UK Elections: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Transcript

John Oliver discusses the UK elections and the future of the Tories, why pride flags are causing controversy in the US, and a new law about the ten commandments in Louisiana. Also some stuff about Ur-Nammu that we all know already.
UK Elections: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 11 Episode 16
Aired on June 23, 2024

Main segment: July 4 Elections in the UK and effects of 14 years of conservative leadership
Other segment: Louisiana legislature mandates 10 commandments in public schools

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[Cheers and applause]

John: Welcome, welcome, welcome to “Last Week Tonight!” I’m John Oliver. Thank you so much for joining us. It has been a busy week. The U.S. suffered a massive heat wave, Team USA unveiled their Olympic uniforms, which don’t say “professional athlete” so much as “my step-mother sent me away to boarding school,” and Putin visited North Korea, where, after signing a defense pact, Kim Jong Un waved him off, like a parent sending a kid away to summer camp. “Bye! I left a note in your backpack! Don’t read it till you get there!” But we’re going to start in Louisiana, which this week, made some history.

This morning Louisiana has become the first state to require the Ten Commandments be displayed in public classrooms from kindergarten to publicly funded universities.

If you want to respect the rule of law, you gotta start from the original lawgiver, which was Moses.

John: Okay, first: Moses was not the original lawgiver. That would be—say it with me—Ur-Nammu, king of the ancient Sumerian third dynasty of Ur, that’s right. It’s something we all know. But more importantly, it’s true: Louisiana will now require the Ten Commandments be displayed in all public classrooms, even kindergartens. Which is absurd. Kindergarteners don’t need “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife” next to their cubbies. That’s not a thing they do. And even if they did, who cares? They’re five. If you’re that worried about your wife running off with a five-year-old, your marriage has problems no god can fix. And if you noticed some commotion behind Governor Landry there, that’s because—just a second earlier—one of the kids behind him collapsed. And Landry never once turns around to see what’s going on. And I’m happy to say she’s okay. But that’s a perfect encapsulation of the Republican party today—loudly pretending to care about the well-being of children while completely ignoring the literal well-being of a child. And during the debate before the law’s passage, its sponsor didn’t seem troubled by some pretty basic questions.

You don’t believe this alienates students who are not Christian or Jewish?

No ma’am, I don’t. This is about a moral code that our country was founded upon and they can simply turn their heads, I suppose.

John: Yeah, they can simply turn their heads, you suppose. You know, the thing the governor of Louisiana seems completely incapable of doing when a child falls right behind him. Now, this is clearly unconstitutional, and the ACLU has already said it’ll file a lawsuit against Louisiana, and you’d think they’d stand a good chance to win—especially as Kentucky actually passed a similar law decades ago, only for it to be struck down by the Supreme Court in 1980. But the truth is, as this constitutional expert points out, this time could be different.

On its face, it is certainly contrary to Supreme Court precedent, but as we know, precedent isn’t what it used to be.

John: Yeah, that’s putting it mildly. Precedent used to mean justices had to have a really good reason to reverse course on settled law, and one better than just, “My billionaire friends said they’d take me to Barbados next time.” And this fight is just the latest in a series of conflicts over public displays of symbols—this year, legislators in Tennessee, Florida, and Utah all introduced bills to ban pride flags in schools. And while those bills failed, more are undoubtedly coming. Meanwhile, Denver’s school district is facing a lawsuit from a parent over its display of pride flags, after he unsuccessfully demanded they display a straight pride flag. Which is apparently a black and white striped flag with a linked male and female gender sign on it. And if you’re having trouble picturing it, this is the straight pride flag, which to be honest, really screams “heterosexuality is a prison.” That is just a failure of marketing right there. The pride flag is a joyous explosion of color, and you’re going to counter it with something that looks, at best, like the Hamburglar’s wedding invitation? Good luck with that! But it’s not just one weirdo parent in Colorado doing this shit. The state Republican party is right there with him, too.

