In This Episode
Returning from their summer holidays, Nish and Coco reflect on the failure of the Government’s ‘small boats week’. It was supposed to showcase progress but, instead it ended in the tragic deaths of a number of people trying to cross the Channel. An interesting time then for Tory HQ to step up their war on so-called ‘lefty lawyers’. We hear from immigration lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie, who was the target of a Conservative smear campaign. She tells Nish and Coco how right wing newspapers were given a four page dossier on her, riddled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations, trying to tie her to the Labour Party. She says it’s an experience that will scar her for life.
Economics expert Grace Blakeley joins Coco and Nish to reflect on the week’s big news on inflation and jobs…picking apart why the positive headlines might be a bit misleading. Nish, Coco and Grace also fess up to the most expensive meals they’ve ever had, in light of Rishi Sunak’s $1200-a-head Disneyland dining experience. Among the questions discussed: Does it matter that our PM is so rich? Who controls the economy? And…should we have billionaires at all?
Plus hero and villain of the week, tales from Vietnam and Edinburgh, and why it’s easier to teach a dog to surf than Nish. Also find out why Nish and Coco have the cleanest bottoms in podcastland!
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Jacqueline McKenzie, partner and head of immigration and asylum law at Leigh Day
Grace Blakeley, journalist, author and economics commentator
Coco Khan Hello and welcome to Pod Save the UK. I’m Coco Khan.
Nish Kumar And I am Nish Kumar.
Coco Khan Nish Kumar from afar.
Nish Kumar Afar. Yes, I am at home due to having contracted the no longer novel coronavirus. I’ve gone full 2020. I am baking banana bread and watching the Tiger King.
Coco Khan But where were you before this happened? Because we’ve been on recess, right? So where have you been?
Nish Kumar Coco I’ve had an eventful couple of weeks. The last time we were recording in the studio together, I mentioned that I’d injured myself playing football. It turns out I had broken my hand. I broke my finger. I went to 80 on the Isle of Wight, and the nurse attempted to reset my finger and I refused pain medication because I thought, it can’t be that bad. I didn’t even know it was broken. I then fainted like a Victorian woman who needed vapors to be brought back around because she’d spied a gentleman’s ankle. So then I announced I was going to have to have an operation on my hands.
Coco Khan Oh, wow. An operation?
Nish Kumar Yeah. And then in the middle of that, I went to the Edinburgh Fringe. I don’t know how well listeners will be, how familiar listeners will be with the Edinburgh Fringe venues, but they are all disease bunkers. And so I guess if I was going to if I was going to get COVID anywhere at the moment, it was likely to be the Edinburgh Fringe. So mixed bag for me. I do think it’s worth noting that the particular hand that it is means that I got injured by turning too enthusiastically to the left. So in many ways it remains consistent with my own personal brand.
Coco Khan I’m glad you also have that thing where just the direction left makes you think of politics. I have that every time I hear Beyonce say, you know, she’s like to the left to the left, I’m like, Yeah, Beyonce! To the left.
Nish Kumar How was your honeymoon? I assume you’ve had a nicer fortnight than I have.
Coco Khan I mean, I’m very conscious to not be the insufferable gap year person. And that’s like, yeah, I’ve just come back from Vietnam, you know, I’m very changed. Found myself behind the bins, which is all true. But what I would say about this is, as you know, I’ve long held this I’m, you might say conspiracy, but I think of it is as a fact, which is that toilet paper is a scam. And being out there really 100% confirmed that to me.
Nish Kumar What do you mean toilet paper is a scam?
Coco Khan Babe. It doesn’t work.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Coco Khan It does not. You do not have a clean butt after your interaction with toilet paper, that’s just a fact. That’s just what happens. It’s bad for the planet. All those trees for your bar. I think this is. Okay, let’s just go full tinfoil hat. Is this. An Anglophonic world conspiracy? All I’m saying.
Nish Kumar Listen, I couldn’t agree more with you. The idea that you could clean faces of any surface by sort of waving dry tracing paper near it is unfathomable.
Coco Khan It’s crazy, right? It’s absolutely mad.
Nish Kumar You have to get water involved.
Coco Khan I think there’s this kind of, again, like, you know, English speaking sort of snooty ness about it, about like, you know, people in far off places when backwards, backwoods, you know, the Italians do it, the French do it. Loads of people do it. We’re the outliers in Britain, we’re the weird ones for not doing it.
Nish Kumar I’ve I’ve a surprisingly long routine in my most recent touring show about this exact subject. It’s a nation of people without with unpaid offices queuing at the post office. And if you’ve ever been on a Japanese toilet, you’ll know those things of the future. But you can basically call in a drone strike on your own like it’s unbelievable. What I want is a Japanese toilet, but I don’t have one yet. But that’s my long term goal.
Coco Khan Well, I tried to I mean, this is this is the most local conversation I think we’ve ever had on this podcast. But I tried to speak to a plumber about it and he was like, Oh, I can’t do that. Love can’t do that. It’s against building racks. In what way is a clean but building regs? That is, you know, we always talk about like small politics on this podcast that my friend that’s the political sign me up for that clean but that’s what I want.
Nish Kumar Why is this the only thing you thought about when he went to Vietnam? Okay.
Coco Khan I thought about other things. I mean, it’s really very profound experience.
Nish Kumar Afterwards, we’ve pretty much run out of our allotted time for free politics, personal life conversation, and we spent most of it talking about my broken heart and your spotless backsides.
Coco Khan This is what the people sign up for. But, you know, the honeymoon was great. We went to six different destinations in two weeks, so it was quite full on. I thought of you actually, because I went to the War Museum and it was it was horrifying to see all these artifacts of a very, very brutal war. And I had a little cry in the stairwell because it’s so sad that humans could do that to each other. And then afterwards, I was like, Why would you go to a war museum on your honeymoon? Does that? And I thought, Yeah, Nish would do that.
Nish Kumar 100%. 100%. 100% I didn’t even bat an eyelid.
Coco Khan Coming up next, we’ll be speaking to immigration lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie. She’s received online hate and threats after being targeted by conservative HQ in an attempt to discredit lawyers involved in blocking their Rwanda deportation scheme.
Nish Kumar Plus, commentator Grace Blakeley on whether it’s a good idea for us to have a Prime minister who’s richer than the king.
Coco Khan So while we were away on our holidays, the government state its small boats week. A very confusing time. I must confess. I normally hear about, you know, organized weeks as a way to, you know, increase acceptance awareness. National Adoption Week, Pizza Week. I’m not really sure what Small Boats Week was about, but maybe Xenophobia Week wasn’t available just by virtue of it being every single week. But nonetheless, it was a disaster.
Nish Kumar The boats kept coming with tragic results. Migrants lost their lives in both the Mediterranean and then in the channel, and the boats still kept coming. 500 people arrived on one day alone.
Coco Khan Meanwhile, the BP Stockholm barge, the government’s answer to housing asylum seekers turned into a farce. The first asylum seekers went on board and had to leave because Legionella bacteria had been discovered.
Nish Kumar And the Conservative Party’s rhetoric reached new debts. I mean, in fairness, every time we think we’ve reached the bottom of this thing, they somehow find new ways to excavate even further depths of morality and basic decency. Lee Anderson, who’s the deputy chairman of the party and sort of. Without portfolio. I’ve seemingly told the Express to the asylum seekers should fuck off back to France if they didn’t want to be housed on a barge. He was backed by various Tory cabinet members, including Justice Secretary Alex Chalk and Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick. The MP for Ashfield, then told his fellow TV news presenter Nigel Farage that he has no regrets over his language.
Clip It makes me sick to the pit of my stomach when these leftie lawyers, the charities, the human rights campaigners said it’s not good enough. If it’s not good enough, then you should go back to France in stronger words.
Nish Kumar Meanwhile, the MP Diane Abbott, who is currently suspended by the Labour Party, had to quickly delete a responding tweet that referenced the dead asylum seekers. Why? Because what’s better than a single standard? A double standard.
Coco Khan Suella Braverman has been waging war on what she’s called crooked lawyers, announcing a taskforce to look at dodgy immigration lawyers. That seems to be going hand in hand with a wider campaign to bully and discredit legitimate lawyers working on behalf of asylum seekers and charities who have been challenging government policy in the courts. Deportation flights to Rwanda have been suspended since June last year, with the Supreme Court due to rule on whether the flights are lawful in the autumn. Jacqueline McKenzie is a partner and head of immigration and asylum law at the firm Leigh Day. She spent much of her career working on behalf of victims of the Windrush scandal. But she’s also been the target of a smear campaign by Conservative Party HQ. They sent out an inaccurate briefing about her work to the right wing press, and it described her as a senior Labour adviser and a lefty lawyer blocking Rwanda deportations. This week, a group of 100 prominent black and brown women issued a letter of support. It called out conservative governments for willfully empowering a vicious right wing mob to spew violence against a black woman. Thank you so much for joining us, Jacqueline. What have these past weeks been like for you?
Jacqueline McKenzie Oh, quite horrendous in many ways. When a previous home secretary spoke out about, you know, it all went on on a rant about leftie lawyers, a colleague of mine, Toothache Hussain, was stabbed. There was a murder trial, an attempted murder trial, rather, pending next April. So we can’t say anything more about that. But, you know, the government is aware that, you know, they are putting people at risk. So obviously, I’ve had to take measures because we know that there is intelligence about potential risk. And so, you know, it’s made my life very, very difficult. So, you know, where I go at the moment, things that I’ve had to do to my house, the patterns of work, I mean, that and that may go on for years. It may go on for the rest of my life so that it’s a life changing moment in a very, very serious way for me and my colleagues and also for my family. But it’s heartening to see that, you know, overwhelmingly people in the UK and overseas, I’ve had calls and messages and emails and people on Twitter from all around the world saying this is not acceptable. One of my favorite bits of interaction has been from a pensioner who described herself as a lifelong Tory and was offering me her pension for the week to treat myself with.
Coco Khan Oh. That is so beautiful. In what is genuinely quite a horrific story is not how you expect our political system to be to be behaving. Can I just ask you, when did you first realize that your name had been included?
Jacqueline McKenzie Well, on Saturday morning, I just noticed that two journalists had followed me on Twitter. One was from the M&G, one was from the Sun. And I thought, hold on a moment here. Something’s brewing. And they want my opinion on something. That was my first thought. And then I got a text from the Telegraph. I text back and I said, Well, you know, some email, some me, what’s going on? What’s this all about? And he did. And then with the ones on Twitter, they then said, Look, we want to talk to you. We’re writing a story about you have about me. You know, I was quite stunned. They all said almost the same words. We’ve been sent a dossier about you and we’re writing a story about you. And some of them went on in the email to explain what was in it. You know, you represent Jamaican criminals or we try and stop Rwanda or, you know you’ve done this, that and the other. So, so. So there was that slate. So I knew that there was going to be this major story coming out available from the Sunday versions of those papers. So I knew that the Sunday papers were going to have a story of me. I didn’t at the time realize it was just about me. I thought maybe they’d just be looking at various lawyers who’ve been operating in this space and doing the sort of human rights work that touches on deportation, Rwanda and so on. And initially I thought, well, maybe it’s Windrush. You know, the government hates what we’re doing on. Indra. And they’re wanting to shut it down before people have had justice. So I initially thought, well, it’s not really going to be a bad thing because, you know, everybody knows that I’m one of the main people that speaks out about Windrush, you know, and I’m one of the people that’s got the most cases on it. So I, you know, but then they started coming back and asking for questions and they kept saying that you’re part of the Labour movement, aren’t you part of Labour army or you’re hired by. And I kept saying, Well, I’m not actually hired by Labour. I have a voluntary role on a committee. And I tried to also say to them, I’ve also done some of the things with the conservatives and no one interests. So this was effectively it’s from Labour coming from, we now know, a special adviser to the Home Secretary Swan, about them. And we now know that for a fact. And so what you had was the Conservative Party liaising with the high office of States using confidential information that they’ve obtained from the files of Home Office clients to actually run a hit on somebody who, in the scheme of things, isn’t really something, you know, that’s important. It’s like you don’t see myself as being that’s important. It was extraordinary. But I really I’m serious when I say what they obviously did. Venn Diagram. Keir Starmer in the middle. Who can we link to him who we could also link to Rwanda, small boats, maybe Stockholm, deportations, Windrush and whatever. And it was me.
Coco Khan Gosh, it’s horrible when you see the thinking laid out in in that way. It’s the opportunism of it, especially given that you have actually worked quite closely with the government. I’m sure in a way that they would prefer you didn’t because it’s, it’s their scandal and you know, they messed up. I do think it’s worth to say to our listeners that in terms of the accusations about helping, you know, Jamaican criminals or that the work you did to prevent a man from being put onto a Rwanda Rwanda flight was proven to be completely justified by a subsequent medical report. But yeah, I wanted to ask you, just for our listeners who don’t really understand the legal system, why is this unprecedented and what does it mean for just due process in general?
