Jeremy Corbyn & Mhairi Black: Left Culled, Centre Cracked and Right Reformed? | Crooked Media
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June 06, 2024
Pod Save the UK
Jeremy Corbyn & Mhairi Black: Left Culled, Centre Cracked and Right Reformed?

In This Episode

In week two of the campaigns for the upcoming General Election – the fight for the centre vote has become a focal point. But the crucial question remains – what will this do for the future of politics in the UK? Are we at risk of losing diversity across parties? And as Keir Starmer appears to be purging the left-wing factions of the Labour Party, Nish and Coco speak to former Labour leader and now independent candidate Jeremy Corbyn on whether he’s hopeful for a potential Labour government and what advice he has for Keir Starmer.


Nish and Coco also speak to Mhairi Black about the challenges facing the SNP when trying to capture the electorate. They also discuss whether we are at risk of losing the kind of representation that the Left and younger voters need to bring about hope and change in society.


There’s also a rundown of the first Sunak vs Starmer TV debate and a return of the best WTF moments from the week’s political campaigns.


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


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Jeremy Corbyn, Independent Candidate for Islington North

Mhairi Black, former SNP Deputy Leader and MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South


Audio credits:



Labour Party

Sky News


Useful links:


Come to see Pod Save the UK live at Edinburgh Fringe!






Coco Khan It’s been an explosive week in the election campaign, with political factions on the left and right have never seemed further apart.


Nish Kumar But in attempting to claim the center ground, have Labour and the conservatives left themselves open to division. I’m Nish Kumar.


Coco Khan And I’m Coco Khan and this is Pod Save the UK.


Nish Kumar It is a jam packed show. Today we will be checking in with the former Labour leader, an independent candidate for Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn, and discussing the toxicity of parliament with retiring SNP MP Mhairi Black. But first.


Clip. He knows inflation is going to go back up. He knows energy prices are going to go back up in the autumn. That’s what he’s not telling you. So he says the plan is working, but I don’t think he believes the plan is working because if he thought the plan is working, he wouldn’t call this election right now. Rishi Sunak. I do, I think it’s. It’s slightly ironic because from the moment I got this job, Keir Starmer was telling me, call an election, call an election. And now that we’ve called an election, he’s saying, oh no, don’t have an election, because I don’t want to tell you what I’m going to do. I know it’s just so this is the choice, not for everybody. The plan is working. Of course. I know everyone is only just starting to feel the benefits of it. But inflation is back to normal. Wages are growing, taxes are now being cut. Keir Starmer would put all that progress at risk. He would put up everyone’s taxes by 2,000 pounds.


Coco Khan That’s Sunak and Starmer going head to head at the ITV leaders debate on Tuesday evening. It’s been described as two centrist dads talking about centrist dad things, and there was also a lot of fear mongering around a 2,000 pounds tax rise from Sunak. He said it was calculated independently by the Conservative Party. He threw the number around a lot, but it’s not so clear cut, is it, Nish? No.


Nish Kumar It’s ballocks. It’s ballocks like, let’s listen. I got home and I felt obliged to watch the professional reasons. The debate. It was some of the worst fucking television I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And I speak as somebody who has made some truly appalling television. It was heinous, the format of it. They both had 45 seconds to respond at points. It was hard to discern what was being said because everyone was just yelling over each other. I very rarely feel comfortable speaking for the majority of the country. I think I have displayed on many occasions that my views are out of step with most people that live in Britain. But on this occasion I feel very comfortable to say, fuck me fucking out. It was. It was bad stuff. In general. I think the most shameful element of it all, was this claim that Rishi Sunak repeated again and again that independent civil servants had found that if Labour win the election, the average household is going to pay 2,000 pounds more, in tax. Now, as we recalled on Wednesday, the Labour Party, has just, said that Sood should apologize for lying 12 times about its tax plans. The figures are all based on analysis that was done by some independent civil servants, but with information that was given to him by Conservative Party special advisers. So they took information from Conservative Party special advisers. And based on that analysis, you paid 2,000 pounds more a month, but it is not impartial information. So what he did was lie and lie and lie again. That lie has been reprinted uncritically in the most effective propaganda operation outside of a full blown dictatorship we’ve ever seen, which is the British press, the telegraph, the mail. They’ve all repeated the same horseshit. I’ve so many different and conflicting feelings about this election. We’ve talked so much about our conflicting feelings about the Labour Party where they are. I want these fucking people gone. I want to see the back of this fucking conservative party. I think Sunak’s lying yesterday was shameful. I also think as a side issue, he is a genuine threat to this country because of what he is doing around the climate. There was a question posed about the climate crisis and the fact that he has politicized a conversation about the climate crisis by saying that it sets up a, a conflict between affordability and the ability to deliver climate change is an absolute disgrace. I want him gone. I can’t stand them. He lied. He politicized climate change. It the whole thing was just a sorry spectacle. It was like, no.


Coco Khan No, I agree, like it was I did I certainly did not enjoy watching it. It was, I agree that the format of only giving them 45 seconds was not quite enough. Something I did notice, though, when they talked about housing, which in my view is possibly one of the biggest, maybe the biggest issues facing the UK. They didn’t talk about renters once, they only talked about home ownership. And that really made me feel like you are reflecting only one demographic. That’s the only one that matters. And traditionally the younger, better represented at this moment in time by more left wing, thinking and ideas. Yeah. That was just you didn’t get a look in. However, I think we should talk about how the debate wasn’t actually the biggest story of the week. We do need to talk about. I’m sorry, Nash, I know we hate talking about him, but, there was a announcement, wasn’t there? From the populist, far right party reform.