A fundraising email from Colorado’s Republican party called for LGBTQ pride flags to be burned, and described LGBTQ Americans as “godless groomers.” That email was signed by Colorado GOP chair Dave Williams, and the same message was also posted on X.

John: Okay, there’s a lot to unpack there, from the hot Jesus looking like he just got bitten by a radioactive wise man to the instruction to “burn all pride flags this June.” And again, that’s the state party’s official account, “Colo-G-O-P,” which to be honest, looks like someone was trying to spell “colonoscopy” and then died. Flag controversies have bee risen to the Supreme Court. Last month we learned that just after January 6th Justice Alito’s house displayed an an upside-down flag—a symbol associated with the “Stop the Steal” movement. Alito quickly blamed that on his wife, saying “My wife and I own our Virginia home jointly. She therefore has the legal right to use the property as she sees fit, and there were no additional steps that I could have taken to have the flag taken down more promptly.” And while on the one hand, that’s a surprisingly progressive take on a woman’s right to choose from Alito, he does make it sound like he’s trapped in a fraught and joyless marriage, and luckily, I have the perfect flag for him to be able to express that feeling. Alito’s wife was actually recorded recently, talking about that controversy, and in the conversation, volunteered her own thoughts on the pride flag, and they are intense.

You know what I want? I want a sacred heart of Jesus flag, because I have to look across the lagoon at the pride flag for the next month. And he is like “Oh, please don’t put up a flag.” I said, “I won’t do it, because I’m deferring to you. But when you are free of this nonsense, I’m putting it up and I’m gonna send them a message every day, maybe every week, I’ll be changing the flags.” They’ll be all kinds. I made a flag in my head. This is how I satisfy myself. I made a flag. It’s white and it has yellow and orange flames around it. And in the middle is the word “vergogna.” “Vergogna” in Italian means shame, vergogna. V-E-R-G-O-G-N-A. Vergogna… Shame, shame, shame on you. You know?

John: Wow. “My hobby is telling other people that they should feel shame, through depictions of fire and the Italian language.” This woman is operating on a level of Catholicism never before seen. And the way she’s saying vergogna there sounds like she’s trying to cast a curse. Every time you say “vergogna” like that, an angel gets its wings, and then a bunch of mean Italian nuns come over and start hitting it with rulers. The point is, it seems safe to say that a man who lives in a house that’s this close to flying a flaming “shame” flag isn’t going to have much of a problem with the Ten Commandments being forced into classrooms. And none of this should be surprising—conservatives love to rail against “cancel culture” while trying to ban any speech they don’t like. So when it’s someone else’s symbol, it’s an affront that needs to be burned or banned, but when it’s theirs, it can be mandated by law, and anyone who doesn’t like it can just turn their head and not look. I’d say that’s a shameful position to take, except thanks to this vindictive flag queen, I now know there’s an even better word: vergogna.


John: Moving on. Our main story tonight concerns the U.K.: the number one study abroad destination for Americans who refuse to learn a new language. It’s also—a fun fact—where I’m from! And even if I never opened my mouth, I feel like you could still tell. The U.K.’s in the middle of an election right now, which its Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, called back in May, for some reason, in the middle of a torrential downpour.

At a damp Downing Street, with few moves left to play, it was time to roll the dice.

Earlier today, I spoke with His Majesty the King to request the dissolution of Parliament. The King has granted this request, and we will have a general election on the 4th of July.

John: What are you doing Rishi? It’s pouring rain, and you are literally standing in front of the house where you live. Just pop in and grab an umbrella. It frankly says something that a British person trying to reclaim the Fourth of July as a day of potential victory is the second-weirdest thing about that announcement. This election was something of a surprise, though. And if you’re confused how that can be, in Britain, the Prime Minister can call an election whenever they want, as long as there’s one every five years. Like many things, the way Britain operates is “kind of like the U.S., but whimsically worse.” The last election was back in 2019, so Sunak had to call one before the end of this year, but he chose to do so right now—something that even members of his own party were blindsided by, as these reporters pointed out later that same day.

