Thursday, August 13, 2009

Upon Reflection...

The great thing about having a blog and a Twitter feed is the ability to judge whether you have hit the right note. Or not. Readers are not slow in coming forward to give their views and they cannot be ignored. OK, there are always some people who if I said the sun was hot, would contend that I was exaggerating, but if you discount the usual troublemakers and nutters, it's possible to get a clear view of something I have done.

Apart from comments on the previous thread, I got two emails overnight from Daniel and Emma (you know who you are) which caused me to reflect properly on the Newsnight interview. It's quite clear to me now that the only thing anyone will remember from that interview is when I said to Hayden Prowse: "Your parents must be really proud of you". That single line obscured any other valid point I made during the five minute discussion. People perceived it as smug, patronising and condescending.

Even those who agreed with the point I was making - that it was incredibly rude of him, having accepted an invitation to the House of Commons from a man whose garden he had dug up, to then record their conversation - felt I had gone over the top with that remark. Upon reflection, I think they are right, and I hold my hands up. I got it wrong and I apologise for that. It was not a preplanned soundbite, although I did go into the studio intending to take Prowse to task for what he did.

I've done a lot of media interviews over the last ten years. I wouldn't do them if I didn't think that I generally get it right more often than I get it wrong, but the thing that you never stop doing is learning. And the lesson from this appearance is that although you want people to remember what you have said, it must be for the right reasons. Be careful of using phrases which the non-aligned viewer may see as insulting to a less experienced participant in the discussion.


Anonymous said...

Iain, your attempt at 'humility' has really made me smile. You're so vain! It's not really about YOU. It's about Alan Duncan.

However, it would be quite refreshing to see you try and avoid having hissy fits on air in the future.

Anonymous said...

Iain, it was a damn good interview, don't worry about it.

Anonymous said...

bollocks. You know what, I'm sick of Mandleharpie and assorted Fwits being able to say anything they like, and eveyone else pussyfooting around like the opinion of such a pillock as last nite really matters. I think you should have gone for the jugular myself. Watch Redwood on the same program for tips.

Gordon Brown said...


For God's sake man, pull yourself together. You are alllowed to say anything you want in an interview. That total prat you were sat opposite had nothing to say. He gave monosyllabic answers to Kirsty's questions. He was not able to back up anything he said with reasoning or examples. It was him that was shown up.

It will be a wake-up call for him and he will probably realise now that you not only have to consider your actions but also how your actions may be seen in a public light.

Absolutely f*** him and I'm glad that you pissed all over him.

In the mean time, whilst you are wearing that sack cloth, perhaps you should consider self-flagellating like a Mediaeval Monk!

Ray said...

I know your feeling exactly, you go through life trying to get it right, but the only thing people remember is that silly answer that slips through without you realising it has gone. The strongest memories in life being the taste of your own foot

Lightning Bug said...

Nicely said. Nicely put.

Now when do we get to see the new Top 100 Blogs?

Anonymous said...

Self-analysis is a characteristic missing from much of the contemporary political class. In its place there are too often a narcissistic self-regard and a sense of victimhood that masquerade as introspection.

I think there can be few more valuable skills for a politician, of any party and any background, than the ability to analyse one's actions, one's motives, one's behaviour and one's presentation in a cold and dispassionate fashion. Failure to do this leads to the preening vanity of a Blair or a Mandelson, the rigidity, arrogance and self-love of a Brown or the blind ideology-driven dogma of Benn or Tebbit.

Moderniser said...

Iain, if you feel what you said was justified than it can't be over the top, others simply have a different feeling on the subject.

I certainly disagree with you on this, but I respect the fact you went into the studio and spoke how you felt (irate, angry), rather than holding back and playing the politicians game of presenting a cookie-cutter argument.


ivan said...

Iain, I must agree with your sentiment re Prowse. The smug little twat needs to be taken down a peg or two. It is not 'funny' to do what he did especially when he appeared to be trying to get some damning response.

