I love interviewing people. I even love interviewing politicians. I usually manage to get them to say interesting things. But there are some politicians who, no matter how hard you try, are always going to stick to a script that has been drilled into them by a party spin doctor. They’ll trot out the usual well worn phrases until you as the interviewer, to say nothing of the listener, are quite prepared to slit your wrists to put yourself out of your misery.
I’ve interviewed Priti Patel on several occasions and each time it’s the same. “Long term economic plan”. “Hardworking people” and countless other approved soundbites. Today i thought it might be different. Silly me. She came on to react to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership win. Right from the off she was in full soundbite mode. “Puts the security of our country in danger.” “A danger to hard-working people”. And so it went on. She repeated each soundbite at least four times, just to make sure. I could have asked her how her summer holidays had been and she would have told me that Jeremy Corbyn would put the security of hard-working people’s summer holidays in danger. I soon lost the will to live and asked why she hadn’t congratulated Corbyn on his massive win. “It’s not for me to do that, I’m here to talk about the danger of his blah blah blah.” I reminded her that it might be considered good manners. Off she went again. It was as if she had been programmed to say something and she couldn’t possibly deviate from it without getting a bollocking from Number Ten.
In the end she came across as rude and a bit of a clone. When you meet Priti Patel, most people are charmed. She’s funny, got a wicked twinkle in her eye and is very entertaining. But put a microphone in front of her and she becomes a robot politician. And that’s why Number Ten put her up for these interviews, just as they did during the election campaign. They know she can stick to a stick without deviation or hesitation. Mind you, there’s a bit too much repetition!
Anyway, make up your own mind if I have been too tough on Priti. I’d rather not be, as I count her a friend. But I am afraid that when I am doing my job, friendship is left at the studio door.