Scandal and cyber security in Westminster | Crooked Media
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April 11, 2024
Pod Save the UK
Scandal and cyber security in Westminster

In This Episode

Coco is back from holiday and the first order of business is for Nish to explain the Westminster “honeypot” scandal, which has seen the vice-chairman of the 1922 committee resign. But beyond a salacious story about MPs texting, what are the broader security issues this raises? Nish and Coco also take issue with Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting attacking “middle-class lefties” in a tabloid newspaper.


Special guest Shami Chakrabarti joins Nish and Coco to discuss human rights – what they are, why we need them, and how we need to define them in a future that’s powered by technology and AI. The Labour peer also gives her verdict on Keir Starmer’s leadership, Diane Abbott’s suspension, and responds to listener comments about the importance of voting. Plus she takes an unexpected detour into film criticism.


Nish laments the fall of a heroic shoe, and Coco aims a government department for the way it treats carers in her villain of the week.


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



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Baroness Shami Charkrabarti, human rights lawyer and author of Human Rights: The Case for the Defence’. 


Audio credits:

Dr Luke Evans MP

Sky News

Elent Finance/Instagram



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, the honeypot scandal has been engulfing Westminster.


Coco Khan Special guest Shami Chakrabarti tells us why we need human rights.


Nish Kumar And we explain why Rishi Sunak has ruined shoes.


Coco Khan So Nish,  I’ve been on holiday, so I’ve come back to learn that, British MPs are extremely horny. What is going on?


Nish Kumar Okay, this is a quite complicated and extremely strange story. On Thursday last week, the MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester, William Wragg, announced that two years ago he exchanged messages on a dating app and the person he was speaking to started asking for the phone numbers of other MPs. Worried about the messages and also the kind of content this person had from him. Wragg obliged and since he went public with this, we’ve learned that several MPs, parliamentary staffers and Westminster journalists subsequently received near identical messages.


Coco Khan Right. Okay. So so what was it like, a phishing scam?


Nish Kumar Yes. Effectively, yes. It was a phishing scam that unfortunately involved compromising photos of, a member of Parliament. I think that’s, absolutely. As much as we need to say.


Coco Khan Okay. And how many people have been.


Nish Kumar So we’re now up to 21, according to Politico. And the whistle was first blown on this a month ago by Doctor Luke Evans, who’s a conservative MP for Bosworth in Leicestershire, who took a slightly different tack to William Wragg when he was sent sexually explicit images. As he explained in a video on his Facebook.


Dr. Luke Evans Clip Page a month ago, I was a victim of cyber flashing and malicious communications and blew the whistle by reporting it to the police and the parliamentary authorities. As soon as this happened. The first set of messages I got was on a day. I was with my wife, and I got a one time open photo on WhatsApp of an explicit image of a naked lady. As soon as I got this the next day, I reported it to the police, the authorities and the chief whip. Ten days later, I got another set of messages. This time, however, I was sat with my team in the constituency office, so we were able to record the conversation and catch photos and videos of the messages coming through, including another explicit female image.


Nish Kumar The reaction to all of this in Westminster has been mixed. Here’s Chancellor Jeremy Hunt talking to Sky news.


Jeremy Hunt Clip I think the events of the last few days, have been a great cause for concern. The MP involved has given a courageous and fulsome apology. But the lesson here for all MPs is that they need to be very careful about cyber security.


Nish Kumar Listen, I will say this. I do think Will has been placed in unfortunate position. And Lord knows there are many of us out there that have fallen for it to a different issue, a huge range of phishing scams and all this kind of stuff. I would say courageous is maybe stretching it a little bit. You would like to think that you wouldn’t give out people’s numbers, especially if you’re a member of parliament. One of the MPs, Andrea Jenkins, whose number he did give out, has called Wragg an idiot. But the the message from the sort of leadership of the Conservative Party has maybe been to not take this as serious as perhaps they should. Instead of being fired by Rishi Sunak, Wragg was actually allowed to resign the conservative whip, meaning that he’ll sit as an independent for the rest of this parliament, as well as resigning as a vice chair of the 1922 committee and the chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. He’d already announced that he wouldn’t be standing again at the next election, so that’s already been out there, but he’s just sort of going to be hanging around Westminster, and he’s going to be voting on things like the Online Safety Bill, which he supported. But I’m beginning to worry that he’s not qualified to have an opinion on online safety.


Coco Khan Well, he’s popular, isn’t he? William Wragg, he’s considered a sensible person. And given some of the people in the Conservative Party, I can understand why a sensible person is probably being rallied around. So maybe that’s behind, like maybe that’s informs why people are being quite kind about it. But there are some serious questions here. Who’s behind this? Who is sending these phishing messages?


