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Read this: The Political Interview

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The Political Interview…



BBC sounds music radio podcast the media show from BBC Radio 4 different kind of show today because we're exploring just one topic, but it's a cracker and so is our panel.

This is the art of the political interview went journeys go face-to-face with politicians reading as you request a whole, let me just started right there right there.

I did not overruled advice on what I could or could not delivered in accordance with that as I already done it when you don't seem to listen listen to charge was introduced in Scotland yet.

My mum's made redundant.

What do you mean?

The public on this issue believe you a transient politicians other than a senior officer of videos inside well, they might make great entertainment grab the headlines and even end careers, but what do they actually teach us by the end of this program? I want clear answers to at least two questions one, what is the aim of a political interview and two are there universally applicable rules for how to conduct don't expect me to provide the answers cos I haven't got a clue but in the studio.

We have three people who do Iain Dowie is perhaps.

I was working man in media with a ludicrous array of commitments and colonies blogger pundit has his own show on LBC and soon-to-be stand-up in wouldn't say stand up but I am doing a show at the Edinburgh festival, but it is about it is interviewing people in politics Ian Dale all took Rachel Silvester is a columnist for the times and with Alice Thompson conduct the papers Saturday interview Rachel good.

See who's the toughest interviewee you've ever had.

So boring it's really really difficult to get it as anything interesting.

She just sticks to her lines and the subject that she's agreed to do the interview on which is normally something particularly now in a very narrow.

It will be just the police or just immigration and if you try and get it to branch out into anything more general.

She just climbs up Andrew and nodded vigorously as you say that you've been interviewing politicians right back to your days in the lobby in the 1980s where you sat at the proverbial feet of the great Tony Bevans of The Independent a giant up little jealous.

What did you learn about journalism from Tony Bevan always to be asking the questions at the other side didn't want you to ask Tony wasn't completely extraordinary aggressive man he was naturally aggressive in the way that I am not naturally aggressive and to see him taking on people like John Prescott and guiding them to the point of being punched was absolutely extraordinary.

He was a rule breaker and I did all journalists have to have a little bit of the rule breaker about them rat up a drainpipe of course welcome to you let's gets.

Rachel Silvester what is the aim of a political interview Indian to get a story ideally a front page Story out of the interview but also I think you're trying to reveal something about their the character or the what drives the politician and that perhaps goes Beyond the Sea Tom bites, but they sometimes produce for radio or television and I think with a newspaper into you've got a bit more space to go behind the seat of daily headlines sometimes.

It's the smallest things that are there to the most revealing so remember 12 example going to see Jeffrey Archer in his penthouse and Mary was such a fitting around offering coffee and she didn't know if he took sugar in the coffee and it's sometimes a small interesting details that are the most revealing about the person as well as the front page and what's the aim of a political issue enlightenment.

Sent me for a tv interview.

I'm trying to do two very different things at the same time like Rachel I want to get the story.

What are the series of questions that are going to allow somebody to say something that changes the world of politics even if only is infinitesimally and I judge myself by the newspaper stories and the online store is that follow any particular program but II at the same time for the couple of million people whatever is watching the show I really want them to be able to understand the person on the other side of the conversation better universal credits of different type of interview can have a forensic interview wear your grilling a politician on one particular policy Jonathan Dimbleby used to have a Sunday lunchtime.

Show where he would just take one policy have one politician for the whole hour and will be really forensic and politicians actually really enjoyed that Ann Widdecombe would tell you that that was her favourite programme to go on because she knew she was going to have a chance to say something but she would be grilled unfortunately today most interviews r357.

Minutes long and the politician goes into the interview know exactly what he or she is going to say whatever the question is I agree with what a lot of what Andrew said I think my objective in long-form interviews is to elicit information in life and people but also enable the listener to get to know that person a bit better, so I don't even regard them as interviews are regarded as conversations.

I can be quite forensic.

I can be aggressive with the interviewee a pretty aggressively, but I think some interviewers no names no pack drill or maybe later.

I'm going to an interview intending to secure a politician now if you do that, I think you'll never to be you probably don't achieve that if the politician gives you an excuse to scare them fine you go and do it but to think that you've got got to get the front page headline on the Daily Mail out of every interview.