Paddy Briggs said...


I think that the problem was that you were not the interviewer - Kirtsy Wark was. But you sort of adopted the interviewer's mantle when you asked Prowse the question. It was a bit Paxmanesque in style and language and a bit unworthy for one guest to insult the other!

The bigger point is that if, as a blogger, you believe in investigative journalism and disclosure you really should commend Prowse for having got the story - so long as he did in within the law and within the media conventions.

I thought that Prowse was quite charitable towards Duncan and made some decent points. I like people like Prowse who prick the pomposity of the "Celebrities" - his word for Duncan. I also like Duncan who is an amusing and seemingly capable guy. He has nothing to resign about IMHO.

Anonymous said...


I disagree with everything you normally say, including this. That man has driven another wedge between politicans and the people and abused hospitality. For sure you might have chosen a different set of words, but he behaved despicably and you were right to make that point.


Anonymous said...

These days I can't usually be arsed to listen to the commies on Newsnight but I watched that one as you said you would be on. (- I feel it's only polite.)

However, I didn't actually catch that remark you said to him - I knew you had said saomething sarky but I just didn't catch the actual words. I would say that the problem is not so much that you were wrong to allude to his caddish behaviour, nor that the Newsnight audience, in general, would not have understood.

The real point is that he did it to a liblabcon. You class me as a nutter if it makes you happy. The reality is that these days, apart from the party faithful (all really not that many of them) nobody really cares what is done to Alan or Hazel or any of the rest of them.

There is nothing so bad that it can't be entirely excused by reference to the fact that it is done to them.

Anonymous said...

Prowse is a snivelling little prat who doesn't even begin to understand the word "integrity".

He's probably the way he is because his parents are proud of him - but that's their problem.

Don't be afraid to speak your mind - you don't want to end up like some Blair-babe (Dave-babe ?) do you?

Eduardo de Aston said...

Actually Joe Public doesn't mind MPs being exposed however it is done. So I actually disagree that Prowse did anything wrong or that you were right to have a go at him.

I mean don't shoot the messenger dude!

It made any other response you made look weak. And why for goodness sake weren't you angry with Duncan?

I think there was bit of projection going on here. Duncan's a mate so let's get angry at the other guy.

I also think that you should reflect more often. I really don't know why it eventually occured to you that you had made an error of judgement. Was it the overwhelming number of blogs saying so or two poignant emails?

Either way I would have thought that a few seconds after saying what you did you should have realised you had blown it and been embarrassed. I was certainly embarrassed for you.

Far better to have looked openly at what Duncan said and when he said it and reflected as to if there was any merit in anything he said or whether he was just being another whinging Tory multi millionaire.

I actually think you are doing a "Duncan" by apologising. It has no sincerity about it. But we all know sincerity can be faked don't we?

Anonymous said...

It seems that it is fine for all the twits to do all kinds of outrageous things (vandalising public property, twisitng the words of others etc), but the moment they get an appropriate return, their oh so sensitive feelings are hurt.

Iain, if you made that stinker squirm, good for you. Stop blaming yourself

Anonymous said...

Whether he was rude or not, (and yes I agree he was) the overriding issue is the fact that our corrupt rulers STILL DON'T GET IT.

The reason you were wrong to say what you said is that it shows YOU DON'T GET IT either. His rudeness pales into insignificance against the public service of revealing what MPs really think.

You said yourself MP pay puts them in the top 3% of earners and out of touch with the majority of their voters.

In fact not just out of touch but in a wibbly wobbly planet of their own.

Anonymous said...

I think you are being hugely too hard on yourself and over-sensitive.

Heydon can dish it out, and he looks like he can take it.

DespairingLiberal said...

I know you probably regard me as one of your "usual trouble makers" Iain, but actually, as I've mentioned before, I do have more respect for you than for many Tories. This sort of thing is one reason why - you have the guts to apologise properly and that makes a big difference. There are a lot of politicos out there who don't and that makes us all feel bad. I like a man who can say sorry when he gets it wrong.