Jacqueline McKenzie Well, it’s not necessarily unprecedented because there have been attacks on lawyers with this government and the previous government. I mean, considerable attacks, you know, on the term leftie lawyers was, you know, that’s come into our vernacular just very recently in the last few years. And as I said, you know, there was an attack, you know, people about eight mail at hate mail. Every time I speak out in the media, I’ll get one or two emails coming in from somebody telling me, go back to where I’ve come from or something of that’s all sometimes worse. But this one, it’s been worse. You know, people wanted to drown me and do all sorts of things, that’s all. But but what I think was unprecedented in this case is that it was targeted at a named person. It wasn’t just, you know, leftie lawyers or blob of lefty lawyers or activists. It was me, Jacqueline McKenzie, who was an enemy of the state, so to speak, as a black woman who is working against the state. That was the message they wanted to get out there. And it’s certainly a message that has resonated with the far right, both in the UK and Europe from intelligence we’ve had, where some of the attacks on me are now coming from. And those attacks at the moment are they might via email and Twitter and so forth. And that’s exactly what the government wants to do and that is unprecedented. The response to it’s also unprecedented that major organizations and major individuals, including conservatives, you know, Lord Garnier, Dominic Grieve, have also said this is egregious, it’s unacceptable to behave so so this is what makes it, I think, and different sorts of level. It’s and you know, the journalists were saying they’ve got a dossier on the briefing on me. It’s four pages. It’s it’s this I know this is a podcast, but you can see it anyway its four pages of script. This is what was said. And you know, my picture and it’s as well in the dossier.
Coco Khan My goodness me.
Jacqueline McKenzie Um yeah. So so that was what was sent. And it went right back to the 1980s where I belong to as sort of campy and sort of well, they called it Marxist, but it was a sort of social democratic group. It went right back to that. It looked at speeches I’d made. Tweets, you know, where I’d said anything anti-government and that sort of thing. And what they were effectively trying to do was to get me into trouble with compliance with the Law Society, because am I a campaigner or am I a lawyer? Which hat am I really wearing to out me as a sort of anti-British values kind of person and present me as somebody who’s frustrating? The Home Office says plans to remove people to Rwanda to deport people to other countries to stop the small boats from coming to prevent people from going on board the Bibby Stockholm barge. All of that. And what was what was interesting about the timing of it. They timed it to come out the same week that they had this big story about these three immigration firms who were caught saying to people, we can help you, doctor your evidence.
Coco Khan Yes.
Jacqueline McKenzie Which have been involved in what appears to have I don’t know, the full evidence or you know or know the firms. One of them I know of, I don’t know them well, but there was this exposé and they appear to have been caught on camera charging asylum seekers £10,000 in order to help them present a narrative to the Home Office to get a sum, not something we agree with at all, not something we will ever do. But what they did was to launch their story and the one about me at the same time, and one of the journals actually had the stories on the same pages. So some of the hate mail that I’ve received have posited me in that story. You know, when you’re corrupt and you’re coaching people to you know, I hardly do any claims if and I’ve got one at the moment, you know, I’m coaching asylum seekers to rig the system.
Coco Khan You know its quite interesting. You know, like you said, I was early, you know, you could see the thinking and, you know, they sort of laid the groundwork with the lawyers exposé and then they sort of go for I mean, this is not probably that relevant, but I did Law A-level. I once had a dream of being a lawyer. And I remember at the time, my, my, my sort of teachers being like, you know, the legal profession is is dominated by Oxbridge graduates, is actually quite posh, is actually quite white and is quite right wing. So I was like, oh, leftie lawyers. What like I mean everybody who’s had any proximity would say, actually it’s kind of the other way round.
Jacqueline McKenzie It’s a shame that they put you off in that way because you’d have made a great leftie lawyer, I’m sure a great lawyer.
Coco Khan Oh thank you!
Jacqueline McKenzie But you know, you know I mean, that’s what they did to all of us. I mean, I was told to, you’ll never make it. So, you know, we we get that don’t we.
Coco Khan So, Jacqueline, I want to read to you the Conservative Party statement about this. I’m sure you’ve come across it, but I’d just like to get your response. A Conservative Party spokesperson said the idea that lawyers should be exempt from criticism is incompatible with a free society. The Lord Chief Justice, the head of the judiciary in England and Wales, has himself voiced concerns that a minority of lawyers have engaged in vexatious representations and abusive late legal challenges to frustrate removals. What do you think about that?
Jacqueline McKenzie Well, that may well be the case. I’m sure, as in all professions, there are people who don’t play by the book and across the legal profession, not just in immigration and human rights. There may well be lawyers who charge sets. I’m certainly not one of those. And by producing that statement, it is almost as though they’re trying to make it sound as though I’m one of those. If there was a single case that they could find where there was evidence and remember, this is the states, they have access to everything. They could have found a case that I had brought that I shouldn’t have brought, or a case where I had somebody when I shouldn’t have done or if I had done anything wrong or corrupt because I play by the book, that would have been the story. But when you look at the story, it’s my one chap who we stopped from going to Rwanda, who is a home office doctor in an immigration detention center and had signs of being a victim of torture mentally and physically. And that’s why we took the case. He was one of the seven men shackled, ready to go to Rwanda. Know that was the worst case they could find because his index offense was a kidnap. I am not saying for one minute that this is a nice man, but he was here as a child. He’s all criminal. He’s done his time. He is entitled. There was a lot of appeal in against deportation. And that’s what he was doing. He was exercising it. He cannot do that himself. He needs a lawyer. That was my case. And what they fail to also tell you in that case. This is a man who’s just had damages from the Home Office because of something that happened to him. So, you know, so I don’t tell you the full story.
Coco Khan So do you think there’s an element of of vengeance here, that the government know exactly who you are? It’s not just about leftie lawyers, but also they know who you are and your victories against them. And they’re they’re out for blood.
Jacqueline McKenzie Yeah, I think there was definitely that. I mean, of course, they really their main target was Labour. They wanted to damage Keir Starmer, and so I was the link to him. So we must never forget that. However, I will say I was the best person they could find because they would have wanted to die. Or they want to damage me too, because I am vocal and we’re very successful in highlighting the problems with Windrush. Windrush is my work. It’s funny, in this poll people said the word Windrush isn’t mentioned at all, and that’s 90% of my work that it has been for the last five years. I mean, interestingly, the team that’s actually involved in the Rwanda jail chat and just 99.9% whites. And they didn’t go for them. They went for me. That’s not involved in the job at all. So I think it really was an opportunity to silence me. Who is this uppity black woman who is speaking out?
Coco Khan Jackie, I do have to let you go in a moment, but just really quickly, do you think you might take action against the government for this? You know, I have visions of you suing them for defamation.
Jacqueline McKenzie Well, I can’t say exactly what we’re doing at the moment um there are various legal teams assembled. And we are looking at options and we have made some requests for some more information from them. So watch this space.
Coco Khan Oh, well, that is the perfect way to end this. Thank you so much for your time, Jacqueline. I really appreciate it. And keep up the Lord’s work.
Jacqueline McKenzie Thank you.
Coco Khan Thank you.
Coco Khan So joining us in the studio now is Grace Blakeley. She’s an economics and political commentator, a writer at Tribune magazine and an author of several books. And I’ve just learned now, a keen surfer.
Grace Blakeley Yeah. Yeah. That is something I picked up whilst I was away for the last nine months. Just kind of chilling and ignoring everything that was going on here and being on the beach and surfing quite badly, but still.
Coco Khan Also developing biceps.