Do I think it's very day today.

We're gonna come back to Leeds Teaching themes and techniques in a minute.

I know I righted you guys in it on the basis that you know what you're talking about the we're going to put all of this to the test like.

Exam at the minute.

I'm going to play clips of what you might call your greatest hits and then I'll see other two to provide some practical criticism before that is taught the practicalities of getting an interview Ian when you get a prime minister on your show or hear the group shortly, how does Acrobat it comes about through a lot of pre-planning a lot of hard work going to do in the first place? I do I am a radio producer stream in the night.

They actually don't have a lot of work to do when I'm on their program because I I will get a lot of the big-name interviews myself once again.

She said you speak to them or an agent sketch out the turf.

I will talk to me the case of the prime minister.

It was Robbie Gibb a director of communications.

I've been trying to get the interview for a very long time probably ever since he was in the job along with virtually everybody else in the media.

Obviously she doesn't do that many sit down interviews and wait.

We came up.

I suggested a format where it's part interview part phone in Barry mind this came 5 days after her coughing speech at the Conservative Party Conference

What is a bit of a delicate time for her own? I know everyone Suspects I'm just talking to some Chinese government officials the other day and tell you about this interview motability number 10 Downing Street must have give you the questions beforehand no no no no it really doesn't work that how long are you going to his Ami 15 years? Did you contact her personally about that into know ok? Rachel do you ever Percy text the people you want a 2 times and I found it seems to listen to In says that she's at the it's become more and more controlling so the central control over who you're allowed to interview.

I remember being at party with Alice once and David Cameron came up and said oh, it's the terrible twins and there is the sense of actually.

I'm down if it's going to stop you getting any interviews and sometimes.

It's easier to go directly to the minister and not do it through official channel.

Is there a negotiation before the interview that you have with AIDS or with administer themselves.

Are you say certain things are off subject nothing is ever.

How do you have to do you call Robbie give the number 10 never so I use my brilliant editor to do that.

He is the buffet so he has the conversation and when I walk into the room.

I haven't heard any conversations.

I was off on the record Off the Record what's going to be asked to be honest it how useful is it to you that I thought would BBC man is a director communications number 10.

I think he has had a very good relationship with BBC Millbank not with me but would BBC Millbank you understand the BBC from the Inside I think he accepts the BBC as genuinely trying to be impartial even if the occasion he sees gets very angry and we've had some seem to add reminder Tuesday but I've got a little bit longer.

I suggested why spend more time on a question than they expected perhaps and you can show his irritation.

So he not soft and the BBC but he does understand.

There's nothing else when you say you see is what you mean disagreements.

I mean I rolling you know I'm offering nobody has ever come up to me after that was just punched me said that was absolutely disgrace.

Richard you ever socialise of the people your interview once you are friends are friends from before politics.

So not really long time.

So you know very well, but in some ways easier to when I first started doing at the daily Radio Show I did find it quite difficult to interview friends, but I overtime that goes and I'll give you an example Rob halfon.

Who I think we're all degrees pull you are the nicest people in politics conservative and then he came on my show continent what the subject was but he really didn't know it and I and I did absolutely skewer hemp 10 that night my phone went and it was him.

Oh god here.

We go and he said I just want to thank you.

That's really he said because that told me an offer.

Not about I need to be better prepared for these interviews but I can't Rough by contrast Priti Patel who have known for donkey's years.

She was put up by the Tories when Jeremy Corbyn was first elected on the day of his election and she came on and I said so what's your reaction Priti Patel and she said well Jeremy Corbyn is a danger to the country a danger to your family blah blah blah and icable.

Are you going to congratulate him not my job to congratulation? I said no be quite polite if you did wouldn't it? We've never spoken since let's get into some of your own into you say Rachel in what ways might be an advantage interviewing someone for print.

I think it's much less of a performance.

So it doesn't really matter what my questions are so I'm not really or Alice my aunt looking for a set of gotcha moment.

It's not sort of showbiz thing when you interviewed Andrea leadsom in 2016 who is wanted to be treated at the time did she indicates after your tape recorder with switched off that she was aware.

She might come into the blooper.

