I have never understood why politicians allow themselves to be walked all over by smart-arse interviewers. They are far more in control of the interview than the interviewer. This morning Dermot Murnaghan was interviewing Chuka Umunna about David Cameron’s economy speech. Near the end he switched to ask Umunna about Eric Pickles’ letter to Britain’s mosques. Umunna quite reasonably explained that he couldn’t really comment as he hadn’t seen the letter and certainly wasn’t going to play party politics with it. But Murnaghan wasn’t going to leave it there and continued to press Chuka, finally alleging that he clearly had to wait to get the official ‘line to take’ briefing before he would say anything. Chuka Umunna then got up from his seat and walked out.
I don’t blame him. There was nothing wrong in Murnaghan asking him about the Pickles letter, but to press it in the way he did (and with a bit of a smirk on his face) was rude, smart-arsish and counter productive.
If a guest walks out of an interview, as a interviewer, it’s you who looks bad, not the guest. If that happened to me, I would think I had failed in my job.
I don’t blame Chuka Umunna at all for doing what he did. I’d have probably done the same in his place. Politicians ought to do this more often with interviewers who are basically being rude (unless they’re being interviewed by me, of course!). It’s unlike Dermot Murngahan, who is a very good interviewer, to behave in this way. He’s a very polite person and I suspect that once all this has quitened down he will do a bit of soul searching. I imagine the two of them will put it behind them and Chuka will be back on his programme before too long.