I mean, this morning, amid all the speculation, nobody could really believe it. How has it gone down with his MPs?


John: First, I don’t want to read too much into this, but the fact both of them were ostentatiously holding large umbrellas there feels like a pretty clear dig to me. But second, I get why Sunak’s colleagues were mad. It must suck to have to suddenly go home and tell your spouse “Sorry, love, I know we were supposed to go to Italy next month but my wet boss gave a speech and now I have to spend the next six weeks running around fighting for my job.” Sunak’s party, the Conservatives—or Tories—are currently wildly unpopular in Britain. They got trounced earlier this year in local elections, and are currently polling around 20 points behind their main rival, the Labour Party, with one projection model suggesting Labour could win around 450 of the 650 parliamentary seats. Some have even said this election could be an “extinction level event” for the Tories. And it’s not like they’re projecting confidence or competence right now. Nearly 80 Conservative MPs have stepped down ahead of the election—a postwar record. And that’s on top of the resignations that’ve taken place over the last couple of years, including this MP who admitted to using cocaine but claimed he was set up, saying, it was very late and he’d been drinking tons of incredibly potent Japanese whiskey. Another who admitted to groping two men at a private members’ club, and this guy, who resigned after he was found to have watched pornography on his phone in the House of Commons, and his excuse for that was genuinely amazing.

The situation was that it was, funnily enough, that it was tractors that I was looking at. And, um, so, but I did get into another website that had a sort of a very similar name. And I watched it for a bit, which I shouldn’t have done. But my crime, my biggest crime, is that on another occasion, I went in a second time.

And that was deliberate?

And that was deliberate.

John: That is incredible. “Yes, I looked at porn, twice, but the first time, I was just trying to look at tractors on the internet.” That’s very much the “Japanese whiskey tricked me into doing cocaine” of internet porn lies. But what makes it even more unbelievable is, why would anyone need to seek out porn, if they’re already looking at tractors? You’ve got everything you need right there and you don’t even have to flip off safe search. Why go to the bakery, when we’ve got cake at home? I’m not saying I’d fuck a tractor, I’m saying I’d let this tractor fuck me so hard I sprout corn. And on top of all this, Sunak himself seems to be almost trying to lose, given one of his new, bold campaign ideas is to bring back mandatory national service for 18-year-olds, a plan that drew almost immediate blowback, to the point he felt the need to talk to teens in a way he hoped they’d understand.

Hi, TikTok, sorry to be breaking into your usual politics-free feed, but I’m making a big announcement today, and I’ve been told that a lot of you already have some views on it. So, first thing: no, I’m not sending everyone off to join the army. What I am doing is proposing a bold new model of national service for 18-year-olds. They’ll be able to choose to spend 12 months at a full-time military commission, or one weekend per month volunteering in roles within your local community-like delivering prescriptions and food to elderly people, or in search and rescue.

John: Oh, okay! So it’s not bringing back the draft. It’s bringing back the draft or forcing teens to do Grubhub for grandmas or search for bodies in the Thames. Just classic things 18-year-olds love to do. To put it mildly, the Tories are in trouble. Which is a remarkable downfall for a party that’s been in power for the last 14 straight years. This could be a massive couple of weeks for the U.K. So given that, tonight, let’s look at the U.K. election. And we’re going to focus on a few things: some of the choices on offer, why people are so mad at the Conservatives for what and why they’re absolutely right to be. And let’s start with some of the contenders—there’s the Liberal Democrats—the traditionally centrist party. They’re unlikely to win overall, and because of that, seem to be focusing on having fun. One Lib Dem official has said, “As a smaller party, we have to find a way to break into the news cycle.” And that’s meant pushing their leader, Ed Davey, to do multiple stupid stunts like going down a waterslide, falling off a paddle board, and doing “look ma, no feet” on a bike. He even tried to conduct a policy interview in the weirdest imaginable place.

What about the economy? What are you doing about the economy?

