Sunak’s big fat Greek blunder, plus will COP28 be a COP out? | Crooked Media
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November 30, 2023
Pod Save the UK
Sunak’s big fat Greek blunder, plus will COP28 be a COP out?

In This Episode

Rishi Sunak’s decision to publicly snub the Greek Prime Minister in a row over the Parthenon Marbles, has left Nish and Coco wondering whether he possesses any of the skills to be a global statesman? Worrying then, that his next stop is the COP28 climate summit in Dubai. Politico’s Karl Mathiesen joins us to talk about the UK’s place in the climate debate, and the contradictions of a COP hosted by an oil-rich state.


Sunak, Cleverly, Braverman, Patel, Javid…the Conservative governments of the last few years have been the most diverse ever.  But is that really something to celebrate? Kehinde Andrews, the UK’s first Professor of Black Studies, doesn’t think so. He talks to Nish and Coco about politics, black history, taking on Piers Morgan and much more in a fascinating chat about his book, The Psychosis of Whiteness.


Plus heroes and villains has a bit of an Indiana Jones vibe this week! And find out why it’s not a good idea to employ Nish to mind your shop.


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


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Kehinde Andrews, Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, and author of The Psychosis of Whiteness

Karl Mathiesen, Climate correspondent at Politico Europe


Audio credits:

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg / BBC TV


Useful links:






Coco Khan Hi, this is Pod Save the UK.


Nish Kumar I’m Nish Kumar.


Coco Khan And I’m Coco Khan.


Nish Kumar This week, Rishi Sunak continues to be the world leader we can all be proud of.


Coco Khan He started off the week by pissing off the Greeks.


Nish Kumar And now he’s off to COP28 to walk back some of the things he’s recently said about climate change.


Coco Khan Plus, we have a fascinating chat with Kehinde Andrews, professor of black studies at Birmingham University. Find out who he thinks will be Britain’s first black prime minister. Hey Nish, How’s your week been?


Nish Kumar My week’s been good. Coco, how’s your week been?


Coco Khan Yeah, it’s been. It’s been good up in traveling around. I was in Liverpool just doing some reporting. I was in Folkestone in Kent for a book festival. I’ve been around.


Nish Kumar From Liverpool to Folkestone.


Coco Khan Yes.


Nish Kumar From the north west to the south east.


Coco Khan Been around the world and I still can’t find my baby. Yeah soft life. My most exciting news is that I saw a UK banknote when I was in Liverpool, administered by the Bank of Ulster. And these notes, these northern Irish pounds, don’t have the Queen on it, or the king or any royal. It’s mainly.


Nish Kumar Who do they have on it?


Coco Khan Just bunnies. Bunnies and birds and.


Nish Kumar Bunnies and birds?


Coco Khan Bodies and birds. Yeah, that’s the Britain I can get behind. I’ve been a special edition, but the idea that these notes exist is currency can exist in the UK where it doesn’t have the monarchs. I loved it. The Republican in me, joyful.


Nish Kumar They may as well whack Adele on a fiver. Adele’s a British icon everyone can get behind.


Coco Khan You’re never too big for Adele.


Nish Kumar Why not?


Coco Khan Also, Nish. I notice you’re wearing your Choose Love jumper.


Nish Kumar I am indeed. Choose Love help refugees charity. And I did my annual piece of retail work because Choose Love actually opens a physical shop on Carnaby Street in London every year is open this year. If you’re in London, check it out. You can actually go in and buy supplies that refugees need for the winter. Things like tents, kids, winter coats. It’s really, really incredible. They do it every year. And, you know, it’s a really wonderful thing. If you’re in London or New York, they’ve got physical shops. If you’re in either of those places or if you can’t be bothered to leave your house, you can also do an online shop. So you can go to w w w dot choose dot love and buy essential supplies that could be life saving for refugees. And you just buy it and it immediately goes directly to the people that need it. It’s a really great charity. And anyway, every year I do something at the shop and this year it took the form of me volunteering on the tables. That lasted about 30 seconds and eventually the safest thing for me to do was just stand outside holding a sign like the Gulf sale arrow guys. You know the guys that they held the big placards that say golf sale this way, I was that for the Choose Love show.


Coco Khan I think they made the right choice. You know, service with a smile that you be very service with a grimace service with some snark. It’s not what you want is it?


Nish Kumar Well, at one point the arrow was pointing in the wrong direction, Coco.


Coco Khan Okay, so you’re born for this sector.


Nish Kumar Yeah. I’m not sure there’s any practical use for me to show.


Coco Khan It’s been another eventful week in British politics. I wouldn’t say we’re missing Suella quite yet, but the new Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has hardly covered himself in glory so far. He’s had to apologize to the House of Commons for using unparliamentary language, although he denied accusations that he insulted a Labour MP constituency of Stockton North by calling it a shithole.


Clip I know what I said. I rejected the accusation that I criticized his constituency.


Clip My criticism, which I made from a sedentary position.


Clip About the honorable gentleman, used inappropriate language for which I apologize, but I will not.


Clip Accept that my criticism was of his.


Clip Constituency because it was not. Who was the Oh, did he call a man a shithole?


Coco Khan Maybe he said shit head. She said shithole.


Nish Kumar Anyway, not to be outdone, his boss, the Prime Minister and professional charisma vacuum Rishi Sunak, insulted an entire country. He sparked a diplomatic row by canceling a meeting with Greece’s Prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, at Downing Street at the last minute, apparently because he was annoyed that the Greek prime minister had made reference to the controversy over the contested sculptures known as the Elgin Marbles here and the Parthenon Marbles in Greece, where they’re actually from. This was all on Laura Kuenssberg, BBC one show.


Clip This is not a question of returning artifacts whose ownership we question. We feel that these sculptures belong to Greece and that they were essentially stolen. But this is not, in my mind, an ownership question. This isn’t a reunification argument. Where can you best appreciate what is essentially one monument? I mean, it’s as if if I told you that you would cut the Mona Lisa in half and you would have half of it at the Louvre and half of it at the British Museum. Do you think your viewers would appreciate the beauty of the painting in such a way? Well, this is exactly what happened with the Parthenon sculptures.