Not at all, the first.

I knew that she might be cross was when she went ballistic on Twitter that night saying you know it was gutter joiners and all that sort of thing this is recognised at the British asthma.

What is were saying that? It's a pretty are Scratchy sound because it was conducted in the slang unconventional place weather in Milton Keynes station mothers with babies next to us as an alarm went off at 1.1 and a huge member of a huge family and no that's important in my kids to pack my life mate and my two Brothers Grimm Brothers

Mama in politics yes, I am sure I don't believe I'm sure she will be really really really genuinely I feel Dean Martin and very real steak in the future.

You'll come across as very friendly there are almost as if you were there is a leading her on be honest at what point did you realise that you had a singer of a TopLine Ashley not until I spoke to Sam Coates our deputy political editor afterwards and as we were talking it through I in fact the first question I asked her was what's the difference between you and Theresa May and that was her I was not a sort of trick question in any way shape or form and that was what she offered but then obviously because she said during the TV debates.

In the European referendum that actually define disable the time as a mum it was an obvious follow-up question and iPhone as you was what was interesting I found afterwards that she had done because they had a sort of some American debate coach should come over to tell them how to humanize the brexit message and this guy called brattle bread or whatever it was hurting told her talk to the photos as a mum.

So you took all the way through the Debate talk as a mother this as a mum that and she then somehow transferred that to the leadership contest I think by the consciously or subconsciously to appeal to a soda quite traditional Tory electrode without really thinking through the implications in the fact that Theresa May just done an interview talking about her.

Sorry about not being able to have children, but I really really interesting but that Rachel was Andrea leadsom knows exactly the Trap into which he is walking.

She's I don't want this to appear nasty.

I'm going at Theresa May and then does so.

The most interesting thing to Rachel said there was a she didn't actually recognise that she had a story now suspect Andrew and the underground this has been a complete failure and I went back to the office thinking.

Oh my god, what a waste of time for massive stories came out that into been I didn't know I had them with a cvi Hurley Rachel's voice.

There was that very much indeed.

I do wish that on TV yes.

I do that and you could be infuriating watch very off the drink on the radio oversleep is the answer is to encourage someone to talk more and more the best interviews Eiffel with Margaret Thatcher were not the Confrontation out where the interviewer said anything Prime Minister tell us what's on your mind really go on let it all out and it's great to have molten lava of of of pentagons.

If you let someone took their Bound 2 say something interesting at some point you can't do that in a five-minute interview but you can if you've got some someone for an hour and think I'm the only interview on British Broadcasting and it can interview people for an hour and it gives you such latitude.

Perfect mouths move into your one of your greatest hits in this is the time that you get the front pages when you asked Theresa May one very short and very simple question do if there was a brexit vote now.

Would you vote brexit because you you voted remain in the referendum.

Have you changed your mind? I don't answer hypothetical questions but what I would I have you the answer.

I hope be able to answer that I know I would vote an exactly the same way.

I voted remain for good reasons of the at the time but circumstances move on I think the important thing now is that I think we should all be focused on delivering brexit.

I'm delivering the best idea.

What would you like me to say?

How would I vote in a vote now against the different background in international background different economic background 100 lady with very can't do it now because I think when you come I could sit here.

I go so I still vote remain or alive vote leave just to give you an answer to that question.

I'm being open honest with you what I did last time round was I looked at everything and came to a judgement and I do exactly the same this time round but we not having another referendum and that's absolutely crucial.

We're not having another referendum.

We are going to deliver on the vote of the British people and we going to deliver brexit.

Could you like the March 2019 we can have the European Union no we do agree half an hour.

Would you take a few more calls gold comedy Gold Ian whose idea was it to ask the question? Well? I had asked that question to Jeremy Hunt of the conference and much to my surprise.

He gave the odds of the he was flipping his phone out when I prepare for.

Is interviews and often I'm going to make something terrible now often I do no preparation because I find that my interviews without preparation of them better than the ones where I've got a list of questions and all the rest of it if you want to be the prime minister.

You don't go into an interview.

I'm prepared so I had a list of subjects that I wanted to cover and I did have a few questions, but it was actually put on your phone in that I did not think to myself before the interview.

