Who gets the power? Devolution and the General Election. | Crooked Media
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June 20, 2024
Pod Save the UK
Who gets the power? Devolution and the General Election.

In This Episode

It’s been a horrendous campaign for the Conservatives so far, careening from disaster to catastrophe, but the Tories don’t have the exclusive on political drama. This week Nish and Coco focus on the action in the devolved nations, with a particular focus on Wales and Northern Ireland. 


First, we check in with Welsh Journalist Will Hayward to learn about the recent vote of no confidence in First Minister Vaughan Gething and Labour’s manifesto pledge to tune up the current devolution agreements. Then, Coco chats to Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth, to learn more about Plaid’s ambitions for Wales and their plans to turn up the heat on Labour. 


Later, we check in to Northern Ireland, speaking to journalist Amanda Ferguson about the stakes of the next election and whether allegations about former DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson will have any bearing on the election. 


Finally, the gang break out some of Coco’s recently rebranded charming and quizzical moments.


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Rhun ap Iorwerth, Leader of Plaid Cymru 

Will Hayward, Welsh Affairs Editor at Wales Online

Amanda Ferguson, freelance journalist


Audio credits:

Sky News

Blue Sky.mp3 by Sergmusic — https://freesound.org/s/639933/ — License: Creative Commons 0

TikTok/ Suella Braverman 


Useful links:

Jo Stevens interview with S4C https://x.com/NewyddionS4C/status/1802786241852707250


Constituencies and candidates: 

Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr: https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/elections/parl.montgomeryshire-and-glyndwr.2024-07-04/montgomeryshire-and-glyndwr/ 


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Nish Kumar It’s been a horrendous campaign for the conservative so far. Careening from disaster to catastrophe.


Coco Khan But the Tories don’t have the exclusive on political drama.


Nish Kumar This is Pod Save the UK. I’m Nish Kumar.


Coco Khan And I’m Coco Khan. And today we’re looking beyond Westminster, exploring devolution of power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Nish Kumar And later we’ll be catching up on some of the wackiest moments of the week. But first.


Clip Never let anyone tell you that independence is separate from people’s daily lives and concerns. It is fundamental to their lives and their concerns. It is about where decisions about Scotland are made, decisions over our economy, our health service, our living standards. So in July the 4th, I’m asking you to vote SNP.


Nish Kumar That’s John Swinney, leader of the SNP, at the launch of their manifesto on Wednesday. Look, Scottish independence clearly has pride of place on page one of the SNP manifesto, but it might not be the issue that matters most to Scottish voters, and it certainly might not be enough to override a bad year for the SNP. With finance scandals and the defeatist tradition of Humza Yousaf as leader, despite aspirations for independence remaining strong amongst the public in Scotland. More than a third of 2019 SNP voters are moving to another party, according to a poll on Tuesday from YouGov. The polls suggest that they’re moving to labor, and they’re doing so because they want to affect the party that becomes the new UK government.


Coco Khan As always, take polling data with a pinch of salt. These are just a snapshot. But even if independence isn’t the biggest issue of the campaign, there is some interesting news in the pipeline. Not just for Scotland, but for all devolved nations. Just a reminder for any of our international listeners when we talk about devolution, we’re talking about the ongoing process of Westminster ceding decision making power to the countries that make up the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So it gives them more control over things like how they spend their budget.


Nish Kumar Right. So in their manifesto set out last week, labor pledged a new approach to collaboration between Westminster, Stormont, Holyrood and the Senate and the regions of England as well. Labor has pledged to establish a Council of the Nations and Regions, bringing together the Prime Minister, First Minister of Wales and Scotland First and Deputy Minister of Northern Ireland and the mayors of Combined authorities in England.


Coco Khan But devolution is just one piece of the puzzle of how to make the UK feel like its more cohesive. So now let’s turn to Wales, where this week populist blowhard Nigel Farage has launched the reform manifesto and the labor devolved administration in Wales has been having a particularly difficult time.


Nish Kumar So we’re going to be joined now to chat about Wales with Will Hayward. The last time Will joined us was back in March and we just heard the news that Vaughan Gething had become the first minister and the first black leader of any European country. But two weeks ago, amid a growing scandal around donations to Gatting’s campaign, he lost a vote of no confidence in the Welsh Senate. Joining us now to discuss this bombshell is, as I’ve said, Will Hayward, who is the Welsh affairs editor of Wales Online. Welcome, Will.


Will Hayward Hi. Thanks for having me.


Coco Khan Last time you were here, you did say that Vaughan Gething was in for a rocky ride. I’m sure you have your I Told You So t shirt somewhere in the room. So. I mean, you called it, right? It was written in the stars, I suppose. Yeah.


Nish Kumar And also this. This is sort of a creepy tradition with you, Will, because you actually, even before this last time, we talked about the fact that you accurately predicted Vaughan Gething win and pretty much accurately predicted the percentage wins as well. So I mean, like, what’s going on, Will, are you as soothsayer?


Will Hayward I know I am the stop clock and you come to me twice a day. I think that is I think that is what happens here.


Coco Khan Okay. So could you catch everyone up just very quickly? What went down two weeks ago?


Will Hayward Okay. So, it’s been well-documented the issues that Vaughan Gething has had with his donations. This is culminated in a leak which came out and it came from within the ministerial labor group, where it showed that Vaughan Gething had said in a message during peak time, Covid are going to delete these messages because they could be captured by a free to information request. Now, he told the, Covid inquiry in Wales when it came to Wales, that he had not deleted any messages, that they’d been lost when his phone was lost now. He then sacked a member of his cabinet called Hannah Blyton, and she had supported Jeremy Miles, who was his opponent in the leadership race. This triggered a series of events. So, there are 60 members of the Senate. So that’s the Welsh Parliament and Wales and and labor only have 30 of those members, which means they’ve been in an agreement with polite company, which is our equivalent of the SNP. And what they said was it’s not coalition, but polite company will help keep labor in government get their budgets through in exchange for certain policy commitments. But after the incident, we’ve had a Biden and all of the donations saga come. We have said, no, we’re done with this. We’re going. So that meant that Vaughan getting no longer could control of the. Jority in the Senate. Then the Welsh Conservatives brought forward this no confidence vote and, the conservatives voted against it. The committee voted against it. And the solo Liberal Democrat, the lone Lib Dem also voted.


