Tory donor racism row, plus the Princess and the pic | Crooked Media
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March 14, 2024
Pod Save the UK
Tory donor racism row, plus the Princess and the pic

In This Episode

Another shocker of a week for the Conservatives which saw their biggest donor caught up in a race row, and their former Deputy Chairman defect to Reform UK. Beth Rigby, Political Editor at Sky News, tells Nish and Coco that the Tories don’t want to give back the £10 million they received from Frank Hester last year, despite the racist language he’s alleged to have used about the MP Diane Abbott. Beth also reveals what happened at the surprisingly tetchy press conference held by Reform to unveil Lee Anderson as their party’s first ever MP in the Commons.


Beth tells Nish and Coco why she’s obsessed with THAT Royal Mother’s Day picture, they discuss Princess Catherine’s questionable photoshop skills, conspiracy theories and what it all means for the Royal Family. 


Nish’s hero of the week is film director Jonathan Glazer, while Coco isn’t happy with Times columnist Matthew Parris. Plus hear about Beth’s Arsenal bantz with Keir Starmer, Coco’s visit to the dentist…and more badger chat!


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Beth Rigby, Political Editor, Presenter and Podcaster, Sky News


Audio credits:

Sky News

SBS/7 Network/Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


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Coco Khan Hi, this is Pod Save the UK.


Nish Kumar I’m Nish Kumar.


Coco Khan And I’m Coco Khan. And Nish, riddle me this. When is a racist not a racist?


Nish Kumar Is it by any chance, when they’ve donated 10 million pounds to your political party, Coco?


Coco Khan Oh, you’re good at this?


Nish Kumar I am good at this. On this week’s show, Political journalist of the year, Sky New’s Beth Rigby is here to run through another worrisome week in Westminster.


Coco Khan Will the Tories have to refund owner Frank Hester and will any other MPs follow Lee Addison into the welcoming arms of reform UK?


Nish Kumar Hello, Coco.


Coco Khan Hi Nish, how are you?


Nish Kumar Good. How are you?


Coco Khan I’m good. I’m just looking at my script and this is the area that says Nish and Coco chat. It’s quite a lot of pressure, isn’t it? Nish and Coco chat.


Nish Kumar Are you saying that you would like them to script our chat?


Speaker 3 No.


So we could be. Hi Coco, how are you? I am well this week. I have mainly been.


Coco Khan Keep going I’m interested.


Nish Kumar Having lunches and what have you been doing this week?


Coco Khan This week? Well, I’m having a great day today because I’ve got use of my mouth back, which has been a bit of an issue.


Nish Kumar Definitely for a podcast. I would say mouth is essential.


Coco Khan It’s quite funny. So I had basically I had a root canal on Monday.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Coco Khan And all the last two days I’ve been at home with my other half, you know, not really being able to speak. And, you know, you can tell someone’s desperate to make, like, a wife joke.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Coco Khan Someone’s desperate to be like, oh. That’s how we shut her up. Whatever. He’s not managed to find it. So I’m trying to look, it’s just hard being woke isn’t it Nish. Like, those jokes are just don’t come.


Nish Kumar I would happily watch you do an hour of standup as this. Whatever. This character is a sort of “Wife Joke Magee” was like, whatever. Whatever that character, how is it?


Coco Khan Is well, I’m pleased to say that I have received the care that I needed. I’m not pleased to say it was not via the NHS because, as you know, no one can get an NHS dentist appointment. But, you know.


Nish Kumar Well I I know about the state of NHS dentistry because you’ve written a very good piece about it for The Guardian, which is available online.


Coco Khan This is available online and all good news. Well not anymore. It’s it’s an old article.


Nish Kumar Yeah, it’s an old article. You can’t go to the newsagent to say you got a copy of the Guardian from about three weeks ago.


Coco Khan But yes, I did a big deep dive into it. And the main thing, this is a like a serious moment for the Nish and Coco designated chat area.


Nish Kumar This is supposed to be the fun bit of the show.


Coco Khan The is the fun bit, right? This bit is not fun. But basically the headline of that article is that dentistry is an example of privatization in the NHS.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Coco Khan So if you ever have a moment where you’re like, I wonder if privatization could work, maybe it would be better if those who can pay do pay. Just look at dentistry. It doesn’t work. If you can afford to pay, then you basically get priced out of the NHS in the sense that they don’t set services for you. They quite literally assign it by how many people will use it. So the more you don’t use it, the less it’s assigned, if that makes sense. So it’s a downward curve.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Coco Khan And then one day you find yourself in a cost of living crisis. And you actually can’t afford the 350 pounds.


Nish Kumar Wow.


Coco Khan And then your budget. So anyway, going back to my dentist thing, when I came out of my, the anesthetic and it sort of wore off and, you know, you have the after care meeting the dentist was like, I’d really recommend to you to eat soft food. Yeah. And then she was like, stick to the dahl and rice. Is it racist that she said that?


Nish Kumar What’s the ethnicity of the dentist?


Coco Khan I don’t know. She was behind a mask. So there was a part of me that was like, this feels racist. This is is it racist? I mean, I do, I do like dahl and rice. That is true. I’m a fan. And I probably will eat that mainly after any dental surgery. But still. It was weird.


Nish Kumar Well, dahl’s a comfort food. You got the yellow dahl, the darker dahl is like a comfort food.


Coco Khan It is a comfort food. But at the same some part of me was like, is it racism? It was genuinely helpful and it was kind of spot on. And it’s kind of sweet. But also, what?


Nish Kumar Stick to the dahl and rice. Your dentist is a donor to the Tory party.


Coco Khan My God, can you imagine? Plot twist.


Nish Kumar Which leads us on nicely to the rest of the show.




Nish Kumar The Tories have been doing their best to downplay Anderson’s defection, which came after he was kicked out of the party for refusing to apologize for saying London Mayor Sadiq Khan was controlled by Islamists. But what will be worrying number ten more is the sense that more rats might be tempted to leave the sinking ship.