As for Prowse - he is clearly a bit of a showoff and on the make, but he is also doing some funny stuff in public which people furious with MPs have enjoyed. I'm not sure if Duncan is a valid target or not - on the one hand, he does bring a refreshing honesty and amusement to the proceedings - on the other, he is clearly one of those who is all too often "on the make".

There are good and bad people in all the parties and I suppose constructive criticism helps but of course sometimes it goes too far, as I know I alas do at times as well.

Anonymous said...

Don't talk pompous odious bollocks Mr Canvas.

And you too Eduardo - what a bollocking cheek - if you think Mr Dale is lying then bugger off to read some other blog.

I think Mr D is being truthful and open. There have been a lot of comments and so it reasonable to follow up.

I think you were right Mr D but also right to be worried about how it came off. I think it significant that Prowse could only talk about tories and not socialists.
And the point about secret filming was right as well.
The other point is that even without film Mr Prowse could have repeated the comments - it was an open and not a secret meeting - which points to Duncans comments indeed being jokes.

The real issue here is that Duncan is not as funny oir as clever as he thinks he is.

john miller said...

I think you used a common persons' insult.

These are totally unacceptable in the meedja.

You might have called him a racist, a paedophile, or perhaps more winningly in this case, a homophobe.

But, really, a genteel little dig like that Iain, well, it shows you're not one of the cognocenti.

That's really why you need to apologise.

None of the above said...

the old "sorry for saying something that may have been taken as inappropriate by some people not as clever as me" ruse.

Any right thinking person given that opportunity would have crucified Duncan, and rightly so.

He's a cock, you're a cock. Sorry if you find that offensive.

john miller said...

I hate people who double post, so I promise to say three Hail Marys tonight.

Having read the comments, I despair that people have been brainwashed such that it is perfectly acceptable in their eyes to be invited into someone's company and secretly film them. The end justifies the means. If one were to search for a one-liner to sum up Labour policy over the last 50 years, that would be it.

In comparison to that behaviour, your insult was totally insignificant.

Funnily enough, my insult to someone who was a guest of mine and posted a video of me on Youtube without my knowledge would be of a different order.

To all the people who praised this person for "investigative journalism" (hohoho) or having performed a public service, well, you deserve all the surveillance you now get from our government.

Never will you be able to moan about camera cars, ID cards, chips on your bins, children trained by local councils to report you for errors in recycling methods, email interception, monitoring of phone calls - because, hey "dude" (puke) - the end justifies the means.

dearieme said...

Wot you shoulda dun, my son, is tape your chat wiv 'im in the Green Room and then embarrass 'im wiv it afterwards. Innit?

STB2 said...

You are a kind and decent soul, Iain, and a credit to your party.

Plato said...

I thought the Don't Panic guy was an arse - his feet were twitching with nerves throughout.

Yup - you went too far with the parents line - good on you for taking it on the chin.

Anonymous said...

The real villain in this instance is Alan Duncan. It showed an incredible lack of judgment to invite that idiot to the House and was even more stupid to say anything in confidence to him. Anyone that stupid/naive does not deserve a senior position. He is obviously a loose cannon and we don't need any of them. Redwood was good on Newsnight.

Eduardo de Aston said...

Trevorsden dear chap, what a delightful turn of phrase you have. "Bollocking cheek" must pop that one in the wordcheck. If I thought Iain Dale was lying I would have accused him of such.

I sincerely do not think that at all.

What I was trying to say, but it obviously escaped you, was that I did not think his apology was for the right reason.

That is to say I thought he apologised because of what others said rather than him actually thinking he had needed to.

I do though congratulate him for at least having the bottle to say sorry, we may disagree about the intent.

I think we should move on. We all make errors of judgement from time to time. It's just I thought we were leaving the era of smug Tories behind.

Unknown said...