Nish Kumar So these Parthenon sculptures are a collection of Greek sculptures that the British took from the Acropolis in Athens between the years 1801 and 1812 and are now available to view in the British Museum in London. Now, the claim is that the Ottomans allowed them to be taken, but the Greeks reckon otherwise and the UK argues that giving them back would undermine other museum collections and the. You know, we like having them in London. It’s it’s it’s an unfathomable argument. These were these sculptures were smashed and taken out of the Acropolis, like physically removed with hammers and stuff like it was. And they’ve now been plucked to the British Museum. And I don’t think it’s a particularly contentious thing that the prime minister of Greece thinks they should be in Greece. But it seems unfathomable to me.


Coco Khan Right. And it’s not something that, you know, the Greek prime minister is just on one. I mean, this is really big news in Greece and they are a really important European partner for us. So it’s not a great look.


Nish Kumar Yeah. Apparently Sunak’s claim is that there was an agreement that the Parthenon sculptures wouldn’t be discussed at all. And then by giving that interview to Laura Kuenssberg, he had violated this sort of informal agreement that they had. So he offered them a meeting with Oliver Dowden. And as everyone who was offered a meeting with Oliver Dowden, he said, No, thank you. I would rather cut my visit to the UK. You’re going to have to be face to face with Oliver Dowden. So, yeah, so he is actually returned home. So it seems to have a somewhat unnecessarily destabilized UK Greek relations.


Coco Khan It’s quite interesting because the Greek prime minister is people say he’s a bit like the Greek version of Rishi Sunak. He is.


Nish Kumar He’s a conservative. I mean, it’s hard sometimes to draw direct political lines in these countries, but he’s certainly a conservative in the political context.


Coco Khan He’s a banker as well. He’s part of that, you know, sort of frictionless financial set. So you do sort of wonder like, can Rishi Sunak get on with anyone? Can he do anything?


Nish Kumar Well, this is the question here, isn’t it? Does he have any skills as a statesman? I mean, you would say that the answer is probably not. I mean, it is interesting who Sunak is happy and not happy to be pictured meeting. I mean, he seemed pretty thrilled to have a meeting with Elon Musk. And then last week of Prime Minister’s Question Time, he seemed pretty unfazed by the allegations that Elon Musk has been promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on tax. I’ll tell you who else was unfazed by them. Benjamin Netanyahu, who invited Elon Musk around for an absolutely unfathomable photo op around sites of the October 7th terrorist attack. So but that’s another issue entirely. But yes, sunak alienating a sort of European partner seems like a move by someone who doesn’t really understand the basic mechanics of foreign policy and states person ship.


Coco Khan Hmm. I know Greece in particular is integral, right? Because, you know, we have been talking about recently how the latest migration numbers have come out. And, you know, on this show, we’re generally pro migration, but nonetheless, it’s kind of rich that this government says they’re going to bring the numbers down. And we have very, very high numbers. You know, they’re talking about small boats crisis. Greece is on the front line of a small boats crisis. So you would expect that given all of this. And of course, what’s going on in Gaza, that a meeting with the Greek prime minister might be more important than like showing the world that he’s down on woke museums or whatever is going well.


Nish Kumar So, you know, understandably, there’s a lot political commentators suggesting that this is some kind of a dead cat move, which is obviously this idea in politics, that if you throw a dead cat on the table, all anyone’s talking about is the dead cat. So it’s the idea of throwing out a kind of irrelevant story that sidetracks the news agenda. But I’m not sure how successful that’s going to be because I’m not sure people who can’t afford to pay their heating bills this winter or get an ambulance are going to suddenly think, well, I’m very, very cold and my grandmother’s extremely ill. But on the plus side, if I wanted to, I could go and see some marbles. As long as I don’t have to travel day by train because none of them work either. Politics aside, everything else aside, if you steal something, give it back. That’s the basic principle of all of this.


Coco Khan So it’s with some trepidation then that we await Rishi Sunak’s next appearance on the world stage. The PM is about to fly to the UAE for the latest UN Climate Summit Cop 28, which is being held this year in Dubai.


Nish Kumar You did not miss here. Coco It’s being held in Dubai. A climate summit is being held in Dubai, a city that exists as a shining example of how much you can build if you exploit fossil fuel to the maximum and also employ what is basically slave Labour. What a fantastic place. Anyway. Unfortunately, that’s where the climate summit is being held and surely perceived is no conflict of interest that the president of COP28, Dr. Sultan al-Jarba, is also the CEO of UAE’s giant state oil company, Adnoc. Anyway, in terms of what can be achieved from this summit and what the main topics of conversation will be, let’s find out more from our guest, Karl Mathiesen, who’s the senior climate correspondent for Politico Europe. Karl, thank you so much for joining us.


Karl Mathiesen Thank you for having me.


Nish Kumar You’re about to head out to Dubai. What are your expectations for this COP?


Karl Mathiesen It just been colored by a message I got from my colleague that just said our hotel is between a bus stop, two bus stops, one called cement factory and one called Labour camp. So. But, you know, now there’s there’s a lot of people going to Dubai, the 70,000 people. And I guess we got we got shafted on the hotel choice. But look, I mean, more importantly, I think the thing about these these global climate summits to happen every year is like they get all these expectations hung on them that are in some ways unreasonable. Like we always think this is going to be the summit that sort of saves the planet. And actually, this is just 200 countries coming along to sit down together every year and like just nudge stuff forward. And the cop is never going to be the thing that saves the planet like it will. It’ll create some sense of progress or to give us a temperature check of where we’re at. And that signal could be good and it could inspire markets and investors to invest more in clean energy. Or it could be bad and things could recede a little and then we’ll come back next year. So I think it just to take the temperature down a little bit. We shouldn’t expect the world to get saved in the next two weeks either way or destroyed.


Nish Kumar That’s what a great slogan for 28. We should not expect the world to be either saved or destroyed.