Coco Khan Don’t worry, though, Nish, there are still plenty of dodgy characters in the blue corner, a rouse blown up this week over the Conservative Party’s biggest donor, Frank Hester. He was forced to apologize after The Guardian reported that he said the MP Diane Abbott, the first black woman elected to Parliament, no less, made him, and I quote, want to hate all black women and that she and again should be shot. Hester, who runs a health tech firm, hasn’t denied the reports and admitted making rude comments about her in a company meeting in 2019. But he said his remarks had nothing to do with her gender, nor the color of her skin, even though he mentioned her gender and the color of her skin.


Nish Kumar So look, there’s plenty to get into with this week’s guests, Sky news politics editor and the Royal Television Society’s Political Journalist of the year, Beth Rigby.


Beth Rigby Thanks.


Congratulations Beth.


Beth Rigby Thank you. That was nice. .


Nish Kumar That’s pretty cool. Yeah.


Beth Rigby It felt nice. The last award I won was Hedge Fund Writer in 2006 when I worked for the Financial Times, so it was really nice. It’s been a journey, right?


Coco Khan Yeah.


Beth Rigby It was. It was nice.


Coco Khan That makes me feel better hearing that, because I always have this begrudging thing where every year this list comes out of like Asian people, and I’ve never on the list.


Nish Kumar Wait, what’s the list of Asian people? I don’t even know about the list.


Coco Khan It’s not like a home office thing. I mean.


Nish Kumar That’s what I would be. People start making lists of Asian people, I don’t know. That’s the last thing I want is my name to be on there. What is that going to be the list of people on a flight to Rwanda.


Coco Khan There’s always a list that comes out being like, oh, you know, diversity in media or whatever. And I never get on the list and I’m always really salty about it. But I’m delighted to hear that you two have been shunned for awards. Yeah.


Beth Rigby I’m not married, even though Wikipedia says I am. I’m actually not married. I feel like I’ve left lead my life, being the bridesmaid and never the bride and all which way. So finally I got to get my trophy.


Nish Kumar Wait, why does Wikipedia say you’re married?


Beth Rigby I don’t know, it’s incorrect, but I haven’t changed it because I wouldn’t know how to edit the page.


Coco Khan Do you know who that is? That’s an ex lover’s done that.


Beth Rigby Do you think?


Coco Khan Yeah, it’s classic.


Beth Rigby They tried to marry me off?


Coco Khan Well, if I can’t have her, no one can. That’s what’s happened her.


Beth Rigby Be on it. To be fair, I sort of am practically married.


Coco Khan To.


Beth Rigby Angelo, aka Saints Ang is my friend’s calling, which is really irritating. We’ve been together for 20 years,.


Coco Khan Awwww.


Beth Rigby And we have two children. so we are married really, but technically not married just if anyone’s if anyone can be asked to change that’ dbe great. But someone did once edit my Wikipedia page and said that I had a speech impediment because I dropped my g’s.


Coco Khan Oh my gosh.


Nish Kumar Really?


Beth Rigby Yeah.


Nish Kumar Oh my God.


Beth Rigby I had a speech impediment because I dropped my g’s.


Beth Rigby That’s so rude!


Nish Kumar Who did that? Henry Higgins?


Beth Rigby I don’t know. Someone that finds my g dropping tendencies very irritating.


Coco Khan They’re gonna hate this podcast.


Beth Rigby Got taken out, though.


Coco Khan So, while we talk about your enunciation for people that would like to hear more of it, you have a podcast. Do you see what I’m doing here? Is this is this, like. Is it smooth?


Beth Rigby That was a smooth. What? A transition.


Nish Kumar Yeah. There we go. That’s it. Yeah. That was that was professionalism.


Beth Rigby Much smoother than me. So well done.


Coco Khan So you’ve got this new podcast called Electoral Dysfunction, an all women cast.


Beth Rigby Jess Phillips, he’s the Labour MP. And it’s with Ruth Davidson, Baroness Davidson. She’s in the Lords, but she hates it when we call it Baroness. So we do it all the time. And and she used to lead the Scottish Conservatives. So we’re trying to get a, a, someone from Labour, someone from the conservatives. I sit in the middle and try to govern the uncomfortable. They are the hardest people, to try and manage. So I’ve sort of given up. So the recordings are just insanely long. I’m a nightmare to edit. So sorry about that, Philly. Yeah. And we get together and we do. We chat about politics, but we try and do a bit of what you guys do on this podcast. We try and make it fun as well. I don’t want it to be too worthy, because we want it to be accessible, and we want people to enjoy hanging out with us. And politics sometimes is quite intense, isn’t it?


Coco Khan Yeah. No, it really is.


Aggro. And we don’t want it to be aggro because he wants to sit on Saturday morning in their house, going for a walk at the football pitch, watching their kids and someone being really aggro. And that is. So I’m trying to be de-aggroed. It’s hard for me.


Nish Kumar Yeah. And it’s good. I’m going to make it even harder for you because, speaking of intense aggro, you were at Lee Anderson’s press conference.


Coco Khan Yes!


Nish Kumar On Monday. Let’s have a listen to you trying to ask him a question.


Clip – Lee Anderson Beth. You next.


Clip – Beth Rigby Thank you, Mr. Anderson. You talk there about a lot of soul search, and you were a Labour backer. Then you were a conservative MP. Now you’re defecting to reform. What do you say to people that say the problem isn’t all these parties? The problem is you. And this is all about attention seeking. And this has been very disloyal to Rishi Sunak, who made you deputy party chair and also two other colleagues that have backed XI very verbally in recent weeks and are probably very upset and angry with you that you’re going to only hurt their chances in a general election. What’s your answer to them? Thank you.


Clip – Lee Anderson Country, constituency and then party. Next question please Richard.


Clip – Beth Rigby Sorry, not.


Clip – Lee Anderson No no. Next question.


Clip – Beth Rigby What do you say. What do you say.


Clip – Lee Anderson Next question please. That’s it. I’ve given the answer, Beth. I’ve given my answer. Next question please.


Beth Rigby You’r colleagues who feel really let down this morning.


Clip – Lee Anderson Next question please.


Nish Kumar Yeah, that was Lee Anderson. Who, is. Yes, the former Labour councilor, who then defected to the Conservative Party and is now defected to, reform UK. He doesn’t seem like a man who was happy to be there, Beth.


Beth Rigby That’s just put down on everything, hasn’t it. That was really neg.


Coco Khan It was very neg, yeah.


Beth Rigby It was very neg. But you’re right. He doesn’t particularly like, challenge.


Coco Khan Hmm.


Beth Rigby And he was really irritable, in the whole of that press conference. He is a presenter on GB news. And there was a stark contrast between how he dealt with Chris Hope. He’s my colleague at GP news, the place close to there. And you know, you clearly saw he didn’t want to answer the question. And I think for Richard Tice, the head of reform UK, that’s quite embarrassing because he’s there to sort of lay out is the kind of voice of reform. And then he’s basically trying to duff up all the journalists, asking him what a reasonable question. Yes. Another female journalist asked him about some comments he’d made a few weeks back about, about defecting to reform. He said, why would I do that when the Tories have given me a political jibe, why would I knife them in the back? And she asked him, this knee sort of said, well, that’s politics, darling.


Nish Kumar I’m interested in the sort of personal experience that you have of being in the rooms of those kind of people. But I do just briefly want to ask you about the politics of this from Rishi Sunak’s perspective. How much do you think that this harms him?


Beth Rigby It’s bad for him in so many different ways. The first one is that it gives reform an MP in parliament, it gives them a platform with Lee Anderson is now the sort of flagbearer of reform UK.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Beth Rigby Reform UK are not really interested in trying to eat into the Labour vote. They just want to kill the Tories. Talk to Thais, he says. I just want to take the Tories out now. Whether he can or can’t is a complete different question. But it’s problematic because for those MPs that feel vulnerable to a big chunk of their vote, maybe move into reform, it makes them really nervous. So he’s got a party management problem, and he’s got an amplification of this now third largest party by polling coming at him. But then the bigger, the bigger issue here is the way in which, the Prime Minister has just lost control of his party. You see it in all, which weighs all the time. He’s lost authority. His MPs don’t think he can win an election. Power is draining away. And then Lee Anderson defecting. Is this an emblem of that? And when? It was interesting, because when I was doing my calls around on Monday, because at these moments you’re like, is that going to is this is this beginning of loads of defections? I didn’t think it was. But you got to check that out. And then it’s like, what’s the knock on effect for the Prime Minister? How much shit is he in? Right. And what was interesting was everyone had kind of gone to ground a bit. It was almost like there’s this resignation within the party that they’re doomed. Yeah. And actually, do they want to keep agitating? And there was some agitation with some of the right wingers coming out saying, we’ve got to change course. But there’s a sort, there’s just sort of a big black cloud hanging over them, at the moment. And for the Prime Minister, it’s sort of it’s like. Of watching him limp porn with a party that is just is there out of control? The other issue from a party management point of view is now, as she said, what what he’s going to get is a loud voice on the right wing of the parliamentary party saying, you’ve got to be more hardline on environmental policies, you’ve got to be more hardline on trans issues and gender policies. You’ve got to be more hardline on immigration. You’ve got to leave the European Convention of Human Rights, because if you don’t, we’re going to lose all these voters to reform. But the thing is, in our political system, as we know, first past the post is kind of a big sort of blancmange in the middle of the like. You’ve got to have this coalition of people that go from center maybe to center right for the Tories or centered center left for Labour. So while the right are saying we need to go further, right, you have those in the kind of one night they’re called the One Nation is, but they’re basically the center ground of the Tory party to the center right, saying, hang on a minute. If you listen to the kind of Leanne Anderson’s of this world, you’re gonna lose some of the Tory shires. And that’s the blue wall that they’ve got. It’s called the Blue wall now, and that’s where they’re facing the Lib Dem fight. So he’s being crunched on both sides. I mean, it is it is miserable for the man at the moment. I have to say it’s miserable. It’s like whatever he does, he can’t seem, to kind of catch a wave when I know that. I could imagine him surfing, to be honest.


Coco Khan I mean, I think, you know, you nail the head, hit the nail on the head when you were talking about, like, what that means in terms of policy changes. Because I would be lying if I didn’t say that. I had a little bit of instinctual joy when I hear about the Reform Party want to destroy the Tories, but actually, if you’re progressive, this is not something you take solace in because they, in the meanwhile, are. Poisoning the public debate. I mean, I’ve been in family dinners where people can start arguing and they’ve they’ve brought into the public arena something very poisonous and scary, something very extreme.


Beth Rigby But the point is that on the right and that can be the Reform Party within the Conservative Party, these conversations are happening like look at Liz Truss with the cons, you know, the reform strategies that make Britain great again, get our country back. This sort of this is all Trumpian politics, right? It’s kind of populist, right. Politics. Yeah. And you might not like it, but it is there. And actually we can have a debate about that up into this general election. Now, there’s a debate going on in political worlds where much clever psephologist, that’s people that study elections. It took me ages to learn that word.


Coco Khan Oh my God wait.


Beth Rigby Now that I’ve got it down. I love saying it.


Coco Khan I hate that you said psephologist and I thought of Sofology the interiors brand. I was like, Ooh.


Beth Rigby Psephology is quite nice, isn’t it? I feel like if you’re talking about right wing populism, there’s some arguments about, I don’t know, maybe we all move into more polarized politics. But look, you know, if you look at what happened with Labour in 2019, the Jeremy Corbyn agenda, which really pushed people away from Labour, Labour have had to come back to the center ground. Right. And a lot of people don’t like it, but that’s where they are. Now they’re doing really well. And as the Tories kind of end up having a fight about kind of how tough they can be on immigration. Yeah, it might, it might attract a ceiling of voters, but it’s not moving them in the polls, is it? And so, you know, there will be an argument within the Conservative Party after the general election unless, Rishi Sunak performs the biggest comeback I’ve ever seen. And, you know, I don’t rule anything out in politics anymore.


Nish Kumar Yeah


Nish Kumar [AD]


Nish Kumar Let’s lurch to the next scandal that the Tory party found itself mired in this week. Comments allegedly made by Tory donor Frank Hester about the former Labour shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott. She said it’s left her feeling vulnerable and frightened and has filed a complaint with the Met Police. The Conservative Party is now coming under pressure to hand back the 10 million pounds he donated to them last year. Since the story broke, senior Tories have been tying themselves in knots on the airwaves over it. So. Cabinet minister Mel Stride defended Mr. Hester, telling Sky News that while his remarks had been inappropriate, they were not gender based or race based. It’s an astonishing analysis of those remarks. Energy Minister Graham Stuart told Times Radio he would hesitate to call Hester’s comments. Race is going on to say we’ve got a Hindu prime minister and he’s our biggest donor. So I don’t think this is a man who is racist, which again, that’s another four hours we need together. And Lord Marland, a former Conservative Party donor and treasurer, told LBC that Mr. Hester does a lot of business in Jamaica. He does a lot of business in Malaysia, in Bangladesh and places like that, so he’s not racist. Again, I would love to point him in the direction of a history. Even the Wikipedia page for the British Empire, it’s just a cursory glance at it.


Coco Khan So clearly this sort of nonsense couldn’t hold for long. And by yesterday evening, number ten had put out a statement saying the comments allegedly made by Frank Hester were racist and wrong. If you think that means that common sense prevailed, sadly, this is Britain. You would be wrong, because on the morning that we record this, Kevin Hollinrake, the Post Office minister, said that not only with the party not hand back the 10 million pounds, but if Hester offered another 10 million to the party, they would take it. Here are Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak clashing over it at PMQs.


Clip Mr. speaker, the man bankrolling the Prime Minister also said that the member for Hackney North should be shot. Shame. How low would he have to sing? What racist, woman hating threat of violence. What do you have to make? Before the Prime Minister plucked up the courage to hand back the 10 million pounds he’s taken from. Mr. speaker, as I said, the gentleman apologized genuinely for his comments and that remorse should be accepted.


Beth Rigby I think there’s two things going on here, which is they don’t probably want to give the money back, right. The guys donated 10 million pounds. Why it took, the Prime Minister as long as it did to get to the point. Of saying it was racist, I think was a massive mistake, and I think that a lot of people were very upset by this language used against Diane Abbott, who has had more abuse as an MP than anyone else. What I think really happened was Kemi Badenoch, who’s the equalities minister and a black female MP and a cabinet minister, came out last night and said it was racist. Yeah, but people deserve forgiveness. So what she was saying was it was racist. I want to say it was racist, but, you know, let’s not cancel this guy. Yeah, yeah, like people feel differently about that. But that was her view. And then the Prime Minister then came in. And also condemned the comments as racist. Right. So they’ve got themselves into a mess. And you know, when I talk to conservatives, I’ve been talking to them about this past day or so. You know, they say, well. Kemi Badenoch kind of broke the party line of what they were trying to to contain it. And that was disruptive for the Prime minister in terms of party management, because she basically had to follow her. I think there’s still now a live issue around whether they will have to give the money back. I spoke to a very senior conservative, about this who thinks they absolute basically said it’s racist. It’s not acceptable. We cannot take money from this man. We need to give the money back. This is not the end of it.


Nish Kumar And also, isn’t there quite a specific problem here, because I slightly feel like one of the things that’s being lost in the conversation is the use of the phrase she should be shot because we’ve we’ve spent.


Beth Rigby She’s reported it to police. I mean, this is now a police investigation.


Nish Kumar We’ve also spent the last few weeks.


Beth Rigby Yeah.


Nish Kumar With a lot of conversations about direct threat to MPs lives. We’ve had Rishi Sunak come out and stand on the steps of ten Downing Street and warn us about extremism and radicalization, and MP safety is something that we should be taking extremely seriously. Doesn’t that pose a specific problem for the Conservative Party?


Beth Rigby Right. And what you’re really talking about is leadership, isn’t it?


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Beth Rigby Right? You’re talking about leadership of a prime minister who is really struggling to show leadership and control at the moment. I think it speaks to a wider problem within the party, because you are right that the Prime Minister talked, he did this, this impromptu, address on the steps of Downing Street, like they don’t happen. The only time they happen is when someone’s either resigning or becoming prime minister or, you know, Boris Johnson did them. Like, we’re going to lock you down. Yeah, right. And he talked about, needing to come together to fight racism. And then he wants to lead on this issue, and then you’ve got this absolute mess this week, which for many conservatives is an open and shut case, right. That the the remarks were racist. They should have been disavowed immediately. And there should be a debate in the party about whether or not they give the money back or not. Right. And yet it was all a bit kind of people being sent out and half apologizing, but not and trying to kind of defend the line. And that’s actually that’s actually about leadership in about deciding where what was said and in terms of our principles, how do we respond to that? And you just, you know, you get out ahead of it.


Nish Kumar And I’ve said this before on this show, I feel that there is a hierarchy of racism in this country. And I feel that when there are allegations of racism around the Labour Party, they are examined thoroughly, as they absolutely should be. The principle is the principle is the principle. But with the Conservative Party, we are constantly encouraged to essentially get over it. Even with this idea that what Frank has said is something that we should just move on from, you know, that he should be forgiven from. That’s all well and good. Diane Abbott still hasn’t had the Labour whip restored.


