement.
Coco Khan You know, I was also disappointed in the response. But my hope is that, you know, I don’t know what it’s like to be a politician. And I think actually sometimes when I meet politicians not resent her, obviously. But, you know, when in the past, when I’ve met them, I thought I wouldn’t have the stomach for it because it is kind of your job to go out and defend your party. That is your job, even if internally you’re sort of like, Oh, that wasn’t quite right. But I like to think that perhaps next time they are putting together an attack ad like that, they’ll remember, you know, Nish Kumar and Coco Khan, once said on the podcast that this was not be a cool thing to do.
Nish Kumar Stop fucking doing this.
Coco Khan So we maybe won’t do it. And that would be a nice, pleasing thought.
Nish Kumar If you missed that conversation, you can listen back to it. Episode six is up on our feed and you can find the clip on our Twitter feed at Pod Save the UK.
Coco Khan And we’ve got one here for you. Nish. It’s Tim Holden. He’s the head of politics at Carmel College in St Helens Merseyside, and he says, One of my A-level politics students, Beck, persuaded me to start listening to your Pod. I’ve become an avid listener and now recommend your show to all of my students as a thank you to Beck. Could you give her a shout out? She’s a big Nish Kumar fan. She’s also an aspiring comic. I’m sure she’d love some stand up advice mixed into all the politics. A big brief there from Tim.
Nish Kumar Like, first of all, hello, Beck. Thanks for forcing your teachers to listen to this show. Sometimes young people interested in comedy do ask me for advice. And I should be clear that when they ask me, there’s always a part of me that was like, Fuck it, I’ll find someone better. But whenever people ask me for advice about comedy, I always give them the same quite boring response, which is you just got to do it and keep doing it. The one thing that’s disheartening is that it’s not something you can practice for. It’s not like a musical instrument where you can sit in your room and you can plot the hours by playing a piano over and over again and getting slowly, incrementally better. Stand up comedy if you want to do it, has to be done in front of an audience. No amount of practicing in front of your mirror is a substitute for going up in front of people and doing it. That’s how you improve. That’s how I still work on material. That way I can’t sit in a room and write. I have to get out in front of people and see how it plays. That’s the slightly disheartening bit. The heartening bit is it’s possible to get better at stand up comedy. I am living proof that it is possible to get. I mean, also that does depend on your opinion of my comedy. But actually the reality is you can get better at standup. It’s a muscle.
Coco Khan Please, can you tell me a joke that was rubbish that you once did?
Nish Kumar I mean, there’s plenty of obtainable evidence on YouTube.
Coco Khan Oh, okay.
Nish Kumar But yeah, I mean, I’ve done all sorts. I mean, I’ve done shit jokes recently. It’s not like something old, but yeah, it’s the good thing back is it? If you want to do it, the only solution is to just get up and do it. But in doing it you can get better. And it really is, really is as simple as that. Good luck. I hope to do a gig with you at some point.
Coco Khan Well, we hope to hear from more of our listeners. If you want to get in touch with us, you can email PSUK at reduced listening dot co dot uk or you can even send us a voice note on WhatsApp if that’s the thing you like. Our number is 07514644752. Wrong number. Our number is. New number, who dis? This is what the moment is. Our number is 07514644572
Nish Kumar Right number.
Coco Khan Right number. Internationally that’s +447514644572. If you’re new to the show, remember to hit follow on your app and you’ll get every new episode every week. And if my numbers confuse you, it will be in the show notes and it will be correct.
Nish Kumar You did all of that. I’ll say this spectacularly now.
Coco Khan Oh, thanks, maybe I should go in into stand up?
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Coco Khan Pod the UK. It’s a reduced listing production for Crooked Media.
Nish Kumar Thanks to senior producer Musty Aziz and digital producer Alex Bishop.
Coco Khan Video editing was by Will Darking and the music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos.
Nish Kumar Thanks to our engineer David Dugahee.
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 Tik Tok. We’re at Pod Save the UK or on Instagram through the Crooked Media channel and hit Subscribe finishes every Thursday on Spotify, Amazon or Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.