Ear Candy: Electoral Dysfunction

Ear Candy: Electoral Dysfunction

Wednesday, 3rd April 2024
Expect to hear that joke a lot (credit: Sky)
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And with that dick joke, Beth Rigby, Jess Phillips and Ruth Davidson set their sights on usurping the many “dadcasts” and their dominance of the podcast charts.

Especially in the politics genre, where the likes of Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart’s The Rest Is Politics and George Osbourne and Ed Balls’ Political Currency continue to hold office.

On paper, it certainly has the line-up to compete. As Sky News’s Political Editor, Rigby almost brought the seemingly shameless Boris Johnson to tears with her probing on Partygate. And here, she is questioning two straight-talking parliamentarians who are both known for often putting their principles ahead of their respective party loyalties (Phillips, Labour and Davidson, Scottish Conservative).

Indeed, Phillips says that she’s not there as a Labour MP but as “a socialist rabble-rouser” and Davidson is “whatever the opposite of a socialist rabble­rouser is”.

Rigby will apparently be kicking off each episode by asking “who’s on top and who’s having an electoral dysfunction?” – an early warning of the mileage that joke is going to get.

I did enjoy Phillips’s deconstruction of the political opportunism of the perma-fedora’d George Galloway, in light of his Rochdale by-election win.  She recalls her old man’s aphorism: “Show me a man who wears a hat while he’s driving, and I’ll show you a scoundrel.”

But the discussion then descends into the kind of political partisanship and whataboutery that I generally tune into podcasts to avoid.

Rigby asks Phillips if Starmer needs to strengthen his position on the Israel-Gaza conflict, after briefly standing by Labour’s Rochdale candidate, Azhar Ali, following his antisemitic remarks. She deflects by bringing up the coinciding Islamophobia from MPs Lee Anderson (Reform) and Paul Scully (Tory).

Although the banter is a bit contrived and delineated (I often find that the funniest podcasts are the ones where the jokes arise from the hosts’ natural enthusiasm for their subject), it’s at least a sign of some latent candidness.

Their dog lesbian vs cat lesbian riff drew out Phillips’ hilarious admission that she calls the strong lesbian contingent of her Birmingham Yardley constituency the “clitterati”.

But the partisanship problem persists. Later, Rigby asks Davidson, after five prime ministers in six years: “Do [the Conservatives] deserve to win?” To which she prevaricates: “I don’t think anyone deserves anything in politics.” And yet, a minute later, she makes an impassioned plea for our politicians to start answering questions. The same should go for our podcasters!

It’s early doors, but if they want to find their feet they might want to stop toeing the party line.

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