Nish Kumar I mean, there is there’s a theory that it could be a foreign power, though some international security experts said it doesn’t fit the pattern of, intelligence operations undergone by the Kremlin to sort of infiltrate foreign powers. It that it could just be criminals basically trying to blackmail MPs for money or influence it. It is a difficult thing because it is a really serious subject, but it does involve penises. The important thing for the British press and all of us covering the story to do, is to try and keep our mind on the fact that there’s quite serious security implications. Yeah, not the fact that it involves penises.


Coco Khan I keep having this image in my head.


Nish Kumar Of penises.


Coco Khan No, of people like in the Kremlin, in a secure room around a table with a whiteboard, like brainstorming ideas of how to infiltrate Britain. It’s just like, have you considered the horndogs?


Nish Kumar So can we just quickly circle back to whatever accent that was? What in the name of God? It sounded like you’re about to threaten James Bond.


Coco Khan No, that’s what I was going for. Yeah. I was going for that like James Bond villain. just some don’t know where they’re from. Doesn’t matter. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it


Nish Kumar Somewhere in Central Europe.


Coco Khan Central Europe is a villainous person. But anyway. Horny. Listen, we all know that horniness is a vulnerability. That’s true. That’s a lesson for us all.


Nish Kumar Yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah. That, I believe, is one of the core messages of this podcast. If we if we were allowed to get merch made with the word horniness on it “horniness is a vulnerability” would be one of the keynote messages Pod Save the UK. But let’s move on from this to the shadow health secretary, Labour’s Wes Streeting, who wrote an article in The Sun this week, a newspaper that some of us have not a favorable view of. And I include myself and the entire city of Liverpool for that. We don’t have time to go into the backstory of that, but, just Google the Sun in Liverpool. And it’s a particularly unsavory story about why that newspaper is not popular in that city, and that city is entirely justified in its opinion on that newspaper, in my opinion. This week, Wes Streeting wrote an article Eden said, about how, plans to pay private health care providers to carry out NHS services are going to be a core part of Labour’s offering on the NHS at the election. The thing that really jumped out at me, before we get into the substance of this is a point in the article where he has a go at what he calls middle class lefties. So this is the full quote here. Middle class lefties cry betrayal. The real betrayal is the two tier system that sees people like them treated faster, while working families like mine are left waiting for longer. So the accusation straight is making is that, these hypothetical middle class lefties have access to private health care and then spend their time saying that we should have less private influence in the NHS, but they are operating in a two tier system. I don’t understand why there is so much energy being expended by the Labour Party slagging off its own voters. Labour may well win this election very, very easily. Right. But at some point in the ensuing five years, they are going to need to be shored up by their core support. The next government is going to inherit an absolute shitstorm of an in-tray. Okay. And the second Labour Party take power. The conservative opposition is going to jump down its throat for being responsible for a series of crises that were engineered by the conservative government. Okay. And at that point, when we come to say some local elections, you your real danger of having alienated people that you will need to prop you up.


Coco Khan And it’s like it’s so unnecessary. You could have made your point, which I don’t actually agree with Wes Streeting, but nonetheless you could have made it. You didn’t need to go there.


Nish Kumar I’m also just fascinated by who these sort of middle class lefties are. I just, I sort of don’t really know who.


Coco Khan Well, that’s that’s been nice to me, isn’t it? This homogenous group has been made up by the right. They’ve adopted the language of it and they’ve sort of made this non truth a truth. It’s it’s a scary and like I mean, let’s just imagine for a minute that there is a homogenous group called the middle class leftie. Like. So let’s imagine them like I don’t actually believe that they’re really incensed about this idea of working class people having access to private services out of their sort of idealistic, ideologically driven. It’s more just this very obvious fact that the more you privatize the NHS, the closer you are to seeing the NHS disappear completely. That’s all it is, you know what I mean? And I just feel like he’s disingenuous, suggesting that this group of people have an opinion that actually you’ve not represented fully, fairly, and also who is this group?


Nish Kumar The other thing about Streeting article, which was actually the substance of it, was that he said Labour wanted to reform the NHS, by which he means, and I quote, put artificial intelligence technology in every hospital. I think there’s a huge debate about AI. There’s lots of sections of the health care industry that are concerned about it. There’s lots of sections that we should say are very, very excited about it. It’s a question that will need to be asked and need to be drill down into. In the interim, may I suggest that whilst we wait to see what the implications are of AI for hospitals, we use AI to write West Reading’s fucking newspaper articles for me, because I can’t be any worse than what the real guys chat it out.




Nish Kumar I guess this week is Baroness Shami Chakrabarti. She’s worked as a human rights lawyer and as you can tell from the exhalation you might have heard there, is thrilled to be referred to as Baroness. She’s was the director of the charity Liberty that works to challenge injustices and was the shadow attorney general under Jeremy Corbyn. Her new book is called Human Rights The Case for the defense, described as a powerful and urgent explanation and vindication of our human rights and freedoms. It comes out on the 2nd of May. Shami, as I have been instructed by you to call you. Welcome to the show.