Yeah. We’ve gotta get it growing again, and that’ll be helped by cutting the NHS waiting list also by getting a much better trade deal with Europe and by investing in the skills of our young people. So we’ve got great policies for our economy and also the cost of living!

John: Look, I’m glad Ed Davey’s having fun, but the fact is, his party’s still going to lose the election! Then there’s the much less-endearing far-right Reform U.K. party, the punchable face of which is Nigel Farage. He’s been out on the campaign trail, running on a hard anti-immigration platform, and getting the exact reception he deserves.

Reform U.K.’s attracted attention, with bold promises on reducing legal immigration levels and stopping small boat crossings. For all the support, it seems not everyone’s a fan of their approach. Nigel Farage was covered in milkshake on the campaign trail.

John: Spectacular. Also, a bonkers use of the passive voice there. “Was covered in milkshake?” Who threw it, exactly? I’ll tell you who: the dairy queen who made this perfect Fibonacci spiral. Just look at her! You can’t erase this icon. Look at those lashes! No need to force the youth into serving their country—this legend is doing it for free. And do you have any idea just how unlikable you have to be to get milkshaked? No one just casually has a milkshake on their person, or thinks “I better grab one in case I encounter any assholes today.” No, they think “You know what I haven’t had in a while but deserve? A milkshake. A treat.” Yet despite that, Nigel Farage is clearly “so much of an asshole” that this hero was willing to get rid of her possible birthday milkshake having decided “this is a better use of it.” And frankly, she was right. Especially as that wasn’t even the first time Farage got milkshaked. It happened to him back in 2019, too—and just look at him there. Look how sad he is, wearing his stupid little ribbon. He looks like he threw up on himself after winning a spelling bee. And if, for even a moment, you have the tiniest flicker of sympathy for him, please know that he followed his recent milkshaking by releasing this video.

My milkshake brings all the people to the rally.

John: I hate that man so much. And there is no exaggeration—no one on Earth more deserving of being milkshook than Nigel Farage. So clearly, neither of these wet boys are likely to be the next Prime Minister. But why isn’t this one going to win? As Prime Minister, he should have the advantage of incumbency. But the truth is, Sunak’s never been popular, and for multiple reasons, including the fact that, after marrying the heir to a multi-billion-dollar fortune, he’s now got more money than the king. In fact, it says something that, the very day it was announced Sunak would become Prime Minister, one news report featured this fun graphic.

Well, how would you describe Rishi Sunak in one word? Savanta Comres, a polling research company, came up with a word cloud, and people sent in their thoughts. And this is the conclusion. “Rich” is the overwhelming word, alongside “capable,” “okay,” “good,” and “clever.”

John: Wow. Do you know how much of an out-of-touch wang you have to be for people to think your whole vibe can be summed up by the word “rich?” Elon Musk’s the richest man on Earth, and it’s not even the first word that comes to mind when I think of him. That’d be apartheid. It’s also not the first word that comes to mind when I think of Bill Gates. That would be howmanytimeswasheonEpsteinsplane which counts as one word if you say it really fast. But perhaps the most notable thing there isn’t how big the word “rich” is—it’s that that word cloud also includes the words “twat” and “cunt.” They put that on the news. Enough people called the Prime Minister a cunt that it made the news. It almost makes me feel patriotic. And just for the record—”cunt” in the U.K. isn’t as harsh a word as it is here. I know here in the U.S., it’s usually used by red-pilled basement boys toward powerful women. But in the U.K. it’s a non-gendered, multi-purpose insult like “dodgy,” “tosser,” “numpty,” “wanker,” “dicksplash,” “fuckletoes,” “pillock,” and “cockwomble.” Only one of those is made up and it’s not the one you think. But perhaps the clearest sign of how unpopular the Tories are is that they’re about to be defeated by the Labour Party, currently led by Keir Starmer, and fun fact about Keir: there aren’t any. In fact, when pollsters asked voters to describe what Starmer stands for, the responses included “nothing,” “not sure,” and “don’t know.” His most notable attribute may be having no real notable attributes at all, as this pollster delicately points out.

For Keir Starmer, still over half of the population don’t really perceive that they know what he stands for, and only one in five people say that he’s good in a crisis or indeed has a personality. And so, there are some areas where he needs to see further development.

John: Okay. Set aside the brutal personality slam—you know how hard it is to have less than half the population know what you stand for, in the modern age? Thanks to social media, I know what my high school chemistry teacher thinks about vegans who eat honey. I know my brother’s roommate’s ex-girlfriend thinks Lee Harvey Oswald couldn’t have acted alone. And I know that Shaq doesn’t fit in the seats at Knott’s Berry Farm, because he tweeted, and I quote, “IM AT KNOTS BERRY FARMS AND MY BUTTS 2 BIG 2 FIT IN THE SEATS ON RIDE. AHHHHHH, THAT’S ME YELLIN.” That was 15 years ago and it’ll be the last thing I think about before I die. The point is, we know too much about everyone on Earth, making it incredible that British people don’t seem to know much about the man on the verge of running the 6th largest economy in the world. To the extent we know anything about Starmer, it’s that he’s a pretty bland centrist. Perhaps the perfect symbol of that is the fact he unveiled his party’s middle-of-the-road platform earlier this month standing next to the word “change” in the smallest font imaginable. He’s also done things like tell his cabinet members they should not be on picket lines showing support for striking railworkers, which is a little hard to take, given their party’s name is literally “Labour.” And on a personal level, he’s been repeatedly challenged to come up with interesting facts about himself, and so far, he’s only managed to come up with one.

Tell us one interesting or surprising thing about yourself that we don’t already know, by the way.

Oh, well, look, I did violin lessons with Fatboy Slim back in the day and—

Is that true?

That’s absolutely true, absolutely true.

John: I’ll admit, that is definitely notable. Though it’s not great when the most interesting thing about you is “I was once in school next to someone more interesting.” Yeah! Keir, we assumed that! So how are the Conservatives at the point where they’re about to have their asses handed to them by Fatboy Slim’s violin partner? Well, the answer is, everything they’ve done over the last 14 years—in which time they’ve had five different Prime Ministers. And it’s worth briefly revisiting all of them. And let’s start with, David Cameron. Three-time winner of “Britain’s least lips.” He took over in 2010, at a time when Britain was running record deficits, and chose to tackle that through what’s been called “one of the biggest deficit reduction programmes seen in any advanced economy since World War II.” And while most of Europe chose to raise taxes back then, Cameron relied on a program of “austerity”—essentially, making brutal cuts to government services, and attributing Britain’s struggles not to the 2008 financial crisis, but to years of “frivolous spending” under Labour. And he explained his cuts like this.

Reducing spending will be difficult. There are programs that will be cut. There are jobs that will be lost. There are things the government does today that it will have to stop doing. Many government departments will have their budgets cut on average 25% over four years.

John: Now, we will get into the impact those cuts had, but before we do, let’s address what might’ve been the most savage cut of all there, and that’s the camera cut from David Cameron to this guy. It’s strange to suddenly show “this haunted business thumb” at all, but especially right after David Cameron said, “there are things the government needs to stop doing.” But maybe it was strategic. Maybe they thought, “We’re cutting programs, people will lose their jobs, so when I say the government is gonna stop doing stuff’ make sure you cut to weird Dave. He’s so odd looking, people might think ‘Oh! Is that the government?’ I definitely want him to stop doing everything he’s doing, immediately. Turn off the lights and put him somewhere damp. He looks like a fan of the damp.” And those cuts were brutal. In their first ten years, central government funding for local authorities fell by as much as 40%. And the way they were structured meant that the most deprived areas had to cut their spending the most. And poor families and kids were hit hardest, as Cameron’s measures included reducing housing benefits, cutting grants to pregnant women, and freezing benefits for working-age families even as inflation was rising. But the move that ultimately doomed Cameron wasn’t any of that. It was his decision to appease Eurosceptic members of his party, by calling the Brexit vote—a decision one of his own cabinet ministers has called “the greatest blunder ever made by a British Prime Minister.” And that’s including this look. By the way: Buzz, buzz, bitch; The Bee Movie called—it’s 2007 and you have six years left to live. The idea was, the Brexit referendum would lay to rest the question of whether Britain should leave the EU. And the infuriating thing is, Cameron himself didn’t support Britain leaving, and only called the vote because he thought it would fail. But, of course, it didn’t, and he immediately resigned in disgrace, leaving his successor, Theresa May—who’d also opposed Brexit—to deal with the mess. She spent three years trying to hammer out a Brexit deal, while also overseeing yet more austerity measures like the so-called “two-child cap” which restricted the child tax credit and other benefits to the first two children in most households. So even if you had five kids, you’d only get benefits for two of them. Which makes sense. Everyone knows that after the third kid, they don’t really have to eat. And May wasn’t exactly a charismatic leader.

