Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Shriti's crime: answering the question

Trade Minister Baroness Shriti Vadera has been hauled over the coals for her 'insensitivity' by the Do Nothing Tories for saying she detected the odd shoots of recovery in the economy. There may be some civil servants who will relish the sight of a minister never known to suffer fools gladly coming a cropper. But Shriti's real crime was to repeat the question she was asked.

For the mention of 'green shoots' was first mischievously made by the ITV news interviewer, not Baroness Vadera. Her mistake was to repeat that part of the question in her answer. It is a common problem. Answering 'yes' while thinking through the answer to a tricky question can see headlines 'quoting' you as having said what the interviewer said: doing that on a question on then controversial contraception nearly cost Mary Robinson the Irish Presidential election in 1990.

Media types love to salute ministers for answering the question. But any adviser knows that it is far safer to have your answer prepared and stick to it whatever the interviewer says. As Shriti Vadera now knows, it is generally not a good idea to answer the precise question; it is an even bigger problem when you accept its basic premiss.


Anonymous said...

She was insensitive thats the point. I realise people who are on large salaries in Westminster land find that an odd concept, and being around Mandy all day, who has no idea how real people live must make you even more hard nosed and technocratic.

Zokko said...

What are 'real people', Anonymous? Please tell us.