Beth Rigby But who hasn’t restored the whip?


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Beth Rigby It’s the Labour Party again.


Nish Kumar I do think that’s a problem, because I think the Labour Party is scrutinized very heavily for race and racism and was scrutinized very heavily for antisemitism. But I don’t think the same scrutiny is applied to the Conservative Party. I really don’t.


Beth Rigby When you say the scrutiny, do you mean within the media?


Nish Kumar I think within the media and within our political conversation? I think that I don’t think that there is sufficient scrutiny, because if the same scrutiny had been applied that was applied to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, that was applied to Boris Johnson, he would never have been he would never have been a minister.


Beth Rigby And I think that this is a natural conversation, that I think that the conflict, in Gaza, this has. Right. You know, this has become more of a conversation, which is why can Lee Anderson make those remarks about Sadiq Khan and kind of almost get away with it until the Prime Minister was seen by many to be forced to act, whereas Keir Starmer has been much more active on antisemitism. So I do I think you are raising a point that people are discussing. I think one of the I think one of the issues around this is part of how you change a party has to come from the people within the party as well. And it has to be, it has to be a conversation or fight, really, that conservatives have prepared to have with their party. And ultimately, I think if they don’t have it, they they will just end up alienating more voters.


Nish Kumar Well. There’s another story this week. The opposite end of the seriousness spectrum is, I would like to get your opinion on. I mean, we don’t know really what level of seriousness this is. It’s not really political. Where is Kate Middleton.


Beth Rigby Ohhh Kate Middleton?


Coco Khan Where is she?


Nish Kumar Oh. The thing that I really want to get your opinion on is this idea. There’s been some speculation about, where Kate Middleton is, which all seems to be a bit odd and priry.


Coco Khan Yes.


Nish Kumar You know, if she’s had health problems, she’s more than entitled to a right to total privacy. She doesn’t. A loss of public appearance is very strange. But then something really strange happened over the weekend where a photo was released that the various press agencies, I think the AP was the first one, have refused to use as a source.


Beth Rigby Sort of kill notice.


Nish Kumar What does that mean?


Beth Rigby Right. So on Sunday night I went to sleep really early and then I woke up at about midnight. I don’t normally do this. I normally sleep through. When I checked my phone I was like, “They’ve withdrawn the photo.” I’m like what? What? The first photo of the Princess of Wales for weeks with her children on Mother’s Day? They went. Oh my, I got. And then I went into the tunnel. Yeah?


Coco Khan Yeah.


Nish Kumar Oh yeah.


Beth Rigby Three hours later I came back out and I knew quite a lot. So I might get to answer this question.


Coco Khan The thing that I really thought about and this is so ridiculous. But like a lot of my friends are like graphic designers and things like that. And photoshopping hands is really hard. And I just kept thinking, imagine one day you wake up and you release this photo.


Beth Rigby I know.


Coco Khan She’s an amateur photographer. She does the editing herself, apparently. And just the entire world is like, look how shit her photoshop is. It’s so rubbish.


Beth Rigby My Angelo is actually a former graphic designer, you know, and he can Photoshop. So she should have just he’d have done it for £200.


Nish Kumar Well, this this is the thing.


Beth Rigby She shouldn’t have just called me. I would been like he’ll sort you out.


Coco Khan He’ll sort you out.


Beth Rigby He once made my, my eyeballs look a bit whiter like the whites of my eyes. It was great. I was like, can you just move my fringe? Make me a bit thinner, please? He’s like, no.


Nish Kumar What is the kill dose, though?


Beth Rigby Right.


Nish Kumar Because that’s the thing that I’ve never heard that before.


Beth Rigby I don’t know, really. I’m just going to tell you what I found out on Twitter, and via Wiki, so it could or couldn’t be true. But apparently like there because because obviously there’s a lot of fake images and so so they have standards about what if they believe photos have been photoshopped they don’t. This is why having like actual press photographers.


Nish Kumar Yes.


Beth Rigby That are not. But like this is my bugbear. Like they issue photos instead of having independent photographers doing it. But agencies, if they think pictures have been doctored, they will not put them out. So this picture went in circulation. They then know had a look at it. And when you look at it, I mean, I was there, I was like, it looks fine. And I’m like zooming into it.


Nish Kumar People studying it like.


Beth Rigby I’m like I can’t see it? What’s wrong?


Nish Kumar It’s like people are studying it like the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination. Like it’s unbelievable.


Beth Rigby Yeah, but then I went into the Telegraph and they were like, here are the ten. And, you know, like, when you do spot that, you know, you can you. Could you spot the difference. That’s like the circles I saw. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. His arm does look a bit weird. Oh. Where’s her ring? Where’s her ring? You know.


Coco Khan Yeah, yeah.


Beth Rigby So why why don’t we just talk about this? The whole of the podcast.


Nish Kumar Well, I mean, like, I sort of feel like it will inspire eventually a kind of a six part series.


Beth Rigby So. Yeah. So they so they, they, they withdrew the photo.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Beth Rigby There has been so I mean, one of my friends, half joking sent me a message on the day ago, is, is Kate Middleton still alive? Yeah, of course she is. But the point is there’s loads of conspiracy theories now about what’s going on, right?


Coco Khan Yeah.


Beth Rigby And then so then the next day, the palace got William and Kate to drive somewhere out of a drive so that there was a photo of Kate.


Nish Kumar Right. Okay.