Grace Blakeley Actually, genuinely, yes. Like it’s amazing how good exercise is and also how good it is to feel strong. Now I go to the gym and I do like weights and like strength training. And I’m like, I feel like such a badass. I love it.
Coco Khan It’s like everyone I know that’s been surfing has come back, sort of talking about how beautiful it is, the great outdoors, you know, the strength, the connection to the waves. But I just look at it and I’m like, Oh, she’s going to die, mate.
Grace Blakeley Yeah, it’s pretty scary sometimes. Genuinely
Nish Kumar There is a company in Australia that I believe has probably had to change its key slogan. The slogan was, If we can teach a dog to surf, we can teach you and due to an incident that happened 20 years ago, that company now legally cannot be traing under that slogan.
Grace Blakeley Hilarious.
Coco Khan Is that because it was too hard to train a dog?
Nish Kumar No, it’s. I thought I’d made my implication clear, Coco. It was because it was too hard to train me. The heavy implication of the circumstances that I was worse at surfing than a dog.
Grace Blakeley Aw, the dog probably had loads of practice, though, Nish. I wouldn’t beat yourself up.
Coco Khan So we’ve had some good news as we record this. The headline on BBC News Online is that UK inflation falls sharply for a second month to 6.8%. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says the figures show that the Government’s plans are working somehow. You know, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said we’re not at the finish line. I didn’t even know they were in this race. Grace Is there a problem with the way these stats are being reported? You know, we’re seeing these words like cut dropped. Yeah, I go to the supermarket and it’s still £5 for Tropicana.
Grace Blakeley So. Exactly. I mean, you know, there is an astonishing amount of kind of just like irresponsibility, I think, with the way that certain headlines are produced and reproduced. So obviously that is the whole inflation has fallen thing. A lot of people think, Oh, right, well that means that prices aren’t going up anymore. Of course, inflation is a measure of the rate of the increase in prices. So it’s, you know, the percentage according to which things are going up each month or, you know, whatever. So when that rate slows, it means things are increasing at a slower rate. For prices to stabilize, inflation would have to be zero. And for prices to fall, we would have to have deflation, which economists worry about for different reasons, but will not go into that right now. Generally speaking, you know, what we would see is that inflation would rise and then peter off to a more manageable level. Inflation of kind of between like 1 to 3% generally doesn’t worry people too much, doesn’t worry policymakers too much. In fact, the Bank of England has a target to keep inflation around 2%, basically. The other thing that I saw today, which was, you know, irresponsible in the same vein, was this idea that wages have gone up for the most since records began. Yeah, and of course, that was not adjusted for inflation at all. And when ingested and adjusted for inflation, they’ve actually fallen in real terms again. A lot of this is kind of hard to understand. I think, you know, the idea of like the rate of change of a variable is often difficult to get one’s heads around. But ultimately, this is not we’re not in a good situation at all. Like part of the reason that inflation is starting to fall off is because the Bank of England decided to raise interest rates, which with the the aim basically of like slowing down the economy. And for that reason, we’re seeing unemployment rise now. So things aren’t looking good.
Coco Khan I’m glad to hear you explain that, because you know what? Like and I am loathed to use the word gaslighting because it reveals that I’ve been on Tik-tok too long. But this kind of economic gaslighting, this idea that some of our leaders will stand up and say it’s going well, no, no reason. I can feel see, I cannot take a train to Manchester, which is £200.
Grace Blakeley So this is actually a really interesting point more generally, right? Because we have this idea as a public of this thing called the economy, right? Yeah. And the economy is something that exists out there. It’s numbers, it’s men in suits, it’s big, you know, financial institutions in the city of London. And we measure it with things like GDP and, you know, inflation and whatever. And, you know, will a government minister will come on TV and they will say, line goes up there for good and you’ll look and you’ll be like, well, I haven’t had a pay rise in over a decade. I can’t afford to live anywhere. Public service is crumbling. And yet there is always this tone of optimism. There’s some part of you that thinks, Oh, well, the line’s going up, so that means things must be getting better for me at some point. Maybe it will just take a while to build it out. Actually, we live in a world where that economy, in inverted commas, you know, the things that are measured in GDP statistics and many of the metrics that government ministers are fond of talking about don’t correlate particularly well with people’s lives. So I think we need to kind of really just break down this idea of the economy as something separate out there and actually start to think about measuring things that matter to people, measuring the, you know, people’s living standards, basically measuring wages. What we do measure wages, but actually talking about that as a a key economic and social statistic rather than the situation that we have now. I mean, if you did that, then it would become clear that we in many ways have a kind of a split economy. So we have, you know, let’s say often, you know, economics programs or news programs will say the stock market’s gone up today. Right? And then you’re like, oh, great, the stock market has gone up. So that would mean that GDP will go up, which I mean, I’ll you know, my wages will go up or whatever, but it’s in many ways completely disconnected. It’s not completely disconnected, but it is largely disconnected from what most people are going to experience on a daily basis. If instead we were we were focusing not just on is the line going up, like all the things that powerful people want us to think about, rising or falling or good or bad are the metrics that actually matter to us and impact our lives. What’s happening to them? Then the story would be very different.
Coco Khan Yeah, and it was interesting to hear you talk about, you know, the idea of the disembodied economy. It’s just this thing, this, this unknowable objects that we can’t touch and things happen to it, and we should all be very happy about it. Like it’s weather always in some ways. But who actually is responsible? Because that’s what we really care about on this podcast is about accountability, right? Yeah. So, you know, on the one hand, the government claimed credit for the slow in inflation, but equally they say they can’t be blamed for rising inflation. Who actually is in control of the economy? Who should be held to account?
