In the red corner Jon, a socialist. In the other his old comrade Adam, a new Labourite who is now back in the big tent. They attempt to talk about Labour and politics nicely together. The nicely bit is hard.
A long awaited return, as the Labour leadership have now finally said something we can talk about. Although they're very keen we don't talk about that.
We do talk about us not being able to talk, and also:
Whether Sir Keith's response to the Tory handling of Covid is the right way.
Why Jon shouldn't leave the party
Becoming a branch delegate as a tiny way to influence things.
We rock down to forensic PMQs, where Keir Starmer got a letter from the government the other day, opened it and read it… is he a sucker? Adam thinks Sir Haircut’s playing a long game, can Jon agree constructively where he’s right and challenge where there are gaps.
Is the NHS the wedge issue for Labour that we always seem to think it is. Is it too big to be conceived to be in danger?
As we pass the date of the 2020 election that should have been - will Johnson or Starmer make it to 2024?
And some navel gazing: a month since the Labour report - have we any confidence that the truth will be allowed out?
Recorded as part of a mega-session a few days ago, while the Prime Minister's health was still deterioating rather than merely his personality and competence (so we couldn't be as rude about him as he likely deserves), we instead kept on topic (Labour) and tackled the meaning of the new Shadow Cabinet.
Interestingly, after "Who are the members of the Shadow Cabinent," Google's next assumed question is "What is the point of the shadow cabinet?"
Well, for us (and especially Jon) it gives us a chance to determine the future policy direction of the Labour Party. The choices made by Kier (were they his choices?) are revealing (or are they?). Listen and you will know.
From that, in just a few minutes of chat, we determine when, exactly, the planet will end. Give or take. And, of course, whether there is train-travelling future for Dianne Abbot or Richard Burgon.
The Shadow Cabinet: See their faces on the Labour site
See why Adam took so long to edit this: @Covid Street Photography Project
Since we recorded...
It seems Ed Miliband is still podcasting, for now (discussed in the episode).
The part-time prime minister has been in ICU and is now out using convalescense as an excuse. No one has explained his lack of attention to detail before that date.
An RAF plane going to Turkey (or not) has taken up a lot of media coverage.
Locked down, no-one can leave. Oh, how we wish that was the membership of the Labour party as the inevitable post-leadership election exodus takes place. Or does it?
Jon is placing the leadership election as an event worse than coronavirus, but not as bad as 12 December 2019. Adam thinks thr party has come back to him.
What is the legacy of five years of supposed left hegemony, is it positive?
And how much does Adam give the Corbyn era out of ten?
More coughing, though fewer answers than that edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (and which ones are funding Sir Keir)?
And why, with all the toilet roll panic buying we're glad we had those posters of Sir Keir through the post.
Jon and Adam clash, comradely, on the leadership election (again…well, it does go on), and on open selection. We speculate about just who is funding Keir Starmer, and how you're meant to sell the Green New Deal.
But mainly we spend our self-isolation telling each other why it is impossible to draw conslusions from local meetings - when no-one is able to really understand what's going on in them.
It's a trickly time in the Labour Leadership. It really seems to have the potential to drag on, but all the candidates have been 'personally' texting Adam, even getting their buddies to give him a call.
They don't give a flying SMS about Jon though. Has his choice of Twitter icon spared him from a deluge of internal party marketing or does the keeper of the database simply not believe Jon has something as sophisticated as a cellular telephone. They are a bit capitalist, after all.
After a quick analysis of Adam's inbox, we look at the campaign to destroy the BBC – is it a distraction from destroying the economy, the NHS, or an essential elimination of an evil part of the capitalist status quo.
Oh, and find out what happens if you lick the window of Tottenham Ikea.
Clever or Stupid: EU Associate Citizenship, as promoted by Sadiq Khan.
It's AGM season, and Adam went off to his first branch meeting since re-joining. Did he stay awake, or end up Chair?
Do the nominations for leaderhip coming out of the CLPs have anything to say about the likely final result?
Is the fake Keir Starmer running for leader?
Is Liam Byrne really the grassroots of socialism in the Midlands?
Are the people in the loaded Brexit vox pops clever or stupid?
We get to the end of none of these questions.
To be clear, we're not only worried about the Hammers; the real question is can labour ever win back the men (and it is mostly men) from the all-seater terraces?
We also don't manage to completely ignore the leadership debate, with Jon having made his choice and having a lot of thoughts on a certain drop out. Why does Jon dislike fellow Labour member Jess Philips so much?
Is it a good idea for a party to have so much internal 'debate'?
It's always darkest before the dawn: a statement that is both factually untrue and unrepresentative of a January which seems to be dark inside and outside of the Labour party. Our tellys have gone dark too as there's no point watching.
With Adam back in the tent pissing everywhere, and both being part of the selectorate for the leadership we propose that:
the labour leadership election is important not so much for the Labour Party, but for the wider social movement. Because a left-led Labour is by necessity the focus for action on social justice and climate change - both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary. (Jon)
that Keir Starmer is great. (Adam)
Yes, it's a question of leadership, of the way forward and whether we can remember that Lisa Nandy exists.
Then we ask just what's the point of having a deputy leader?
And also does the option of being in 'the resistance' still exist? And should it?
Just how "I told you so" will Adam get, given that he was predicting a Tory majority and blaming Jeremy Corbyn?
Just how well did Adam's Renew party do?
Adam and Jon are united in defeat. Who or what will they blame? And what now for centre left and Corbynite left?
*A short story, after the melt Charles Dickens, by Jon.
Thatcher was dead: to begin with. There could be no doubt about that. Johnson had been to the funeral himself, sat near Osborne who was failing to hold back the tears. She was as dead as a doornail. Or less metaphorically, the 96 football fans who her government smeared and denied justice after Hillsborough.
It was a cold afternoon in early December, and after cancelling another interview, Johnson was heading home for an evening with a good Russian vodka given to him by a close friend. The knocker on the door of Johnson’s temporary accommodation seemed to form a face, the digits 1 and 0 became a winking eye and a nose that seemed to follow the average wage down a graph. And was what was once a letterbox a handbag?
“Boris Johnson” a modulated voice, lowered by media training.
“Yes, mummy?” he gulped.
“Mr Prime Minister sir?” Johnson shook his head. It was a police officer speaking, a short female one that he often saw beside the door.
“We’ve been collecting, Sir”
“I… I… I… er”
“For some of our colleagues down the station, those with families, Sir, some are struggling. Using foodbanks. We’re just passing the hat around, trying to give them a good Christmas.”
“I… I… I… don’t have my wallet, you know. I’ll get you on the way out.”
He went through the door that was opened for him, and snapped to an aide: “get that woman off number 10 detail.”
Stamping up the stairway he glanced at the portraits. None of them looked at him, or did the one in the pearls look as he moved past? He smoothed his hair down and pushed into his flat - it was empty, the current girlfriend and the dog thankfully absent again.
Settling down in one of the armchairs by the TV, he turned it on – flicking through the Sky box for one of those big American series he felt he had to watch in case he was asked about them in press conferences. The gangster ones were alright, actually,
He briefly rested on a BBC Four documentary, that brown portrait swirl backing of an 80s talking head. It was her, she was speaking about the miners strike. He flicked onward, leaving her in the top corner of the guide.
“Boris Johnson,” she said. But when this was recorded she wouldn’t have known him, he was still at Oxford, great days with Dave, Nick and the chaps. “Listen to me.”
He checked his glass like one of the comedy drunk tramps in a film who witness an alien landing. Surely it wasn’t spiked, damn Russians. He pressed the button and thankfully Game of Thrones came on.
“Johnson,” the voice from behind him now. “You are to be visited by three ghosts.
“Piffle,” he said. “This is a trick. Is that you Govey?”
“I am as real as I ever was,” she said. He turned and saw Margaret Thatcher. Almost as he remembered. But around her neck instead of the usual pearls was a rusting chain, pulling her down and stretching across the floor and out of sight.
“You are to be visited by three spirits.”
“I’ve barely had a drop.” he smirked, this would get the apparition on side.
“Shut up. Every word is agony, you must listen for once. Around my neck is my chain, every evil deed you do in life adds a link. It weighs around you in death, for eternity. Mine has more than three million links, for each of the unemployed and more still for the thousands of children of miners left in dead towns without hope. Your chain grows link-by-link day-by-day.”
“This is some fantasy island stuff. Did I have a bad meal? That oven-ready thing tasted a bit off.”