Beth Rigby But then, because she was looking away from the camera, then it was like, is a body double? At which point I was like, please everyone, you’ve lost your minds. The reason I think actually, editorially is an interesting story is because it speaks to kind of the mess that the Royals are, that they’re having.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Beth Rigby But having had, having to manage like the death of the Queen, which not all of. Oh, well, I can’t speak for you guys, but not me for sex, because Sutton was like, but she’s been there all my life. But they handled the transition really well. And Charles has been well received. King Charles well received. And then they’re just in a that they’re kind of in a difficult place at the moment. And this sort of this new story that’s sort of really unnecessary. And then it just creates all this, all this clamor around the about around the wells is and especially if she’s not being very well, it’s just it’s it’s actually it’s just a bit grim. But there’s a bigger question about how much we all now relying on, on images being generated by the principles rather than, rather than independent, photographers. So maybe that will become a bit more of a discussion again.


Coco Khan [AD]


Coco Khan Beth, I did want to speak to you just about your life and being a woman in journalism.


Beth Rigby No. No let’s just.


Coco Khan No. We have to do it.  We have to do it. Because, you know, you mentioned about taking Boris Johnson to task on his comments and getting booed.


Beth Rigby Yeah, that wasn’t very nice. Then there’s a horrible article about how I couldn’t talk properly.


Coco Khan Yeah! You have been the subject of all sorts of, you know, let’s be honest, misogynistic, classist, not nasty comments. Just because you are a journalist and you’re asking questions which you ask of everyone. One thing I’m always curious about is, do you think the ten has gotten worse? Or is it always been like this? But because of the 24 hour news cycle and social media, we’re now aware of the quite stressful situation. Or if genuinely, in the last few years, it’s gotten uptick.


Beth Rigby It’s a good question, Coco. I mean, I, the thing is, it’s about being it’s also about being in the public eye. Right? So I wasn’t I was a print journalist and I had a byline, but my face wasn’t all over everything, and I wasn’t on the telly. Right. So when it first started happening and I got a lot of abuse, I found it really, really upset, like really upset me to the point where I thought, do I want to do this? This is those one guy who, got a bulldog, you know, and would put, you know, red lipstick on it and send me pictures of me.


Nish Kumar Jesus Christ


Coco Khan Oh my God!


Being  you know, a dog with lipstick on, I’m like, come on, guys, but so but a couple of things happened is. Yeah, I think it is getting worse. I mean, look, we joked about that Lee Anderson, but he was bloody rude to me at that press conference. Right. And it was a bit like. I don’t like your question. I don’t like you. I’m not going to answer it. And it’s like, well.


Coco Khan An elected official talking about that.


Beth Rigby You’re an elected official and you’ve invited us to a press conference, okay. If you don’t want to do it, then don’t be an MP. Yeah? Also Lee, if you are listening to this, which I highly expect you’re not. You said. You said that. You said that everyone’s invited up to Asheville. Did I want to come out? So you got to invite me out. I really want to go do that.


Coco Khan Most uncomfortable pint. I would love to see it.


Nish Kumar If Lee Anderson is listening to this podcast. I will give both of you £10 million each.


Coco Khan Oh. Okay we could make that happen.


Beth Rigby Lee, I’m going to get you to listen and them I’m going to split our winnings anyway, but the but. But so it has got worse. Weirdly, it bothers me less and I don’t know whether that’s just you. You build up a thicker skin, but also I put all the filters on.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Beth Rigby I put all the filters on. Right. So a lot of stuff doesn’t, doesn’t touch me. And then you the other thing I did at the beginning was I used to go home and I say Angelo should we search my name on Twitter? And I was like read some of them out to me and like, but when it was Angelo and I knew he loved me, and he’s reading this stuff and he’s just laugh in his head off because it’s so preposterous. Yeah. So you make it into a joke, right? So it’s not a joke. Yeah, I kind of have to laugh of it, but look, I there is, there’s kind of, there’s just people being shitty to you because they find a woman in a position of authority, intimidate. And I’m sure you both have this in your lives as well. Like, you just get abuse because you know you’re not. Why? And you, you’re in positions of influence. So, like, people cannot stand it, right? So you get that. But but the thing that’s actually more serious and the thing that really bothers me isn’t it’s not really it’s not something that touches me, but it’s like what happened with Diana, but which is death threats and, you know, people. And it’s happening to male MPs as well, where people are having death threats and they’re having to get the police involved. And it has just got worse. And I’m afraid to say, going back to what you were saying about this kind of political parties not calling it out, and in some ways allowing it almost to trickle through just because it might appeal to, I would say, a small part of our country. I don’t think Britain is like, look, I you too will experience this far more than I do, but I hope that Britain is broadly a very tolerant country and racism is something that is not tolerated. The problem is, is your talk you talked about earlier is that when it is perceived to be tolerated in any way or explained away in any way by political leaders, what is the cascade effect down? And that’s why the way in which our leaders behave, it really does affect the tone that is set right. But unfortunately, I think we’re going to go into really nasty election. Yeah. And I think it’s going to get worse. What I hope happens is once we are through that election and it settles down a bit, whichever way it goes, that that perhaps, a bit more tolerance can come back. I think it’s been a, I think it’s been a really unpleasant political cycle, going from the Scottish independence debate in 2014. Teen and then the, the, the, the EU referendum and then all the Brexit wars and then Covid, which really triggered a lot of people in so many different ways. And then Boris Johnson’s behavior and then Liz Truss, you can see like it’s built up to be a very toxic environment for politics. Right?


Nish Kumar Just as a kind of final thought. Beth has multiple mobile phones.


Coco Khan Multiple phones.


Nish Kumar All of which she says are work phones. What do you do? How do you switch.


Beth Rigby What do I do?


Nish Kumar Off from politics? Yeah.


Beth Rigby I obsess about Arsenal. That’s my new passion.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Beth Rigby It’s like a displacement activity that’s like, get obsessed about politics. Know everything. Yeah, I should I don’t there’s lots I don’t know.


Coco Khan Do you and Keir have a little arsenal.


Beth Rigby Yeah I have. So I’ve decided with Keir Starmer just drinks like look like it’s social effect. Like Westminster drinks. Things they do there to stop asking him political questions. Yeah. So we get in these huddles and then I just start talking to my arsenal. Then all the other channels sort of just shut off. I also I want to ask you a proper question, and the last one I did was who do you think is the best looking Arsenal player? And he just looked at me and I was like, oh, that’s the wrong question.


Coco Khan But did he answer?


Beth Rigby No, he just.No.


Coco Khan Aw damn.


Nish Kumar Well. So who is the best looking Arsenal player?


Beth Rigby Well I think about this often.


Nish Kumar Thank you so much for joining us, Beth.


Beth Rigby Thank you for having me.


Coco Khan No, no, it’s our pleasure.


Nish Kumar It’s time to name our hero and villain of the week we’re mixing up this week. Coco is going to be bringing the anger while I’ll be bringing the love. So Coco, kick us off. Who is our PSUK villain of the week?


Coco Khan So I’m going for the former conservative MP turned times columnist Matthew Parris. Now look, I’m a journalist. I do understand that sometimes, especially in columns, you know, you need to provoke. You will take a strong opinion in order to encourage debate on the issue. But his recent column on disability benefits, I mean, I just could not let that slide. So the piece posits that the amount of money you can receive on disability is too tempting. And so therefore, people who would ordinarily be claiming universal Credit because they’re out of work are tempted to claim this, this benefit that there’s lots about it that is problematic. I mean, I think anyone who has ever had someone who is long term ill will know that this is some sort of cuckoo land that is living in what you can just say you have a disability and you get this supposedly tempting money. It’s actually a appallingly low amount. I mean, generally speaking, you could go to Department of Work and Pensions and say that you have delusions of being the Messiah. And I dunno, you’re missing several limbs and they probably say, you know, you sound fit to work. So I mean, it’s it’s sort of stinks of, blaming the people who are struggling, blaming the vulnerable. So he says, I do not believe in ADHD at all, except as a catchall for a whole gaggle of unrelated ways people behave. I think autism is a real thing for a relatively small number of people, and a much abused diagnosis for a huge number. So that idea that ADHD does not exist is really problematic for the people that suffer with ADHD, that completely stigmatizes them. And I think it also pushes this idea that if you have one of these neurodivergent, conditions that you’re not working. I mean, plenty of people with ADHD are employed, plenty of people with autism are employed. They just requires some modifications. And so there’s so many different problems with what he’s saying. So, you know, he’s it’s not fair to people that are claiming, disability, you know, they need it. And it’s also really unfair to people who are really struggling with those conditions and out in the world of work to have someone this prominent say it’s not real and it’s all in their head. So I think for those reasons, I it had to be him. It ugh.


Nish Kumar Also, what is he, a doctor? Is he qualified clinical physician? What on earth is it? What basis is he. You can’t. I do not believe in ADHD at all. Fuck is he on about?


Coco Khan But on a positive note, who’s taking home our PSUK golden statuette? Just for clarity, that’s metaphorical. We don’t have a budget for that.


Nish Kumar I think it would be nice to celebrate, Jonathan Glazer, this week. Not that he’s not been celebrated enough. He, of course, won an Academy Award, for Zone of Interest. And, upon winning the award for best International feature, he gave, the following speech.


Clip All our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present. Not to say, look what they did then. Rather, look what we do now. Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst. It shaped all of our past and present. Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people, whether the victims of October. Fifth, whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza. All the victims of this too. Humanization. How do we resist, Alexandra? This strong color check the girl who glows in the film as she did in life, chose to. I dedicate this to her memory and her resistance. Thank you.


Nish Kumar So, at the actual ceremony, a thousand people took part in a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, which actually led to a delayed start. Jonathan Glazer, who is Jewish, was the only person to directly bring up, Gaza from the stage during the ceremony. Apart from several actors who were photographed wearing, pro-Palestinian pins proceeds five pins. I feel two things about this one. I thought the speech itself was a kind of extraordinary, use of that platform. But also, I feel the zone of interest is in of itself a kind of extraordinary work of art. And it’s, it does what we want good art to do, which is, confront the past and related to the present, the kind of depiction of the, you know, the overused phrase, the banality of evil. It really did do that showed you how people were able to live and work and go about their day to day lives in the shadow of, you know, the most horrific crime committed in the human race. You know, it’s about the family where the father essentially was the manager of Auschwitz. And you see on the periphery of this kind of bucolic family existence, the most atrocious crimes. Is being committed, and I think the film is an extraordinary piece of work. And I think that what he said and the fact that he wants the film to be related to the present moment, was extremely powerful, and I thought it was really heartening to see somebody speak out on that platform. The speech has been praised, but it’s been criticized, and Jonathan Glazer is not somebody who dashes things off. And he weighed each of these words very deliberately. He read them from a piece of paper so that he couldn’t be misquoted. I found some of the criticism has been quite willfully misquoting what he said. The key phrase is we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness in the Holocaust, being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. He didn’t refute his Jewishness. He didn’t claim to speak for the entire Jewish community. He was speaking for himself as a Jewish person. He drew a parallel between the suffering of the people that were killed on October 7th, and the people that are being killed every day in Gaza. Listen, I don’t think the people are obliged to make political statements at award ceremonies, but it was very heartening to me, as somebody that is a fan of his work and found Zone of Interest to be an extraordinarily and profoundly moving film, to see him be willing to speak out in the present moment. So I just wanted to take that opportunity to celebrate. Glazer. There are a lot of us who want an end to the fighting in Gaza, want the hostages to be returned safely and want the killing to stop. And he spoke for, I think a lot of people, who are living in countries where their governments are supporting, what’s happening in Gaza. And so for that reason, and many others, wanted to celebrate him this week.


