Matt Forde: ‘Donald Trump, if you’re reading this, come down to my podcast’

Matt Forde

Matt Forde - Credit: Archant

Name a political heavyweight from the UK and the chances are Matt Forde has interviewed them on his Political Party. He talks to Zoe Paskett ahead of his latest show.

Name a political heavyweight from the UK and the chances are Matt Forde has interviewed them. He’s welcomed the likes of George Galloway, Nigel Farage, Michael Portillo and Tony Blair to the comfy chair beside him for his Political Party podcast.

But there’s one “politician” he’s itching to interview.

“Trump’s not even a politician yet, is he?” says West Hampstead comedian Forde, who recently hosted Unspun on Dave and has appeared on Have I Got News for You and Mock The Week. “Obviously, I’d want to interview him, my word. There are a million things I’d ask. I’d ask him to resign. Then I’d ask: what was his plan? How bad is it going to be? Can you be a bit nicer, please? Can you tell us you were joking about women and Muslims?”

While it’s unlikely that Donald Trump will be making an appearance, the latest Christmas special instalment of his podcast will feature Tony Blair’s former aide Alastair Campbell and Strictly’s former foxtrotting extraordinaire Ed Balls, “two of the biggest stars in politics”.

Forde knows all about political stardom, having been in the thick of it as an advisor to the Labour Party prior to the start of his career as a comedian. But even that didn’t help him to predict all of the curveballs that 2016 threw.

“I think [the EU referendum] was the first vote in my life where I got the result wrong.

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“It changes politics from now on, it changes what the rules are because now we know that actually all those people who had never voted before got off their backsides to vote leave, and there’s a real lesson there – that you can’t write people off.

“The ‘head’ argument was lost in the EU referendum. It was ‘heart’ that won. It was passion and identity – an act of rebellion.”

As many of his Twitter critics will be quick to attest, Forde supports Blair in his politics and, like him, is hoping for a move back to centrist politics.

“How do the sensible, calm politicians – people like Chuka Emuna, people like Ed Balls – campaign in a way that doesn’t debase themselves but inspires people in the same way that Trump and Farage did? That is the crucial challenge at the moment, because people vote emotionally.”

Forde is no stranger to online criticism but, as a comedian and a political one at that, he feels it is all part of the package.

“It’s quite a good thing to develop a thick skin about it, but then part of me thinks you shouldn’t have to. Why can’t be just disagree with each other without being so vile?

“Some people think it’s just about being offended, but some of it is real, genuine abuse. It wouldn’t be ok to say it in the street, it wouldn’t be ok to say it over the phone, so it shouldn’t be ok to say it online.”

He believes in some kind of regulation to combat trolls who hide behind anonymity to make their points, but says that in the end it’s changing social attitudes that will eventually start to stem the flow of online abuse.

“I think you will have a reaction against this nastiness. There will be a new etiquette that develops over the next five or ten years. I honestly think people will start to get nicer to each other and I think, sadly, it’ll take something shocking to wake people up to it.”

It’s a development he’s witnessed on the comedy circuit, noticing that there has been a decrease in sexist and homophobic jokes.

“I think people doing comedy are reflecting the generation and this generation doesn’t think it’s ok to talk about those things in a particular way.”

Perhaps he can persuade some of his peers in politics to get on board.

“Donald, if you’re reading this: Come down to my podcast. You’d be more than welcome. Extend the hand of friendship to all.

“I’ve interviewed people across the political spectrum so I’m fine with it. I’d show him the same respect I show to everyone.”

Matt Forde’s Political Party is live at the Leicester Square Theatre on December 15.