Nish Kumar Yes. Nigel Farage has returned to British politics. He has announced that he is standing, as a candidate, in Clacton, which is very interesting because, earlier this year, when he was claiming that he wouldn’t stand, one of the things that he told a times interviewer was that he couldn’t imagine spending his nights in Clacton. He specifically said that, you won’t be hearing his voice at any point on our program for this entire election cycle. I think we should make that very clear. It’s obviously something that needs to be discussed because he is poisoning the water of our country. And bear in mind our country already has human shit in it. It is water supply. The last thing we need is fucking Nigel Farage, even in our metaphorical water supply. This fucking shit in it. But what I would say is we won’t be playing. His voice will be discussing him. But when I play his voice, because I think it might cause me to spontaneously combust.


Coco Khan Well, that is something we definitely want to avoid. It has been interesting because a couple of our listeners, jokingly, I think we should say, did point to the fact that last week we made this point that we were, you know, not going to talk about him. And then he bloody announced himself. So now we absolutely have to do it. So, you know, one school of thought might be that this is all your fault. How you think.


Nish Kumar Yes, I have been blamed by several listeners because I sort of celebrated his, departure from politics and said that media organizations should not give him any attention. Several listeners have contacted me, accusing me of having encouraged him to go back into politics so that he could be covered by the media again. The only thing I would say in response to that is I’m pretty sure he doesn’t listen. I’m pretty confident Nigel Farage is not a listener to this this program.


Coco Khan I’d say that was a pretty a pretty, sure bet. So turning our attention towards Labour, a Sky news poll said that Keir Starmer could be heading to Downing Street with the biggest majority for 100 years, with a predicted Tory wipeout.


Nish Kumar This also has been a difficult week for Labour in terms of its purging of the left of the party. So we did mention this on the show last week, but the treatment of the first black woman in the British Parliament, the Labour MP Diane Abbott, has been a roller coaster. She was cleared to run after finally having the Labour whip returned after an unexplained months long hold up of the results of an investigation into her behavior. Then she was suddenly deselected. Anonymous briefings leaked out against a rumor spread of a denied period. And then after days of will, they won’t they? Her candidacy was reconfirmed on Tuesday. The whole thing was not a good look. But that isn’t where it stopped.


Coco Khan No. So the planned ousting of Abbott looked like an attempt to purge the old guard of the left. But there was another strike in Deselection on Wednesday evening. So that was Pfizer Shaheen. She’s a young left wing economist. She’s often referred to as a corbynite. She’s a strong campaigner in her electorate. She ran against the Tory hardliner Iain Duncan Smith last year and she actually made some very strong gains. She was one of the few, Labour MPs who was standing to actually achieve that. So for all intents and purposes, she was a strong candidate. And then suddenly, at the 11th hour, she was deselected.


Nish Kumar Listen to last week. We’ll also remember that Ian Duncan Smith may be the cause of politically induced vaginal dryness. You know, I’m not going to play that any further. Go back. Listen to last week for full context. We don’t have time to get into it. But, Shaheen revealed to Deselection in an emotional interview to BBC Newsnight, which was a tough listen.


Clip. I honestly, I’m just so shocked right now to be treated this badly after being such an active member of the party. And, you know, we were one of the tiny number six Tory held seats in 2019 that had to swing to Labour.


Nish Kumar We should say for listeners, that was an interview conducted on Newsnight. And one of the other panelists was sky’s very own, Coco Khan.


Coco Khan Yes. So I was in the room, and I have to say like it’s emotional watching the video, but in the studio, oh my goodness. It was, you know, it was chilling. Everyone went completely silent. You were watching someone in very clear anguish, despair. You were watching them process it. At the same time, the sense of betrayal was really, really palpable.


Nish Kumar Shaheen is now resigned from the Labour Party and is rumored to be running as an independent. Here is what Labour’s campaign co-ordinator Pat McFadden had to say about the Deselection. Speaking to Michelle Hussain on BBC Radio Four’s Today program.


Clip Is this the way that Keir Starmers Labour Party treats people who’ve worked to build support in constituencies over years? Well, the process for all candidates is that they require approval from the NDC. And that’s the process we all go through. I mean, I can’t comment really on her case or. Any individual one because I’m not personally involved in that.


Coco Khan I think it’s worth saying, you know, if anyone’s listening to this, wondering why this deselection story matters, I think it’s ultimately because how Shaheen and Abbott have been treated is vastly different to other MPs who, yes, have done things wrong, have said things that are wrong, and have been forgiven and allowed to continue. As it happens, those who are not close to Keir Starmer also represent more progressive views and represent an electorate at this moment in time, don’t seem to have anyone standing up for them or sharing their views.


Nish Kumar Yeah, I think it’s also worth saying that it robs, people in the country, of representation, people who have certain views about subjects like nationalization, subjects like increased taxes on the wealthy. It robs them of representation. And the Labour Party should be a broad church that accommodates room for those perspectives. But it’s also incredibly important for the Labour Party in government, because the Labour Party coming into power is going to face a really, really difficult set of circumstances, and it may well needs a wider support base to govern than it needs to win an election. Okay, because there’s a lot of people who will be voting for it simply as a vehicle of getting rid of the Conservative Party. But once the Labour Party is in power, it may well find itself. You know, Keir Starmer may well find himself isolated because he has shaken off or alienated the natural allies of the Labour Party. And we’ve seen what happens when voters lend their vote to a party. There’s a huge sense that in the 2019 election, lots of people lent their votes to the Conservative Party, but that means that that rental period can expire very, very quickly. And actually, what you need to rely on a point is your core support and your core base. And if you are cleaving off bits of your core base by alienating them, it might be a fine tactic to win an election, but they might be building unstable foundations for a potential government.


