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And they used to call the back end of summer “the silly season” …

The impression that the world has gone plumb loco is difficult to avoid at the moment, especially if like me you’ve been watching the ‘drone attack’ developments at Gatwick airport on the 24 hour news channels over the last couple of days.

On top of the Parliamentary chaos and paralysis over Brexit, Mr Corbyn’s little ‘Did He Didn’t He …’ episode over what he called the Prime Minister (or was it the Government?) and today’s ‘breaking news’ that – never mind Ireland’s tough stance on The Backstop –  its planning for a No Deal departure by the UK from the EU has revealed that it would have a devasting impact upon that country’s economy which is so dependent upon its trade with Britain, it makes you want to tidy up, hand the house keys to the estate agent and just walk away shaking your head and head for a fortnight’s holiday in the sun … if only you could get a flight.

Amidst the mayhem it is interesting to see some talented female interviewers coming to the fore, e.g. Jo Coburn who has developed from being Andrew Neil’s sidekick/stand-in on BBC2’s Daily Politics to being the main anchor on its successor Politics Live, which for me is showing distinct promise despite at the moment still finding its feet.

I have only came across her in the past six months or so, but Radio Five Live’s impressive Emma Barnett is another who is making her mark.

She is personable, doesn’t take prisoners and can think on her feet – all welcome attributes in a presenter – although sometimes her technique of pre-loading herself with a bag of statistics and data and then skewering a hapless Government minister or spokesperson mercilessly when they cannot give the answer to the question is a little arch and transparent.

A couple of days ago I was on my way to my annual summons to lunch with the Rust’s publisher in the depths of Sussex when I caught her morning show interview with Tory Business Minister Claire Perry.

Perry is an ‘out of the ordinary’ politician in that, unlike 85% of the British variety of the species, when sent out to bat for the Government she avoids spewing the standard vacuous ‘politico-speak-by-the-yard’ and actually gives a passable impression of being a living, breathing, human who tells it like it is.

Most of the time.

In the interview I’m referring to, on the subject of the additional £2 billion just allocated by the Government towards No Deal Brexit planning, Barnett had pre-loaded her barrel with the facts of how much of it had been handed to the Business department overall and how much of that had been given to Perry’s part of it.

Minutes into the interview, with Perry having begun brightly – scoring the odd run or two on both sides of the wicket including upon what her unit was spending the money on – Barnett then bowled her first ‘jaffa’, an apparently innocent inquiry about how much money Perry’s department itself had actually been allocated.

To mix my metaphors, this somewhat holed Perry below the waterline. Still maintaining her cheery facade, she blustered on about how if she had known the question was coming up she’d have checked before coming on … but hey, let me continue on how well advanced my unit’s planning already is.

Barnett jumped on her, pointing out it wasn’t BBC policy to hand out its proposed questions to prospective interviewees and wasn’t it odd that, as the Minister in charge of her unit, she didn’t know how much money had actually been allocated to it?

Perry began bailing hard but the arrow had sunk deep into the flesh.

Later on in the ten-minute interview she proudly told of the latest ‘Government advice to businesses on a No Deal Brexit’ pamphlet being published today (Friday 21st December).

Barnett, on the attack and coming off her long run, commented that she felt it was a bit late for the Government to be issuing such advice on the last day of business before the Christmas break and then asked Perry was the headlines of this advice were going to be.

Perry, caught on the hop, admitted that she hadn’t actually see the pamphlet and couldn’t give any details.

Touche! A second Barnett penalty had slammed into the back of the unguarded net.

Now shipping water like a good ‘un, the good ship Perry was beginning to list rather badly to one side.

And then came this moment, which has caused some headlines and comments in the media – RADIO FIVE LIVE

Meanwhile elsewhere Channel Four’s Kathy Newman has been upping her game after being roundly out-manoeuvred by radical supposedly anti-feminist Canadian academic Jordan Petersen almost twelve months ago – for an extract see here on – YOUTUBE

Like Emma Barnett, earlier this week she interviewed Tory Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris on the subject at hand (Government planning for a No Deal Brexit).

I have no idea anymore as to whether the Government is doing anything right at all these days but – as night follows day, as Governments do – it is currently sending ministers out into the media to spread the word that, contrary to all reports and impressions, everything is going smoothly and completely under control.

Newman does her best in this interview to put Heaton-Harris under pressure and I found the exchange compelling.

Not least because – to be honest with you – despite never having heard of him before I found Heaton-Harris’s persona refreshingly individual.

I invite Rusters to judge for themselves here – CHANNEL FOUR NEWS

About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts