Video Nasty Leaves British Government Minister Savaged
27 Jun 2012
Lamb to the slaughter, junior minister Chloe Smith, being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman. In the background her boss George Osborne, head of the British Treasury, who decided this was one television performance he would rather duck
Any Philippine politicians who see this video will breathe a sigh of relief that there is 11,000 kilometers between London and Manila.
They will be grateful that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the chief interviewer Jeremy Paxman of its flagship news program Newsnight operates out of west London (BBC television centre), and not Manila or Quezon City.
On Tuesday night a British government cabinet minister, Chloe Smith, walked into an interview with Mr Paxman. 14 minutes later she left on her hands and knees as though she had been savaged by a pack of wolves. And it was all in glorious color.
The interview was about a government decision to delay a 3 pence a liter fuel duty increase. Ostensibly something government spin doctors could crow about and use to gain good publicity. Unfortunately it all went horribly wrong, and Tuesday night's video nasty will haunt a lot of people in the British government in general and the British Treasury in particular, not least Smith herself.
Her boss, Chancellor of the Exchequer (Secretary of Finance) George Osborne, who announced the fuel duty rise delay earlier in parliament, may have been thought of as keen to go on Newsnightto trumpet the news and garner extra publicity. Er, no, not quite.
No, it seems he was not available. Nor was his immediate deputy. So instead their junior who has no formal economics or accountancy background was sent into the lions den.
Newsnight is BBC TV's flagship news program, concentrating on in-depth analysis. Jeremy Paxman, who is its lead presenter, has been with the program since 1989 and has the scalps of many politicians on his belt.
There have been many complaints from political parties and other organizations about his aggressive interview technique, but he is still there while many of the politicians have seen their careers evaporate.
Paxman makes a point of researching the subject at hand, and is at his most dangerous when an interviewee tries to bluff.
Paxman could not get a straight answer as to when she [Smith] and the rest of the cabinet were actually informed of the decision not to impose the fuel duty rise. Smith tried instead to repeat her briefing notes to no avail. It has since emerged today that the decision to halt the duty rise was a last minute action.
The video below is of the piece in question. The first six minutes are the introduction to the background of the issue. The next eight minutes are the worst in Chloe Smith's life. Sit back with a drink and enjoy.