One of the moments of the week was Good Morning Britain stand-in host Richard Madeley terminating an interview with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, after he had avoided giving an answer three times as to whether he regretted telling the Russians to “shut up and go away”. When I saw the clip I have to say I wondered what all the fuss was about. When I appeared on GMB the following day Madeley was full of himself, explaining he had never had such a good press and how everyone agreed that he was right to do it. I begged to differ. Live on air I took him to task, looked him straight in the eye and said: “Richard, do you not feel that if you terminate the interview, you have failed as an interviewer?” Being the TV professional that he is, Madeley immediately retorted: “It’s a fair point,” but defended himself by saying it was a perfectly legitimate question because it was Williamson’s first TV interview since making the remark at a Policy Exchange event in April. It was indeed a fair question, and he might have got an answer if he had continued with his line of questioning. From Gavin Williamson’s viewpoint, he maintained a sphinx-like expression as Madeley told him the interview wouldn’t be going any further. However, he can be sure that whoever interviews him next will ask the same question as to whether he regretted the “shut up and go away comment”. All he needs to say is, “well, I could have put it better…” and job done. Issue dealt with.
Next week I am recording an edition of ‘Desert Island Dicks’. Yes, you did read that right. It’s a podcast that is the opposite of ‘Desert Island Discs’ in that instead of naming your favourite records etc, you name your least favourite people, records, least favourite food, drink, film, etc. It’s actually more difficult that you think to choose them. One other disadvantage is that all the other people to have appeared on the podcast are comedians. I may think I am funny but not everyone does. I remember once recording a live edition of the Irish equivalent of ‘Have I Got News For You’ in Dublin – me and four Irish comedians who had all week to script their jokes. I’d just turned up as the token English Tory… Well, I quickly discovered that I was not quite as funny as I thought I was!
Remember that American preacher who maintained that the New Orleans floods were an act of God designed to punish homosexuals? Well, now we have our muslim equivalent. Liverpool star Mo Salah injured his shoulder during the Champions League final because he broke his Ramadan fast, according to Kuwaiti Imam, Mubarak al Bathali. Apparently, “God punished him” for eating before the game in Kiev against Real Madrid. He said that playing football “is not a legitimate excuse for breakfast” during Ramadan. There was no excuse because jihadists fast despite being “in a state of war and facing the enemy”. Dear oh dear. This is why I despise fundamentalists from whichever religion they hail.
The Health Select Committee report on childhood obesity makes for worrying reading. There can be no doubt that we have a huge problem in this country, but will it really be solved by banning Tony the Tiger or The Milky Bar Kid? No. It will only be solved when parents take responsibility for what goes into their children’s mouths. There are too many parents who seem to think they can’t say ‘no’ to their children and want to be their friends rather than be their parent. Solving the childhood obesity crisis is in part and ensuring that parents have the knowledge about which foods are ad for their children, and that has to start in Domestic Science lessons in schools. It’s also about encouraging children to get at least an hour of exercise a day and it’s also about encouraging food manufacturers to be more careful about what they put into processed foods. In short, there’s too much ‘stick’ in the approach of both government and campaigners in this area. There need to be more carrots.
A jury took a mere thirty minutes to clear former Conservative press officer and special advisor Richard Holden of a charge of sexual assault last week. The judge said he could walk from the court with his reputation unblemished. In an interview with my LBC colleague Tom Swarbrick on Monday it was clear what a terrible experience this had been for Richard. As he says, the Police and CPS need to be held accountable for this case ever going to court. The Police in particular deliberately ignored the evidence of witnesses which didn’t suit their case. How the case ever passed the CPS evidential test is anyone’s guess. Richard clearly wants to resume is career in politics, and he must be encouraged to do so at the highest levels of the party. He’s a talented guy and I hope he is getting all the support he needs.