Nish Kumar The the loneliest Lib Dem. Even though I.


Will Hayward Know that I think they like to see themselves like a leopard, like a loner, not knowing that he wants them. But, but because, labor 30 of the 60 members, if it was a draw, the it goes with a continuation of the status quo and that would be mean that he would be okay. However, two of his own party members were ill on that day, so they just didn’t turn up to vote. Now, maybe they were. Well, maybe there was something going round. There’s something in the water. But they could also have voted remotely by logging in at home, and they could have even given a proxy to somebody else within the Senate to vote for them. And they didn’t. So he lost that vote. Now, it wasn’t a binding vote, but it does mean that the Welsh Parliament, the democratically elected Welsh Parliament in Wales, we spend so much time trying to convince people that you need to take this thing seriously. He then said, no, this is a gimmick. I’m ignoring this. Now bear in mind, Humza Yousaf, that the threat of losing a no confidence vote in Scotland stepped down. Yeah, he said no, this is a gimmick. I will not be stepping down. People were poorly. This isn’t fair. And and as you can imagine, that has been seen within his own party and outside as a very, very it’s a very sticky wicket for him to be playing on. Now he’s lucky because the general election was called and that means a lot of labor MPs. So said his members, are not inclined to rock the boat at the moment. But that’s all going to be done, and he’s going to face a real tricky issue of trying to get his budget through, when we get into the autumn, because he doesn’t command a majority. No, the party is going to support him, and the long knives are probably going to be out from within his own party as well.


Nish Kumar And how is this translating at the moment in terms of the general election campaign? Because obviously this is where we get into the kind of complex interrelationship between the devolved, parliaments and the Westminster Parliament. So we’ve got this tension going on in the Senate. And now in the midst of all of this, the Welsh people are going to try and vote to who they send to Westminster as their representatives. Is it is this rocking the boat for labor in terms of their Welsh support for the Westminster vote?


Will Hayward It’s coming up on the doorstep. So labor up to this, to saying that people are raising that issue about concerns around the First Minister and his links to the person who made the donations to him. And the lead in Wales is such that actually it would take to be fairly catastrophic to be losing in Wales. And the last election was a real high watermark for the Tories. I’ve seen. There are predictions that potentially it could be a Tory wipeout in Wales. There are few seats which are too close to call, and although their safest seat was actually Craig Williams, who was the right hand man of Rishi Sunak, who made a bet on the date of the election. So yeah.


Nish Kumar Maybe we have we have discussed that previously. Just in case anybody’s missed that story. This is, you know, one of Rishi Sunak’s closest sort of aides in parliament. This is he he’s he’s got one of the few potentially safe Tory seats in Wales. And he is being investigated because he placed a bet on the day of the general election. Yes.


Will Hayward Yeah.


Nish Kumar People listening to the podcast will sort of has his head in his hands listening to the he’s he’s sort of rubbing his eyes like he’s tried to alleviate himself of a migraine.


Will Hayward You just can’t believe it. Can’t you? Like, we’ve got one seat, right. We just don’t need to mess up this seat.


Coco Khan I have to say, well, annoyed by politicians is one of my favorite recurring characters on in the UK. Because last time we were here, you were talking about the donations that Vaughan Gething had received. And I remember seeing you on Twitter about a week or so later in frustration, being like, why does nobody care about this? This is such a big story. And then, lo and behold, now it is a big story. So I think that’s more, credence to this. You’re a soothsayer. Yeah. We’ve had all the manifestos from the UK parties now, and labor are promising a new Council of the Nations and Regions, bringing together the PM Metro mayors and Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish leaders. Is that going to make this more transparent? Is that going to improve things? And also how has it gone down in Wales?


Will Hayward Well, among Welsh Labor this is actually really, really contentious. So both Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles, the people who run to replace Mark Drakeford, both of them said we want the devolution of justice and we want the devolution of policing. The Gordon Brown report, which Labor Commission suggested something along those lines, not necessarily policing, but UK labor have completely ruled out, that Cooper and Joe Stevens, Joe Stevens is the shadow secretary of State for Wales, have said, no, we’re not going to do that. And Scotland has devolution of policing. Northern Ireland does but Wales doesn’t. That’s a that’s a historical anomaly among. The other things, but it’s it feeds into this perception that actually Welsh labor are not perceived as like kind of equal partners by UK labor. The perception is that they’re seen as just another branch. And what. That’s a real issue because there’s a reason that Welsh Labor is the most successful Democratic Party in history. They’ve won every they’ve been the biggest party in every election since 1920. Whereas in Scotland, Scottish Labor ten years ago got absolutely decimated. And the reason is Welsh Labor is seen as really, really Welsh. It’s a really strong brand and that the perception is now UK labor and also Vaughan Gething are missing with this, this massive success. It was Rhodri Morgan who coined the phrase clear red water, and that was the idea that, there should be clear red water between Welsh Labor and UK labor, and that’s what’s kept Welsh Labor successful. And that fair is actually written by Mark Drakeford when he was Rhodri Morgan’s, special adviser. But now there’s this scene of this blurring of the lines that Welsh Labor is just a branch of UK labor and at the next Welsh Parliament elections. That is something that polite company, the Welsh Nationalist Party, are likely going to try and capitalize on, because it was really hard for them when they had Mark Drakeford, who advocated for more devolution. He called it devo max home rule within the United Kingdom. He spoke Welsh fluently as a first language Welsh speaker. And now you’ve got someone who he’s very much seen as UK Labor’s puppet, especially because guess he can’t say anything. The oh, it’s only the support of Welsh UK labor that’s kind of keeping him in the job at the moment. And there’s an argument that that’s exactly how UK labor want him to be.