Coco Khan I mean, you mentioned the word progress, and maybe it will be incremental, but I get the feeling it might be a reversal that we’re going the wrong way. Is the UK traveling in the wrong direction, especially given it’s the hottest year ever recorded? Are we going to look terrible on the world stage?


Karl Mathiesen This is happening all over the world. It’s one thing to say so. I spent the last three years reporting from Brussels and even in Brussels, which is sort of this shining green light. The last few months have been very, very difficult for green politics there, too, because I think there’s a sense amongst a lot of voters that they’re worried about climate policy, that it’s going to cost them too much. There’s a cost of living crisis. So there is like real sort of concern in the community. And then certain political actors are responding to that. And that’s I think what you’re seeing in Britain is, you know, a government that is really casting around for the thing that’s going to shift the polls. And so there’s a there’s there’s some gesturing towards, oh, we’re going to we’re going to walk back on some policies. It’s kind of interesting, though, If you look at what Sunak has actually said, he’s moved back some policies around electric vehicles, gas boilers. But a lot of the UK’s climate policy still remains intact and is actually moving forward in this light. Interesting signals from investments coming in to the grid. And you know, you had the Nissan announcement this week where they are invested in making electric vehicles in Sunderland. So it’s kind of weird because you’ve got this top line signaling which is quite negative. And then actually underneath it, what the government is doing is mostly business as usual. And in a way we’ve been talking about it as a kind of like almost lack of virtue signaling. It’s like the opposite of what you would expect. Yeah, they’re trying to make a political case to a certain constituency domestically. How that then plays on the world stage is the real question. This is now. Now Sunak and his ministers have to go to Dubai and kind of own that domestic politics. And I think that’s going to be quite hard for them. I think it’s going to there’s going to be some tough questions being asked, and it doesn’t bode well for the cop because the UK is one of just a handful of kind. Trees that really do actually genuinely push this stuff forward year in, year out.


Nish Kumar Is there any concern amongst kind of natural international allies, you know, in the last decade? The UK’s, in a lot of ways, been moving in the right direction on climate. Is there a danger of Sunak in terms of at this conference compromising his own international standing as a, you know, compromise the UK standing as a leader on these kind of things?


Karl Mathiesen I think that that’s already happened. I think that it’s because of what he said domestically that has been noticed around the world. The way that that affects the politics of the clock is that the Europeans kind of really need the UK as an ally in their efforts to to push forward the most ambitious version of what will come out of the COP and and then a negotiated agreement at the end because the Americans have compromised. The Americans have difficult domestic politics. They’re a huge fossil fuel producer. So they’re sort of in a different boat. And it really is the Europeans and the UK that drive this stuff forward alongside their allies in the small island states.


Coco Khan So let’s talk about Keir Starmer. He’ll be in Dubai, too. So will Ed Miliband and David Lammy. Presumably they’re trying to create a different image of a future Britain. And what do you think about the Labour approach?


Karl Mathiesen The Labour approach is kind of interesting, isn’t it, because they are obsessed with the idea of winning the next election, obviously. And so their whole thing is like climate change is good news for the economy. We’re going to build a vibrant green economy with tons of new jobs and we’re going to invest lots of money. They don’t want to talk about the other side of climate policy, which is, hey, you know what? You might have to like fit a new boiler in your home or actually a heat pump, which might actually be slightly more expensive. They don’t want to talk about the kind of regulation. So they’re all very much about carrots and sticks late into the election. I don’t think that that’s a realistic proposition in government like they will have to regulate to meet their climate targets eventually. As well as doing this kind of Joe Biden inspired like we’re going to just invest tons in all of the great British industries. And so that’s the challenge or the sort of departure from reality that Labour kind of toying with at the moment before they actually hit government.


Nish Kumar What about the fact that it is being held in Dubai, which is obviously an oil rich oil producing country? There are also reports that the UAE is intent on using the gathering as an opportunity to do deals for its oil. Is this whole summit capsized by the choice of location?


Karl Mathiesen If this COP ends up being a real bust.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Karl Mathiesen It would be wrong to point to the UAE and say this is all because of you, because there’s 200 countries at this club and all they are is the host. They convene the countries. What comes out is actually ultimately down to the 200 nations present. And it would be a mistake at the end if we all sort of just turn around and blame the UAE. Having said that, the there there is obviously a conflict of interest in an oil CEO hosting the cop. I think it’s completely unsurprising now that we’re seeing reports that he was being advised to broker deals as he went around the world meeting other countries on oil and gas because that’s literally his day job. Like he’s he’s his job is to make these deals. And then he had this other job as a government official working on climate. So I think it’s utterly unsurprising that we now have some documentary evidence that this is happening. The impact of this is more going to be on the mood of the company and how toxic it gets if things start going wrong, because the presidency needs the trust of all the countries. And every report that we have about this hurts that trust. So they’re going to have to really pull it out of the bag. I think is basically I think they’re probably feeling intense pressure now to do something pretty remarkable with this cop because they know that the narrative will be about them.


Nish Kumar Listen, just so that we don’t end on all doom and gloom. There is there is potential upsides here because you’ve got people in the room that need to hear the messages of COP more than anybody else, really. But also this idea that with the controversy around Dubai hosting it, there might be a pressure on them to really deliver something concrete or tangible to avert kind of negative press around the whole conference.


Karl Mathiesen I think that I mean, I think that that’s absolutely the dynamic that’s prevailing on the UAE right now. And also, they have spin like they. They really did try and use this as an opportunity to broaden the tent in terms of. You know, Sultan al-Jarba has been talking to his peers in the oil industry, the oil CEOs of both private oil companies and, you know, the Saudi Aramco and the giant national oil companies. He’s he’s been trying to broker agreements with them to start their process of decarbonization. And we will have announcements on that in the next few days. Will they be waiting or will they actually be meaningful commitments? And that’s where the kind of gray area that we have. We don’t know about whether this was a good idea or not. We’ll kind of find that out in the next couple of weeks.


Coco Khan All right. Well, I guess we’ll be watching it very closely.


