Belfast Telegraph

Politicians who treat public with contempt deserve all they get

The media function as the eyes and ears of the electorate and Good Morning Britain presenter was right to cut minister off

Gavin Williamson
Gavin Williamson
Richard Madeley ended an on-air interview with Gavin Williamson over his refusal to answer a question
Theresa May
Alastair Campbell
Sajid Javid

By Chris Moncrieff

Full marks to Richard Madeley, who cut short an interview with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson for repeatedly refusing to answer a straightforward question.

And it was Williamson's own fault that he became probably the first Cabinet minister to be shown the door, so to speak, in the middle of a live interview.

Williamson's humiliation was a salutary lesson for all politicians who think they can abuse the airwaves by simply and arrogantly ignoring the questions put to them.

Not even that attack-dog Jeremy Paxman has had the temerity to cut off an awkward Cabinet minister.

Madeley asked Williamson, more than once, whether he regretted telling Russia to shut up and go away after the Salisbury nerve gas attack.

A pretty straightforward question, you might think.

But the "answers" given by Williamson bore no relation to the question. The only possible excuse he could offer is probably that he was still wet behind the ears in ministerial terms.

Politicians must realise that they are not monarchs of all they survey. Williamson seemed to have that impression - and he paid the price.

Well done, Mr Madeley.

Theresa May's problems and crises are suddenly multiplying at an alarming rate. Whichever way she turns, it seems, fresh trouble is looming on the horizon.

Can she survive them and successfully battle through? Or will the sheer power of them bring her crashing down?

One of the latest follows the overwhelming desire of the people of the Republic of Ireland to liberalise abortion laws.

This leaves Northern Ireland as the only part of the British Isles (if that is still a valid term) where the abortion laws have not changed in this way.

Now, activists are demanding the Prime Minister rectifies this. But, as she points out, this is a devolved issue for Stormont to resolve. But Stormont has not sat for months, so Mrs May certainly has not heard the last of this.

And, to add to all this, there are also fresh demands to allow same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the DUP, which is propping up the May administration, is starting to make threatening noises about the vexed Brexit Irish border issue, just to add to her woes.

Then there is Priti Patel, recently sacked from the Cabinet, gunning for some aspects of the Government and Tory party hierarchy, plus the unending barrage of slings and arrows from the Tory Remainers and the frustration of Tory Brexiteers at the snail's pace of the negotiations.

Could the combination of all these factors be the storm that will blow her away? Downing Street at the moment is not a place of sweetness and light.

The water authorities have been haranguing their customers - including humble householders - about the danger of using too much water, with the threat of shortages and droughts possibly lying ahead.

All that, of course, is very worthy and prudent.

But shouldn't the prime target of these warnings be the Home Office?

If water companies are already becoming anxious about future supplies in existing circumstances, how much more worrying it will become if immigration - legal and otherwise - continues at its present level?

The new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has just announced he is inquiring into the state of migration, but concentrating, not unreasonably, on the question of ensuring that enough and urgently needed skilled people, like doctors and nurses, are not denied entry.

But if we don't want our reservoirs to dry up, the Home Secretary should take an equally long and hard look at the numbers of illegal and/or unskilled immigrants who are still descending on the shores of our already overcrowded island.

The Home Secretary should certainly factor this into his examination.

Poor Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's one-time spin doctor, has been publicly nagged (his word, not mine) on radio by his daughter, Grace, about his feminist credentials. Or, to be more accurate, lack of them.

She angrily chastised him verbally for using the word "birds" to describe women and told him to cease doing so forthwith.

Campbell said he did not know he had ever used that word in that way, but nevertheless agreed not to do so in future.

It is all very well when your political opponents go for your jugular, but when it's your nearest and dearest... well, the mind boggles.

Belfast Telegraph

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