Beyond Westminster, despite her attempts to laugh at herself, Theresa May never really connected with the public.

A public sector work—

She was also weakened by episodes like the party conference speech, where everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Well, before her decision to step down, critics said the wheels were coming off her leadership.

John: I’ve got to say, it’s a pretty bad sign when you’re literally standing in front of a pretty bad sign. Ultimately, May couldn’t hammer out a Brexit deal her party would support, so she gave way to this fucking guy [Boris Johnson], whose time in office was a total shambles. Because while Boris Johnson did finally get a Brexit deal done, and Britain left the EU on January 31, 2020—that was the exact same day Britain’s first cases of the coronavirus were announced. And Boris’s handling of COVID was an unmitigated disaster. At first, he reportedly dismissed it as “the new swine flu” and “just a scare story,” with one of his advisers saying he seemed to think “COVID is just nature’s way of dealing with old people.” One of Boris’s top aides, Dominic Cummings, later testified about just how badly the government handled COVID, in a hearing featuring readings from messages he’d sent at the time.

You called ministers, “useless [bleep], morons, [bleep] in emails and WhatsApps to your professional colleagues. Do you feel that you expressed your views too trenchantly, that your opinion of ministers and of the cabinet overstated the position?

No. I would say, if anything, it understated the position, as events showed in 2020.

John: Just to be clear, what was bleeped there was Cummings calling his colleagues “useless fuckpigs” and “cunts.” And that is completely unfair. Not the “cunt” part. That does apply. I’m talking about the term “fuckpigs.” Because for the record, there’s only been one actual fuckpig in Downing Street, and that’s David Cameron, whose unauthorized biography—lest we forget—told us that, as a student at Oxford, he apparently once put his dick in a dead pig’s mouth. And the thing is, he probably would’ve gotten away with it, if someone hadn’t squealed. Not the pig, of course. The pig couldn’t squeal, it was dead. Plus, its mouth was full. David Cameron put his dick in a dead pig’s mouth. Now ultimately, Johnson was undone by a series of scandals, including his efforts to cover up parties his government repeatedly held during the pandemic, in violation of his own lockdown rules. So he then gave way to Liz Truss, who had the shortest tenure of any British Prime Minister in history. We’ve talked before about her disastrous proposed budget full of tax cuts for the rich, which caused a mini-economic crisis, and her weird speaking style, so there’s really not much point in even showing you a clip of her. But given how weird she was, I’m just going to go ahead and do it anyway.

My mother took me on protests. I went on marches. I made banners. I stayed at peace camps.

John: What is happening there? She speaks like a kindergarten teacher during storytime but with no book, no page turning, and, crucially, no kindergarteners. She’s like if “hold for applause” was a person. Anyway, Truss was gone in less than two months, which finally brings us back to Sunak the Wet, a man who literally doesn’t have the sense to come in from the rain. And look, it’s objectively fun to look back at what a collection of weirdos ran Britain for years. But it gets considerably less fun when you look at what they did to the country. And let’s start with the most obvious calamity, and that’s Brexit. The pitch for it was that it’d free British business of Europe’s onerous restrictions. But instead, what ended up happening was, for U.K. businesses looking to trade with Europe, especially small businesses, the red tape has actually multiplied exponentially.