Grace Blakeley Again, this is a really important point because, you know, the whole idea of setting up this thing called the economy and talking about the economy and GDP growth and inflation is that we’re supposed to believe that nobody is in control of the economy. I don’t know why that’s true, because there is no one person or institution that controls things like the rate of inflation, GDP growth, you know, even even employment. Right. A lot of those things have to do with economic processes that take place on a global level. So, you know, inflation obviously to begin with was driven by lots of different variables, including the uneven recovery from the pandemic supply chain problems, shipping costs, the war in Ukraine, all these different things came together on a global level and put inflation up for everyone. But there are certain actors within the global economy that are better able to respond to and shape the way that those dynamics are felt by most people than others. So, you know, we shouldn’t be thinking who’s in control of the economy. That kind of gets you into like where, you know, the World Economic Forum presses a button and then, you know, stuff happens territory, which obviously isn’t true. But equally, we don’t want to go down this line of, oh, the economy is just some abstract thing that exists out there. And it’s, as you say, like the weather and nobody really controls it because they’re all powerful institutions, whether they talking about governments or central banks or actually even corporations and financial institutions that are disproportionately able to shape who gets what. And the best way to think about this is just to look at, you know, look at the financial crisis. Right. You know, we got like the average person got hit with austerity, maybe lost their job, so their wages go down, public services decimated, massive banks got bailed out and insulated from the consequences of their actions. That’s a big economic shock, but affected different people differently based on their proximity to the powerful. Right. It was the same with the cost of living crisis. So, you know, massive corporations got huge bailouts all around the world. Big financial institutions got big bailouts, you know, mortgage holders who are obviously important demographic ticking for a conservative government. People were in their own homes, got some relief, and then lots of other people got got very little, basically nothing. And even when they did get support that ended up being recycled into the pockets of the powerful. So, you know, relief for tenants ended up benefiting landlords. Employment relief was obviously paid often to companies. So it ended up, you know, benefiting like the powerful rather than actually ending up supporting rising living standards, which we obviously didn’t see during the pandemic. So yeah, we have to, I think really like look at the decision making processes that are taking place within these big institutions to say who is deciding how we respond to inflation and why. Right. And when you look at that, it’s it’s very clear that those decisions are being made in the interests of that abstract idea of the economy, which is basically, you know, like rates of of growth generally in like in profits, like, as I said, kind of all stock prices. Going up, how much that costs the businesses to borrow. What are the barriers to to them expanding and those sorts of things rather than what is going to make ordinary people’s lives better? Because this interest rate story is is a really good example of that. Inflation went up and the only way that the central bank decided that they would respond to that was by raising interest rates. What does that do? The idea is that you raise interest rates, you make it more expensive for businesses to borrow. That means they’re less likely to employ workers, which means unemployment goes up, which means workers feel less confident in demanding wage increases because they’re scared of losing their jobs. So wages come down and then inflation comes down. Now, that obviously is affecting inflation through the mechanism of making people lose their jobs. And that isn’t the only way you could do that. We know now that inflation is actually being driven more by corporate profits and it is by wage increases. And actually wages haven’t been increasing real time.
Coco Khan But on that point about accountability, that’s how do you hold corporate profits and those who decide how do you hold them to account.
Grace Blakeley Tax them or, you know, price limits or windfall taxes, for example. Like, you know, we’ve we had that the idea of the windfall tax on on big oil company profits floated during the pandemic, that’s a good way of dealing with the massive super profits of those companies.
Coco Khan But how do you do that when none of the parties are saying they’re going to do that?
Grace Blakeley Well, I mean, how does one do it, it’s a different question to will they do it. It’s very possible to do it. And it’s important that we know it’s possible to do it because politicians will say, oh, it’s impossible. We can’t do that. It’s a central bank, whatever. But obviously, you know, any form of political change that isn’t in the interests of like the people running the country is going to take grassroots organization. And yeah, that is that’s a whole other question. We can get into that if you want.
Nish Kumar I do think it’s really important that there is more media literacy around economics, and I know I’m sort of slightly, slightly waste my breath saying that to you guys, given that that’s 99% of what you do on a weekly basis is go on these shows and desperately trying to explain the statistics. You can’t just say things are going up, it’s better. Yeah, the wage statistic is such an odd thing because it is odd for two reasons because given that the inflation is not actually going down, our real wages have fallen by 0.6%. Yeah. So in a sense it’s kind of an irrelevance. Also, I do strongly feel that if you’re claiming that the pay rise has been the highest since records began, you should be forced to say the year and in this case is 2001. And I don’t think you can talk about historic wage rises if your history only goes back to the Destiny’s Child release of I Like. I think there’s so many important pieces of information. So with that in mind and with us having somebody on the show that understands the information behind these statistics, are there real world ramifications? Do you see any meaningful light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the cost of living crisis? Does does any of this really strike is obviously going to want to say that this shows that the situation is working. We know that the man’s talking politics. Does any of this translate to real world benefits for ordinary people?
Grace Blakeley I think it comes back to what I was saying about interest rates, because part of the reason that we’ve brought inflation down. So inflation was initially caused by all of these, you know, big global macroeconomic factors that I’ve spoken about. And then it becomes embedded for one of two reasons, basically either because workers say, right, we want wage increases in line with inflation and bosses give them wage increases in line with inflation. That has not happened this time. It only ever happens when you’ve got really strong bargaining power. And there are unions that are able to say we and we demand this from bosses and we don’t have that at the moment. Unions have been kind of decimated and only just beginning to make their way back. So instead, the second mechanism was that corporations basically took advantage of an environment of rising prices to say we’re going to raise our costs even more. And of course, you as a consumer, when you go to buy a loaf of bread, you don’t know how much the price of wheat has gone up on the wholesale market. So it’s quite easy if there is a corporation that has a stranglehold over its market or really, you know, powerful competitive position in this market to say we’re actually going to increase prices more than we need to. And you saw that in a lot of sectors, particularly where there’s lots of corporate power, i.e. where there’s a small number of very powerful corporations. And the way that we’ve responded to inflation, the way that central banks have responded to inflation assumes the first scenario rather than the second scenario. So it assumes that it’s greedy workers pushing up inflation by demanding wage increases, and it basically punishes them by saying, we’re going to make some of you unemployed for the good of the economy again, for the good of the economy in inverted commas, i.e. for the good of like the most powerful and wealthy people at the very top of the economy. So that’s now why we’re seeing a slight kind of inflation falling off, because basically the Bank of England decided we are going to cool down the economy by pushing up unemployment and trying to curtail the bargaining power of workers. And that indicates where things are going potentially, which is that you will start to see increases in unemployment and overtime wage increases that we’re seeing and, you know, like nominal wage growth, which is different to real wage growth, will start to fall off once again. And you may even start to see wages falling quite significantly in real terms again. And bear in mind that workers didn’t have they had ten years without a pay increase. On average after the financial crisis during COVID, there were periods where you saw massive, you know, the biggest drop in in wages since records began. And actually it was things since like the 1970s or something. That was a period actually when wages fell, though, at the most in a certain period since World War Two. That was the trade union Congress that announced that data. And it is likely that you will start to see that sort of thing happening again if we continue to see big increases in interest rates and basically central banks and policymakers blaming workers for a problem that’s being caused by big corporations.
Coco Khan That’s fucking bleak, man.
Grace Blakeley I mean, I’m sorry okay, look, the other thing I want to say.
Coco Khan Bleak!
Grace Blakeley Like, it is. It kind of is bleak and it’s difficult to not be bleak at the moment because, like, if you’re being sunny and optimistic, you’re being sunny and optimistic about a system that is fundamentally broken, like, how am I going to say, even if we did see a slight increase in wages, it’s not going to make up for a decade of stagnant wages. I wouldn’t want to be sitting here being like all things are bad, you know, just go and feel sorry for yourselves. That’s obviously not the point. It’s actually to say like, right, we know things are not going to get better. So we need to organize to make sure that they do get better.
Coco Khan And just on a on a I would say a lighter note, but not really on a different note. I wanted to talk to you about expensive meals, not least because Rishi Sunak has been in the news recently where apparently he ate at one of the most expensive restaurants in America. He spent £12,000 at Disneyland, making the Metro around 1200 pounds a head. What’s the most expensive meal you’ve ever eaten?