Frankly it only seemed patronising as that prat was inarticulate and nervy, to the extent that any leftist will naturally sympathise with the undeserving underdog.

the Pro from Dover said...

2, no 3 thoughts,
I don't condone Mr Prowse' methods, but he was clearly sufficiently angry that he decided to do something about it.
He obviously felt powerless in orthodox terms, and worked out how he could compete with his enemy. Lao Tse say .... something or other about a mouse competing against an elephant, first even up the weapons...
This is the world we are moving into; where the political elite, having abused their power, have become enemies of the people. If the people have no power, they are free to invent new weapons.

The fact that a lazy press took the gift and publicised it (some months after the event), may either be bad manners, or good editorial standards.

I don't care if Mr Duncan is right-wing, left-wing, rich or poor. If he is a complete and utter vain twat, I want to see him out of parliament. There should only be the requisite percentage of twats at Westminster to reflect the %age in the country.

Mr Duncan got away with his gaffe on HIGN4U/HIGNFY/whatever earlier in the summer. I think he is past his sell-by date. I suggest Dave shows him the door. If he doesn't stamp on these idiots, he will turn out like John Major. Well-meaning, but stamped all over.

Anonymous said...

This is far more topical


Unsworth said...

Iain, do please get over it. Is this some sort of post-coital triste? I don't see that you have any reason whatsoever to apologise. If your fellow interviewee wasn't capable of telling you to stop being so condescending and piss off then that's his problem. Why should it become yours? Maybe this is becoming some sort of guilt fest.

We all do and say things that we may later regret - even Alan Duncan, perhaps. But let's not make a drama of something which is a relatively minor discourtesy, eh? And let's not confuse your position with that of Alan Duncan.

Anonymous said...

I thought the interview was OK, but for reasons beyond me (it might be because of the stomach upset I was recovering from) you started to sound like Rick Stein. No offence intended by that.

Anyway the mark of a good man is that he feels he can admit out load that he has made an error (whether or not objectively that is the case it was wrong is not the issue) and say so. Contrast this with the current government- never made any mistakes you see, oh know everything is perfect.

Back to Duncan, I think as Mrs T said 'everyone needs a willy’, I think you should also say 'everyone needs a Prescott'. Therefore is Duncan the Tories Prescott? I actually thought it was very funny, I don't know the man personally, but as some-one who knows a lot of Brummies, I would say he was extremely deadpan. I couldn't stop laughing for 10 minutes . What a joker.

Oh please don't sack him, his world view /remarks will cheer me up no end, especially when he is government - we will all need something to cheer us up then given the severity of the tax rises/spending cuts we are going to get thanks to this governments abandonment of anything approaching a sane fiscal policy...

simonh said...

I shouldn't worry about it. Prowse shrugged it off - if anything, I think the fact he refused to rise to the bait made him look quite impressive.

I agree that he is guilty of a discourteous act but I tink he'd argue that it was a justified deception because he exposed the hypocrisy of Duncan's position.

Baldwin said...

I thought your interview was fine.

Thomas Rossetti said...

You should ignore comments like that of "canvas" who cast doubt on your "'humility'". I thought your remarks were genuine.

I didn't see the edition of Newsnight in question, but if you did say "Your parents must be proud of you" that does sound a little patronising.

This garden-digger-upper was wrong to secretly record Duncan, but it did give a fascinating insight into this MP's genuine thoughts. Some "crimes" produce results that cancel out the original wrong-doing.

Neil A said...

Personally I am something of a heretic in believing that Duncan is actually right, that MPs are underpaid and that the future is pretty bleak for the prospects of having the best people standing for parliament. He was still a bit of a dolt for Telling An Unauthorized Truth in public, but that's says more about the 1984 atmosphere we now live in that anything.

Joe Public said...

".....that it was incredibly rude of him, having accepted an invitation to the House of Commons from a man whose garden he had dug up, to then record their conversation"

Just like the general public inviting individuals to represent them in parliament, then (the public) being subjected to massive, new state surveillance laws.

MPs really do think they should be treated differently from the public they govern, don't they?

paulocanning said...

Why don't you prod someone to secretly record Mandy? I'm sure we'd all enjoy the results. I know I would.

FCS this is politics.

Windsor Tripehound said...

A question for Mr Prowse's supporters. As you are clearly in favour of undercover snooping, please favour us with your defence of ID cards, the DNA database, the spread of "security" cameras and the recording of e-mails.

Just asking.

Sean said...

Well, this made me watch iPlayer on BBC to see what was said. I thought your approach was perfect, Nothing to apologise for at all.

Joe Public said...

Windsor Tripehound @ 9:03

Quite the reverse.

The politicians who object to being secretly recorded, are the ones who want to know everything about us public.

Of course we know all MPs will be first in line to volunteer their DNA & buy (out of their own pockets, not from taxpayer funded expenses) ID cards.

Anonymous said...

Your comment was a bit rude and aggressive ... but in this case I think Prowse did the country a service by highlighting Duncan's views on MP's salaries and expenses.

Cameron has gone a long way to try and dispel the toff-Tory image but Duncan - who is so far removed from the average voter he might as well be a martian - saw fit to destroy the work that has been done with one arrogant and insensitive remark.

Cameron should be grateful to Prowse for publicising the backwards attitude of at least one member of his front bench. Duncan should be encouraged to resign and if he won't he should be sacked at the earliest opportunity. The Tories don't need any out of touch millionaires who genuinely think that £65grand a year plus expenses is 'living on rations.'

Anonymous said...

Man up! He's a jumped up little toe rag. If I was Alan Duncan (& thank God I'm not) I would take the video of him criminally damaging my garden to a lawyer. If he wants to play rough...

Martin S said...

Iain, you were right to say what you did.

Maybe if people like Haydon actually thought: "Hang on, what WOULD mum/dad say about this idea?" perhaps they would not be so keen to vandalise other people's property, etc?

Ignore Canvas. Her mind set at age 15.

Phil Fowler said...

The problem fpr me Iain, is that you didn't condemn what Duncan said. You used language like "I'm not going to defend what he said" and "No one can defend that", but you personally didn't condemn his actions, and as the saying goes "What you don't condemn, you condone." So when you attacked Prowse and not Duncan, it made you appear partisan and a Tory stooge. Prowse isn't elected and funded by tax-payers, Duncan is. That is the issue here, and trying to sideline it into a discussion about methods of journalism made it look like you had no grip on the discussion and so resorted to rubbishing your opponent. I wonder if you were caught off guard by Prowse's approach to the discussion? He didn't appear that he wanted to "win an argument", whereas you did, as you admit with the comment that "I did go into the studio intending to take Prowse to task for what he did" which gave you the appearance of a bit of a bully.

Anonymous said...

It was, as they say, a teachable moment.

One result seems to be the general public now know who Prowse is (suddenly I know he was a child actor in a Robert de Nero film, or was it Francis Ford Coppola, no matter) and that he seemed quite nice and non-aggressive, unlike the other chap. I'm curious to know more about him and expect soon to be informed about his eastend home and live-in girl-friend. Perhaps he'll do a bit of modelling. Not quite a-star-was-born, but something entered the national consciousness.

johnse18 said...

>Perhaps the most shocking >statistic was when we were told >that if you break down on the >motorway and decide to sit in >your car on the hard shoulder >your life expectancy is reduced >to 12 minutes - 12 minutes!!!

As a previous reply suggested, they almost certainly meant reduced BY 12 minutes rather than TO 12 minutes.

But even that's a meaningless statistic!

Surely just living for 12 minutes reduces your life expectancy by 12 minutes?

I just took 45 minuntes out for a lunch break. I reckon that has reduced my life expectancy by about 45 minutes but it was a nice lunch so I think it was worth it.

By quoting obviously garbage statistics like this (and the speeding to a hospital example was another) they lower their credibility on the others.