Coco Khan Just going back to this Council of the Nations and Regions, surely that would deliver what Mark Drakeford was talking about.


Will Hayward The devil’s in the detail always. So there’s actually some fine processes in place now if there’s disputes between the Welsh Government and the UK government or the Scottish Government, there’s ways to raise grievances. But actually the final say on that is still made by the UK government. So the Welsh Government, if they had a grievance with the UK government, can take it through this. This process is quite convoluted and the UK government then rule on whether they’re at fault and funnily enough, they don’t normally rule on.


Coco Khan I’m not sure I gave myself and say, well.


Will Hayward Well, actually it’s it’s even worse than that because they can actually decide that there’s no dispute to even answer. So it’s not that you’re mocking your homework, it’s the fact you say there is no homework so they can actually, that’s it, that the devil will be in the detail. But Wales is always a little bit behind Scotland, and that’s for lots of reasons in terms of devolution. But it would never be seen as acceptable for I would suggest Scotland to be treated how Wales is, where it’s treated more as an afterthought, and a part of that is because of the threat of independence is so much less in Wales.


Coco Khan Will Hayward, thank you so much for joining us on Pod Save the UK.


Nish Kumar We should have got you to predict who’s going to win the euros. Who’s going to win the euros? Well, then we could really test your powers.


Will Hayward Who’s going to win the euros? It’s going to be, in Portugal. Get to the final and they would win it. But Ronaldo, do something selfish. So actually, it’ll end up being Germany.


Nish Kumar Wow. Okay. All right. Okay. Wait. You heard it. Here first. The European Football Championships will be won by the home side Germany, on account of Cristiano Ronaldo’s selfishness. For other finalists. Portugal. I’m genuine because I is plausible.


Will Hayward If I’m going to be so annoyed if a draw means they can’t actually make your point.


Nish Kumar Thanks to Will another brilliant into. As always, we’re going to hear from one of Vaughan Gething Senate rivals. Now, he’s been enjoying a lot of national publicity lately. The leader of Plaid Cymru, Rhun ap Iorwerth. And Rhun actually spoke to Coco. And we’re going to hear that conversation right now.


Coco Khan Thank you for joining us, Rhun.


Rhun ap Iorwerth It’s a pleasure to be with you.


Coco Khan I have to say, I’ve developed something of a parasocial relationship to you because I’ve seen you in all the debates. I missed the one yesterday, I do apologize. How is that? Just by the way, going up on stage with Nigel Farage and and the Conservative Party saying rubbish. What is that like?


Rhun ap Iorwerth I mean, I really enjoy it. You know, I have a background in broadcasting. So, you know, being up there in a television studio beneath the lights, I am, I’m at my happiest. But politically, which I guess is what you’re asking about, really. You know, I realized that these are very, very important platforms for us. And I just wanted to go up there and, you know, speak from the heart. But also, you’re believing very, very strongly that we have a real role to play representing Welsh communities. And, and the response has been very, very good. To those appearances, hopefully we’ve been getting that message across.


Coco Khan Well, I heard you after the first debate, I think it was you were saying that, you know, if you hadn’t been there, you wonder if Wales would have been mentioned at all. And, you certainly. I’ve definitely felt like, Wales has been spoken about like a political football at the moment, particularly as soon as we talk about the NHS, that’s the conservatives come back. Right. It’s like, well, imagine if it was labor. Look what’s happened in Wales. I mean, what is the situation with the NHS in Wales? And also how do plaid come re differ.


Rhun ap Iorwerth And the Reform Party did that as well. Basically launched their manifesto in Wales in order to knock Wales. Now I agree with people who voice concerns. You know, I voiced them myself about the state of the NHS in in Wales. We have the longest waiting lists we have. You know, after 25 years of labor mismanagement. I think we’ve got some fundamental issues within the NHS. But also, of course, that is deeply compounded by the fact that we have just lived through, a decade and a half of austerity that has seen the stripping away of the kind of level of public service investment that is bound to harm the health service. So we’ve had a double whammy, haven’t we, in Wales? And it’s frustrating, of course. Yes, yes, I’m quite confident that had I not been in those debates, all of them, Wales would not have been mentioned once. And I think I referred at the end of the ITV program. You know, they’d be there’ll be people thinking, I said, why this guy from Wales is here at all, you know, on a, on a, on a program broadcast across the whole of UK. But that is a metaphor for the way the UK treats, you know, Wales. Who are these troublesome people on the sort of western fringes of these islands? You know, we’re not troublesome. We’re just really trying to look after our communities and being used as a political football by people who care not one bit about us is quite galling.


Coco Khan Yes. Well, I think that leads nicely to, I want to talk to you about about my country separation from Welsh labor. This was obviously a cooperation agreement. There’s been controversies around Vaughan Gething. He’s now got the vote of no confidence. And you’ve separated. What? What do you want to happen next?


Rhun ap Iorwerth Well, we made it very, very clear that after that vote of no confidence vote, I’m guessing should have resigned, I think it would have been the honorable thing to do. He lost a vote of no confidence because and let’s be absolutely clear about this, because labor wouldn’t wouldn’t back him. It was clear that all opposition parties, Liberal Democrats, played comedy on the conservatives were just reflecting, I think, the opinions of the people of Wales, as shown in opinion poll after opinion polls that he had, lost our confidence. But labor had the call and they were able to, to to keep him. I we have a very troubled First Minister. Now let’s be let’s be straight about that. Keir Starmer doesn’t seem to get it. You know, he seems to be absolutely happy to back him up. But that’s not what the people of Wales believe.


Coco Khan Do you think that represents kind of what you were saying earlier about like, you know, Wales is just seen as some sort of, you know, branch of a party. Do you think this this whole incident represents a problem with Welsh Labor?