Coco Khan I think it is also worth just mentioning a point quickly. We can’t talk about, Pfizer, Shaheen and, Diane Abbott without mentioning that they’re both women of color. And I think, you know, especially when we’re talking about Diane Abbott, who’s somewhat an icon.


Nish Kumar 100%.


Coco Khan You know, decades long career our GNT Queen, as my friend calls her. You know, it’s it’s it’s really impossible to underestimate how much that makes, black voters and other, voters of color feel.


Nish Kumar Well, look, while we’re on the subject to factual disputes within the Labour Party, I have a strong suspicion our next guest may have some thoughts on this. Joining us now is the former leader of the Labour Party that took them to the last two elections. And now the independent candidate for Islington North welcome Jeremy Corbyn.


Jeremy Corbyn Good morning. Nice to be here.


Coco Khan Good morning. So you’re about to post your nomination today. How does it feel to be standing as an independent?


Jeremy Corbyn We’re off to the town hall, where I’ve been many times before, to put the nomination papers in, and, it feels like a step correct step. And I feel very happy and very confident about it all. Obviously, being an independent is different from being a Labour candidate. And this weekend will be producing our manifesto, which will be the policies that I want to see enacted at a national level to benefit the people of my constituency.


Nish Kumar It’s that Islington Town Hall.


Jeremy Corbyn We’re going to Essington Town Hall. Yeah.


Nish Kumar I’ve done stand up comedy there, and it feels very strange that electoral business is happening in places that I’ve done stand up.


Jeremy Corbyn In the, in the assembly hall next door.


Nish Kumar Yeah. I don’t think there’s many places that I do stand up comedy, generally the national political business can take place in, largely because they’re all rooms that smell vaguely of piss.


Jeremy Corbyn Well, we should rent out rooms in the House of Commons or stand up comedy. Be more fun than the chamber.


Coco Khan Listen, I just wanted to talk to you about the, deselection of Pfizer, Shaheen and obviously Diane Abbott, whether she was going to stand or not. Going to stand. What’s your reaction been?


Jeremy Corbyn Well, I’m really shocked by all. I know Pfizer very well. I’ve campaigned with her in previous elections, and I think she’s made a great contribution to political, economic thought and would be a fantastic MP for, her community. I think she’s really, really good. And the way she’d been treated absolutely shocking. And the revelations about the interview, which removed her and I just felt for her the sort of personal shock she was feeling. And likewise, Diane, I mean, Diane has been an MP since 1987, incredible determination to speak up for communities, in Hackney, but obviously in a wider scale and then threatened with removal and said the party’s got to move on from her and so on. And eventually I think they just sort of got fed up with all the hassle backed off. And, I understand she’s now the candidate.


Nish Kumar In a recent interview with The Times, Keir Starmer said I think you win from the center ground. The center ground is where most people are. People don’t like the extremes of the right or the left. Do you think there is any reason in that argument?


Jeremy Corbyn Well, I think it is, a false argument. Surely you have to look at the situation facing the people. You have to look at the levels of inequality and poverty within our society and say, well, actually, what are we going to do about it? And, I hope but I’m not really expecting it, that we have a Labour manifesto coming out which actually pledges to do something about that, because working class living standards have fallen by 20% in the past 15 years. All public services are under strain, the health service is being privatized. And, the debt level of young people who’ve been to university is massive, and housing costs of everybody is very, very high and getting worse. And I just don’t see the radical policies that are necessary to bring about some changes.


Coco Khan Can I ask you right. Sometimes this is the sort of person I am. I like to just sit around in my flat, talk about the Labour Party with my mates. Really?


Nish Kumar Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I can confirm.


Jeremy Corbyn Your joking me here, right? Are you serious? Every night you and your mates sit around and talk about the Labour Party?


Coco Khan Alright. Okay, Jeremy. Not every night, okay. Come on. But yes, it is a conversation that comes up. And one of the things that happens all the time is like, look, you know, whatever happens, the Labour Party has to win. And once they’re in, then we can sort of push them to the left. Or another idea is that once they win, you know, they can do things with like a with a bit of a wink to the voters being like, yeah, yeah, we’re going to say all this, but once we get in, we’ll do stuff. What do you think of that line of reasoning?


Jeremy Corbyn Well, it’s very interesting line of reasoning. The trouble is history doesn’t support it at all. The pressure’s on. An incoming Labour government are huge. The massive pressures from big commercial interests, City of London and so on are huge on an incoming government. And all of those pressures are about defending the status quo rather than, improving living standards of the, of the poorest people. And so I think you’ve also you’ve got to be honest with people, if you seriously intend to bring in a real living wage, you seriously intend to put a great deal of resources and democracy into health and education and housing, then say so and you’ll get support for it.


Nish Kumar We have a question for you from one of our friends of the pod, Alfie Ker. He says, do you believe that if you step. Decides sooner. A different Labour leader could have won the critical 2019 election. Or do you believe that there was no chance regardless?


Jeremy Corbyn Well, the 2019 election was, forced upon us. I was under enormous pressure within the Labour Party, and obviously the whole Brexit issue was massive, and it was always going to be a problem for the Labour Party. Two thirds of Labour voters voted remain, but a third voted leave. And within the parliamentary Labour Party, it was an even bigger majority. That way, it would be impossible to win without getting support from both both sides.


Coco Khan Well, we know from our listeners and obviously my mates in the you that lots of your mates.


