The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Paxman v Cameron

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 23, 2010 @ 21:41

Shamelessly stolen from elsewhere. The Twitterati loved this yesterday.

Having just finished watching Paxman’s little chat with David Cameron, I thought I’d put out some observations.

First of all, Cameron would not have been doing the Paxman interview were it not for the fact that the election is so close, courtesy of the momentum gained by the Liberal Democrats. After all, Clegg did his interview nearly two weeks ago, at the end of which Paxman only expressed a “hope” that there would soon be interviews with Brown and Cameron.

But he did it, and to be honest, I’m not really sure why he wouldn’t have wanted to do it. Cameron generally does well in interviews like this. He doesn’t get flustered by Paxman’s attacks, and you can see his brain whirring as he processes through his focus grouped soundbites to get the most appropriate one in. He generally gets it spot on.

Paxman tried his best to flummox Cameron, and his best shot was on the issue of equality, namely because Paxman did what he always does: highlight inconsistencies. Though David Cameron is a mere 43 years old, he is a career politician, and has nearly 20 years of record to trawl through.

And trawled through it was. Cameron insisted that he had always been interested in the issue of equality, in spite of all evidence to the contrary during the fun of the 80s and early 90s. He distanced himself from Thatcher by continually drumming home his “big society” theme. It’s remarkable how he only brings this topic up though in interviews or press conferences, while in the debates it gets the briefest mention…

He never looked particularly evasive though. He did his best honest guy face, and I think he pulled it off. Paxman’s sneering is sometimes self-defeating, however, and when the politician being grilled hits back with a zinger of their own, as Cameron continued to do when attacking Gordon Brown’s wrecked economy, you almost forget for a second that you’re cheering the wrong guy. Almost.

Other topics covered were the bizarre inheritance tax plan, whether Cameron has an ideological desire to cut the public sector (he claims not to, but he’s a Tory), abortion, and the pathetic plans for transferring tax allowances between married couples. He had numbers, had his arguments, and made a good account of himself.

The part that most media are picking up was his inability to give a Sherman pledge regarding “plans” not to rise VAT in an emergency Budget. It was a typical politician’s reply, in truth, so it doesn’t really deserve the response it’s getting. Neither is the question of whether he’d work with the Lib Dems in a hung parliament. We expect our politicians to tell little white lies to further their own agendas. We accept it, with a nod and a wink, and get on with it. You’ll see.

Overall, it was Cameron being Cameron. He got his fair crack of the whip, he didn’t get ganged up on, he didn’t get shown up by a young pretender. He dictated how he was going to reply to each question, and came across very smoothly.

The Cameron that, until 10 days ago, was going to achieve a modest but very decent victory, in other words.

The Conservatives would do well to keep him at this kind of level.

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One Response to “Paxman v Cameron”

  1. […] the final chapter of this series (Paxman v Clegg; Paxman v Cameron), Gordon Brown finally decided he would grace Jeremy Paxman with his presence. At the very least, […]

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