Rhun ap Iorwerth Absolutely. That there’s a there’s a real arrogance there. You know what? If we’re fairly unique in the world, Wales, where you’ve had a party that has been dominant for a century and and more, we need that cycle to end because it’s not normal. It’s not good for politics. When when parties go out of power and the conservatives will go out of power in this election, they’ll be kicked out. They will presumably use those years in power to re rebuild and refresh. They’ve got a lot of work to do. Might. But we need I think labor needs that in Wales and and Wales needs that. It’s not healthy. And the fact that you had there was a there was an extraordinary interview. I would invite everybody to try to watch it back. Anybody with an interest in Welsh politics with Jo Stevens, who’s the, who was the shadow secretary of State for Wales? It was a a tough interview, but but just unfairly, you know, standard issues. Why won’t labor at a UK level respond to the needs of Wales, even when Labor in Wales call for, for example, fair funding for our fair share of HS2 spending, for the devolution of crime and justice. And she was so, so dismissive of all those things and that’s that, this, that, that’s labor dismissing Wales. Let’s let’s be frank about that. And we need that to change. And that’s what plagued Cumbria.


Coco Khan I mean plaid has done some really great things with labor, you know, free school meals for all primary pupils. You know, there’s been radical action on the housing crisis, steps to preserve the Welsh language. You’re on the outside now, technically. I mean, is that going to be a good position to be in?


Rhun ap Iorwerth Let’s go through some core principles. I believe in cooperation. There’s never been a party with a single a single party with a majority in the history of Welsh devolution. We need co-operation between different parties at different levels. It can take all sorts of forms. Labor have been in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. They’ve been once between 2000 and 7, 2011. They were in a coalition with with plates. Plates come you even have labor and the conservatives voting together all the, you know, on many, many issues where they can agree on things. And we had an opportunity to enter into a specific cooperation agreement based on 46 policy areas. And, you know, developing those over a three year period. I’m very, very proud of what we achieved. So that’s it’s mature politics. We’ve got to the point, though, where under the new First Minister, it was clear that there was a move away from the kind of radicalism that we were trying to deliver through that cooperation agreement. Plus, then you had the pretty unprecedented scandal that the First Minister was embroiled in, and it became clear that there were too many distractions. We’ll continue to try to influence government, but it’ll be in a different light.


Coco Khan Because obviously, you know, the SNP, who have had a very bad year but are also due to, lose certainly some seats to labor because obviously Scottish voters want to get the Tories out. And they would argue that the only party that can really defend Scotland is the SNP because of this like weird relationship between Scottish Labor and ultimately Westminster. Who do you do you think the same thing for Plaid?


Rhun ap Iorwerth And that’s what we see. Again, I refer you back to that Jo Stevens interview again. Watch it. If you if you want to know what Labor’s relationship is with Wales genuinely. What’s that? what’s that interview that was broadcast a couple of days ago. And let’s be clear also Keir Starmer will be prime minister, you know, come July the 4th, whenever the seats have been tallied up, he will be handed the key to ten Downing Street. But that will happen regardless of how Wales or Scotland votes. So labor will tell you all, you know, whatever you want in Wales you must vote labor or you know we will face another Tory government isn’t a it’s not true. And B you know in my constituency here you know and it’s more it is polite company that is in the driving seat to beat the conservatives. So yeah we we share that that common goal, which I think most of the UK share is now to get rid of this conservative government. The applied can do that and we can hold. Keir Starmer to account. Start doing that even before he gets the case to ten Downing Street.


Coco Khan So one of the things we’ve been talking about in this episode is Labor’s manifesto pledge of a Council of the Regions and Nations. What do you think about this as a way of changing up devolution?


Rhun ap Iorwerth I mean, they it’s a it’s a gimmick to me that there are things that we can do to strengthen devolution. And it doesn’t doesn’t include that. Yeah. And any forum which, you know, could potentially be a way to, you know, discuss issues relative to Wales. Fine. Okay. Let’s let’s have that. But that’s that’s a talking shop. We can actually do things that can make a difference to Wales. You know, that’s, recently we, were handed the report, you know, eagerly awaited by the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, chaired jointly by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the eminent political scientist, Professor Laura McAlister. Massive engagement exercise across Wales. Thousands and thousands of people, asked about it. And it came up with with three viable options for the future of Wales. We can talk about what they are. One of them includes independence. But on option one, increasing, you know, the kind of devolution that we have. There was a map that was laid out for the labor government in Wales, for an incoming UK government of things that could actually be done to protect us right now. You know, devolution of crime and justice was was core to that. Labor have completely ignored that. So one action points things that could be done, things even that Gordon Brown suggested in a report which I thought was weak, you know, on the future of the constitutional picture of, of the United Kingdom thrown those out as well. They won’t talk about fair funding, they won’t talk about these elements. And they have this gimmick about, you know, an EU council that let’s actually focus on what has been the kind of conclusions that have been reached as a result of, you know, in-depth studies, most of them commissioned by the labor government in in Wales. The UK labor don’t seem to care about them.


Coco Khan But I’m struggling to understand what exactly about it is gimmicky, what way? It’s that it’s better. It’s a step in the right direction. No, unless I get some of that wrong.


Rhun ap Iorwerth But one of the main elements is that it’s top down. This is London saying we will we will do this. How about doing things for Scotland that the people of Scotland want? How about doing things for Wales that the people of Wales say they want want on something like fair funding? There is agreement across political parties on the devolution of policing, that is, agreements here between labor members of the grassroots in Wales, even the labor government in Wales and US, and that independent commission on something that could be done but no labor opt for something sort of top down. We’ll give you this. You know, it’s the classic crumbs, isn’t it? I don’t want a talking shop. I want things that can make a difference to the communities that I serve.


Coco Khan But how are you going to do that if you don’t have the threat of independence? Because that’s been kind of watered down a bit in the latest manifesto.


Rhun ap Iorwerth Well, it’s on page one. So I think that’s that’s fairly prominent. You know, I everybody who knows me, everybody who knows plays Cumbria knows that we believe, that we cannot reach our potential as a nation unless we have all those levers of change in our hands. It’s right there at the top of the manifesto because it’s not an independence election. No, it’s not, you know, the first chapter, but but it’s, you know, it’s a chunky piece of the manifesto because it’s a chunky piece of Wales’s, Wales’s future. I’ve talked a lot about it in this election and I’ve explained exactly why it is I believe this. It’s about a redesigning of the United Kingdom, you know, a new relationship between us as independent nations, you know, potentially sharing, areas where we where we have in common. But it’s about. Yeah, most people I talk to across the UK believe that something is wrong with the UK. Now, things could be much better than than this. We need a new kind of politics and independence can be a, a, a really important building block of how we redesign things.


Coco Khan But but the manifesto says a consultation, not a referendum. Some might read that as a rowing back.


Rhun ap Iorwerth I don’t think. I don’t think so at all, because implicit in our pursuit of, of independence will be that there will be a referendum, and I believe firmly that it should be up to us to call that referendum. That is a demand that we have as a party, just as in Scotland. It should be up to the people of Scotland to decide whether they have another referendum, not a government in London. That’s that’s fundamentally at the heart of it. But a consultation is exactly what is going on, and it’s exactly what I’m driving forward as the leader I’ve come to.


Coco Khan Okay, so last question, something that’s really set a apart, I’d have to say as a I guess you’d say progressive left wing voter here in England. I’m delighted to see you’re always quite upfront that actually there are benefits of immigration. And that seems to be something that, the other party leaders, refuse to get into. One. Why do you think politicians find it so hard to talk about the benefits of immigration? And two. Why do you think referring back to right at the start, you said of Nigel Farage launching his manifesto in Wales, was giving it a kicking. He’s obviously speaking to a demographic that does exist in Wales. It has concerns. I mean, I just wondered, well, you know, what’s your why is it so difficult and what does immigration mean for Wales.


Rhun ap Iorwerth Of course there’s a, there’s a demographic. And one thing that I have I, I’ve spoken with very, very openly during this campaign is that where people have genuine concerns about, what might the pressure of immigration mean? What might it mean for our public services and public spending? We should be talking about that and addressing that, but also putting it into the context of, listen, we’ve had two years of cuts to public spending. That’s where the pressures really coming from. We also need to talk.


Coco Khan They get alot of migration in Wales.


Rhun ap Iorwerth No is the answer. And that’s another irony, isn’t it? Well, what people I mean, there’s a there’s movement of people in the biggest movements of people, but I am would be people that have moved into a beautiful part of north west Wales from either other parts of Wales or the north west of England, because they want to spend time here. That’s, that’s movement of, of people. I’ve lived in London, I’ve lived in Italy, I’ve lived all over, you know, people move. Migration is being used as a political football, isn’t it? You know, it is being used demonizing people, othering people, making them the reason for all our woes. And that’s something just from a personal, values point of view is something that I’m deeply, deeply uncomfortable, with the exploitation of people’s fears, especially at times of a cost of living crisis or depressions or recessions. It’s something that has happened throughout history with horrifying results. And that’s why I would like a more tempered debate, not ignoring people’s anxieties.


Coco Khan Obviously, we have to do the serious politics, but I do need to give you a bit of a grilling on, page 64 of your manifesto, which is at play. Come. We will continue to push for Wales to be represented on the international stage at Eurovision. Who have you got in mind?


Rhun ap Iorwerth Oh, you know, Taylor Swift spoke Welsh at the start of her Eras Tour concert in Cardiff last night, so we might be able to persuade Taylor to be our competitor if she turns it down. We have so many, so many, singers. That could do it. My daughter actually, there is a competition in Wales, Connie Gormley, which is kind of a Welsh at Eurovision every year. My daughter came third with her group a couple of years ago. And so. Yeah. And I’ll be, I’ll just be a proud dad and say they could do it, but we have plenty of others too.


Coco Khan Oh that’s nice. Also, I really respect the ambition for Taylor Swift. It’s nice to speak to a politician that is not afraid of, say, let’s think big though, shall we? Let’s think big rain. Thank you so much for your time.


Rhun ap Iorwerth Good to talk to you, Coco.


Nish Kumar [AD]


Coco Khan So let’s turn now to Northern Ireland, an electorate that, it’s fair to say, hasn’t been getting much attention this election cycle. As a quick refresher, like Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland has a devolved administration the Northern Irish Assembly, headquartered in Stormont in Belfast, and it has an unusual political system of powersharing, meaning that there is no majority government, instead requiring collaboration between multiple smaller parties. The largest party in Stormont is currently the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, followed by the DUP, a unionist party. So joining us from Belfast is journalist Amanda Ferguson. Welcome back to PSUK.


Amanda Ferguson Thank you for having me. Thank you.


Nish Kumar Amanda, you actually got the chance to, to ask a question of our prime minister when he made his, cursory appearance in Belfast.


Amanda Ferguson Yes, it was short and sweet. I asked him about, the Rwanda policy, about why, if the lawyers had said that the flights could take off before the election, that they weren’t. And he answered a question, but it wasn’t really the question that I had asked them. And, I tried at the end of the press conference to suspend a little tricky question about campaign music, but he didn’t seem up for answering that either.


Nish Kumar Did he just walk off?