Jeremy Corbyn In the kitchen talk about the Labour Party all the time.


Coco Khan Yeah. Exactly. And they are a very important group. I.


Nish Kumar I just want you to consider the Jeremy Corbyn thinks you talk about the Labour Party too much.


Coco Khan Oh, God, what a read. Oh, no. Look, I know that many left wing voters feel just kind of politically homeless at the moment. Do you think that progressive voters can still look towards the Labour Party in terms of, you know, what we said earlier, once they get in, you can push them a little bit. The infrastructure is still there. It’s never been perfect, has it? The leadership’s often had problems, but it’s a big old church and it’s a big body. Do you think there’s still a home for left wing people there?


Jeremy Corbyn Well, there ought to be, but, increasingly it’s people on the left who’ve been, pushed out. Left candidates have been selected, like Pfizer and others that have been pushed out. And, that makes it, a less attractive and possible place. But in reality, politics isn’t always just about what, happens within political parties and the movements within them. It is about wider movements in society. Now, all the strikes that happened last year, of rail mail and so on, all the all the different groups that took industrial action, particularly health workers, none of that was within the Labour Party. All of that was without it. And none of those groups have gone away. None of those demands have gone away. So an incoming Labour government has got to faction in, factor in. Sorry. All those kind of pressures that are going to come from outside.


Nish Kumar Even then, obviously taking into account is something that we often stress on this show that politics doesn’t just happen in Westminster, it happens by ordinary people exerting pressure on political representatives. But even in those contexts, there was still a conversation between the left and the right wings of the Labour Party. And there was a push and pull. And it has sort of had a kind of broad church feel to it. Isn’t it important that some of that is maintained? And also, do you feel any sort of sense of responsibility for the kind of fracturing of the relationship between the left in the center of the party?


Jeremy Corbyn Well, I stepped down after the 2019 election. The leadership election took place. Both candidates who are leading candidates put forward their proposals, both accepted. The basic terms of both the manifestos we just had. Sir Keir Starmer got elected, and, has rapidly repudiated a lot of, a lot of those, which I think is very disappointing. I mean, it’s not always popular to talk about, positive anti-poverty strategies and so on. But if we want to live in a cohesive, coherent society, you’ve got to give hope to people. And that means you have to actually, kick over the traces a bit in order to bring about equality.


Nish Kumar I want to ask you, given that you’re sitting as an independent, it feels like a good time to talk to you about our electoral system and proportional representation. So we’ve actually had a listener question in from Liam McGrath who says, he feels like we have a real opportunity to change the electoral system for the better. And then he says, this is why I think it’s a very interesting point. Perhaps Labour wouldn’t have to lurch quite as hard to the center to win power if forming left wing coalitions, like in other proportional systems, was the standard way of forming governments. And I do think it’s an interesting point to raise specifically with you because, in a post, a new website in 2023, you said I cannot support a move to proportional representation in isolation without a wider set of progressive changes being made at the same time. And you think what’s more urgent is having a directly, proportionately and fully elected upper house representing every part of the UK. Have your views changed at all on that front?


Jeremy Corbyn I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot, and indeed, I think we need a federal offer to the people across the country, which would mean that you’d have, devo max on offer in Scotland with parliamentary powers for the Scottish Parliament. Ditto. Wales.


Nish Kumar So, so that’s that’s that’s. Going further with this system of innovation that was started under the Blair government.


Jeremy Corbyn Indeed so.


Nish Kumar And this led to the creation of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh parliament.


Jeremy Corbyn No. I supported what the Blair government did on on devolution, and that would mean you’d have to then look at devolution within England. Now, I thought about this quite a lot because previous efforts at setting up a sort of super local government, John Prescott tried it in the north east in the latter part of the Blair and Brown governments, and it was roundly rejected on a referendum. I think what we should have is a regional government in England, based probably on the English economic zones, of which sort of seven. And so you would have a devolution of Scotland, Wales and English regions, and that would help to, bring about a better system of decision making on investment, because far too much investment still goes into London in the South east region, as the worst is actually the East Midlands. I think that would help. Now, moving on from that to the election system, for the House of Commons, there’s interesting debate here. I’ve been a constituency MP all my life, and I love and value that very close relationship with the constituency. But a first past the post system doesn’t necessarily bring about democracy. So you could either have a system of runoff ballots so that the winning candidate would have to get 50%. That wouldn’t necessarily make an awful big difference to the party structure in the House of Commons. A more, diverse system, such as an additional member might well bring about that. A fairer system is what happens in London with the, London Assembly is elected by direct constituencies, and then you have the, London wide vote, which, evens it out between the parties. And it would mean that if we had that, there would be a diversity of political representation in the House of Commons. You would have. Yes, you would have more left wing parties represented, but it would also and this is an area that people don’t always want to address. It would possibly mean that some of the far right parties could also get representation out of it. And so I mean, you have to sort of while these things up. But I don’t think the current system in a multi-party society is actually tenable.


Nish Kumar So does that mean you’ve come around to some of this?


Jeremy Corbyn Absolutely. I have, yes. I mean, I’ve thought about it a lot, and I would like to see a form of proportional representation brought in.


Nish Kumar Can I ask you about your exit from the Labour Party? Just before we ask you about your thoughts about the, upcoming election, in the kind of dispute around, the findings around anti-Semitism in the party, you made a statement where you described anti-Semitism as absolutely abhorrent, and one anti-Semite is one too many in the Labour Party, which is a sentiment I think we can all agree with. And then you went on to talk about the ideas of anti-Semitism being exaggerated or factional attack, which is the comments that essentially Keir Starmer has seized on and used to justify your eventual expulsion from the party. I would have just separate the politics from this for a moment. Do you reflect that? It would have been better in that moment to acknowledge the problem that had happened, which you described as absolutely abhorrent, and simply just apologize for the hurt that was caused to Jewish voters and then move on?