Grace Blakeley So I think it was probably when my ex-boyfriend took me, we watched. Do you remember that show? Was it called The Trip? And it had Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon?
Coco Khan Oh Yeah.
Nish Kumar Was it a long claim?
Grace Blakeley Yeah. Yes, it was. Yes, it was. Yeah. So we went there in the Lake district. It’s the one in the Lake District, right? Yeah. Yeah. We literally went and sat on the chef’s table because we got really obsessed with it. Used to watch that. That was for my birthday. I obviously didn’t end up paying for it so I don’t know how much it costs, but it’s probably the fanciest meal I’ve ever had.
Coco Khan It would be pointless to limit this to things I’ve paid for because we’re just talking about Nando’s. Yeah, it’s just pointless. But on a journalism jolly, I got invited if some washing machine brand or some kitchen appliances brand and they built a pop up restaurant above the London Southbank Center and they hired these like Michelin starred chef. I mean, between the three of them, I think they had like 12 among them and they were so different and it was like a chef’s table where beautiful views over the over the over the Thames. And I remember thinking, it’s true that money can’t buy you happiness because these guys look fucking miserable.
Grace Blakeley Hilarious.
Coco Khan Nish, come on.
Nish Kumar Well, I mean, given the fact that I was able to identify the restaurant based on a, I think it’s fair to say, evaders and fans of the most expensive meal I’ve had was from Noma in Copenhagen.
Coco Khan Oh, wow. You’ve done the Noma thing?!.
Grace Blakeley Is that like the best restaurant in the world?
Nish Kumar Yeah, apparently. Yeah. I think according to some metrics, it was incredible. An incredible meal. Yes. Yeah, it is. I think it’s actually shocking now. But it was it was a it was a it was a pretty incredible meal. I think it costs. And it’s quite weird because he’s sort of paying to incrementally so have to pay half the upfront and then you pay together. But I think it’s around 600 quid.
Coco Khan Oh my God. I remember another one. I got taken to Paul Bocuse in France and that was £300 again.
Grace Blakeley Wow.
Coco Khan Again didn’t pay. But yeah.
Grace Blakeley Yeah.
Nish Kumar I thought it seemed like I mean, it seems to me like, wow, that’s a lot of money. And then.
Coco Khan And then, you.
Nish Kumar And then I.
Nish Kumar They absolutely blew my mind.
Coco Khan Yeah, yeah, yeah. I you know, I’ve seen this story about Rishi Sunak. He’s had a family holiday in California. They’ve gone to Disneyland. They’ve enjoyed a meal at very expensive Disneyland restaurant called 21 Royale. It cost about £12,000 in sort of roughly that 1200 pounds a head and has been called America’s most expensive dining experience. So we know that Rishi is rich. We know that it’s easy to forget how rich, though he’s richer than the monarch. If you mention this, it makes you sound like you’re engaging in politics of envy. Why does it matter? Is his private money shouldn’t he be allowed to spend as he as he as he wants? But I’ll be interested to hear from everybody. Like, does it matter? This disconnect.
Grace Blakeley I think it matters that anyone is that rich. I don’t think anyone should be able to have that much more money than the average person, like it should be corrected through the tax system. And goodness knows that Rishi and his family have had a certain amount of of issues with the taxman. So, yeah, I mean, I don’t think anyone should be that wealthy. I don’t think we should have multi, multi millionaires and certainly not billionaires. Yeah, I mean, like there’s this statistic that I think really brings this issue out, which is that like people really underestimate the extent of how much money £1,000,000,000 is or $1,000,000,000. It’s because it’s an unimaginable amount of money. So a thing I like to say is going to bring this into perspective is the to take to count the numbers to a million would take you 12 days to count the numbers of to a billion would take you 32 years.
Coco Khan Oh wow.
Grace Blakeley Like, it’s so much money. And the thing with that amount of money is that money and and power and influence at a certain level become fungible is the word that is coming into my mind. But I know that that is not a word you were familiar with. They become like you can swap one for the other. Basically, they they kind of become interchangeable. That’s a better word. Yeah. It basically means that you can kind of pay for influence, right? And that could be paying for influence in the form of being able to pay someone to do things for you, which is like on the most benign level, it’s like you’re literally, you know, paying for someone to come in and like, provide for all of your earthly needs in your household or whatever all the way through to you, like paying people off or like, you know, buy your way into certain institutions or carrying favor with certain people. And I think that’s the real perspective that we need to have. And we’re looking at it is that like, you know, wealth and power. Or in our society to a certain extent interchangeable. You can swap one for the other. And so we shouldn’t have someone so much more wealthy than the average person because we shouldn’t have so much someone with so much more power than the average person.
Nish Kumar Well, obviously, what you said Grace is correct. There’s a wider socioeconomic question about how much wealth is simply too much wealth. But I also just think I do think it matters for him politically, because I think he told people that they need to tough it out. Yeah, essentially that was the phrase that was being bandied around, tough it out, and that he was on the radio urging people to extend their mortgages by ten or 15 years in order to make ends meet. And equally, in the last couple of weeks, there has been a slight usage of his family as a kind of political prop. I’m thinking specifically of him tweeting about and I actually will confess I’d never seen a picture of his kids before because also why would you there young children? But the only reason I’ve seen a picture of his kids is because he tweeted his picture of his wife and children coming out of the Barbie film. And it clearly feels like a political tactic to push him as a father and a husband more to the forefront. I also don’t want to get too specific on this because I would be breaking confidences, but he has been offered as a guest to parenting podcasts. I’m saying no more than that. If I can break a confidences. But so there’s clearly a push in the Conservative Party to have him be seen as a family man. And I don’t think I think in that situation, if you open yourself up to that, it’s probably not something he wants to do really, because his family situation is so far removed from the rest of the country, which matters. If what he’s telling the rest of the country is that they just need to knuckle down and eat their least favorite child.
Grace Blakeley I was not prepared for the end of that sentence.
Nish Kumar [AD]
Nish Kumar Before we go. Grace, thank you so much for joining us. And in recognition of our gratitude to you, we are going to bestow a very special honor on you. You’re the first guest we’ve ever asked to nominate the PSUK hero and villain of the Week.
Grace Blakeley I am so honored, guys. Thank you so much. Okay, so I’ve picked my villain.
Coco Khan Okay.
Grace Blakeley My villain. And I’d like to preface this, by the way, by saying that I analyze capitalism as a social structure where it creates incentives for people to behave in certain ways that they wouldn’t in other places. And I don’t like to individualize problems and just call people heroes and villains. But in this one context I will say my villain of the week is the CEO of ExxonMobil, Darren Woods. And the reason for this is that we’ve seen now that Exxon Mobil made record profits last year. It’s one of the few big fossil fuel companies that actually said we’re not even going to try and diversify away from just fossil fuels. We’re going to stick with it. And to add insult to injury, ExxonMobil is being sued in a number of different parts of the U.S. because there’s evidence that scientists knew about the impact of burning fossil fuels on the climate as far back as the 1970s. They had internal reports that suggested climate breakdown was going to happen. And instead of actually raising the alarm, they cut funding for their research team and took all that money and channeled into climate denialism. So they’re a really bad company.