Amanda Ferguson Yeah. Pretty much. Yep. But I think that was probably really because one of my colleagues had asked him about, Titanic imagery and he had just to take a life jacket off before he arrived with us to witness. It had hadn’t worked very well for him. After the whole dream, things can only get better, debacle. So, short, short and sweet. And it did really kind of feel like a, a box ticking exercise, but it’s, you know, Northern Ireland people don’t, vote for the Labor Party because labor doesn’t stand in Northern Ireland. And a handful of, conservative candidates do stand. However, I think it’s usually, because they, they want to prove themselves. So they get picked for a seat in England, to run at the next election. So they come and go and, I think it’s something like not somewhere between 0.3 and 0.7% of the vote goes to the Conservatives in Northern Ireland. So, it’s it’s a different ballgame over here on this side of the Irish Sea.


Nish Kumar So look, last time we spoke to you, powersharing was just returning to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Civil servants have been running the government for almost two years after the Unionist DUP party pulled out in protest at the UK government’s Brexit deal. But in March, the DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, then resigned after being charged with historic sex offenses, including rape and gross indecency against a child. He denies the allegations. He was sitting as an independent MP in Westminster until Parliament was dissolved. He’s actually due in court on July the 3rd, which is the day before the general election. Amanda, could this have any bearing on the vote the next day in Northern Ireland?


Amanda Ferguson Well, it is something that people are talking about. You know, obviously the level of polling and information that we get, you know, isn’t as extensive, in Northern Ireland as it would be in Britain. There’s been one poll, since all those court allegations emerged, and they did show that the DUP had taken a little bit of a slap, a little bit of a dip. But I think that the DUP, he’s under pressure on a range of fronts. You know, what’s the fallout from the, from the court case er going to be, but also the, the TV, the sort of hard line unionist, small unionist party in Northern Ireland is, is, is standing and that sort of unusual reform UK link up that it has and doesn’t have. But they very much don’t like the DUP’s, return to government based on the, on the deals that they’re the UK government and the UK to for Northern Ireland. So the deep space and pressure not only because of that court case, but also because, of dissatisfaction among some unionists, about the post-Brexit trade and arrangements and a return to government. We kind of are in the in the sort of strange position where, Stormont’s just back up and running for a few months. And immediately the parties are being thrown into an electoral campaign where they’re competing against each other. So they’re in government together, but competing against each other. And then, of course, the constitutional question is always at the top of people’s minds and and voting tactically, there’s only 18 seats in Northern Ireland. So I think one of the big stories of the election would be, does Sinn Féin emerge as the largest party of Westminster after emerging as the largest party of local government and Stormont?


Coco Khan So just just to follow up on that, you know, for our international listeners, Sinn Fein don’t take their seats in Westminster. It’s in alignment with their beliefs that British institutions should have no power in Ireland and consequently they should have no power in Britain. You mentioned there that the Sinn Fein are looking to make some gains. How significant would it be if they win all the levels of government?


Amanda Ferguson Yeah, well it would certainly add to that that that sort of building picture that, that they would like a border poll in the future. On the, on the future constitutional position of Northern Ireland, as you mentioned there, they don’t take their seats. I think this this comes up every, every, every Westminster election, the Sinn Féin are abstentions. Whereas the smaller nationalist Irish nationalist party, the SDLp, do take their seats. No, they. Don’t believe the oath that they have to swear to take their seats. And I think sometimes it can be like a binary discussion, you know, if one of if one party’s right, the other party has to be wrong. Whereas you can argue that there’s merit in both positions, either saying that you don’t want to be part of it or that you are prepared to be part of it. But, you know, it’s only 18 seats that we have, in Northern Ireland. So it’s very rare that parties here, would be kingmakers as described. You know, that that did happen previously when the DUP propped up the conservatives. But I think if the, the electoral fortunes, of labor are to be believed, then, a lot of people will be focusing on if labor forms the next government, what their policies will be with regard to Northern Ireland. But we don’t even have the manifesto details. There’s going to be, a manifesto, launch, today, and then the rest are scheduled for for the rest of the week. So, you know, it’s elections in Northern Ireland, unfortunately, are very rarely about policy. They’re usually just about what people want for the future. And also it will be interesting to see if that third bluff, that alliance sort of cross-community bloc makes any gains on the one seat that they got last time.


Nish Kumar Yeah, there’s kind of three sort of there’s three sort of sections within the kind of northern I know Northern Irish voting bloc. We’ve got the unionists, we’ve got the nationalists. And then there’s the kind of alliance who are actually neutral, on the union. And it seems like the voters for the within those three different blocs have slightly different priorities. So, polling last week in the Belfast Telegraph showed that the commitment to Northern Ireland remaining in the Union was the top issue for 71% of Unionist voters in this election. But for 66% of Sinn Fein and SDLp voters, both of which had nationalist parties, the cost of living crisis is the single biggest issue for Alliance voters is even higher 77%. So the cost of living is the most important issue on July the 4th. Is there a danger for unionist parties that they’re talking too much about the union and preserving the union, and not enough about things that are actually impacting on people’s day to day lives in Northern Ireland?


Amanda Ferguson Well, they would probably reject that assessment. But, you know, generally what we have seen is that unionist parties are focusing on the strength of the union, and non unionist parties are focusing on Tory austerity and getting the the Tory government out. And I think that’s partially because, they don’t want to really be attacking each other. Because the, the sort of powersharing up at Stormont is so fragile. But certainly the, the cost of living as a is a major issue for, for everyone, whether you’re unionist, Republican or other. And and not definitely as something that that is coming up. But of course unionist parties are, are focused on the fact that there’s a change in political landscape and that the, the sort of majority and dominance that they had in the past doesn’t exist in the way that it did, which is why you’re seeing the sort of lobby groups er, popping up either to promote, a new Ireland or to promote strengthen in the Union. But it’ll certainly be, an interesting one. It always is. And Northern Ireland and there may be, a few shocks, along the way. I haven’t gone down to the bookies just yet, but I’ve kind of made I’ve made my choices. And we’ll see whether I’m right or wrong. I usually the last two Westminster elections, I’ve got 17 out of the 18 constituencies.


Nish Kumar Right.


Amanda Ferguson Now. But it’s the same one that I’ve got wrong, both times. And it’s been Foyle up in the northwest. So maybe maybe I’ll get it right this time, I don’t know.


Nish Kumar Okay, well, after the election, we will obviously be checking with you to find out whether you managed to get 18 out of 18. But in the meantime, thank you so much for joining us.


Amanda Ferguson Thank you. Cheers, guys.




Coco Khan And now it’s time for the section where we chew over the most delightful clips of the campaign, which I’ve lovingly retitled charming and quizzical moments. I’ve even got a new theme tune for it.


Nish Kumar What the fuck was that?


Coco Khan Who made that? What the. Where in the stock music did you get that from?


Nish Kumar The last week we called out for some suggestions for a new title for the section that I kept referred to as fuck because I thought it was funny. We’ve had some fantastic comments and here’s a few. To be fair, I think this campaign by the Tories has been so insane that the current version of WTF is completely appropriate. That was at dark via 515 note WTF fits? That’s Katy Blue T8 eight seven Constance by 1612 I said Coco, we use all words at our house. We don’t discriminate. Vanessa five do whatever they said. Call the WTA. Have moments. Holy fucking shit moments. Moments. Vanessa has said that the intention of this is to wind Coco up some more. Someone else, take, on YouTube has said, please keep the five WTC moments.


Coco Khan My goodness me, which Vogue listeners that we did it made.


Nish Kumar Oh, that was a reference to last week where Coco said she thought WTF was too rude, so I suggested we call it WTC. I think you all know what the C-word is. And Q now said In response to Coco’s call for alternatives to WCF and other swearwords, my immediate instinct was to replace fuck with Faraj. But then I remembered two problems. One is that you guys don’t want to give that guy more publicity that he deserves. The other is that I already to the word it’s. This is absolutely sensational. I already used the word mirage at Hope to refer to the foul liquid that sometimes found at the bottom of beds.


Coco Khan Oh, wow.


Nish Kumar That is absolutely perfect. Oh, God, you cleaned out the bin. It’s full of for us.


Coco Khan See, this is what I’m saying. This. When you stop swearing, creativity blossom. Why swearing? It’s. You know, is it big? Is it clever? Other. I’d just like to say other listeners actually agree with me. So we’ve had some comments here. So Albert Brahma 9263 says WTF change it to why why, why? Christine Maitland says oh spare me, which I quite like that cause it’s a little bit, it’s very like, oh darling, it’s about Janus Osborne, you know, I mean, we could, you know, it’s all like scoundrels. And then Vulcan nerd says what to the nish, which I quite enjoy.


Nish Kumar Yeah. I don’t want to.


Coco Khan Yeah, yeah. What the Nish?


Nish Kumar Well, look, like our democracy, the selection process for this name is deeply unfair. So in the spirit of first past the post, the name stays. WTFuck it is.


Coco Khan Okay.


Nish Kumar I’m gonna start referring to Bin juice as Farage. There’s a real build up of Farage.


Coco Khan Well, this is this has been a chilling episode of democracy, isn’t it? Thank you for that. For what? You say. We’re going to keep it because you said it. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. All right. Well, anyway, in these, lovely, charming moments and sometimes curious too, we have Tony Blair wading in on trans issues for seemingly no reason whatsoever. It’s also pride Month, so thank you for that. He has issued this quote, A man has a penis and a woman has a vagina. So even though that ignores intersex people and whatever, man, why? Well, why why, why?


Nish Kumar I have this theory that Tony Blair has esthetically, he emerged from the pandemic looking like a supervillain from a 1980s film. If you if you look at Tony Blair now, he’s got this sort of lank gray mullet and he permanently looks like he’s about to attempt to murder Bruce Willis in the 90s blockbuster, is it his villain era? Yeah, this is a phrase that I was told recently by a young person.


Coco Khan Oh, do we all have villain is.


Nish Kumar I guess I have to say, I really thought Tony Blair’s villain era was the Iraq war. He’s he’s clearly Blair’s. It is second villain there.


Coco Khan Yeah. Gosh. Yeah, a double villain.


Nish Kumar So lbc’s a talk, talk radio channel. In the United Kingdom, Keir Starmer has done a Q&A where people were able to call in and ask him questions. So Rishi Sunak did, his one this morning as we record on Wednesday the 19th. And I mean, it was an absolute calamity. He was denounced as a liar on several occasions and referred to as a pound sharp. Nigel Farage, he was castigated by callers, on the Conservative Party’s record of austerity and its impact on, on young people, a person who called in describing themselves as a young person in this country said that he was lying through his teeth about the conservative record. Sophie, in bury, asked why the number of food banks has risen from 35 to 1200 since 2010, and Paul, from Manchester, took him to task on his record of transphobic remarks, specifically referencing his behavior the day Brown, Archie’s mum, came to Parliament. It was a trans woman who was murdered. And that was when he was referred to as a pound chop, Nigel Farage. I mean, it was an unrelenting cross-examination by well-informed members of the public that really flies in the face of this idea that the Conservative Party has achieved a huge amount. Since 2010.


Coco Khan Genuinely hearing you recount that I felt patriotic. So I was like, oh gosh. So touching.