Jeremy Corbyn I felt I had to put it in the context of my own experience. When I became leader. There wasn’t a system in place in the party for dealing with what were some disgusting and disgraceful things that had been said by various people, but there weren’t very many of them at that time. And so I set up a system for dealing with it. And as the I report, acknowledges, the system improved and cases were dealt with.


Nish Kumar But again, I’m separating the politics of it. Can you not see that in some ways, caveat that statement might have hurt some people’s feelings.


Jeremy Corbyn It went both ways. Yes. Some people I had to explain to them what I meant and what I said it and I got quite a lot of emails about it, but I also got an awful lot of people saying, thank goodness you’ve made that statement because you’ve made clear what your own views are. But you’ve also pointed out that, some of the people that were opposing you were exaggerating the issue. Look, anti-Semitism is a vile thing in society. We all know that. And I say that, and I’m sure you would agree with that. And I made that very, very clear all along. But also, that cannot be a hierarchy of racism. Islamophobia is vile and evil. Anti-Black racism is vile and evil. Diane and others and Dawn, Dawn Butler and I have all suffered the most appalling levels of racist abuse within our society, and sadly, there hasn’t been as much defense. Of particularly black women MPs, as it should have been in our national media.


Coco Khan Yeah, yeah. Jeremy, tell you what. I’ve got to say, you could not pay me to be Labour leader. Oh, that sounds not fun.


Nish Kumar And that’s coming from someone who recreationally talks about the wealthy.


Jeremy Corbyn Yes, but it is also an enormous privilege and an enormous honor.


Coco Khan Well, the reason I ask you about this is, I mean, I have one of the things I think it’s really fascinating about the Labour leader, though, is like, in a way, every leader will encounter problems. And to what extent do they have the faith of enough of the voters that they give him? You know, they give him the benefit of the doubt and they say, oh, you know, they’re trying their best. Like, I don’t know where Starmer is with any of that. But nonetheless, it’s a tough job. But we can all agree. Have you got any advice for Keir Starmer?


Jeremy Corbyn Listen to a wide variety of people who will probably drive you crazy with contradictory opinions and advice and so on. And remember that all, bureaucracies, be they the Labour Party, the civil service, parliamentary democracies and so on. Have a big instinct for self-preservation and self survival. It’s self-preservation society. Therefore, they are often opposed to any form of change.


Nish Kumar On a national level. Do you want Labour to win the election?


Jeremy Corbyn I want the Tories defeated. So, yes. And I mean.


Nish Kumar Because it must be hard, right? You’re standing you guys the Labour Party. But this also this is an organization that you have a relationship with.


Jeremy Corbyn Is the independent kind of Islington North. And I’m knocking on doors all the time. I’m meeting people I’ve met over many years, talking to them about their issues and problems and, explain to them why this has come about because of the way in which the party has behaved towards me, into Islington. And that, if they elect me again, it’s the same me they’re electing.


Coco Khan Jeremy Corbyn. Thank you so much for joining us.


Nish Kumar You’ve got to go nominate yourself.


Jeremy Corbyn I’m off to the town hall now. Lovely. Thanks ever so much.


Coco Khan Thank you ever so much.


Nish Kumar A pleasure.


Jeremy Corbyn Bye now.


Coco Khan With only one month to go until the election, we thought you might like to hear a little more from us. Tune in for two episodes of Pod Save the UK a week until the big day.


Nish Kumar That’s right. We’re going to be dropping into your feeds first thing on Thursdays, but for the next few weeks until the election. We’re also coming to you for special episodes on Sunday mornings, coming.


Coco Khan At you like Cleopatra. That’s a good reference, isn’t it? Very old reference. Thank you for all your fantastic comments and suggestions. If you have something to say, please do drop us a line on PPS UK at Reduce Listening dot. Co.Uk. All old pop music references are welcome.


Nish Kumar Cleopatra. Coming atcha!




Coco Khan There’s a mighty long list of MPs standing down in the next election, likely for a variety of reasons, but it’s an unfortunate reflection of Parliament that for some, the driving force and leaving is due to toxic workplace culture. Mhairi Black is currently the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South and deputy leader of the SNP, but is standing down after this election. So Mhairi, welcome to Pod Save the UK. Last time you were on our show, you said that you were looking forward to the piece of retirement and your play station. Yes. Is that still your top priority given that you had the whole summer? Mhairi big summer.


Nish Kumar Hot girl summer. It’s hot girl summertime.


Coco Khan Now is your time. The retirement.


Mhairi Black That’s right. And it’s good, actually. Cause since disillusion, I’m no longer an MP. No longer deputy leader or anything. I’m just. Just a a mouth.


Coco Khan Just a regular civvy.


Mhairi Black That’s right.


Nish Kumar Yeah, well, listen, that’s someone who’s been a mouth for his entire adult life. Look, let me tell you, there’s money to be made. Well. How do you feel about. Because we talked a lot about, you know, the things you’re looking forward to. Last time you were on the show. But obviously, surely you kind of assumed this would come around this quickly, right?


Mhairi Black Oh, that’s. It was music to my ears. Like, the only way I can describe it, because it’s roughly about a year ago that I announced publicly that I wasn’t standing and it felt like sitting in the airport. But your flight’s delayed for months, you know, and then all of a sudden it’s like, go to the gate. What did you do? You know, so it’s all some buzz. I’m still buzzing. As I’m packing up.