Nish Kumar Yeah. There’s an alt movie called The Insider, which is about the heads of tobacco companies who were found. It was found that they knew how addictive cigarettes were for years and years, and I hope to God there’s some sort of equivalent for that with climate change, because it’s an astounding, astounding piece of information.
Grace Blakeley Yeah.
Coco Khan Also I think that I learned about Exxon Mobile recently and perhaps it’s kind of categorization has changed, but for a long time it had a really good ESG rating, which basically means it’s like a a sustainable business. If you were someone who was interested in green investments, you might end up investing,.
Nish Kumar Oh my gosh. Really?
Coco Khan In ExxonMobile. Because they had this is kind of getting boring and running now. But basically the way that you have this rating system, you have to meet a set of criteria. And ExxonMobil was really good at admin, so it met all those criteria. Can you imagine if you were like, I really want to do some green investing is the why? Because, I mean, you know, to me, the I don’t read my two theses either. And then you’re like, well, yeah, it’s going to be both. Okay, but what about your hero?
Grace Blakeley My hero is someone that I actually know. Shout out to Mikaela Loach, who’s a climate activist. I don’t know if you guys know. I used to have her on the show, but this week she and a bunch of other climate activists staged a walkout of her own event at the Edinburgh Fringe to protest the fact that Baillie Gifford was one of the sponsors of of that event and has a certain amount of its portfolio invested in dodgy, you know, companies that were I can’t exactly remember which companies they were they had investments in, but it was a small, small amount of their investment, still a certain amount that’s in fossil fuels. So Mackay just gets up in the middle of her event and says, I can’t do this anymore. I’m storming out of my own event. And I just thought that was so badass.
Coco Khan So badass.
Grace Blakeley Like, I loved watching it.
Nish Kumar It was the Edinburgh Book Festival and the book festival, the kind of starting gun for it happened when Greta TIMBERG actually pulled out of an event. I really. But the walking out of your own even is quite spectacular.
Grace Blakeley That is so cool.
Nish Kumar It would make a welcome change for me to where other audience members walk out in protest.
Coco Khan Ba dump His, I just want to give a shout out to the Rnli. I’ve been banging on about this this lot for ages. I feel sorry for my friends have to listen to me. I think it’s because I grew up in East London and I still have that like sort of childlike awe about nature. Every time I’m just like on the British coast. I’m not looking at sea.
Grace Blakeley I feel like everyone feels like that when they look at the sea.
Coco Khan I mean.
Grace Blakeley It’s wild. Yeah.
Coco Khan Anyway, having had those feelings and just learning about the volunteers who just average people who go out every day onto that big scary sea to fish people out of the water. You know, migrants included, refugees included, asylum seekers included. You know, they don’t discriminate. You could be in a superyacht, you could be in a rubber dinghy. They go out there and pull you out of the water. Regardless. I just think they’re amazing. So just in the spirit of what we’ve been talking about, about the average person being able to form connection against all these horrible policies, I think, yeah, I love the volunteers and as it happens, never want to miss the opportunity for a prop here at POD Save the UK. I hope you’re watching this on YouTube lads. I’ve got an rnli tea towel. I have been gifted the amazing.
Grace Blakeley I actually also give money to the rnli every month and I think they’re legends.
Coco Khan I’m doing a live unboxing. Yeah. Yeah
Grace Blakeley Is this ASMR. We need to speak a little quieter.
Coco Khan It’s going to go next to my other, you know, tea towel collect. Which is basically just normal, boring ones and one that’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Grace Blakeley Oh, my goodness. I love that.
Coco Khan All the different boats.
Grace Blakeley That is sick. I am so jealous. All right RNLI if you’re listening, could you send me one? And I will promise I will tweet about it so much.
Coco Khan Great. Let’s take a dip into our mailbag. Guys, here’s one for our alter egos. Many have some alter ego. I’m just telling Grace we have this idea that we’re political agony uncles and aunts.
Grace Blakeley Love it.
Coco Khan We won’t go into my problems with that phrase cause I live in the past and think I’m very young. But anyway. L wrote in an emailed in with this question. They say I’m a young person who is often alarmed by the state of the world and wants to do something to change it, but isn’t quite sure how. I was wondering if any of you have any advice for young people getting into politics and activism. I visited my striking lecturers on the picket lines with baked goods and joined my uni Labour society who just seem to bicker on the WhatsApp more than anything else. But I feel like there’s more I could be doing. I’d welcome any advice Grace. What do you think?
Grace Blakeley I love that, and I think this speaks to a lot of the stuff that we’ve been talking already about the podcast. So yeah, I mean, you know, as much as I have loved engaging with Labour Party administrative processes, it can be very boring. Other activism options are also available. Yeah, I mean, I think as I’ve as I’ve said, there’s so many different ways of getting involved and it really depends on your priorities and your passions where you’re based. If, say, for example, you want to build in housing activism. There’s lots of tenants organizations like ACORN, the London Rent, London Renters Union that are that do organizing on a local level. There’s migrant rights organizations that do that sort of thing as well. You can get involved in kind of disrupting deportations, that sort of stuff. Obviously, loads of climate activism that goes on through lots of different kinds of organizations as well. And also, if you’re kind of more on the nerdy side of things and you want to learn more about policy, there’s just like so many events that go on and on, like, you know, in progressive circles where there are people that come together to talk about issues and ideas organized by all sorts of different things from like publishers, like Verso to Novara to, you know, lots different places. And for me, I found that is a really great way when I was first starting out of just like getting involved in organizations that were doing lots of stuff and meeting people, having conversations, and then they’ll be kind of organic stuff happens, whether like, come to this, go to that. I think it’s really just about dipping your toe in that community. And it is a community of like activism and organizing and things just tend to kind of snowball. The first thing, though, is, as you said, it’s just getting out of house, getting involved with stuff and realizing that you’re not actually on your own.
Coco Khan Yeah, that sounds amazing. Do you think they need a DJ?
Grace Blakeley Probably, possibily.
Coco Khan Well I’m suggesting myself
Grace Blakeley Are you a deejay?
Coco Khan Well I like to spin.
Grace Blakeley That’s sick!
Coco Khan Oh, she likes. She tries.
Grace Blakeley Oh. Okay. Well, I will.
Coco Khan I’m actually not very good at all.
Grace Blakeley So firstly, don’t say that because that’s what women say about everything and we’re like, Oh, I do this thing, I’m terrible at it but um yeah, I’ll throw you, I’ll throw your name in the ring. If I hear of any deejay spots going.