Nish Kumar Yeah, we’ll definitely be talking more about COP over the next couple of weeks. But I’m glad that there is a note of hope for us to go into it on. That’s really great. And thank you so much, Karl. Have a. Have a great time. Between the bus stop and the Labour camp.


Karl Mathiesen Thanks, guys.


Coco Khan Take your sunscreen. It’s very hot. Everywhere actually. Anyway, see you later, Karl.


Karl Mathiesen Cheers. Bye.


Nish Kumar Coming up next, we’ve got a fantastic interview we recorded with Kehinde Andrews a couple of weeks ago. We cover a huge amount of subjects. It was a fascinating chat. We also talk about his new book, The Psychosis of Whiteness. That’s coming up next.


Speaker 5 [AD]


Coco Khan On this podcast, we look at ways to navigate conversations with people we vehemently disagree with. Should you turn a Tory? Is it worth being in the firing line? Time and time again to debate right wing views? Or is a radical approach the best way to get closer to meaningful change?


Nish Kumar Kehinde Andrews, who’s joining us now, has frequently jumped into the eye of media storms is particularly navigated conversations on racism, often with those who choose to not see what’s painfully obvious. He’s a professor of black studies at Birmingham City University, and his latest book is called The Psychosis of Whiteness, and it’s a text that’s aptly summarized by its subtitle, Surviving the Insanity of a Racist World. Kehinde Andrews welcome to Pod Save the UK.


Coco Khan So we all going to talk about the book, but I just wanted to speak to you firstly about this current government and what I mean this current government. Let’s just broad brush strokes say the last five years. So we’ve had a lot of high profile POC politicians. So, you know, right now, obviously Rishi Sunak, the first person of color, Prime minister. We have got James Cleverly, the first black Home Secretary. We’ve got so many to name. Humza Yousaf, the Scottish First Minister. You know, previously we’ve had Suella Braverman, Priti Patel and Kwasi Kwarteng.


Kehinde Andrews Briefly.


Coco Khan Briefly. Very briefly. So there is this idea that whether we like it or not, the Conservatives are doing better at use, quote, marks on race than than we are. And even when I’m hanging around in kind of like, you know, whatever progressive lefty circles, you hear people say, look, you know, I don’t like the Tories, but you have to admit it is a bit special, isn’t it? Is a bit special. But your book would say no.


Kehinde Andrews Well, I mean, it’s definitely different, right? But this is actually the perfect example of psychosis, where you have the most diverse government in British history and also the one pursuing the most racist immigration policy. And that was those things on disconnected. So actually, the real identity politics, which I really got from America is if you want, you get a black or brown person to say and do the racist things. It’s not a coincidence that they have to have somebody. Brown You know, so they literally had to move cleverly to home secretary because this immigration policy so racist a white person couldn’t do this, couldn’t do and they couldn’t do the budgies. You need a black face with it. It’s also not that new. So the British Empire, most of the people around the British Empire were black and brown functionaries. Right at the time of the Emirates massacre, the British army in India, they was shooting people were 60% Indians. So it’s not even that new. It’s just we’ve seen it come home into England and it’s really quite devastating. And I know my worry. I’ve actually I’ve put a bit on it. The next system will win the next election, but after that, the first black prime minister will be none other than Kemi Badenoch, and it will be like literally the worst moment of racism, racial politics in the United Kingdom history.


Coco Khan So do you think that the idea that you should assess a party by representation is just defunct and just ridiculous and we should let go of it? Or do you think it does actually matter?


Kehinde Andrews I’d rather have all white politicians making better laws, but to me, to be quite honest, because this is this is this is what identity politics is become. It is your black and brown figures. You know, nowadays you can’t you can’t you criminalize use words like coconut. Yes. Negroes or these kind of things. But I mean, when people are literally put in their position because they are black or brown and now they’re not only because they’re black and brown, but to do bad things to black and brown people, They should be we should be able to criticize them quite heavily, I would think.


Nish Kumar Let’s talk about the use of the word coconut, because as we were actually recording this interview a couple of weeks before, before it comes out and the weekend was just gone, there was obviously a huge protest calling for a ceasefire in response to the war going on in Israel and Gaza. And the police handling of those protests has been sort of heavily questioned. And there was a use of the word coconut, referring to political figures specifically. Soon I can Braverman, the people not familiar with that word, it’s used to describe somebody who’s brown on the outside and white on the inside. And there’s now I actually can’t believe I’m saying these words out loud. I don’t believe these. Or it’s like it’s I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. But there there is potential for this to be an alleged racially aggravated hate crime. And there is some legal precedents to this. In 2010, a local councilor in Bristol was found guilty of racial harassment for using this term. And I, in my experience of using the word coconut being described as a coconut, I think they are going to have to lock up everyone in Wembley, like every Asian uncle and aunt who’s who encounters a child that did an English degree. He’s going to fucking jail. Like what’s happened here? If you study race racism, how could you possibly explain to me what the fuck is going on?


Kehinde Andrews No, it’s madness, but I mean, this is this. They call us. Both legs. I mean, look, coconuts an insult. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been called it. It’s not nice but it’s a crime? I mean, that’s insane. And you think about and this is is this there’s a there’s a serious point. A lot of these terms, whether it be coon has Negro coconut, whether they come from anti-racism, they come from black struggle. I mean, coconut is basically fat on black skin, white mask. What are you saying? Well, look, somebody can be black on the outside, but actually, if they do the same things as white, if they pursue the same policy to want the same things as white people, why are we why are we celebrating them? Why are we celebrating diversity?


Coco Khan So okay. Right. This is a bit of a long story. I hope you read A little while ago I made a joke online that has subsequently been deleted because I delete my tweets. I believe in second chances, everyone. And I said that Sajid Javid probably gets Lemon and Herb at Nando’s. It was a stupid little joke. It’s meaningless. It’s probably true. And I think I got dragged maybe four days for that. And, you know, and actually some of the conversations I had afterwards about it were they did give me pause before and I wanted to discuss some of them with you. So one of them was like, I understand the point that you’re making there about the such as what he’s talking about him now because he’s quite mild compared to me.