Nish Kumar On the subject of the Conservative Party being the absolute pits, a Tory MP seeking reelection, in Dudley, Marco Longhi launched a an attack on his Labor Party opponent. So he wrote in a letter addressed to the British, Pakistani Kashmiri community. In Dudley, Longy said, will it be me or Labor Party candidate Sonia Kumar? No relation to me. Sonia Kumar underlining his rival’s name. Now, various people have pointed out that this, is a reference to Mr. Kumar’s British Indian background in the hope of persuading British Pakistani Muslims not to vote for her. Sonia Kumar, who is a Sikh, said that it was unacceptable to imply she would not stand up for all of her constituents because of her religion and heritage, and asked if he had been divisive by highlighting Mr. Omar surname. Mr. long, he told the BBC I don’t know what her ethnicity or religious background is. I am not trying to stoke division. Why did you underline the name Kumar? And let let me just say this, this is a classic throwback from the Conservative Party and it’s a throwback very far. It’s a throwback to the Raj. It’s a throwback to British rule in India and the policy of divide and rule, and trying to establish tensions between South Asian Muslims and South Asian Hindus. Marco Longhi, in absolute fairness to him, is participating in a tradition that dates back well over 150 years. It is an astonishing, an astounding attempt. The Conservative Party has clearly decided we can’t point to anything of the last 14 years. Let’s go back to the middle of the 19th century and the response to the Bengal uprising. And let’s try and, divide, a divided ruled the South Asian population. What is he going to do next? Proposed separate electorates for Hindus and Muslims. It is absolutely astounding. It is astounding to me. And it’s also astounding to me that our British Indian Prime Minister has no comment to make about this. That pound shop, Nigel Farage has no comment to make about the behavior of his own MPs. I want this election over because I want them gone. I know I say this every week, but I want them gone. And I don’t just want the Conservative Party to be consigned to electoral oblivion. I want them to be consigned to political oblivion. I cannot stress this enough. I have gone beyond the point of thinking we need a decent job. We need them gone. Yeah, we need we need. The Conservative Party as a whole needs to be wrapped up, and then the center right can start again with a new party. I don’t know what they want to call it. The Blue Warriors. I don’t know what they want to call it. They can get a whole new name, a whole new branding. The Conservative Party must end for the good of this country. Finally. Let’s go. Let’s go to your friend, dear Aunt Suella.


Clip We have a question for everybody. Who wants to go to the Four Seasons. Orlando. Meeeee.


Coco Khan Oh, no.


Nish Kumar What the hell is this?


Coco Khan What in the name of God is happening in this video?


Nish Kumar She’s sort of strutting around with people holding placards around her.


Coco Khan I mean, what really hurts me the most? She’s wearing a Britain shirt, right? Which is my favorite type of shirt. The sort of homage to the classic French. Northern French.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Coco Khan Brexit.


Nish Kumar Yeah, exactly. Yeah. But first of all, how unpatriotic of that. She should be wearing a shirt with a British bulldog, drinking a pint of real ale. No. Of Britain. The shirt.


Coco Khan Outrageous. So what we’ve seen here is a very strange, video showing Suella Braverman in her constituency holding a sign, essentially saying, you know, vote for me. And she walks along with a bit of a straw.


Nish Kumar She starts by lip syncing to the phrase, do you want to go to the Four Seasons? Orlando? I’m sorry. I’m sure there’ll be listeners tearing their hair out. Yeah. So this is a very famous thing on TikTok. Why do you not know about this? I don’t know about. I don’t know what it is. Based on Suella Braverman comfort in front of the camera. She didn’t have fucking clue, either. And then there’s sort of people doing kind of choreographed movements behind her, holding the sign saying votes as well. And she’s, strutting in sunglasses. Yeah. It is sort of unfathomable. It doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s excruciating.


Coco Khan Well, one of the comments about it is that it’s a really good example of something known as the millennial pause, which is what Gen-Z say millennials tend to do, which is when the camera starts rolling, they take a pause because they’re like, oh God, I’m on, I’m on. And so all of the videos like that, I would just like to say that that genre of, Gen Z’s making fun of millennials is extremely funny. And my favorite one is the millennial side parting.


Nish Kumar What’s the millennial song?


Coco Khan Currently, only our generation side part I don’t know.


Nish Kumar So I watch that it’s not a problem.


Coco Khan Like if.


Nish Kumar I ever have.


Coco Khan To just go up the building upwards.


Nish Kumar When I was a kid, my mum used to tell hairdressers he’s got a side part in there and they’d be like, well, this kid looks like Marge Simpson. Like, I don’t understand how you look at it. And so and so when I was a kid, my mum would force them to, like, drag my hair over to one side and I’d come out looking like Samuel L Jackson in Unbreakable, like this sort of lopsided, curly mop. So, yeah, the millennial side, the millennial pulls I on the side. Like, I like that. That makes a lot of sense to me as a joke with the millennial side. But it goes with. Right. It’s not it’s not relevant to me.


Coco Khan I mean, please do send us your other millennial digs. I genuinely very much enjoy them. Anyway, that’s it. That is the episode. Thank you for listening to Pod Save the UK.


Nish Kumar Thanks for listening. While we’re waiting for Election Day, we’re going to be talking more about manifesto pledges. So we want to hear your thoughts. Email us at PSUK@ReducedListening,com  or drop us a voice note on WhatsApp. Our number is 07494 933444. Internationally, that’s +44 7494 933444. Send us your thoughts, your comments, and your suggestions for new names for a potential party to replace the Conservative Party once they’ve been wound up for good. An abandoned like a derelict building.


Coco Khan Don’t forget to follow at Pod Save the UK on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and you can find us on YouTube. Catch full episodes and highlights from us on there. It’s in color and everything, so you can see us. You can see Nisha’s eyes, which people like to comment about. Is that weird to mention that?


Nish Kumar I don’t know, I.


Coco Khan Just want to create more moments of awkwardness for you. Really after you stitch me up with WTF. So how do you like it now? Please drop us a review. Also, our rivalry demands it.


Nish Kumar Please don’t review a physical appearance, but I feel like we need to separate the reviews from comments about our physical appearance.


Coco Khan It’s not appropriate. Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening Production for Crooked Media.


Nish Kumar Thanks to senior producer James Tinesdale and digital producer Alex Bishop.


Coco Khan Our theme music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos.


Nish Kumar Thanks to our engineer Hannah Stewart.


Coco Khan The executive producers are Anoushka Sharma, Louise Cotton, Dan Jackson and Madeleine Herringer with additional support from Ari Schwartz.


Nish Kumar Remember to hit subscribe for new shows on Thursdays on Amazon, Spotify or Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts.