by Stephen Tall on September 18, 2007
I expect this kind of thing of downmarket right-wing tabloids like The Times. Naively I hold out slightly higher hopes for The Guardian. Alas.
Yesterday, Ming conducted an hour-long Q&A with Sandi Toksvig – it went down well in the conference hall (I heard several warm compliments from those who have been luke-warm about Ming). But for those outside the conference hall, of course, their verdict will be formed by the media verdict, which was as unkind as it was puerile.
The Grauniad’s Deborah Summers was ‘liveblogging’ the Q&A. Here’s a particularly emetic extract:
Asked about PMQs, Sir Menzies said everyone was nervous before prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons, but Sandi insisted he didn’t make her nervous.
“Well, of course I’m a failure,” Sir Ming said.
It was a glib remark, but one that Sir Menzies will almost certainly come to regret. A roar went up in the press room as he said it.*
Do you see what he’d done? He’d made a light-hearted remark, which used the word ‘failure’ – oh, the glee in the media ranks! Oh, the relief! No longer any need to bother with boring policy about climate change, tax reform and combating poverty – now they had the real story of the conference.
Tedious doesn’t even cover it. So, take a bow, Deborah Summers and Hélène Mulholland, authors of The Grauniad report, Menzies Campbell gaffe fuels leadership debate, for trashing any pretence your newspaper might have for quality political commentary.
* Interesting to compare the Grauniad account with the write-up in The Times:
[Ming] then asked Toksvig if she too suffered from nerves before important engagements, which she admitted was the case, before adding: “Obviously you don’t make me nervous. I’m all right.”
“Well of course,” Sir Menzies replied. “I’m a failure.”
Somehow reads a bit different put like that, doesn’t it? Almost like there’s not really a story in it at all.
Oh, and for those who want to watch a little bit of the Ming Q&A, here’s some YouTube footage I grabbed. Sorry, I was so far back, but the hall was pretty damn full: