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The 10 worst political interviews of 2018

30 December 2018

6:09 PM

30 December 2018

6:09 PM

2018 has hardly been a year which has inspired faith in our political class. From the bungled Brexit negotiations to botched resignations, at every turn our elected representatives have managed to outdo themselves in bids to prove how useless they can be.

Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the numerous political interviews viewers and listeners have been subjected to. To see off the year, and to remind readers of how bad things were, Mr Steerpike has rounded up the ten worst (or best) interviews of 2018:

1. Alastair Campbell caught out 

Following the ‘People’s Vote’ march in October, Remainer-in-chief Alastair Campbell was in a triumphant mood. After all, when so many people had marched in favour of a second Brexit referendum, how could any government ignore them now?

His mood quickly deteriorated though when he was reminded by Andrew Neil about the Iraq war marches – which his government completely ignored. For once, the Labour spinner almost seemed lost for words:

2. Dawn Butler’s reality check

Another politician who seemed to struggle with reality when confronted with a vote they didn’t like was Labour’s shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler. In a bizarre interview on TalkRadio, she was asked about Labour’s performance in the 2017 general election. To everyone’s amusement, the MP insisted that in fact her party hadn’t lost the last election.

For her willingness to battle against reality, Butler deserves a top spot:

3. Labour’s double standards

At the start of the year, Toby Young stepped down from the Office for Students over his twitter history. Labour were quick to go on the attack – asking why he was ever appointed in the first place.

However, given that many supported giving Jared O’Mara – the suspended Labour MP who made a series of sexist remarks on social media – a second chance, there was a faint whiff of hypocrisy about the accusations. Happily, Andrew Neil was on hand to put this point to shadow cabinet member Debbie Abrahams on the Daily Politics. Her response, as you can imagine, was severely lacking:

4. Theresa May on the Windrush scandal

As Home Secretary for six years and the purveyor of the ‘hostile environment’ strategy, Theresa May was never going to come out well when it emerged that Commonwealth citizens from the Windrush generation had been illegally and unfairly treated by the Home Office. But her failings were brought into sharp focus in this pummelling by Andrew Marr at party conference. Anyone doubting that the Prime Minister had been well and truly skewered in this encounter need only look at the icy stare she gave Marr as the interview concluded.


 

5. Diane Abbott’s GMB nightmare

Diane Abbott had no short of howlers this year when it came to bad interviews, but to be fair to other contestants, Mr S had to limit the shadow home secretary to two entries only.

Pride of place was this interview on GMB, simply because the Labour MP struggled to answer arguably the simplest question a shadow home secretary should know: what is Labour’s policy on illegal immigration?

 

6.  Diane Abbott challenges ‘BBC bias’

They say that offence can be the best defence in a political debate. But if Diane Abbott was following that advice at Labour party conference, she probably should have checked first to see if her attack had any merit.

In a remarkable interview earlier this year, the shadow home secretary took Emily Maitlis to task about her question, which ‘seem[ed] to be reading from a Tory script.’ Maitlis then confirmed the question had come from a Labour supporter:

7. The Wreathgate interviews

In the row that completely dominated the summer, Jeremy Corbyn was accused by the Daily Mail of laying a wreath at the graves of those involved in the 1972 Munich terrorist attack.

Corbyn’s feeble response to the allegations cannot be summed up in one interview. Instead, as it slowly emerged that he had been at the ceremony, then was pictured holding a wreath, viewers got to watch his position shifting from complete denial to complete non-denial in several interviews he gave over the next few days. So we went from:

‘I was present when it was laid, I don’t think I was actually involved in it’

To eventually admitting he did lay a wreath, but it was done to remember the civilian casualties of the Middle East conflict:

When it comes to complete incompetence lasting several days, Corbyn showed he’s still the best in the business.

8. John McDonnell gets roughed up

Corbyn’s partner in crime, John McDonnell had a better year than the Labour leader, but still struggled in this harsh Today programme interview. When an interview starts with the presenter pointing out how rough you look (McDonnell had apparently tripped over rubbish on his doorstep), you know things aren’t going to go well:

9. The incoherent Gardiner

Labour’s international trade secretary Barry Gardiner was the victim of a car crash interview on the Andrew Marr show earlier this year. With Marr on sick leave, Emma Barnett was Gardiner’s interviewer – and she did not hold back, eventually asking him:

Which Barry Gardiner is [telling] the truth? The one that speaks in private or the one that’s on television now?’

 

10. Claire Perry’s number problems

Energy minister Claire Perry had her own late entry to the car crash political interviews. Asked by 5 Live’s Emma Barnett how much her department had been allocated for Brexit, the minister could only reply:

‘If I’d know I was going to be asked to the question, I would have come to you with the number’

The business minister was so flustered she then tried to distract the presenter by asking about her lipstick:

The whole thing was painful from start to finish:

 


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