Coco Khan Remember Chapatty Smith, that’s the name.
Grace Blakeley Okay, great. Love it.
Coco Khan And we have another question here don’t we Nish?
Nish Kumar Yeah, we’ve got another question from Max who says, Hi all. I love the podcast and I was hoping maybe you could help me out. I live in Weymouth, which is essentially attached to Portland, where the barge is. Is there anything I can do to help the people on board, seeing as it’s within walking distance for me, also as a local, I mean, plenty of community groups for the area on Facebook and this barge has brought out some of the most racist, vile shit in these groups. I’m wondering if you think it’s worth engaging these people and pointing out where they are wrong or is it pointless? He’s also just quickly added, My boring real name is Max, but my online moniker in most places is rancid. Not understand. If you read this I would exclude that, but cheers, guys. Grace, we should we should say we’ve got quite excited because people can comment in via YouTube. They forget that they’re not giving us our real name. And so we often get people’s YouTube names.
Grace Blakeley Love that.
Nish Kumar Chicken Nugg Nuggs is the leader so far.
Grace Blakeley Amazing.
Nish Kumar Yeah, it’s so there’s a constant guide. But look, I don’t know what the value is in arguing with people on Facebook.
Grace Blakeley Oh, no, yeah not on Facebook.
Nish Kumar I think that that is maybe, maybe not the best use of your time, but stand up to racism. Dorset has formed a specific offshoot group called the Portland Global Friendship Group, who is seeking to provide aid like toiletry packs, maps of the local area and a communal help line for asylum seekers. If they want to engage the community and you can contact Stand up to Racism Dorset, they’ve got a Facebook page which is Facebook.com slash SUTRDorset and their email addresses SUTR Dorset at gmail.com.
Grace Blakeley Amazing.
Coco Khan Okay, well lots of you enjoyed our bonus episode with the fabulous equality campaigner Gina Martin that went out last week. While we were away, both Jo Clarke and Heidi called Gina a proper hero. While lots of you on Tik Tok have been trying to guess the. Name of the politician who he said patted her on the head. So Simon said. Well, Jacob Reese-Mogg, you know, he sounds like someone who would be that patronizing. Kieran Kinsella replied to say, Well, I feel like if he ever touches a poor person, he’d melt. So that’s just to say, if you missed the episode with him, often you can find it on our feet.
Nish Kumar And also, we don’t know who the politician is.
Coco Khan No, we don’t.
Nish Kumar She didn’t tell us. So we’re as happy to be part of the baseless speculation.
Grace Blakeley Amazing.
Nish Kumar A couple of our internationalists have been touch about a chat we had about whether schoolkids signing each other’s shirts at the end of the school year was something that happened in other countries as well. At Mob Bortimer on Twitter said reporting from Melbourne, Signing shirts is a thing down here too. I’m still calling it Twitter. I can’t bring myself to say on Onex, I can’t believe we live in a world in which the word Twitter is the less stupid of two options. And in the YouTube comments, someone called CBP and D has said writing on a white shirt is not something I’ve seen in the US. At the end of school we get yearbooks dialed, do yearbooks in the UK, and we know they’re American because the y’all was not me editorializing that’s in the text. Photos of the school yet all the students and clubs and teams as such we usually get the last episode in the blank pages in the back of each other’s yearbooks. The one I always laugh about is people too lazy to write, have a great time, so they just write HAGS. It’s lazy and makes you wonder if they’re insulting you.
Coco Khan I think you do need to say that spells hags.
Nish Kumar Spells HAGS. Yeah. I mean. We sort of, I think due to these sort of cultural monoliths of American high school films as a genre, we’re all pretty aware outside of America of the yearbook they didn’t even view have yearbooks.
Grace Blakeley We got yearbooks at university.
Coco Khan Did you sign each others?
Grace Blakeley I probably shouldn’t say that because mine had some really horrendous stuff in there.
Coco Khan Really, like what? Can you tell?
Grace Blakeley I hope that they’re not generally accessible. Oh gosh.
Coco Khan When you say horrible stuff, you mean like the photos look silly because we all look silly at that age?
Grace Blakeley The things that we wrote about each other were purhaps bringing up some events that had happened over the course of our four years at university that are not safe for work or public consumption.
Coco Khan Is it like. You know, Nate’s got herpes? Like that level of kind of urban.
Grace Blakeley No, it’s more things that really did happen.
Coco Khan Okay. Well, you know, I think we we all.
Grace Blakeley We all had fun at uni guys, come on.
Coco Khan We all did. We are not here to defame, just to speculate.
Grace Blakeley If you want to speculate about the things I did at uni that are not safe for work please feel free to do so.
Coco Khan You can get in touch with us by emailing PSUK at Reduced Listening dot co dot UK. We love your messages. We love voice messages. We like hearing your voices. You hear us and it seems fair if you’d like to do that. The number is 07514644572. Internationally, that’s +447514644572. If you’re new to the show, remember to follow on your app and you’ll get every new episode every week.
Nish Kumar And finally, the British Podcast Awards has a public vote, which is the listeners choice. And if you’d like to vote for us, it’s free and easy to do. Just go to British Podcast Awards dot com forward slash voting. If you want to do that. I feel embarrassed about asking people to do that. So just if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. This is why normally I don’t read this section of the show.
Grace Blakeley I love the idea of you running for office and being like, Please vote for me or don’t. Whatever. I don’t care either way. You guys suck.
Coco Khan I love the like emo flourish at the end. Like, I hate you anyway.
Nish Kumar I think it’s on the list of reasons why I should never run for office. That list is long. That involves some photographs of the things I did at university.
Grace Blakeley I’d still vote for you, babe.
Coco Khan Thank you so much, Grace Blakeley.
Nish Kumar Thank you so much.
Grace Blakeley Thanks for having me guys. It was a pleasure.
Coco Khan Thank you. Also because Nish wasn’t in the studio, so it would have been very boring.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Coco Khan And now I’ve got a mate.
Grace Blakeley I felt like I’ve replaced him.
Coco Khan Are you feeling threatened, Nish? You feeling threatened?
Coco Khan You should.
Grace Blakeley You should.
Nish Kumar Thanks so much for hanging out with us. Please join us again.
Grace Blakeley I’d love to.
Coco Khan Pod Save the UK is a reduced listing production for crooked media.
Nish Kumar Thanks to CTV News, a must disease and digital producer Alex Bishop. Additional production assistance Annie Keitster.
Coco Khan Video editing was by David Koplovitz in The music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos.
Nish Kumar Thanks to our engineer David Dugahe.
Coco Khan The executive producers are Louise Cotton, Dan Jackson, Madeleine Heringer. And thanks to Crooked Media producer Ari Schwartz.
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 Pod Save the UK on Instagram.
Coco Khan And hit subscribe for new shows on Thursdays on Spotify, Amazon or Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.
Nish Kumar Shout out to the novel coronavirus.