Coco Khan The O-O-O is on.


Mhairi Black That’s right.


Nish Kumar We were talking, to get back into the sticky topic of Westminster politics. We were talking about Keir Starmer’s poor handling, or what we perceived to be his poor handling of candidate selection for this election. What do you think about this idea that elections can only be won from the center ground? I mean, I know the SNP is a sort of complicated beast because of the issue of Scottish independence, but it’s certainly a party that has enjoyed political success whilst espousing what we would consider to be broadly a progressive platform in the last sort of half decade, but particularly under the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon. What do you feel about this idea that you can only win elections from the center?


Mhairi Black It’s I mean, I think it’s a dangerous precedent because if you don’t have choice in an election, is it really a a fait election? You know, it reminds me of The Simpsons episode where they’ve got the two. Yeah. Aliens. And saying you do have a choice, but that exact with the same, you know, it’s.


Nish Kumar Don’t like me. I voted for Kodas.


Mhairi Black Yeah, that’s that’s not a real choice, if you know what I mean. So for me, anyway, a lot of it comes down to the first past the post system. It’s, you know, just, a race to, to get the majority without taking into account that those are a plurality of different opinions and different views, you know, so I think the system itself is really outdated. And even things like the debate last night, the fact that it’s styled as though it’s a presidential debate when we don’t elect presidents is you elect a representative for your area. So it’s I think it does a disservice to the whole of the UK. So it’s yeah, it’s a it’s an unhealthy situation, I think.


Coco Khan I mean, obviously you’ll be watching the likely incoming Labour government from a beach, some from my show. But I mean, do you, do you feel concerned about the The Voice listeners of the left?


Mhairi Black Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean, if the thing that frustrates me as well is that Labour still often portray themselves as being socialist, there’s being left and there’s nothing socialist about Labour right now, you know? And when it comes to the big issues that affect in the UK, they are on the same side of the fence as the conservatives. Granted, they’re often a shade saner, but they’ll still on the same, you know, saw a neoliberal edging to the right, you know, sort of path. So it’s yes, it’s quite the press.


Coco Khan But what about the SNP? Where are they in that?


Mhairi Black So that’s where I think the SNP have actually enjoyed a lot of success over the last ten, 15 years, has been because they’ve successfully stepped up to the. So a left of center ground, which Labour have been vacating for quite some time. So again, when it comes to the bigger issues, there is a distinction between the SNP and Labour. And there’s there’s actually a distinction, I would say, between the Scottish Parliament, particularly when the Greens were still, as part of government and the Westminster system, you know, and again, I think some of that comes down to the fact that the Scottish Parliament has a. The element of proportional representation, and it allows for more debate and based on call it the bit.


Nish Kumar So in terms of Scottish independence and the SNP and I just want to share a couple of comments from some of our listeners. Louise Blackstock feels that the SNP are in chaos and is not keen to vote for them at the moment. One of our listeners, Ria, said a big issue for her in the election is Kate Forbes is the current deputy First Minister. The concern is around her views on gay marriage and abortion, and Ria said that she can’t bring yourself to support a party that would go against its hard worth of aggressive politics. Meanwhile, Louise Hodgson said regardless, the single most important issue for her is Scottish independence. So as somebody who’s been deeply involved with the SNP for the last half decade, where do you see the current state of the party and and also the my kind of follow up question is, is the state of the SNP ultimately indivisible from Scottish independence?


Mhairi Black So first off, I totally understand and I don’t begrudge anybody, particularly anyone who’s part of the LGBT community for feel and about the SNP, because I think there’s a hell of a lot of things, certainly in the last, you know, three, four years, which shouldn’t have happened or should have happened completely differently. Where the difficulty lies is, again, if you’re looking at the UK in a Westminster general election and you’re seeing that there’s a Labour Party and a Tory party where there’s not much difference when it comes to the big issues, or Westminster elections are to an extent which is the least evil. In a sense, I get that the wars have been muddied quite a bit since then. Nicola Sturgeon certainly left. But when you really, when push comes to shove, I still don’t see how I don’t see any better alternative, certainly in the Westminster elections.


Nish Kumar But that’s a kind of depressing statement. Yeah. For everybody. Yeah. Like if, if essentially everybody is saying this is the way of the least depressing alternative, it is depressing if the SNP are also making the offering of we’re the least bad option.


Mhairi Black I will when I’m seen. I still think the SNP have offered a hell of a lot of good things. You know, I wouldn’t have been a part of the SNP if I didn’t think that. It’s just that I suppose we’ve been enjoying a big level of support and time will tell whether, you know, the party has done enough to nurture that or to maintain that level of trust. But it would be it would be unfair to suggest that there hasn’t been rocky, a few rocky months, if not years.


Nish Kumar How do you feel about Humza Yousaf resignation and how that all played out?


Mhairi Black I mean. I think it was messy. And then of itself. And he himself will admit that it wasn’t necessarily for he did. It was the we went about what just completely backfired. And I think that’s at times it felt sort of amateurish to an extent. And that’s where I think at times the party needs to get itself up the backside and remember why you were involved in this and what’s at stake.


Nish Kumar You know, given that there are concerns from about Kate Forbes and concerns about the SNP, there are also concerns about Labour’s platform. And there are obviously huge concerns about the conservative attitude to the LGBTQ community as a whole. Do you feel like that community’s rights are under threat?


Coco Khan Yeah, absolutely. Being represented?