Nish Kumar Now that we’ve served up Suella the extra.


Coco Khan Someone was like, But why can’t why, Why is the Sarge worse to you than Theresa may? They’re both awful. Why do you hold him to a higher standard? Is that not in and of itself racist? Why? To my brain and you.


Kehinde Andrews No. well I mean? Because you would expect someone who’s gone through experience. He’s had, you know, this is not a lived experience. Or you’d think like when Priti Patel makes laws that she wouldn’t be in the country.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Kehinde Andrews You think you’d have a bit more sensitivity, right? I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if she deployed herself eventually. This is part of the thing we shouldn’t expect. We shouldn’t expect all black and brown people to look to be on our side. Never has been the case. Historically. It’s not the case. No, there are there’s a group of people who are illegal, want to be illegal, want to be Tories, etc. It’s not a coincidence that when Rishi joined the party in early 2000, it was like one black and brown Tory MP will go to their visit. Yeah, that’s not. That’s a purposeful strategy. I changed.


Coco Khan Genuinely. Honestly, I’m glad you said that because I have moments. Some time I’m like, Where are you finding them? Claire Coutinho She’s the latest. Is there a factory, right wing Asian factory, all these people?


Kehinde Andrews Yeah, it’s a strategy. Like I say, I think Kemi Badenoch will be the next prime minister after Starmer and the fact that she had I mean, talk about psychosis. She was supported by Britain first for the for the fascist party. Well, it a black woman as prime minister. That tells you everything I need to know.


Nish Kumar Let’s talk about the book, because there’s a specific framing around racism and whiteness, which kind of wrapping up a couple of things we talked about already. Whiteness is a phenomenon that’s not just exclusive to white people. It’s a and so you put it through the lens of psychosis. In the title of the book is The Psychosis of Whiteness. So why choose the word psychosis to describe the phenomenon of whiteness?


Kehinde Andrews Because there’s no other there’s no other word to use. Right. I was on the first piece of media I did was on erm political life and there was a black TV news guy but he was really like, you can’t see the title right. Why were you just, you just trying to, to, to get clicks. Look, I’m a professor, right? I don’t just, I’m not actually a shock jock. I have a proper job. So. You know, I didn’t just pick a word randomly, this is the only word that makes any sense. When you think about what whiteness is, it is entirely delusional. It is. This is what I’m saying. It’s it’s it’s immune to facts. You can put all the facts that you want. I’ve been on TV, talked about this, been in community, talked about these, been in schools. I mean there’s no rational way to deal with whiteness. So that’s why it’s like it’s like and that’s essentially the argument. The book is we’ve been on the right side of the argument for 500 years, hasn’t really got us anywhere because we’re trying to do the wrong things. You can’t convince people it was trapped in the cycle.


Nish Kumar Some of those wrong things. You sort of talk about our performative anti-racist actions and unconscious bias training in the workplace. I mean, those are well-intentioned schemes.


Kehinde Andrews Yeah.


Nish Kumar But you don’t think that they’re effective?


Kehinde Andrews No, I think the basic thing we’ve done is we’ve tried to convince those people in power or convince the majority that we should change, make it a moral issue. And can you, you know, can you teach racism out of people with anti-bias training, with education, with Black History Month? Can you can the approach of taking more people know the more they we can convince them not to be racist And that’s not is not how it works. Societies race it because we need it to produce the goods we have to do. Slavery happens because they need to produce cotton, etcetera. Sugar. Today, the poorest parts of the world is so-called sub-Saharan Africa and the richest parts of the West. Why people at the top, black people above everybody else in between. That’s necessary because we need to take resources. We need take Labour from Asia and China, etc.. So racism exists because it is the economic system and whiteness and the ideas that keeps it in place that produce. Why the system. So the idea you can change the way we think without changing the system is that that is a fantasy.


Nish Kumar So whiteness and capitalism are essentially inextricably linked.


Kehinde Andrews 100%. You cannot separate capitalism from colonialism. It’s not an accident that black people are enslaved. It’s not an accident that the empire enriches the West. All these things are connected and the whiteness comes to be comes into being to justify it, to justify. Why is it that the life expectancy of white people is like 80, 80, 80 years and love is better? See, Nigeria is 54 now. Justify that for what? That’s what whiteness is. It’s a set of ideas, not just for white people. Many of us embrace it can be better. Black is a perfect example of somebody in the grip of this psychosis.


Nish Kumar If we just take the post 2008 politics in the UK, in the US, you can see the two of them are inextricably linked because you’ve got you know, if you if we weren’t talking about stopping the boats and talking about immigrants taking our resources, we would be able to have a conversation about how the public finances were essentially asset stripped to pay off debts accrued by the deregulated financial sector.


Kehinde Andrews Yeah, exactly. I mean you think about this is, this is nicely this erm identity politics of the right kind of starts with Thatcher when they want to get rid of social democracy, they want to cut the tax rates, they want to you know, and then since what you’ve seen since that massive cut in tax is that obviously hospitals don’t work as well, there is no housing, there’s nothing tough stops working when you stop taxing rich people. Yeah, but what they’ve done really well is they blame those, you know, as immigrants. These migrants stop people coming in. And so your average person believes that. The problem is, is these you and me, you and me and the rich people, you keep to take it all the money.


Coco Khan I do want to talk to you about the title of this book, though, because I it has attracted some controversy. Mainly it’s around the word psychosis. Is it ablest? I know you talk about this in the book, but just for our listeners, I wondered if you could you just explain why you decided to go with this?


Kehinde Andrews Actually, the history of psychosis is more political than medical. So in the early 20th century and in the States, it’s about rich white people, white women, black people aren’t seen to be mentally developed enough to have a psychosis. Right? It’s only really in the 60s that it shifts when you have black power, civil rights, they start to say, oh, no, what’s wrong with these people? There is a long history of the idea that black people want to be free means we’re crazy, goes all the way back to slavery. And so psychosis shifts and becomes a label for us and it becomes the psychosis we now think of. So I went to trouble the notion of psychosis. Psychosis is not this objective thing we think it is and it has been applied. Black people are about seven times between 7 and 14 times more likely to be diagnosed with psychosis and to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. So I purposely picked it because it’s what we need to rethink.