Coco Khan So we’ve just got time to look in the PSUK mailbag. @BobEarl01727 commented on YouTube in reference to last week’s episode in which we discussed the budget. He says Starmer’s framing of the country’s credit card being maxed out is just wrong, and taken from the Osborne playbook on the basis that it’s going to be our next PM, he has to be called out on it. We have had 14 years of cuts to public services. We cannot afford to have any more. Yet that is what both the Tories and Labour are giving us. We gave Cameron and Osborne a free pass on this. Let’s not do it again just because we want the Tories out.


Nish Kumar Yeah, couldn’t agree more that we talked a lot last week about the comparison of a country’s finances to household finances being something that has been proved to be demonstrable economic nonsense. You started talking about badgers last week, I don’t you when people have better budget and I invited the listeners to contribute towards like budget. And, I should have known better than to do that because we’ve had lots of budget correspondence come in. @LucyDeso02592 on YouTube, says Coco. I could relate to your feeling of Badger meeting. I felt similarly animal struck when meeting an armadillo, a hawk and a barred owl in the world for the first time. Way more special than celebrities, Iamho.


Coco Khan Armadillo bro. Wow!


Nish Kumar BrianArmstrong373 went on YouTube says “A couple of years ago I was out cycling brackets riding back from the pub. We cannot. I don’t know whether Brian Armstrong drank alcohol at the pub. We cannot condone cycling after drinking. And my front, light picked out a badger, which I then followed for nearly half a mile before it heard me and looked round before driving into the hedge at the side of the road.


Coco Khan Diving into the hedge.


Nish Kumar So, Brian Armstrong there with a heartening tale of stalking a badger. And Al has emailed in to say, my only experience with a badger. I can’t believe I can’t believe this is a political podcast. My only experience with a badger is what I wrote off my first car, hitting one when I was 17. It’s okay. The budget was absolutely fine. The radiator was not. Al has also added. Also, I totally misheard agony Uncle Nish as angry Uncle Nish. This feels like a much better fit. All it does is listen. Angry Uncle Nish, it’s nice to have a preview of what my nephew is going to call me when he’s old enough to talk.


Coco Khan Just on the badger writing off the car. When this badger moment happened, I was obviously very enthusiastic, so I told anyone I met, and at one point I told a cabbie, you know, guess what? My asshole Badger and the cabbie was from that area. I was still in the area. And he said to me, the thing you have to know about badgers very sturdy. That was the phrase he used.


Nish Kumar Very sturdy? Well, clearly. Demolished Al’s car when he was 17.


Coco Khan Anyway, so Easter is rapidly approaching, and we’re planning to have a week off at the start of April so we can concentrate on eating chocolate, going to raves which only happen on the bank holiday weekend, or just watching some other rubbish stuff. Anyway, it doesn’t matter well, but we’ll still be popping up.


Nish Kumar Anyway. What we do on our weeks off is our business. Okay.


Coco Khan I am allowed my privacy like Kate Middleton is. We’ll still be popping up in your newsfeed though, with a special bonus episode. We’re going to be dipping into the mailbag to answer your questions.


Nish Kumar We get so much correspondence, week to week, and we’re not able to get to all of it. So we thought it would be nice as a special episode to go into the mailbag and answer some of your correspondents. We would also love more questions so that it’s not 45 minutes of Coco and me talking about badgers. So if you’ve got a question about UK politics or if you’ve got a problem or dilemma, feel political agony aunt and uncle, then get in touch. We also want to hear from you if there’s something going on that you think we should know about. Maybe there’s a local campaign to improve people’s lives where you are. Whatever it is, we want to know about it or for our international listeners. If there’s something that has always mystified you about our weird and wacky political system, write in and we’ll do our best to explain. By which I mean we’ll call someone who actually knows.


Coco Khan So get in touch with us by emailing PSUK. That’s your line. Does it matter? It’s my line. It’s your line, my line?


Nish Kumar Listen, I’m not going to be precious about who gets to read out the email address.


Coco Khan Okay. Get in touch with us by emailing PSUK.


Nish Kumar Dammit Coco, that’s my line!


Coco Khan Oh, you know, you really should go into acting. Genuinely, I was convinced. Umm. Get in touch with us by emailing We love to hear your voices, so if you’re feeling brave, send us a voice note on WhatsApp. Our number is 07514 644572. And internationally that’s +44 7514 644572.


Nish Kumar Don’t forget to follow at Pod Save the UK on Instagram and Twitter. You can also find us on YouTube for access to full episodes and other exclusive content. By all means, drop us a review, but only if it’s positive. We’re not here for your honest feedback if it’s negative.


Coco Khan Mmmmm. Do I do the music?


Nish Kumar No. Are you going to sing the?


Coco Khan I said last week I did the music. And you know what’s interesting about it, is they actually cut that out, which I think was them saying don’t fucking do the music.


Nish Kumar Okay. Well I guess you’ll do the music and I’ll read the credits over the top.


Coco Khan Okay go on.


Nish Kumar Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media. Thanks to senior producer Musty Aziz and digital producer Alex Bishop. Video editing was by Dan Hudson and the music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos covered specially this week by Coco Khan. Thanks to our engineer David Dugahe.


Coco Khan Can’t remember the rest of it.


Nish Kumar The executive producers are Tabby Haines. Why did you commit to this? Dan Jackson and Madeleine Herringer?


Coco Khan This is stupid.


With additional production support from Ari Schwartz. Did you not plan this? Remember to hit subscribe to new shows on Thursdays on Amazon, Spotify or Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Beth Rigby Should I just do just another song?


Nish Kumar Why did you not prepare for this at all?


Coco Khan I didn’t know today was the day.


Nish Kumar Did we record the podcast?


Coco Khan Do you know the tune? Now genuinely, do you know it?


Nish Kumar No. But at no point am I swinging into town going. I’ll sing it this week. I’ll sing it this week. And I’ll do a couple of verses of Bohemian Rhapsody while I’m at it.


Coco Khan I know that’s very that’s a very me thing to do.


Nish Kumar I’ll say this for you. You’re confident.


Coco Khan Oh, thanks.