Tuesday, 18 November 2014

What's in a name?

Today's politicians are trained to work with the media, and draw on a range of standard techniques when being interviewed.  Andrew Marr outlines some of the techniques he uses in this article, where he also explains some of the techniques politicians use too.

One thing that they all do is address the interviewer by their first name, while interviewers generally address the politician themselves more formally, eg Mr Smith or Ms Brown.  At it's basic level, this emphasises the power differential between the two.  It's reminiscent of the school classroom, where pupils are addressed by their first name, while the teacher is addresses by their formal title.

Personally I find the use of the the interviewer's first name quite jarring, especially on the radio.  I also find that politicians tend to overdo it.  Yesterday's interview with Neil Findlay on Good Morning Scotland provides an example of this.

Mr Findlay appears to have attended the same school of interviewing as Johann Lamont.  Why is that that Labour politicians seem unable to think through what they're saying to its logical conclusion?  They come along with a sound-bite policy and are then shot down when the interviewer takes that policy to its logical conclusion.  For example, Neil Findlay had a sound-bite about how his policy as leader of Labour in Scotland would be to get rid of Trident.  However, when taken to its logical conclusion and asked how he would do this if the Labour leader in London decided to renew Trident, he floundered.  He clearly hadn't thought about it.  Similarly when asked about re-nationalising the railways, a simple question about the costs was all it took to derail (sorry) him.

We've seen this before, famously when Johann Lamont was asked to explain Labour in Scotland's policies on further tax powers for Scotland.  It begins to look as if Labour politicians in Scotland are simply parrots, repeating whatever phrase is flavour of the day and has been supplied to them.  Thinkers need not apply.

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