Coco Khan Also, I would say you do talk about being something of a provocateur in the book, and I did want to ask you about that. You know, you go on TV and you argue with Piers Morgan. One, why so genuinely, like on a personal level, how is that for you? I don’t know, kind of political level. Do you think that work is still important?


Kehinde Andrews I enjoy it.


Nish Kumar Do you actually enjoy it?


Kehinde Andrews Well, I think I say what you do, what you do in turn red make me understand what the term gaman means. But no, for me, because again, this is what are we trying to get out of these things? I don’t go in there trying to convince him that I think this is pointless. I know you’re not going to go.


Nish Kumar Yeah, yeah.


Kehinde Andrews I go in there every time I have a set of things I want to say or something. And actually, interestingly, in those kind of spaces, you can get so much more stuff like BBC, you can say other things. I say, Oh yeah, right. So we had a whole thing about psychosis awareness on on GMB. I said, The British Empire’s worse and the Nazis. I can never do this in any other place, Piers. I actually got I knew I knew exactly what. Somebody does know exactly what I’m going to say. So I say, of the British, Empire’s worse and the Nazis. I knew if I say these people say this and I can say these, Yeah, and I would hate explode and that’ll be the headline. And then you’ve got this idea right, which otherwise wouldn’t have been out.


Coco Khan There because people put a lot of stock around the idea that it’s like, you know, Christmas talk to that racist uncle and persuade him. Yeah, I mean, do you think that’s a waste of time?


Kehinde Andrews Completely.


Coco Khan Right.


Kehinde Andrews Because you know, all the in fact the evidence on like whiteness studies and training actually tells you doesn’t work. All the evidence says maybe you get for a second, for a few weeks, you’ll get like a change. Then people will go back to their assumptions. This is what I’m saying is a psychosis. There’s no there’s no way to deal with in that sense. We should be trying to fix the economic system, political, economic system, not trying to convince convince people. There’s no evidence of that was one.


Nish Kumar Of the things that we try and focus on is kind of tangible takeaways and focus on solutions. If the long term goal is remodeling the political and economic systems, what’s the kind of short term goal that you could press potentially, potentially, perhaps a Labour government for if that’s if that’s where we’re going?


Kehinde Andrews Yeah. I mean, the idea that Labour is going to give you anything is that psychosis like Labour’s better the Tories, although Labour certainly by not, I don’t expect anything, not always been to solve the problem. So I mean I’m strongly arguing for what black radicalism is that we organize, we connect, we create connections across Africa in the diaspora we’re hoping to have. For Malcolm X, his hundredth birthday, a Congress of African people in 2025 on the continent haven’t got a venue way. I haven’t told anybody, but this is long term. That’s all we should be doing. Trying to get allies and trying to get more even more black professors. It’s not a bad thing. Well, it’s not a thing that solves the problem. I’m too. Too often what happens is we get stuck with this trying to fix a symptom because the symptoms killers. Right? So if you don’t actually fix a disease, then you is always, always, always going to have the have the same problems recurring.


Coco Khan But I mean, you know, you work in academia. There is definitely a role for education. Right? How else do you wake people up unless you tell them no?


Kehinde Andrews Yeah. I’m the most reluctant professor in the world. In fact, I very rarely use a title, honestly, because what I’ve started thinking about as a as a metaphor is this the professor’s let’s leverage if you actually look at what the purpose of higher education is, it’s not this lefty radical thing that the right wing likes to pretend it’s deeply conservative. It is. Getting students in debt is hugely problematic. I won’t go into detail, but in many ways it’s similar to a slave Preaching like the purpose of the school system is to keep us passive, keep us in the system. And that’s why I get that’s why I have my my role, but also in the more positive sense. It was often the slave preachers like Nat Turner in America, Denmark, Weezy, Sam show up in Jamaica who led rebellions because they had privileges. They were the ones who could read. They were the ones who could congregate in large groups, people. They could travel between plantations and mostly preachers to slavery. But there were those who took their privilege and kind of used to undermine the system. So that’s the only reason I stay in academia.


Nish Kumar Just on a personal level is that lonely?


Coco Khan The man says he debates Piers Morgan for fun.


Nish Kumar There’s various references is a book of my current employer. Is various references to my type of publication employer. Is there do you feel sort of feel isolated as a whole. Not just your specific institution, but in higher education as as a whole.


Kehinde Andrews Yeah, I’m trying to get fired, but they won’t do it. Yeah. But I don’t think anybody is ready. I think that’s a problem. What about what? Somebody just read it? Maybe that. But actually, part of the reason for writing it was to kind of to point out to people that actually lonelier when you try to make it in these white institutions. I mean, there’s so few black professors who’s 160 in the whole country, 45 black women professors. But we actually can’t all get on a plane together just in case it crashes and nobody knows. And it won’t even be a big plane. It’s on a plane. I was. I’m the only academic, still the only academic professor in the university in my own university and had me for years if I was just being an academic. And that was my. But I’ve gone crazy a long time ago. Right? What keeps me sustained is that I do this community. We have international networks. Obviously, I do my job, done the bureau. But I don’t find like even even things like worth value. I don’t find that in the inside the university I find aside university makes me it actually makes me much happier. So so I’m trying to say that.


Nish Kumar So it’s essentially your status that your professorship grants you. It’s the satisfaction you get is what you’re able to do with that status by outside of the institution potentially.


Kehinde Andrews Yeah. And that’s story as I because to be quite honest, the status inside hasn’t got me much. In fact, since I got Professor made it worse, I actually had to go to the press about racism because it was that bad in the university. I was, you know, I was really upset to get counseling about it. And I went to my mum and I told her the story and she was like, well, that’s what being black is. And kind of walked off. And I was like, Well, I spoke to some sympathy. And. It was no sympathy, but it taught me a lesson. I expected to be treated properly by a race institution because of my professors. Forget it. You can’t do that. And actually, since then, I’ve taken a step back. It’s like, well, look, it’s a job and I’ll do it. And I can’t. My relationship to the place has changed, but in a way that actually makes me much more whole. But I think this is all evolving.


Coco Khan But if Kemi Badenoch took the highest office, do you think she she could be immune to this?


Kehinde Andrews I think to some extent, because when you’re in these spaces, even if you can get success like Kim, you’ll get success. There’ll be a time, there’ll be a moment like Britain first don’t really like can be better. They like what they do what she can do for them. Yeah. And at some point it’s all going to come crashing down for everybody.


Nish Kumar What makes you hopeful in amongst all of this? Where do you what makes you. Hopeful and keeps you driven?


Kehinde Andrews Yes, I’m actually incredibly hopeful. Radicals. Always hopeful. I’m just saying, if we keep doing the same things, it’s not going to last. Definition of madness, right? That’s the wrong thing to do. What gives me hope is that I think people are now realizing that you can’t get change. And I think for the last 40 years, 50 years, we really have. Can we reform things? Can we get more representation? This government proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that representation does not mean things get better. So I think the particular younger people are seeing that, like Malcolm X said, this system can no more provide freedom, justice and equality than a chicken can lay a dock egg. He does not mean to do it right. And once people understand that, then we’ll start to say, well, let’s do the the revolution. What is build the radical practice? You. I’m actually not a critical race theory surprised Bryce Kruger is there is one thing which I don’t do but everybody black does apparently but one of the things from critical race theory is. The idea of interest convergence. So the only time you get big changes is when the interests of minorities converge in the interest of the majority. That’s what we should be thinking. Interests Converge is not allyship. And example I give in the book is black studies. So we have the first black studies degree in Europe. And it’s not because he made any moral appeals, not because I convinced the boss, the same boss who had to complain about the press, about racism. But he needed it was because they started charging students fees. In 2017, we could get unlimited. My students and I literally went to unions say, look, we’re the only place in the country that could do this. We could make money. And that’s how we got black studies, right? Interest, convergence. None of the people who did that were allies, as I later found out of the neighborhood. But that’s how you get change. So if you really would do want to have change, we should think much more about that rather than trying to convince people to be on our side.


Coco Khan But that makes it sound if we want change, we should find a way to make money from it.


Kehinde Andrews Well, it depends. In that example, it was money, but it could be protest, right? So protest will bring boycotts. Bristol Bus boycott, 6463. That was interesting. Yeah. So yeah, this protest is the economic argument. Those kind of things is not one positive change has happened because we’ve convinced the people in power that it’s the right thing to do because for moral reasons, always about economic, political, political pressure, though those always go and that’s how you get the change you want.


Coco Khan That makes me a bit hopeless because I really care about the planet Earth and I sometimes have this moment being like, what could be more self-interested than saving the planet so that you don’t die? Yeah, I’ve been surprised how little that has worked. So, you know, the idea of making people see that social justice is in their interest, it’s hard.


Kehinde Andrews No but this again and again. And actually, so much of the climate is about white supremacy, the idea of constant growth, the idea of the way you have to treat the land, the idea of this exploitation of the earth is again even intricately linked into white supremacy, which is why it’s impervious to reason. You think it’s pretty obvious that we’re all going to die. You should do something different. But so again, my strategy for global climate change, that’s not going to work. It doesn’t work. So the protest is one, maybe you can push that way. What we should be pushing the Green New Deal is good for the economy, etc., etc.. That’s that’s the argument going to win that that’s how you’re going to get the changes that you need because it’s not going to be a moral and a moral. This makes sense because if we don’t do things rationally.


Nish Kumar In conclusion bribery. That’s the PSUK campagign. Bribe a White.


Kehinde Andrews You said it. I didn’t.


Nish Kumar Kehinde, thank you so much for joining us for an interview that somehow I think is going to get all of us fired. Hashtag Bribe A White


Coco Khan So that was Kehinde  Andrew’s. He’s the author of The Psychosis of Whiteness Surviving the Insanity of a Racist World out now in all good Bookshops.




Coco Khan So it’s time for you to reveal the UK Villain of the Week, Nish.


Nish Kumar My villain this week is a political party that I’ve been previously not wanting to talk about, but it feels like their success is at the very least noteworthy at the moment, especially in the polling. It’s the UK Reform Party now. For those of you who are blessed enough to have no idea who these people are, their leader is Richard Tice is a right wing multimillionaire who bankrolled the Brexit movement, and they have an honorary president, Mr. Nigel Farage, who is, of course, currently sunning himself in Australia, where he’s doing a reality TV show called I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, which seems to involve him Downing Smoothies made of dog steaks. Earlier this week, Christine McEntee, the general secretary of Unison, accused ties of harking back to the 1940s after he said high levels of immigration were changing the nature of our country and making us poorer culturally. Now, the reason it feels noteworthy to talk about them at the moment is they have started to poll at the same amount as the Liberal Democrats. Right. The latest polls show the Conservatives on 21% and the Reform Party up to 10%. Now, obviously the UK Reform Party polling at 10% is a worrying thing in of itself, but it’s more about the impact it will have on the Conservative Party because as received in the last 13 years, if the Conservative Party is concerned about being outflanked on the right, it tacks harder and harder to the right to head off that whatever movement it is, whether it’s the Brexit Party, the UK Independence Party, they have constantly tried to absorb the hard right by doing things like, say, for example, giving them a Brexit referendum. And the UK Reform Party is not just coming after conservative voters on the hard right of the party, it’s also going after Conservative MPs. So Lee Anderson has actually claimed this week he said MP that I think we would all agree comes from the very much hard right of the Conservative Party. He’s claiming that he was offered money to switch to Reform UK. Now Richard Tice has denied that that happened, but he has said that he’s had numerous discussions with Conservative members, including ministers who are furious with what he claims is the government’s betrayal on migration. So this is further talks of following the debate around migration and going to further poison out politics and make the next general election even uglier than it’s already shaping up to be. And the other thing that concerns me about Reform UK is, you know, we are seeing a real swing towards the hard, hard right in recent elections in the Netherlands and Argentina. We’re really seeing this kind of ugly side. The AFD is surging in Germany. The you know.