Remember, when we were part of the single market, you could throw a box of tea or a packet of bangers into the back of a van in Birmingham and just drive it to Barcelona, or Bonn, or Brussels without let or hindrance. Now you can’t do that.

We were told that we would have the most amazing deal. We’re going to get our sovereignty and we were going to keep all the advantages of being in the EU. As a business, we were dumb enough to believe that. Come January last year, we got an order from Italy, we shipped it, as normal, thinking there’ll be a little bit of paperwork and we’ll figure it out. And it sat for 12 weeks in different customs’ houses. So, the reality was very different.

John: Yeah, that sounds like a total mess. But I just want to go back to that guy naming cities, because I really didn’t want him to ever stop. “You could throw a box of tea or a packet of bangers into the back of a van in Birmingham and drive it to Barcelona, or Bonn, or Brussels or Bratislava or Bern or Bucharest or Budapest or Belfast or Berlin or maybe as far away as Bergen or Bilbao. Or Brest or Bologna or even circle back through Badhoevedorp. You could just drive.” The point is, trading with the EU is now so onerous, lots of U.K. businesses—like that woman’s—have opted to relocate into mainland Europe, which is not good news for the U.K., and helps explain why. But while Brexit’s the story that’s costing the U.K. economy for one billion pounds per year, the story that made international news, austerity might be the more insidious legacy of Cameron and his successors. Because it has, in so many ways, obliterated the social safety net. Take the NHS—the U.K.’s healthcare system. Years of underinvestment have left it gutted and understaffed. Just watch as the father of a sick child tried unsuccessfully to convey this to Boris Johnson back when he was PM.

There are not enough people on this ward, there are not enough doctors, not enough nurses. It’s not well organized enough.


The NHS has been destroyed.


It’s been destroyed. It’s been destroyed and now you come here for a press opportunity.

Well, actually, there’s no press here.

What do you mean there’s no press here? Then who are these people?

John: What an amazing lie to even try and get away with. The thing about denying the press is there is, the press tends to catch you doing that, because the press is fucking there! But that man’s anger was fully justified. Waitlists for NHS treatment have exploded—more than 7.5 million people are waiting for non-emergency treatment. That’s up from 2 million when Conservatives first took office. It’s gotten to the point where significant numbers of British people are now going to Europe and paying out of pocket to get treatment. This surgeon in Lithuania apparently has a booming business treating British patients.

Last year, we did about 400-something, 500, maybe, surgeries. And about 80%, they are from U.K.

People from the U.K. come, because of the waiting time.

And also, excellent quality here, of course.

John: Okay, first, I don’t know what’s more surprising there: the cheerful hammering, or the fact he’s doing it in the middle of an interview. But the fact 80% of his patients are now from the U.K. is staggering. The only foreigners I expect to be flocking to Lithuania en masse are people from New Jersey wanting to see this actual Tony Soprano statue. That is real. It’s in a train station in their capital. Here it is from another angle! The thing is huge! And, much like hundreds of British orthopedic patients, it doesn’t make any sense that it’s suddenly in Lithuania! But it’s not just the NHS. The Tories have literally starved the country. In 2010, the largest network of food banks in Britain operated just 35 nationwide. Today it runs more than 1,300. And 20% of people referred to their food banks are in working households. Meanwhile, more than 800,000 patients were admitted to hospital with malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies last year, with doctors even seeing cases of British five-year-olds scurvy and rickets. British five-year-olds are now a full centimeter shorter than they were in 2010. And it’s pretty hard for Conservatives to say they’re working toward the future growth of Britain, when its future generations are quite literally shrinking. The unending parade of austerity cuts has relentlessly harmed the most vulnerable in Britain. Take Alexander Doodle, who has multiple disabilities, including a degenerative condition in their hands and feet. A few years back, they invited a camera crew to see the impact that cuts to things the government used to provide—like home health aides, prescription drugs, and accessible housing—had had on them.

It just feels like every area has been infected by cuts. The government changed things on some of your prescription stuff, so at one point, I was having to pay for four or five medications and I’m just not buying them anymore. I can’t afford it. Again, because of funding cuts, there’s this huge waiting list for a wheelchair, an electric wheelchair, which is kind of fundamental for disabled people to be able to get about. And so then, I sold my TV and I had a secondhand laptop that I sold and I had a little yard sale at the front, just trying to sell items and cutlery and plates and stuff and it was still nowhere near enough.

John: That is appalling. They’re having to sell their fucking forks to survive. And now, when you think back to David Cameron blithely saying “There are things the government does today that it will have to stop doing,” it makes me even madder at both him and MP Slenderman here. But that is the natural endpoint of austerity right there: punishing people for circumstances completely beyond their control. And Sunak is now promising to introduce what he calls the next generation of welfare reforms, including yet more cuts, justifying it by saying, “I worry very much about benefits becoming a lifestyle choice.” Which is a rich fucking statement from a rich fucking man who’d probably go into anaphylactic shock if he ever had to fly coach. And the thing is, none of this was inevitable. The Tories will argue they’ve faced headwinds of financial crises and a pandemic—but other countries had that too, but made different choices, and as a result, on a per-person basis, economic growth has been slower in the U.K. than in the U.S. and the EU since the 2008 financial crisis. So it’s no wonder Britons want a change. And personally, I’d want the changes to be a bit more sweeping than what Starmer’s currently proposing, which is maintaining Conservative tax and spending plans until growth returns, and keeping the two-child benefit cap. That just isn’t the kind of bold political courage I’d like to see from someone who took violin lessons with Fatboy Slim. And it does say something that even as Starmer appears poised to sweep into office in a landslide, Britons don’t seem that fired up by him.

So, if you had to describe Keir’s campaign in one word.


No one really cares, because we all know he’s going to win. So, he kind of gets a free pass on most stuff.

There seems to be a lot of shrugs going on at the moment, but maybe that’s just where we are as a country.

John: Yeah, maybe that’s true. And after everything you’ve seen tonight, you can probably understand why people are much more concerned about who’s leaving than who’s coming next. If a wild badger broke into your home and fucked everything up for 14 straight years, tearing everything apart, you can argue about redecorating choices later, right now, that badger’s got to fucking go. And I will say, if the U.K. can successfully rid itself of the Tories next month, that’s not cause for a shrug, that’s cause for a celebration. And I know that celebration’s not something that comes naturally to Britons. The country’s most famous motivational slogan is “Keep calm and carry on” and even that morale booster basically amounted to, “I know you’re about to die, but there’s no need to make a scene.” That was supposed to get us through World War II! But if Britain can extricate itself from the party whose unremitting cruelty has stained the last decade and a half of British life, that does deserve to be marked. And I know dancing in the street doesn’t really fit with the British character. So instead, why not celebrate what’s hopefully about to happen with the most British symbol imaginable: a rainstorm. ♪ ♪ Because on July 4, Britain has a chance to wash itself clean of 14 miserable years of Conservative rule. And it’s a chance it simply must take. If I may quote Bill Pullman, yelling about aliens, if we do this, “the Fourth of July will no longer be known as just an American holiday, but also as the day when Britain looked at the Conservatives who’ve driven the entire country into a ditch, and said in one voice, loud and clear, fuck off into the sun, you cunts, fuckpigs, and weirdos. You tossers, wankers, dicksplashes, and cockwombles. If Britain stands together, this July the 4th, it will finally celebrate its Independence Day.”

That’s our show. Thank you so much for watching. We’re off for the next few weeks, back July 21st. Good night!

[Cheers and applause]

Give us freedom! Wash these fuckers away! Wash them away!

[Cheers and applause]

♪ ♪


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