I'm going to get her on that you didn't you didn't know absolutely did not hand on heart.

I did not happen because of an Italian lady headphones and ask a question about citizens rights lit naturally lead on from that, but I could tell from the moment.

I asked at first question just by looking at and if you watch this all on YouTube you can watch it the panic in her eyes and she had an Andrew know she has this when she had a difficult question she said it does it's like burning thing with her chin to be like Gordon Brown used to as well, and I knew then that she wasn't good.

Give me an answer and I thought well, I'm going to have a few goes at this.

Is it important in those circumstances when you see that moment of weakness re-add it.

Take me to The Crew sense, but as it worth going for the kill event you need is an interview to have a sense of an opportunity and then to realise this is a moment justifies aggression.

I know what you mean by that.

I'm not sure it's ethical to describe it as for going out so you want to get an answer at some point you realise you're not going to get one and you leave the audience to make up their own Minds as to what what's happened because one of the most complicated and controversial areas around his collegians the ethics of interruption and you will see lots of people complain that lottery lottery Twitter safe.

Why won't the interview just shut up and let us get an answer another be worse if you let me get away with that you've got into it so my question to all of you is when is an interruption Justified but it's Justified when you're not getting an answer and you think they ought to be able to give you an answer now.

I think the prime minister Orchard been able to give an answer to that question it ought to have been something that the number 10 team might have had.

Dissipated given that I had actually asked it to Jeremy Hunt a couple of weeks before now.

They didn't do that and afterwards.

She left she walked down to her car with my boss James rear and I gather nothing was said and now that's not unusual to his mate has to be here for rugby game.

I do have a text from Robbie Gibb Lane basically accusing me of just trying to create headlines and I said no Robbie I was doing my job the job that you used to do when you were whispering Andrew Neil here on the Daily Politics he didn't he eventually admit that I was right, but they clearly felt that I had instead of doing up your phone and why you just have a listeners and with Justin's movably is the highest they felt that I was interviewing too much while probably I feel guilty that Rachel is an interruption Justified different with a present here.

I think because you're not interrupting for a purpose but I do find if they're going on and on with the sort of scripted answer that isn't going to produce anything you can just sort a slightly.

Button and move onto different subjects of Heath Ledger people every single I know exactly how long I've got I've got 7 minutes dead where got 16 minutes whatever it is and a certain number of things to get through and I think we probably all familiar with the experience of a politician no names no pack drill beginning a sentence and you know exactly what every single syllable be for the next 30 seconds because they said it again and again and again and generally speaking I let them say it once and then if you want we can get the same predigested eyes.

They're not even thinking they haven't listened to your question.

They're not thinking about the answer it just come straight out of the larynx at that stage then you have a right and it is a duty to interrupt ok next up is Andrew vs.

Jeremy Corbyn this was last September at the labour conference the party was in the grip of various complaints of anti-semitism some of which were directed at Jeremy Corbyn himself, and he had been accused of associating with the wrong p.

Jeremy Corbyn are you an anti-semite? No absolutely not I spent my whole life opposing racism in any form and I will die fighting racism in any form is extraordinary even have to ask the question who any of you gets to decide what is anti-semitic.

We have adopted the ihra definition and the Jewish community have a definition of what anti-semitism is and that's been included in the Labour Party processes, and I think anyone that suffering racism is in a position to define it.

Be you homophobic anti-semitism or far-right racist in plain terms when it comes to anti-semitism Jewish people have the first right to call out anti-semitism.

So how did you feel when one of your MPs are Jewish MP Margaret Hodge look you in the eye and cause you are racist and anti-semite.

I completely and utterly reject the idea that any kind of

Mrs penny Kinder

the matter with Margaret Hodges closed for obvious reasons you're talking to me at the moment Jeremy Corbyn as an author of Jewish people who just desperately want you to express personal remorse for what happened and maybe you could look at the camera apologise to this I am an anti-racist and will die and anti-racist anti-semitism is a scourge in any society.

I will oppose it all my life and I will continue to oppose it all my life and I deleted that interview to anti-semitism and that infuriated.

I know Jeremy Corbyn and Seamus Milne is advisor and the people around him and they were just as angry as Robbie Gibb and Theresa May were coming out of that he and Dale interview.