Shami Chakrabarti Thank you for having me.


Coco Khan Thank you for being here.


Nish Kumar I never thought a part of my life would be navigating the honorifics for people in the House of Lords.


Shami Chakrabarti Well, I mean, I think most of the sensible people, know the best way of navigating is to ignore. And I think we take our lead from Alfie Dobbs, do we not? After who? You know who is, I think I would say the David Attenborough of human rights. Yeah. And if it’s good enough for him, if Alf is good enough for Alf Sharma, he’s got to be good enough for Shami.


Nish Kumar Before we get into the book. There’s one big story, that’s been sort of dominating the headlines in regards to the House of Commons this week. MPs being targeted with explicit messages after the now independent William Wragg handed out his colleagues personal phone numbers. Can you give us a sense of how big a security breach this is? How substantial are the tools or the training in place to prevent this happening to MPs?


Shami Chakrabarti Obviously, I’m not an MP. I’m in the on the other end, I do, you know, whatever the party politics and the politics, I do feel a bit sorry for William Young. And we know that even before this technology that we’re all now, in a way subject to entrapment, has always been real.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Shami Chakrabarti And I think that entrapment was always possible. Humans are always vulnerable. But the vulnerability is turbocharged by the, the proliferation, intimate nature of this technology that’s in your pocket.


Nish Kumar Do you have any thoughts on the idea that this could be the work of some sort of foreign power?


Shami Chakrabarti Well, there’s always that concern. Yeah. Here’s an interesting question. In the world of this new technology, what does paranoia look like? Back in the day when I was, for example, first director of Liberty. Classic paranoia would be. I think everybody’s watching me. I think everybody’s listening to me who think foreign powers are listening to me, watching me. What does paranoia look like when there’s an element of truth in that? Yeah, because of the proven attempts by bad actors, including state powers, including organized criminals, scammers, fraudsters to do that, I think, I think, I think it’s a serious issue, not just for US security, but for our mental health, emotional wellbeing, our trust issues and so on. It’s about all of us, this technology and whether we allow it to carry on being this unregulated space, it’s like a new continent without. Without sheriffs, it’s not properly governed and we’re nowhere close to technology moves apace. We’re not catching up quickly enough with, with our conversation, with our politics, with our law. You talk about that in your book, don’t you? The internet technology is this like the this is the area we should be. Really? This is the this is the book has a bit of history and a bit of philosophy in the beginning, just to just explain how human rights arrived. Yeah, but the big three final chapters of the book are about applying human rights to the current existential challenges. And they are tech and AI. They are war and peace and they are climate. Yeah. And I think that the tech you know, the tech stuff also cuts into base war and climate. And if we’re not careful and we don’t catch up, huge decisions are being made about all of us even now. Not just banking and insurance and health and and policing. These decisions are being made inside a black box that is owned not by the state, however imperfect your government is. It’s owned by a private contractor. Yeah. And we can’t see in the black box. We don’t know what was in the algorithm. And an algorithm is a bit like a law. It’s a list of instructions that, that then determine what happens to you or how the decision is made. Except this is not legit. We can’t we can’t see what this list of instructions is. And already, as I found terrifyingly when researching the book, huge injustices have been perpetrated. And we know about the postmasters. Yeah, let’s have that tattooed onto our souls, because this potentially is just the beginning of the, injustices that are possible hidden in in the black box, hidden in. Oh, the computer’s infallible. The computer’s infallible. But I want a human decision. I want a transparent decision that I can challenge in case it’s wrong. Given what you said about, you know, I. Climate war and peace and those being how we need to apply human rights. And all of those things concern Britain very strongly at the moment. I wonder if you can answer this question for me that I’ve had in my mind for ages, how good is Britain at human rights? Where would you rank us? Like how do we do it again? And we’re plunging. So I think the history is mixed. Britain did slavery. Britain was part of abolishing slavery, probably, and I touch on some of that stuff in my book. But as of now, I what I would say is in the postwar period, particularly straight after World War two, Winston Churchill was not a perfect dude. He has all kinds of issues in his story.


Nish Kumar Not a fan of Indians.


Shami Chakrabarti Or, at one stage, women, you know, he would post suffrage before we show you my letter. So there’s all of that. But he with others after World War Two, has to have some credit, some significant credit for thinking that human rights had to be part of the end game, part of what we do next after 1945, credit where it’s due. And I would say there was a bipartisan consensus in British politics for some years around human rights, not just civil and political rights like the Convention on Human Rights, but also social and economic rights like the NHS, the welfare state, universal state, education. At least you know, at least first if the primary kids and then so so it’s a mixed history. But I think there was a good a good story to tell about the postwar consensus. And now in recent years, certainly since 2016, we’ve taken a plunge. Right. I think the global picture, because nothing is national anymore. Right? It’s a shrinking, burning planet. Nothing just happens here. And I think the the rise of the populist far right all over the planet is deeply troubling and a real concern for human rights and not just a populist, far right People’s Republic of China. Ain’t so. Yeah, ain’t so much for the people as far as I’m concerned. So I think there is a you know, that’s why I wrote this book because I think this is a really, really challenging moment for anybody who believes in fundamental rights and freedoms. I did not expect at this stage in my life or my career to have to be not just arguing about whether this case is right or wrong, but about whether human rights themselves are right or wrong, whether we should pull out of the Convention on Human Rights the most successful, the most successful human rights instrument in world history, astonishing, astonishing.


Nish Kumar And that’s we should be clear what the conservative government is threatening to do to pass the Rwanda bill because so it finds itself, it finds itself, you know.


Shami Chakrabarti So Mr. Sunak is now calling one of his mantras is that the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, a creature of the. Of Europe that was founded by the get this, the Treaty of London in 1949. The this is a foreign court. So instead of international we use the word foreign. It was recognized by the Refugee Convention that some of the most genuine refugees have to sneak away with forged papers in the backs of boats and lorries, a stowaway. That’s what a desperate refugee sometimes has to do to escape. Which is why the refugee Convention says you can’t penalize somebody for the means of escape. And that is what is now. Stop the boats. That’s what we can do if you. We don’t care how genuine you are. We don’t care if you were an Afghan translator for the British you got here in a but you your so I’m claim is not going to be considered here at all right. So the British courts I defend straight it even in the wake of a British Supreme Court decision last autumn saying we don’t think that Rwanda is currently safe. Right. And then when the British courts have no power to deal with these cases, the only court left will be the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, to which Mr. Sunak says foreign courts. I’m going to ignore a foreign court. So do you see what is going on here? It is such a swindle. It is the most. It’s the most. It’s a grander swindle even than the one that Nigel Farage and co pulled off. That was nothing compared to this. We will rob people in the UK of their human rights in the name of stopping the boat. It ain’t stopping the boats, it’s stopping the courts.


Nish Kumar But then and then there’s these further calls to leave the European Convention on Human Rights as well. Doesn’t it also have implications for the Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as well? It does. Can you just explain that briefly for us?


Shami Chakrabarti So when I was a young lawyer, as we know some years ago, I had the privilege of doing a tiny bit of work on what became the Good Friday Agreement. And looking back on all of that, I my view is now that one of the things that made it possible was that, yes, you could you could choose which tradition you were in. You could think of yourself as British or Irish or both. But everyone was going to be European. And that sort of help that the fact that both the UK and the Republic of Ireland were in the European Union probably helped. But even more important, it was written in to that agreement that both sides would, would respect the European Convention on Human Rights and, and that the European Convention on Human Rights would be enforceable within Northern Ireland. Yeah. Now, if the UK walks out, we throw that treaty into jeopardy once more. And we saw the callous way that some of the arch Brexiteers treated the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland during the whole Brexit affair. And now this will be even even worse. The people that are currently in charge of our country just don’t care. They are reckless vandals and hooligans who can all for the domestic or the international rule of law. And I know this sounds a bit esoteric. The rule of law. What is the rule of law? Well, you can’t tell your kids that they have to respect the local magistrates or the all the criminal law against shoplifting or whatever it is. If the Prime Minister doesn’t respect the Supreme Court, the Court of Human Rights, international treaties, that’s that’s my view. It’s hypocrisy. And there’s nothing worse than hypocrisy if you’re trying to inspire mutual respect.


Nish Kumar Let’s talk about the Labour Party. You know, looking forward to the end of the year when there’s a general election, there’s still an assumption that Labour is going to form the next government. I wanted to read this email that we’ve had from a listener, Paul, on Keir Starmer, and it says this. I am a 31 year old English voter living in Wales and have voted Lib Dem, Labour and plied Cumbrae at various points in my life. My question is, what do people see in Keir Starmer that I’m missing? Am I blind to the good parts of what he’s offering, or is he offering nothing at all? What’s your evaluation of Keir Starmer as a potential future prime minister?


Shami Chakrabarti So obviously this is this is this is the this is the hot button question, isn’t it? I have known kids for a long time. He has been a lawyer and a, manager for a lot longer than he’s been a politician. And, I’m not. You know, a very long time politician. And by the way, I’ve never been elected to a parish council or a PTA. So he’s got one up, but he’s got one up on me. I think the values of the I think, you know, he prides himself as having been a human rights lawyer. He’s certainly been a lawyer for many years. And I think it’s important that he keeps listening to that, to to that inner core. I think the question was, what do people see in Keir Starmer? I think after years of maladministration, people were probably quite looking for a safe pair of hands. That’s not a terrible even the you know, the idealistic Chakrabarti is not going to say, oh, a safe pair of hands. That’s a bad idea. What we need to do is have a party and burn the house down. So I think a safe pair of hands is fine. As long as you know, those values keep beating very, very hard. And we. And we never listen to to some of the, you know, siren voices who say, oh, don’t don’t be too much a human rights lawyer, for example, because that’s what the Tories are going to attack you for. Yeah, that’s not his fault. But I think all of that comes a point with this stuff. Well you have to go and have the fight. You can’t keep running away from it because they’re not because it’s not running away from, from you. Whether it’s immigration, human rights, all these so-called progressive issues. I understand why it’s tempting to duck the issue if you’re going to be attacked for your background and your history on that issue. But I think we kind of got into this pickle in this country because progressives ducked some of these issues for too long and, and created space for the far right to take over the Tory party and, and put us in the position that we are now.


Nish Kumar And then there’s kind of two issues that I want to piggyback on the back of that, because I feel exactly the same as you and so many things that you just said. And it’s part of the reason why I found it so concerning that, you know, a qualified human rights lawyer like Keir Starmer was, you know, on LBC, essentially defending Israel’s right to violate human rights laws in Gaza. And, and, you know, to be quite honest with you, after the last 14 years, I would be thrilled with a boring middle manager like that. I think what we want is competence.


Shami Chakrabarti But I want it to be quoted that I called anybody a boring middle manager.


Nish Kumar The.


Shami Chakrabarti That’s that’s not a fair paraphrase.


Nish Kumar To be clear.


Shami Chakrabarti I never called anybody a boring middle manager.


Nish Kumar That was a spectacular piece of editorialization. That says more about the editor.


Shami Chakrabarti I’d better. I’d better push back.


Nish Kumar Yeah.


Shami Chakrabarti I better push back.


Nish Kumar But in an instant like.


Shami Chakrabarti I say, look, I think there was an explanation. Retraction qualification sometimes.


Nish Kumar Yeah, I struggle to make sense of the qualification.


Shami Chakrabarti Well, I mean, it’s, you know, that’s above my my my pay grade, as they say. But I do know that under pressure. Under intense pressure. People, myself included, will screw up.




Coco Khan Let’s think about another story that’s been, on my mind recently. And I think actually you have a great insight on it. It’s about Diane Abbott. So Diane Abbott obviously has been a massive target of online and kind of newspaper hate for many, many years. And I have the anxiety that there is going to be a chilling effect. Perhaps it’s already happening now where women of color are going to come out of the public arena. They are going to be afraid to enter it because it doesn’t matter what you say or what you do, you’re going to get bombarded. Now you are a woman of color, a very prominent one. I’m sure you’ve had your fair share. What do you think about the impact of the abuse that faces public speaking women of color?


Shami Chakrabarti Well, it’s I mean, you you sort of said it all in a way. I, you know, I just feel very, very sad about it, but it’s real. Yeah. And it is worse now. Right. Like there’s been in all I think he’s aware of things. I think maybe social media has turbocharged it as we were sort of suggesting before. So it’s always been there, right? Racism’s been there. Misogyny has been and certainly Diane has faced it 30, you know, has faced it, faced it. Amnesty international did an analysis, I think it was in the 2017 election. And they tried and they analyzed the internet and analyzed the hate that was poured on. What they found was that Diane was getting more of it than everybody else put together, and that this is a human being. Yeah, yeah, she’s brave and yes, she’s brilliant and yes, she’s a pioneer and all these wonderful words. And it’s good that we use all these wonderful words, but we also need to, you know, if you had to, if you had. She’s my dear friend. If you had a dear friend who was doing this, you would. Yes. Say, you’re brave, you’re brilliant, but you would also put your arm around them and say, but this is unacceptable. And if we can think this way, what? It’s our friends and family, including when they’re having disputes with each other, why can’t we apply the same logic to other people’s friends and family too? This is my concern. I genuinely think there’s a part of me that might say, now you are a woman of color. Maybe don’t do it for your own safety, for your own well-being. Now, maybe that makes me a coward. And I you know, I like to think, actually, if it came down to it, I’d be like, no, go, go fight. Sure. But it’s so horrific. But here’s what you here’s how do we get to this? I understand, I totally get where you’re coming from. But here’s the problem with the logic. It’s not just that people that will never get past it. It’s also that you might apply that logic to what women of color joining the police force, misogyny and racism are so right. Is that if we start down that road of telling our friends and family not to put the toe into the water, there won’t be much water left for them to swim because it’s not just politics is it? We have to have protection and solidarity for people rather than say, oh, just don’t go there.


Coco Khan So we should give Diane Abbott the whip back, right? In solidarity.


Shami Chakrabarti Of course, Diane lost the whip for a very foolish, letter to a newspaper, and her mistake was to compete for victimhood. It was a debate about who’s who faces the worst racism, which is always a mistake, in my view, because racism is racism is racism. The competition for victimhood is a tragic mistake. And she knew it. And she apologized quickly.


Nish Kumar Just for clarity, for people who might not be familiar with the specific remarks. Never had the whip removed for saying that the racism suffered by Jewish Roman Irish people wasn’t the same as the racism suffered by black people.


Shami Chakrabarti And that’s that’s the point. You know, it’s very easy when we’re all when any of us a feeling hard done by. It’s very understandable. She thinks that my our pain is worse than your pain. It’s not right, but it’s how people feel, particularly when they are in a moment of real her an abuse. She apologized very quickly. She was wrong. But she should be allowed back.


Nish Kumar And absolutely.


Shami Chakrabarti Absolutely.


Nish Kumar I believe she should have the whip restored. She’s apologized. That should be something that happens. And I also think you’ve referenced something twice that I think it’s so important to highlight that this idea that equality is a finite resource.


Shami Chakrabarti And they laugh. They laugh at the rest of us when we buy into all this divide and rule.


Coco Khan Yeah, absolutely.


Nish Kumar I think it’s so important that we don’t, you know, we don’t accept the terms of compensation as set by oppressors like those of us who belong to whatever mighty minority or marginalized community. We don’t accept that we have to fight each other for us.


Shami Chakrabarti I don’t think that’s it. I mean, not to. Obviously, we’re all, you know, progressives, we’re on the left. So I’m not. And of course we need to do the soul searching, but I think it’s the right that have done this. They’ve set those terms, you know, and it’s hard when they’re in control. Well, we were talking earlier about Suella Braverman, Rishi Sunak, you know, Priti Patel. And you know they are operating within that game. And in order to succeed they are throwing other people under the bus. And there’s a part of me that has like this very high level of emotional, anger. And I wonder if actually it’s misguided and I should be sort of directing it more at, I don’t know. We have to know who I would direct it at. I, I’ve searched my soul about my feelings about the utterances for quite a long time, and. I was concerned. There’s always a danger. Is, being particularly cross with your fellow women, right? Or your fellow who have less shins or whatever. Whatever. And so when I felt particularly cross with my fellow children of migrants treating refugees in particular in this way, I thought to me, are you internalizing racism? Are you being cross with them? Are you are you cross with them? Then you know Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson? I’m not. I’m pretty cross with those first. But having thought about it long and hard, this is what I think. I think a lot of, hate and cruelty comes from ignorance. What breaks my heart about Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman, Kemi Badenoch, they know better. They have accepted. They must have. They have experienced racism, their parents experienced racism and and, and and they know better. They don’t have even the mitigation. They say ignorance is no defense. It is at least mitigation. Right. They don’t have that mitigation quite often. The comeback that that that they might say is we are racist because we expect people of color to be left wing, which I know, I don’t think, by the way, I don’t expect it to be left wing. This is not about left wing. The refugee convention, the issue of these are not left wing propositions. These were agreed the Universal Declaration. These were agreed by Democrats across the aisle. Extraordinary piece of statecraft after the war for the United States and the Soviet Union to agree. On some of this stuff. So, this is not me bashing Tories. It’s horrible, horrible distraction. From the issues that are really, really affecting people who can’t, who can’t pay their bills. And, the NHS is crumbling around them. The schools, you know, teachers are buying sandwiches for the I mean, and then and then you use you trash. Human rights. As a sort of distraction from a thing, not certain to go.


Nish Kumar But I just I think what you said perfectly articulates how a lot of us feel in the we can totally accept that we shouldn’t hold them to high political standards, the conservative people of color, and we can accept that. But there is also this parallel feeling that we’re allowed to have of disappointment and confusion.


Shami Chakrabarti The reason why we have universal rights and freedoms and laws is that everybody is held to the same standard. But, you know, when I know that people from their own lived experience know better, then clearly ignorance is no defense.


Coco Khan Do you think we could have a progressive? So maybe Labour, maybe green, maybe even whatever it might be. But woman, Prime minister.


Shami Chakrabarti Of course.


Coco Khan POC, Prime Minister, you think ?


Shami Chakrabarti Of course.


Coco Khan Yeah?


Shami Chakrabarti Just because things have been a certain way doesn’t mean they always have to be that way. You know, it’s high time to have the, you know, perhaps the next leader of the Labour Party should should, you know, be a woman. It’s probably high time. It’s a party of equality. And I’m not saying that there aren’t great men around and great women around, but it it becomes it’s going to become a matter of historical embarrassment if if the party of equality has, after over 100 years, never had a woman leader.


Nish Kumar Before we let you go. I’ve got a couple of quick questions I want to ask you, in relation.


Shami Chakrabarti Is this like quick fire, just like, kind of just


Nish Kumar Get to know you. Barbie or Oppenheimer.


Shami Chakrabarti Barbie. Easy peasy.


Nish Kumar Oh, easy. No, not even a moment’s hesitation should.


Shami Chakrabarti Barbie. Yeah, I think I love Christopher Nolan’s movies. I thought his Batman movies were even better than Oppenheimer. I think that Barbie Barbie is going to be a timeless movie and a very, very interesting political movie. It’s really very at the politics of Barbie. I mean, it’s it’s Hollywood at its best in a way, with the subversive Hollywood that can do song and dance and glamor and have very, very serious feminist messages. The I think politically was much more, interesting to me than even Oppenheimer, which was a bit of a great man movie and probably cut out too many of the of the women who were involved in the Manhattan Project. But I think so. Christopher Nolan is, is a fabulous, filmmaker. But for me, The Dark Knight was perhaps even better than than Oppenheimer.


Nish Kumar I don’t think I had to shabby Jacket, but he’s a fan of The Dark Knight on my prediction card.


Coco Khan So we’ve had, load of emails and TikTok comments about our interview with George the Poet. It was a couple of weeks ago. He talked about voting apathy. So I just wanted to get your opinion on this. So, Leoshi commented on TikTok to say, whilst there is little difference between the two parties today in that small gap, thousands of people die. Meanwhile, Andrea commented on TikTok to say if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain. So you’re a Labour peer. You’re going to say vote Labour, right? But would you say anything else to people who feel that voting is just no longer an effective way to change the world?


Shami Chakrabarti It’s not the only way, but but people, really people died for it. I mean, I’m going to sound like a, you know, an old lady because I am and I touched on this in the book again, you know, suffrage struggles, all over the world. And they continue to this day, it’s so sudden, so fundamental. Use it or lose it. You know, whether you use it in a way that I agree with or not, I do think there is something very precious about voting in a country where you where you can. So I would urge people to, to vote. And I would also say that the thing about, democracy and about movements is that if we’re taking on the people on the Learjet and Mount Olympus, they have billions and billions and billions and billions of dollars and pounds, and we just have each other. If you are in mass movement, democratic politics, you have to compromise. And I know that’s really, really hard, but that is the nature of the thing, which means that some people call it holding your nose and they use all of this. I’m not talking about I don’t want to be as negative as the the nature of mass movement. Solidarity in politics, by definition, is compromise. Think about the compromises that you strike in your own family or friendship circles, or what to have for dinner, let alone how to run the country. If you abstain from one of the most important general elections, probably of my lifetime, I, I think it’s I think it’s a mistake. People must vote. Don’t give up this precious, precious freedom, however cynical you’re feeling, however angry. Whatever. Do the other stuff. Because democracy isn’t just voting. We didn’t talk about protest rights and how they’ve been clamped down on, and I feel very, very strongly about that. But you have to do the, the bare minimum as a citizen, if you were lucky enough to be 18 years old and entitled to vote, you vote and you do all the other stuff as well. We have to do all of these things and never give up. You know, things can can turn badly very quickly. They can they can turn around quickly, too. That is the nature of a volatile political moment. I still have hope.


Nish Kumar So what you’re saying is sometimes. It’s darkest just before the dawn.


Shami Chakrabarti Totally.


Nish Kumar That’s a line from the Dark Night.


Shami Chakrabarti Well, I think it probably was inspired by people even before that if I. If I may say. If I may say. But you know, what do I know? With great power comes great responsibility.


Nish Kumar That’s Spider-Man.


Coco Khan That’s Spider-Man


Shami Chakrabarti That’s Spider-Man’s uncle.


Nish Kumar Shami Chakrabarti, thank you so much for joining us.


Coco Khan So now for our hero and villain of the week. And  Nish,I believe you have a fallen hero for us. Once a hero, but a hero no more.


Nish Kumar I do Coco. R.I.P to the Adidas Samba.


Coco Khan Gone but never forgotten.


Nish Kumar The context. The Adidas Samba are extremely popular trainers, the Evening Standard, a London paper, said in most cities you’re never more than six feet away from a rat. In London, this is true of the Adidas Samba. The Guardian has drawn a parallel to the converse all stars in the 2000s, all the Stan Smiths in the 2010s a retro casual classic, an archival pub shoe that works almost anywhere but now. They have been felled and they’ve been felled by a blow from a single man. Rishi Sunak. Rishi Sunak did an interview where he wore Adidas Sambas and now they’re dead to us all. The video was with Abigail Foster, he’s a finance educator and the first 30s are quite revealing. Let’s hear it.


Clip Abby. Hi. Nice to see you looking at your stuff. You have a real eye. It’s quite a special talent. Better explain economic and financial things in a way that is relatable and engaging.


Nish Kumar I will remind you, Rishi Sunak was Chancellor of the Exchequer for two years. For two years, and he is acknowledging that someone else had a better capacity to explain finance and economics to ordinary people. Look, there was an unfortunate incident, recently where Rishi Sunak, attended a public event wearing some very expensive Prada trainers. So, I mean, presumably someone at Conservative Central office has said you can’t be wearing those trainers again. You got to wear the trainers that everyone’s wearing, the trainers everyone’s wearing around their sambas. And, you know, this is a quote from GQ, the Style magazine, in a bid to present himself as young and hip and quite possibly the future SVP of a tax avoiding tech brand. So Nike took an eternally cool sneaker and ruined it for everyone. Even former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson tweeted Holy shit biscuits! I support the PM but there is a limit. Is that your limit, Ruth? You still support this Prime Minister, but you’ll have a go at your first trainers. Honestly. In an interview with LBC, Rishi Sunak actually did issue an apology.


Clip Well, first of all, I just issue in fulsome apology to the samba community. But in my in my defense, I would say I have been wearing Adidas trainers and Sambas and others in fact, for many, many years. Actually the first pair my brother got for me many, many years ago, first pair my first pair of fun Adidas trainers as a Christmas present, and I haven’t looked back since.


Nish Kumar It’s absolutely embarrassing. We need Run-D.M.C. to come back. To repair the shattered reputation of the Adidas brand. In full. In full. But also, it does suggest that if you want a, an apology from Rishi Sunak, you go to wear Adidas Sambas. So I would suggest, if you’re a refugee coming to this country, you better pop up our sample song, because that’s the only way Sudan is going to show you the basic amount of human decency or respect. Coco, who’s your villain of the week?


Coco Khan So this week it is the Department for Work and Pensions. So this relates to a story that the Guardian has been covering for a little while. Is around Carer’s Allowance a subject, of course, close to my own heart. I’ll give you a quick summary of it. In order to claim Carer’s Allowance, you need to be caring for someone for 35 hours a week minimum. So that’s a full time job, isn’t it? And the allowance you receive is roughly £80. Now you are allowed to top that up with a part time job, but only to the tune of around 120 pounds a week earnings. Right. If you go over that amount, you’ll penalize and you forfeit the whole 80 pounds, right? Now, there’s many reasons why someone could go over that limit unintentionally. Perhaps they get a pay rise. Perhaps the national minimum wage has been, you know, raised perhaps as an inflationary payout from a company, blah, blah. But there’s all these different reasons. So lots of carers have been caught up in this mistakenly, you know, they haven’t meant to do anything wrong, but they are circumventing these rules. And the Department of Work and Pensions have been extremely aggressive about it. So there’s one case in particular that’s been recently covered, which really illustrates how cruel and draconian this can be. And it is concerning a lady called Vivienne Groom. So Vivienne Groom was caring for her mother and receiving Carer’s Allowance. She failed to declare a part time minimum wage job, should I say at the co-op to cover some bills, although she did say she did actually inform the Department of Work and Pensions. Now Department of Work and Pensions ended up prosecuting her for benefits fraud. She had no legal representation. She pleaded guilty and she received a non-custodial sentence and agreed a repayment schedule. Now, a judge ordered that the Department for Work and Pensions should calculate how much Carer’s Allowance Vivienne would have received had she declared this job from the start. But department from the Department for Work and Pensions refused to calculate the difference. In addition to this, she also received a 16,000 pounds lump sum from her mum that her deceased, the person she was caring for. And so Department for Work and Pensions says, yeah, all right, we’ll have that. And in order to claim that money they used, what is called a Proceeds of Crime Act. So when you take illegal, illegally gained assets from a criminal, I mean, that’s the stuff reserved for gangsters. It’s the stuff that’s reserved for, like, embezzling. Not people who looked after their dying mother. I think it illustrates that, you know, when the Department of Work and Pensions is so much more concerned with being punishing, essentially, like clamping down on, on benefits fraud to the point where it’s like an obsession, even though it’s concerning small amounts. This is what happens. Good people who are, let’s be honest, carers, save the state a lot of money. You know, there is no not enough money being put into social care. All these low paid and so often unpaid carers are keeping this stuff going, keeping the show on the road and saving the NHS enormous amounts of money. It’s just really sad and there’s always a human cost and people like Vivienne end up losing the inheritance that they were given from their mother, who left them. One parting gift for all their love and help in those in those painful final years. It’s just so bleak. And so the Department for Work and Pensions, you are our villain of the week.


Nish Kumar In the interests of airing everyone’s right to reply, the DWP told the BBC we are committed to fairness in the welfare system while protecting the public purse. Claimants have a responsibility to inform the DWP of any changes in their circumstances that could impact their award. And it is right that we recover taxpayers money when this has not occurred. If you want to get in touch with us, you can by emailing PSUK


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


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


Coco Khan Thanks to senior producer Ed Morrish and digital producer Alex Bishop.


Nish Kumar Video editing was by Dave Kaplovitz and the music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos


Coco Khan Thanks to our engineer Alex Bennett.


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


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