Lord Parkinson deflates Lord Steel

Eddie Mair’s assembled PM Panel, the Lords Parkinson and Steel, and Baroness Prosser, opined on the election chances of their respective parties in this evening’s PM programme on BBC Radio 4.

In a question from Eddie Mair on the likelihood of a Labour victory, Lord Steel [LibDem] said in dismissing Labour’s chances, one reason would be that, “No party has won four elections in succession.”

Eddie Mair turns to Lord Parkinson [Conservative], and asks him what chances for Labour’s victory. Lord Parkinson replies, “There is a party that won four elections in succession. The Conservatives in 1979, 1983, 1987, and 1992.”

Priceless.

Second train wreck of the day: Nick Clegg

The first train wreck of the day was Gordon Brown, obviously. The second one is Nick Clegg’s interview with Eddie Mair on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme. This is no joke. Clegg was an unmitigated disaster. [The audio clip is not yet available, will post when available].

Nick Clegg struggled to answer Eddie Mair’s questions. Oh, what a superb interviewer is Eddie Mair. Starting off by asking Clegg to confirm his interest in being Prime Minister, to which Clegg said yes.

Mair then said he’d ask questions about the man who might be Prime Minister, such as about Clegg’s lack of religious faith. Clegg’s answer was shambolic. All pauses, ums, aahs, … bluster, bluster. and no sensible answer given. Most un-prime ministerial.

Clegg only got into his stride when asked questions about LibDem policy, but even then he was caught by the sharpness of Eddie Mair’s questions on Trident, and voting reform.

Ending the interview, Eddie Mair went back to question about Clegg’s inner man, asking, ‘When did you cry last?’ Nick Clegg, pause, hum, aah, … more pauses, bluster, bluster. Shambolic.

Result; Impression given is that Clegg is a political chancer with no inner values. Heck, this is a man who says he wants to run the country and is outwitted by an interviewer. Phew.

Election coverage; who’s best

Lordy, lordy, save us from partisan political panels. I’ve just listened to Eddie Mair interview the PM programmes new election panel – Lord Steel, Baroness Prosser, and Lord Parkinson. Political insight – zero; impartiality – zippo; enjoyment – zilch.

This is but one of many such panels brought together to shed supposed light on the election. Do they provide insight? No, a thousand times, no.

So where to go for insightful, brief, and hopefully impartial political reporting of daily election events?

The Daily Press: Certainly not The Guardian – too quick to find any fault to rubbish the opposition; the Financial Times Westminster Blog – only slightly less partial than the Guardian; The Times – probably the best of the daily press.

TV Channels: I’ve looked at them all over the last few days. This is my judgement. BBC News – yes extensive coverage, but there’s just such a lot of it. Of course, Nick Robinson is a must read blog, he’s generally where the action is; ITV News – surprisingly good and balanced coverage with some good blogs, especially Tom Bradby’s excellent blog; Channel 4 – sorry, I’m no fan, but a couple of good blogs. especially the FactCheck blog; Sky News – obviously not the 15 minutes, every 15 minutes bit.  Now, Randall and Boulton Unleashed, that’s going to be my choice. Two tough hombres that see through political chicanery every night between 7 and 8 pm.   

Twittershere, Blogosphere, etc: Impartially and depth, well, you’ll have to seek that out for yourself. I couldn’t possibly comment ……

Eddie Mair monsters Ed Miliband

Eddie Mair interviewing Ed Miliband, on BBC Radio 4’s PM, floors him with an opening question on why the Treasury is still refusing a Freedom of Information request on the sale of Britain’s gold reserves by Gordon Brown, in apparent contradiction to advice from the Bank of England.

Ed Miliband didn’t like the question and queried why it was being asked. To which Eddie Mair, quite reasonably, said if Gordon Brown is talking about new open and transparent politics, why not this bit of transparency. Miliband floundering. Result: Mair monsters Miliband.

Then Eddie Mair asked Ed Miliband about a quote from Angela Smith, a Treasury Minister, about “Britain being stronger as a result of coming out of recession last”. Miliband floundering yet again, and had to disagree with the Angela Smith’s statement.

Oh, how I love Eddie Mair’s interview style. Using a boxing analogy, a straight right to the chin, followed by an deftly dealt upper cut. Interviewees’ knees wobble. Mair allows time for recovery, but damage done. He’s always a clear winner on points.

Joanna Lumley ko’s Kevan Jones MP

That man Kevan Jones, Minister for Veterans, has form in rubbishing people. Here are two occasions:

  1. Last year briefing against the head of the Army, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt. Labour junior defence minister Eric Joyce resigned from his post over this, and in his letter of resignation said,
    • “The Behind-the-hand attacks by any Labour figure on senior service personnel are now, to the public, indistinguishable from attacks on the services themselves.”
  2. Most recently, when speaking to the Home Affairs Select Committee on March 9th said,
    • “… The high profile visit of Joanna Lumley actually has given that organisation credibility in Nepal, and I think there is an onus on her now to try and reinforce the message to people, Gurkhas and organisations, first, not to pay money and, second, to use the system we have set in place. A deathly silence, frankly, irritates me.”
    • Today, Kevan Jones issued an apology to Joanna Lumley.

Eric Joyce’s resignation obviously didn’t deflect Kevan Jones MP one bit. But, taking on Joanna Lumley he’s received a knock out punch. On this evening’s Radio 4’s PM, while speaking with Eddie Mair, she said,

“I’ve just got off the phone from speaking with the Prime Minister. He read out Kevan Jones apology.”

Gordon Brown will not be pleased with Kevan Jones, that’s for certain. Where now for Jones, I wonder?

Amazing, even the judge hasn’t seen the report

The case of two boys torturing, almost to death, two other boys has alarmed the nation. The 110-page report on the case, produced by Doncaster’s Safeguarding Children Board, was not seen by the judge in this week’s court case, as revealed by Eddie Mair in the BBC’s PM programme this evening in questioning Roger Thompson, chairman of the Safeguarding Board.

If a judge isn’t allowed to see the report, then who on earth is?

A story of survival in the Haitian earthquake

Having arrived back home after an afternoon meeting I listened to Eddie Mair on the BBC’s PM radio programme, before going out for an evening meeting.

Eddie interviewed Rick Santos, who survived 48 hours buried in the rubble of a hotel in Haiti. Eddie Mair’s sensitive questioning extracted a powerful and emotional account of his experience. It was impossible to keep a dry eye as Rick Santos told his story about those of his group that survived and those that didn’t.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this account of Haiti’s earthquake wasn’t repeated a few times this year. The power of radio is that you concentrate on the words and let your mind do the imagining. A report like this is more powerful without pictures, also down to the lucidity and humanity of the interviewee, Rick Santos.

Eddie Mair, an interviewing genius

The PM radio programme on BBC Radio 4 is hosted by the estimable Eddie Mair. He’s long been a favourite of mine for his penetrating interview technique. It’s without any of the disparaging verbal gymnastics of Jeremy Paxman, or John Humphrys, just plain old journalistic diligence to get an answer out of the interviewee.

This evening, Eddie Mair, scored a notable goal over all other journalists, in getting ex-cabinet minister, John Hutton, to admit that he did say that ” Gordon Brown would be a f…… disaster as Prime Minister”. You can here it HERE.

Nick Robinson discusses the importance of the quote, and provides the transcript of the interview between Eddie Mair and John Hutton.