Mhairi Black Absolutely. I mean, I don’t think every party has failed to different degrees, on this issue in particular and the advancement of LGBT because, I mean, the, the amount of. Dog whistles. No. Yeah. Oh, just being said well in know as appalling. You know it’s. And for people my age I think where we’ve grown up and watching the rates being advance, you know heading in the right direction, it’s quite jarring to be experiencing for the first time. What? All right. This is what you were talking about. Yeah. And suddenly you’re reading, you know, 1980s newspaper clips and go and take out the word gay and put on trans, though. Yeah. And it’s a copy and paste. So, yeah. No, it’s terrifying. And I think, every party has to step up and do much, much better.


Coco Khan Speaking of terrors, we were discussing the return of Nigel Farage earlier in our show. Like, honestly, him standing. Is this significant, or is this just another media story giving him too much air space? Or actually, do we really need to look out for this?


Mhairi Black Oh, no. I think we need to look out for it. Definitely. It doesn’t we’ll put it this way. I think has, numerous TV appearances on all channels over many years. Yeah. Has is finally paying off. You know, and he’s he’s had such a platform where even though he’s not elected to Westminster, has failed seven times that votes even though he’s not elected, he’s still successfully managed to drag Britain further to the right. And that’s with the platform that the media have given him. What damage is he going to do if he’s get the platform of legitimate parliament? Yeah. You know, that’s what scary.


Nish Kumar Well, he did he did. He did plenty of damage as an MEP. Oh, totally. You know, and he you know, he did plenty of damage to Britain standing. He’s certainly done plenty of damage to this country, but I but how do you. This is the question that we, you know, to just be completely upfront with everybody. This is a question that we wrestle with in meetings about this show. To what extent do you just try and ignore it? Because ultimately reform have no seats in Parliament. They they are given, especially when you consider the number of councilors that the Green Party have. When you consider the number of MPs the SNP in the Liberal Democrats have, it is an astonishing amount of focus to be given to a party with no seats in Parliament whose ownership structure is still, shall we just say, opaque, is the responsibility to discuss these ideas, interrogate them and dismiss them? Or is there an obligation for us just to ignore this guy? And I hope he goes away. It’s a really. It feels like a quandary. Yeah. We all find ourselves in right progressive people and the.


Coco Khan Boardroom as well. So obviously the idea is that, you know, we share these ideas and then we dismantle them because we reveal that they’re completely illogical and don’t make fiscal sense, don’t make ethical sense or whatever. But at the same time, you know, so much of those policies are not about reason. They appeal to a kind of a fair a, I would argue, sort of base, you know, stereotypes, things like that. Yeah. How you can’t dismantle that in a reasonable way anyway. So is it better to just put them in the box?


Mhairi Black The one thing you can’t tolerate as those who don’t tolerate, you know, it’s the king.


Nish Kumar We’re intolerant of intolerance.


Mhairi Black Yes, yes.


Coco Khan Yes.


Mhairi Black And I don’t think the UK is good at doing that. Yeah. At all. And what we’re seen the Nigel Farage as basically Trumpism is he’s looked over at his friend and went, oh, that’s working right. And even watching the few interviews he has done, what? He’s just downright rude. But it works because people are feeling, feeling bruised. They don’t trust politicians, they don’t trust Parliament. They and finally those. That’s what appears to be the straight talking guy who drinks a pint, telling it like, as as I think it’s a problem with British politics. Moreover, where we are, we have slid into this. So, the system where it’s slogans that work with its personalities, that one rather than it being about policy, I think we need to revisit how we are politically educating people from a young age right the way through to whether it’s, you know, media literacy, whether it’s social media literacy, whatever it is, I think we have to start dragging it back to policy as opposed to personalities, giving people the tools to be able to understand how does tax work. Yeah. How does what does non-dom mean for how are we how does the economy work. Because these are the basic things that anybody needs in order to make an informed decision. And then my experience in Westminster as it sits, the shall we see the establishment for people not to understand these things because it allows you to waffle, allows you to get away with know sounding like you’re doing something, but in actual fact it’s you’re not doing anything at all.


Coco Khan So listen, obviously I hope you’re going to take a few weeks off.


Coco Khan Oh Absolutely. Absolutely. Just no, the the only thing that’s solid and the pipeline as a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, I’ve done the the whole run. It’s called politics isn’t for me. It’s it’s starting point. Right.


Nish Kumar Yeah. The gilded balloon. I’ll see you there. Yeah. There the whole month. Coco’s coming up for a couple of days. It’s a life sized fight. Yeah. I’m very excited for you to experience doing a full Edinburgh fringe. Right. Well.


Mhairi Black It was funny talking beforehand. Seen. I mean, you know, there’s been a lot, don’t people. And I’m, I’m used to having a room full of people who’ve had a liquid lunch, so not me. And that’s honestly so good.


Coco Khan Mhairi Black, Thank you so much for your time.


Mhairi Black Thanks very much.


Coco Khan [AD].


Coco Khan All right everyone, it is time for another round of Pod Save the UK’s WTF moments.


Nish Kumar Which I will refuse to coyly refer to as WTF moments because we’re allowed to swear on the show and will continue to refer to as WTFuck moments. It’s been another week of ridiculous moments, but here are some of the best. We’ll start with the deplatform leader of a right wing party. You know who we mean. We won’t show it, but just imagine in your mind’s eye that man soaked in milkshake at the launch of his campaign event. What a great way to kick things off soon.


Coco Khan Next hand, let’s have been working overtime to ensure the PM doesn’t stand next to any exit signs or in any Morrisons to avoid any more undesirable shots. But the PM managed to get photobombed by the Liberal Democrats while campaigning in Henley. In this clip from ITV news.


