Wednesday 27 June 2012

Nightmare on Newsnight for Chloe Smith

At work today, my manager asked me whether I saw Tory Treasury Minister Chloe Smith's interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight last night.

I said no, before asking who she was. He then described how embarrassing her performance was, as she struggled to answer questions on the government's u-turn on fuel duty rises.

My manager said he found it so painful to watch, he had to turn the tv over. After hearing this I decided to check out the interview for myself on Youtube.

I did manage to watch it in full without turning away, but it was uncomfortable viewing as Paxman ripped her to shreds!

My immediate reaction was - if you're a government minister, you should know your brief and if you're appearing on Newsnight to be interviewed by Jeremy Paxman, you'd better know your stuff!

The journalist in me couldn't help but admire Paxman's questioning - this is what journalism is all about; holding those in power to account. Paxman's a legend!

But having read various comments and opinions I'm beginning to have a little more sympathy for Chloe Smith.

Yes she was out of her depth and didn't know enough about the policy, but clearly she shouldn't have been put in that position in the first place. It was like she was some sacrificial ministerial lamb thrown to the wolves in order to protect those higher up in the Tory Party.

Although it was a humiliating experience for Smith, I wondering whether in the long term her appearance will reflect worse on the Tory Party.

She already appeared on Channel 4 news earlier in the day and struggled with Krishnan Guru-murthy's questions, yet still they allowed her to take on Jeremy Paxman.

It smacks of a certain arrogance from the top of the party, when senior figures refuse to put themselves forward to defend questionable policy u-turns, and instead get ill prepared novices to do the job instead.

Poor Chloe, I wonder where her career will go from here, but some senior figures in the Treasury really need to take a long hard look at themselves.

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