“Three spirits will visit you this very night. They will show you the error of your ways. They will question you and make you question yourself — or you will end up like me. Or Reagan, you should see the length of his chain.”
He stamped out of the room and shouted at his smart speaker to play The Clash. London’s Burning kicked it a high volume. The vision was to be banished.
“I decline to be interviewed by these three ghosts,” he muttered, “It’s not what the public wan
There's an election going on. Our thoughts on the campaign, the polls, and predictions and some stuff from the behind the curtain as Jon kills himself canvassing and Adam thinks he might go for the Labour leadership.
We learn that when you knock doors: there are people who seem angry about voting Tory, there are people that seem guilty, there are those who feel somehow forced to; but you never get to meet any that are enthused or happy about it.
It's Christmas and Swinson's Lib Dems is the vision Clarence the angel shows the Labour left to remind us all it's worth it.
Plus the only chart midweek that matters and this lovely warm Christmasy playlist to deliver leaflets and drive to marginals with.
Keep going, comrades.
Must Be Corbyn (Socialism's Coming)
The Christmas single.
There was not a mass debate, but merely a head to head. We go over the back and forth of the cut and thrust. Crucially no-one laughs at anything, no matter how many jokes we attempt.
What's the deal with the Green New Deal
Why Boris Johnson is not popular.
The dementia tax, have we forgotten about it? What will the Tories do for policies?
Arron Banks: Clever or Stupid?
Why Dickens is a melt and why we might get presents for Boris's kids. How many again?
Plus, after the credits, a little preview of the Christmas hit single Must Be Corbyn (Socialism's Coming)…
With the election run up now thoroughly underway, Jon and Adam take a look at last week in what passes for politics without a parliament, and look at which MPs we'll never see again.
Since everyone is stupid in election season, we've decided to add a new featuer in which Jon tells Adam why left-dominated Corbyn's Labour isn't stupid policy area by policy area, starting with Education.
It's actually very educational. Well, in so far as we can manage.
In our new 'targeted stupidity' section, we see if Boris John is stupid at electioneering. Whough we'll all find out soon enough.
Like Donkey Kong: the election.
Corbyn chose it (kinda) presumably because it was bad politics to lose the vote to Johnson for an election that was gonig to happen anyway.
Possible election outcomes in order of Adam's fantasy:
Conservative overall majority ( = fairly hard deal-based brexit and slim chance of a no-deal in under a year? + sets up the ultimate battle: a Labour leadership election.
Similar Tory 'mild win' as before - more of the same...chaos
Labour somehow in pole polition to form minority / coalition of sane
Actual Labour win - how can this happen asks Ad? Students all over the shop, Labour (and especially Corbyn) far less popular with voters in general and remainers in paticular than in 2017. Is there any credibility left in the "Corbyn will pull something out of the hat" bullshit we keep hearing from the lefties (based on his losing in 2017 by less than anticipated)?
Liberal Democrat win (well, you've got to discuss it) - a piss diamond victory
Does the option of decent local press coverage still exist? Birmingham Live (Mail) mistook actions in a game Roblox for real life - and these people are meant to cover the WM Mayoral race?
Clever or Stupid? Jeremy Corbyn - he's just made a big choice and it might well lead to humiliation & resignation (says Adam).
Will there be an election? When?
On Europe (because that's a thing people do still seem to talk about) we discuss the likliehood of the 31st of January extension and how much longer even the Europeans will let this carry on.
Jon also tells us the most efficient way to cancel your membership of the Labour party (in case you haven't left already...).
We take a look at the media, and whether it can adequately cope with modern politics and, indirectly, how broadcasters can find a way to make thier political correspondants immune to criticism (at least from Jon). In other words, does the option of decent mainstream politicial journalism still exist?
Clever or Stupid? Resisting the temptation to say Everyone, we look at the SNP in Westminster...
First talk about whatever the heck is going on with Brexit right now. Right here, right now. Who's going to vote for this deal that isn't a deal yet as it hasn't been voted for yet. And…
Alastair Campbell has still got it (it being causing trouble for Labour).
The CBI lied about the costs of Labour's nationalisation programme plans, despite John McDonnell and Jeremy trying thier best to bring them with us for the last three years. Does the option of trusting any agents of the status quo still exist?
Should public transport be free?
Extinction Rebellion: Clever or stupid? After the tube protest and George Monbiot's arrest, are the tactics or the messaging right?
This week we hear just how (physically) close Adam has got to Jeremy Corbyn, what he thinks of the architecture in Brussels, and listen to some appalling audio quality.
We also find out what Jon gets delivered mid recording session.
From the substance, this week is all about Labour’s alternative Queen’s speech, and we ask whether the concept of a Government of National unity still exists, and will er get one?
This week's clever or stupid? LBC Host James O'Brien.
The Worst Tory Ever World Cup winner is announced too! No prizes for guessing…
We all know the Tories don't have conference, they have a rally. You know, like certain well known European leaders of the late 30s. Since it's been dominating the airwaves what did we learn from this year's? Do Tories trust Boris?
Naturally we look as briefly as possible at taste in political discussion, and Adam's also got a bit further through Dave's book and provides a handy synopsis (though there still hasn't been much about pigs). Be grateful; he's reading it so you don't have to!
Also we cast our minds as far back as Labour conference and that court judgement and debate their democratic consequences – if any. Plus Jon teaches Adam a new word.
Of course we can't ignore events in the Twitter World Cup of the Worst Tories Ever - you can vote now.
Neither of us are in Brighton, but that doesn't stop us being alight with conference gossip. We talk about the big heavyweight (or not so, now) battle between John Lansman and Tom Watson, about Tony Blair's toilet habits and about just how wonderful John McDonnell is.
We debate if the option of ever having an open democratic discusion without the press screaming 'divison' and longer exists.
Adam has been reading Dave's book.
We ask if the head of Momentum is clever or stupid.
And we talk about the Twitter World Cup of the Worst Tories Ever - you can vote now.
What's going on with Labour Students and Labour students?
Does the option of boring politics still exist?
Clever or Stupid: Jo Swinson and her pro-austerity pronouncements.
And here's that photo of Adam at conference in the 2000's pretending to be Tony Blair.
Just what's going on in court? We guess that all the legal stuff will be ignored until supreme court appeal next week.
The Lib Dems & Greens standing down for Rory Stewart et al - this seems mad.
Does the option of improving the stock of Labour MPs without the press screaming blue murder still exist?
Clever or stupid: John Mann, the new 'cross bench' Tory Lord.
And looping back to how to win the next referendum.
Can we stop the coup - Jon's been organising a demo. It made the telly.
"Is the solution to this mess to remove the checks and scrutiny and give more power to the privileged Tory elite?
The solution is more scrutiny, more democracy, and fewer Tories."
Is a General Election coming, and - what's going on?
Does the option of understanding the Fixed Term Parliament still exist exist?
Is Dominic Cummings clever or stupid ?
Why not listen to this great podcast - List Evny. Mark Steadman is professionally curious, so each week he collaborates with actors, writers, musicians, comedians, scientists and podcasters to build a top 5 list on a topic of the guest’s choosing. Each list is definitive and final, and both Mark and the guest must agree on what makes the cut.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; so it’s time that we admitted there are scuffles in the aisle of the broad church.
It's fantasy 'save us from the coup' time. "The Queen/Lords/Rory Stewart/John Major/Ken Clarke/The Courts will save us" - but is there any reason one could suspect the queen might have for wanting to fill the news cycle with Westminster goat entrail divination?
Could a sex strike save us? 'No Johnsons in, until Johnson's out'
Former Bucks Fizz singer Jay Aston is going to stand for the Brexit Party - who will stand with Adam in Renew?
But does the option of a representative democracy still exit?
Paul Mason: is he clever or stupid? He is calling for a 'progressive alliance', but who can stand with the Lib Dems.
An episode in which WE ARRRSK, why IS Robert PESton's intonation all OVER the place and is he clever or is he stupid. And more on the ongoing shithousery from the Lib Dems on Brexit.
Just what is the Lib Dem strategy?
What's it meant to be seen as by the public?
But what the heck is it really?
Does the option of remaining in the EU still exist?
Are the clever or are they stupid?
This week it's Robert Peston - who is never quite sure what's going on it seems, but does he think he's using ignorance to point people in the direction of stuff?
Our first proper episode of That Option No Longer Exists - the pod that is a scuffle in the aisle of Labour's broad church.
Jez wrote a letter to those not in government the other day, they opened it and read it. They turned out to be suckers.
That Option No Longer Exists takes on the big question in its official launch episode…