September 20, 2011

Answer The *@£&ing Question!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — madaxeman @ 11:56 am

As some readers will know, I have recently changed jobs. No more playing with train timetables for me – I’m now writing software for keeping tabs on what “Pole-Tappers” get up to. Don’t ask – just be reassured that there’s someone like me writing code that keeps an eye on their activities… One consequence of the change in job however has been that I now work in a different city, on a different railway line – and so not meeting all the regulars on the morning train, I find myself listening to the radio more and more.

My mother has much to answer for, but one of the cruelist tricks she has ever played on me was to get me used to the comforting tones of BBC Radio Four’s “Today” programme from an early age. I was young and impressionable – I didn’t know any better lol. Joking aside, the Today programme has always been a valuable source of information to those of us who, like myself, take an interest in the world around them and what’s happening in it. For as long as I can remember they have specialised in interesting, rigorous interviews with the various politicians of the day…

There is, however, a problem. It’s been getting bigger, and it needs to be addressed. The good news is that it’s not insurmountable – all we need do is pay a little more attention to the conduct of our politicians – and maybe arm John Humphrys .

Politicians are, more and more, engaging in what I like to call the “Tactical” interview. Now you might say that this is only to be expected from people who specialise in public speaking and waxing lyrical from a particular standpoint, but they’ve been getting more and more blatant about it lately.

One of the most annoying tactics seems to be deliberately talking over the interviewer – totally ignoring that they are being asked a question, and just spouting out whatever they came on the programme minded to say regardless. Now – when I was a nipper, had I tried to speak over the top of someone else in a conversation like this, my mother would END ME. Thanks Mum! She felt, rightly, that courtesy and respect are important and not to be overlooked just so as I might shout out my own petulent, misguided view…


It is, as I say, a matter of respect. It is therefore utterly shameful that politicians should behave in such a manner, particularly as the function of the interview is to represent the wider public. The interviewer / presenter presumably has the ability to fade out the interviewee’s microphone – and I think we’re at the point where this needs to be given serious consideration. Politicians – if you don’t want to be treated like children, don’t behave like spoilt brats.

Next, let’s discuss the other tactic our political overlords greatly enthused about – that of not asking the question you were asked, but instead asking the one you wish you had been asked. That’s not on either. The message here is “well, the people don’t really want to know about that…” That is not a decision for the politician to make. Personally, I find that such “question avoidance” stands out like a sore thumb in most interviews, and it reveals a hell of a lot about the person avoiding the question.

How refreshing would be, every once in a while, to have a politician say “Yes, well, I used to think that, but it turns out I was mistaken…”? “Yes, well, not my finest hour…”? I actually think a politician prepared to admit to their mistakes would actually be APPRECIATED by the public. We all make mistakes, and a willingness to recognise them is a desirable quality for those that would mean to rule over us. Similarly, the lack of such ability is a major concern in any politician.

Politicians are not very popular at the moment, what with their moat cleaning and duck housing activities of recent years – but in my opinion a lot of the contempt that the public have for politicians is actually born of the contempt that the politicians themselves show us. We need to deal with this – and the first part of that is for those interviewing our politicians to become very much more robust in how they do so. If a politician won’t answer a question, let’s call them out on it. If it keeps happening, let’s keep calling them out on it – and give said politicians a well deserved reputation for being evasive little … – well, you get the idea…

So please Mr. Humphrys – cometh the hour, cometh the man. It’s kick ass time.


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