What's the point of asking Jeremy Corbyn if he's an anti-semite awful.

Lot of people inside the Labour Party Never Mind the rest of the National conversation believe that he is and therefore to ask the question.

Play forces him to deal with it directly and of course he's not gonna say yes, I am but then the other plan in that interview was to go straight on sofa who gets Judge Jules get to judge they think you are you just said that they've got the right to judge you and I think you are the plan.

Do you have what is that plan? Look like what happens with a flowchart in your head.

Yes, I have a couple of really really brilliant researchers as well as the editor and we sit down and we gameplay the interviews the day before on Friday in very general terms of terms and will seriously on the Saturday so we have a structure.

I just really important Rapture you know I'm gonna spend 5 minutes on the latest brexit development then.

I'm going to go to this policy announcement then I'm going to go straight to the leadership contest of what they think of the erg whatever it might be so I know what the order is in my head and I think we think about the questions and argue about the questions quite a lot and then I sort of semi memorize them.

I don't very often have a bit of paper in front of me with the questions laid out.

I don't like that start of interviewing.

Am I like to be more conversational to keep eye contact to turn to the camera? I done the same thing to John McDonnell about six months before an alarm to address them but he swiveled right right the camera and deliver this extraordinary very passionate address straight into the camera and it was a golden moment and of course I wanted to repeated Elvis's you plan to kiss you or did you just come to you into doing and I think we'd said during during the planning and of course he's talking to labour party members.

It's all over body members through me.

So why don't we just asking to Taunton direction of the camera and he did and I was part of that thought maybe Jeremy Corbyn will swivels of the camera and say hi Jeremy Corbyn I'm not an anti-semite.

Please believe me or not these dreadful within the press that would be a great but I suspect you won't admit that you're in favour of got your questions.

I don't like got your questions as such the my big problem with it is it's a slippery slope and it's too easy it allows people on TV and radio as well to become a theatrical.

Just become performers and therefore as it were to Channel the feelings of people watching and I think that's what's going on in this country right at the moment as an awful.

Lot of people watching programs like mine listen to programs like Ian screen papers like the X and what they really want enlightenment.

They don't really want the argument to be progressed what they want is the interviewer to Channel Fury and despair and discussed at the person involved and it's got to say what's the truth or not what they're saying.

Why are they saying it and what motivates them and it doesn't matter what what we say or think or do it's about them one of the most Familiar of common Tactics Irish politicians tried to evade answers in although clearly a lot because I'm not that they will they know how long they've got roughly.

Enable repeat things if if you allow them to so you have to try and sleep in her and difficult question at the end on something else which they not expecting that and I have to find evening half hour interviews how long interviews is actually the at the answer that they given the last 2 minutes.

That's when you get your story Health Secretary and we'd looked at his voting record on abortion and he has a backbencher had voted to reduce the limit down to 12 weeks and at the end with said to him.

Oh and he's still back that now your health sexy and he said he did which gave her splash Downing Street was Furious but you never going to get interview again now.

That's more difficult to do with the show like Andrews it's more easy to get into your Theresa May I don't think I'll ever got an interview with Theresa May again.

I've never interview Jeremy Corbyn used to come in my show every three weeks when he was a backbencher.

He was house.

Labour MP 3 wood desperate he was always the one that that would cycle down from Islington and appear and I've never interviewed him as Labour party leader despite trying on many many occasions adjectives have the Monopoly on that funny moments trying to stop interview as a member interview John Hayes and he just become one of Commons ministers in the cabinet office and we turned up for the interview waited half an hour waiting 45 minutes then she a secretary came down bought it up to the waiting room.

We could hear him on the telephone shouting through the wall sexy came and said he was in the loo and she went out again turned out.

He was on the phone to number 10 saying whatever you do get out of this interview.

You're not allowed to do this interview.

He was seen as too you know unpredictable and in the 80th minute started talking about Proust Off the Record and took it out and that was the end of it was just insane very have got answers to the questions.

I started out with some very great was that.

Downton Andrew Marr 83 being hearing as well as being more Road in thank you for listening.

I'll see you all at the same time next week.


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