Coco Khan Marie La Pen as well.


Nish Kumar These are all things that should deeply concern us. It’s really, really scary what’s happening at the moment. The Argentinian result, what’s happened in the Netherlands with gate builders and, you know, the surge, the AfD, the rise of Le Pen again in France. I don’t know how many Indiana Jones movies we will have to watch to know that Nazis are bad. I seriously. Is nobody getting the message of these goddamn movies? How many Indiana Harrison Ford is in his 80s? Is he going to have to keep making them until he’s dead? Are we going to have to get a hologram of Harrison Ford to continue driving this message home? I find the rise of the hard right and our obsession with talking about the Second World War impossible to square in this country. All we ever do is say never forget what happened in the Second World War. Never forget what happened in the Second World War. All these extremely right wing politicians have nice haircuts. This country’s motto should be never forget, but also never learn. For legal reasons. I should clarify. I’m not calling reform UK Nazis.


Coco Khan My hero is someone who has been trying to take a stand against exactly what you’re talking about. So my hero of the week is Nick Lowe’s. He’s the managing director of Hope Not Hate, which is a group which campaigns against racism and fascism. So I’ll be honest, I only recently came across Nick Lowe’s online. I’m aware of hope, not hate. Funny enough, I was actually just saying to the producers this morning, I first came across Hope not Hate because they were involved with love, music, hate, racism. If you remember that, one of my very formative political experiences. So I came across him recently when we’ve all the sort of controversy around the Palestine Solidarity march on Armistice Day. Nick was there at the Cenotaph amongst what looked like quite scary scenes. Some of the footage that we saw of these far right believers, followers or English lads, as they call themselves, Fighting the police were Nick Lowe’s, this footage. And I just think just for a start, well, that’s quite brave to be there. You know, there’s quite a lot of violence there. He wanted to document it and he wanted to showcase it. So that’s how I first came across him. But he’s been doing a lot of work just around monitoring and fighting against the far right. Now, he’s had a success recently. I mean, he’s had many he’s he’s done a life’s work on this. Issue. But the one I want to talk to you about is how he exposed a historian called Nikki Shaw. So Channel five were going to show a documentary this this week. It was called The Year The Temps Flooded and Niki Shaw was going to contribute. Nick Lowe’s highlighted some statements that this show had previously made. She was very much on his radar. She had allegedly called for the singer Sam Smith, to be gassed. And reports show that she posted images of herself doing a hit, the salute and licking a swastika lollipop. Hope not Hate. Also claim that Shaw mixes with members of neo-Nazi group Combat 18. And they also said her Facebook page was riddled with vile racism and dehumanizing language. Following the work that Nick did to highlight this, he posted about it online. He gathered support. Channel five pulled the show from their schedules, saying We will not be airing the film while producers look into this further. I think that is an amazing bit of work that he’s done. So thank you to Nick Lowe’s, Hero of the Week.


Nish Kumar Great choice, Coco. We’ve actually also had listener suggestion for Hero of the Week. Polly Theobald has emailed us to say your last episode highlighted the campaign as stop messages for London. Could I suggest another campaign group working hard towards a similar goal? Keep camp feels closed. Our group in Oxford working to keep an immigration removal center from being developed on the site of a previous detention center. I may not know much about the best way to help those seeking asylum in the UK, but opening these centers similar to Bibi, Stockholm and the camps in Calais seems abhorrent. Many thanks for all that you guys do. You do make the issues of today a lot more digestible than having to wade through the shit so well. Thanks very much, Polly. That’s very, very sweet. But we’re also delighted to give the people involved in Keep Camp Fields Closed a shout out that seems like an extremely worthwhile cause. And it’s work that we’re very, very glad that you’re doing. And if you want to find out more about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, we’ll link in this week’s episode description.


Coco Khan Yeah, absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. Camp Fields had lots of controversy around it. When it was open, people went on hunger strikes. Yes, there was violence. It was not the sort of thing you want to repeat. So thank you for highlighting that.


Nish Kumar And thanks to everybody who emailed as ever. Quickly, a couple of episodes ago we had an interview with ABC’s James O’Brien. It was a great chat and it’s well worth going back to if you missed it. Now, in that interview we mentioned Jeremy Corbyn’s TV clash with Piers Morgan in which the former Labour leader refused to say that Hamas were a terrorist group. Mr. Corbyn’s office have been in touch to point out that he has both previously and since been clear that he does consider Hamas a terrorist group. So we’re happy to clarify that.


Coco Khan You can get in touch with us by emailing We love hearing your voices, so please do send us a voice note if you can. Our number is 07514 644572. And internationally that’s +44 7514 644572. We’d also love to get your thoughts on what we’ve discussed on this episode. Or you can send us a question about British politics or or suggest something that you’d like us to cover in future.


Nish Kumar Thanks for listening. See you next week. Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.


Coco Khan Thanks to senior producer Musty Aziz and digital producer Alex Bishop.


Nish Kumar Video editing was by David Kaplovitz and the music is by Vasilis Fotopolous.


Coco Khan Thanks to our engineer Alex Bennett.


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


Coco Khan Watch us on Pod Save the World’s YouTube channel or follow us on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram where we are PodSaveTheUK. All one word.


Nish Kumar And hit Subscribe for new shows on Thursday on Amazon, Spotify or Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.


Coco Khan When do I get to start doing the theme again?


Nish Kumar You can do it whenever you want.


Coco Khan Well, no I feel I have been shamed.


Nish Kumar Why have you been shamed?


Coco Khan You shamed me.


Nish Kumar I didn’t. Shame. I’ve never shamed you even once.


Coco Khan Yeah, what? You did. This shit is recorded.


Nish Kumar I don’t feel that I shamed you. I believe I’d encouraged your vocal flourish.


Coco Khan Do you think that’s encouragement?


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Coco Khan Fuck you too.