Nish Kumar So for for the people listening to the show, Rishi said I was having a conversation with some voters in Henley and just in the background on the river, a boat festooned with Liberal Democrat signs. It’s just passing out, I’m afraid to say. It. A review of Mr. Sunak’s charisma, the ITV news camera filled bigot has simply moved away from his face and zoomed in on the Liberal Democrats on a boat. It does not speak well of his charisma that even the cover up right to just thought. I think people are going to want to see the Lib Dems on a boat next. The Tory candidate for High Peak, Robert Lager. Is it hot water as the police investigate claims of electoral fraud? Look at his tweeted campaign images. It’s quite hard to even believe the words are about to come out of my mouth. Using the colors of Labour red and reformed teal with slogans including Labour for lager, ad reform for Robert Heat, a tweet promoting the Labour Post logging rights. So many local Labour voters have told me they get a vote for me because they want to keep me as their local MP. There have been so many that I’ve launching a new Labour vlogging club. It’s what? Either way, is there a more damning indictment of the Conservative Party at the moment that its own candidates are pretending that members of other parties.


Coco Khan I love that he’s like, oh, I’m launching a new Labour flag and I’m not. Then someone else had already launched it, you know, to be like, oh, you’re launching it and no one will attend, and it will just be you in a in a church hall with some cups of tea going cold. But apparently that seems to be enough to justify this obvious, tactic.


Nish Kumar It also, we should say there is a writing at the bottom of the images that reveal it’s a Conservative Party campaign material, but honestly, the writing is so hilariously I didn’t know it was possible to have -0 .04. font.


Coco Khan And it’s like white on a color you can’t really read.


Nish Kumar Is it definitely looks like it says something like Michael’s vaginal dryness.


Coco Khan Yeah, yeah.


Nish Kumar To to return to the weird motif of this campaign is established on this podcast.


Coco Khan Again, you know, I am concerned about the aunties listening to this show and their opinion of it.


Nish Kumar May cause penile softness.


Coco Khan Okay. Umm also this week we’ve had Labour channeling Adam McKay to deliver John Richardson in a bathtub.


Clip Do you know what Rishi Sunak did before he got into politics? No. Well, you’re not supposed to say Rishi Sunak would love for you to forget about how he made his millions before becoming an MP. He wants you to think it’s too complicated to understand, or even better, that it isn’t notable at all. So here’s Jon Richardson in a bubble bath to explain. Basically, before Rishi Sunak got into politics, he was a partner in a Hedge fund. Now that was amazingly profitable for him. But but pretty much everyone else think the opposite of Robin Hood.


Nish Kumar Yes. That video shared from Labour HQ is paying homage to the famous explainer scene, on how to short markets from Adam McKay’s 2015 film The Big Short with Margot Robbie in a bubble bath. The film explores the traders made loads of money during the 2008 global financial crisis. Rico love him. He’s not exactly Margot Robbie. It’s not a one for one swap.


Coco Khan I mean, definitely the shots of the bear falling into the bathtub was not the sort of, oh, it’s sexy and titillating like Margot Robbie. It was more like, oh, unhygienic, slight, disgusting. But that’s, you know, a very, very, very informative, video.


Nish Kumar To finish it off, probably our favorite clip of the week, maybe of the year so far. Here’s Sky news as Sophy Ridge and Saab go to delivering some of these to Tory MP Grant Shapps.


Clip Sophy, Grant Shapps is phoning me. take the call. Yeah. I guess is just calling Sam Coates. So it’s on his Apple phone. Here we go. Get it up. But it’s going to take it now. Hello Grant Shapps your live on Sky news. I’m in the studio with Sophy Ridge. Have you just seen that you’re about to lose your seat? According to the Sky news YouGov projection. He just put the phone down on me? There we go.


Nish Kumar Right. So much to talk about there. What on earth.


Coco Khan Why was he phoning?


Nish Kumar Well, has Grant Shapps dialed some quotes? Well, he’s live on the news. It is absolutely unfathomable. It’s if he butt dialed Sam Coates whilst furiously screaming at the television. Or maybe he has voice recognition. And he was screaming some string of profanity about Sam Coates. These voices are calling Sam Coates.


Coco Khan Don’t make me feel sorry for him.


Nish Kumar Oh, I don’t. To be clear. Grant Shapps losing his job is one of the funniest things that could happen. But if you look it to Grant Shapps is history. You’ll know the man is not short of jobs. He’s done many jobs in his career, often at the same time, and so if he loses this one, he’ll just go back to whatever job he’s also doing at the same time.


Coco Khan And that’s it. Thanks for listening to Pod Save the UK.


Nish Kumar Now, if you have any news from your own backyard or any other comments you want to share or topics you want us to look into, email us at We really love to hear your voices. So if you’re feeling brave, I want to ask us a question. Send us a voice note on WhatsApp. Our number is 07494 933444. Internationally, that’s +44 7494 933444.


Coco Khan Don’t forget to follow at Pod Save the UK on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. You can also find us on YouTube for access to full episodes and drop us a review if you like.


Nish Kumar Unless we dry out your vagina or soften your pain. Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.


Coco Khan Thanks to senior producer James Tindale, as well as digital producer and video editor Narda Smilionage.


Nish Kumar Our theme music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos.


Coco Khan Thanks to our engineer Alex Bennett.


Nish Kumar The executive producers are Anoushka Sharma, Dan Jackson and Madeline Herringer with additional support from Ari Schwartz.


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