Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Politicians needn’t be so afraid of saying what they think

Politicians know they need to be more natural, less spun, and more honest about what they think. But most of them carry on sounding unnatural, spin-doctored and cagey because they’re worried about the media will do to them if they speak their minds. They fear being pounced upon by journalists keen to write up their latest ‘gaffe’. But this week we’ve seen two politicians saying what they think without any major repercussions. Example one comes from Boris Johnson in his interview with Tim Shipman. The Mayor was asked whether he watched Coronation Street or Eastenders:

‘Um. What a world we live in where you are felt to be out of touch if you don’t watch these things. Why should I? It’s ridiculous, totally ridiculous. Dirty Den, that was EastEnders. Forget it, it’s not my thing.’

Then this week Esther McVey was asked on ITV’s Loose Women whether she wanted to be Prime Minister. Her response was:

‘If I had to do a yes or no, I’ll be honest, I’ll say yes.’

I have interviewed colleagues of McVey with far less of a chance of ever getting near the job of Prime Minister who have given evasive answers on this, which always makes them look like fools. There was one who has never made it off the backbenches for pretty good reason who, when I asked if he had any ambitions for higher office, replied with all the gravity of someone already in the Cabinet that ‘I’m just thrilled to be serving my constituents’. His colleagues were equally thrilled that he wasn’t doing anything else.

In both cases, the politicians have said what they think and the sky hasn’t fallen in.

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