27 June 2012

Treasury lamb to the Paxman slaughter

Just occasionally, from the plethora of forgettable TV and radio  interviews that punctuates our day in this age of 24 hour news coverage, one will stand out as being so memorable as to be worth watching again.

As I've noted in other blogposts, they never work in favour of the the politician being interviewed. And, when they appear on programmes with very small audiences (like Newsnight on BBC 2) we my never get to see them unless someone, as in this case, has bothered to upload it to YouTube.

This particular specimen was to be seen last night when Jeremy Paxman tried to find out when a junior treasury minister had actually heard about the government's latest U turn on the budget, namely the decision to defer the increase in fuel duty for a few months (to see what happened, you'll have to scroll in just over 6 minutes).

Free ammunition for pundits
If you sit through the first 6 minutes, you'll no doubt be amazed at HM Treasury's willingness to provide yet more data for the likes of Messrs Mason and Nelson to pontificate on how it all proves that the government has lost its way.

Free ammunition for Paxo
Then, after 6 minutes, we get to the finale, as a young and inexperienced minister is left to mercy of an old and highly experienced interviewer.

As you watch Ms Smith struggling to fend off Paxo's onslaught, you may well find yourself asking just who at the Treasury had taken the decision to leave it to so junior a minister to field such awkward barrage of questions from the master of awkward questions?

Who at the Treasury (if anyone) is in charge of briefing and coaching ministers before they go on air - or do they just not bother?

Or is someone in the higher reaches of the Treasury or Tory Party out to destroy Chloe Smith's career before it's really got off the ground?

If, like me, you're less than convinced by this and other recent performances by Paxman, have a look at this, which came out on the Spectator Coffee House blog after the above was posted: 

Chloe Smith was bad, and so was Jeremy Paxman

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