Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Good on you, @ChukaUmunna...

I note that there is some fuss about Chuka Umunna's decision to walk out of an interview with Dermot Murnaghan yesterday morning on Sky, having decided not to put up with being ambushed on the question of Eric Pickles' letter to Muslim leaders across the country.

You can argue legitimately about whether or not the letter was the right thing to do, and I would expect that those who have read it (I am not included in that category, I admit) to have a view on it. On the other hand, it would be nice to see a little integrity on the part of those asking the questions.

For example, if you invite someone into a studio to answer questions on subject X, a well-organised politician will prepare, read up on party policy perhaps, as well as the news reports on the matter. They may even check what other parties are saying on the subject. At least, they will do if they want to provide the audience with meaningful answers. So, when you ask them about something completely different, you shouldn't be surprised if a sensible politician says, actually, I don't know enough about that to give you a proper answer. And yes, it could be just evasion, but it could be plain honesty - something that you, the media, keep telling us is good.

So, asking a Labour spokesperson to answer a question about a letter he hasn't seen is, effectively, asking him to give you an unprepared, ill-informed answer, so that you can attack him later. And I have a little more admiration for Chuka Umunna for deciding not to play.

Dermot Murnaghan, you might think that it makes good television, but you're wrong, it's just another nail in the coffin of decent politics in this country, and yet another reason why more and more decent people decide that, if that's what it's about, they would rather find some other way of contributing to their community.

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