Dear Leadership Candidates,
After watching on a video feed the interview between Anne-Marie Waters and Nick Ferrari on LBC radio earlier this week, I have some advice for you and all other prospective candidates:
Remember that the editors and producers run the show, not the presenter. They all have a script / running order of sorts and timings that are adhered to. That means that unless you know what is being asked in advance, you might be tripped up. Always ask the producer through their researchers, or directly, the gist of the debate the presenter will want to deliver. They should tell you, as they will want fluid and coherent answers.
Establish the ‘shtick’ of the presenter before you go on the show. I’m going to tell you how it works with someone like Nick Ferrari of LBC. Always research them! Nick’s shtick is that of a friendly man of the people. He likes the police, is a moderate Conservative. He doesn’t like ‘political correctness’. He likes a joke. If he calls you by your full name he is warning you that he is displeased. He hates jargon. He has a good heart. He is, in the main, very fair. He’s kind to inexperienced talkers and first-timers. He is utterly professional.
Do not underestimate broadcast journalists like Nick. He’s been in the game all his working life, as was his father.
Prepare short concise answers to the questions you are likely to be asked. Remember that you can be ‘seen’ even though you are on the radio, so be positive and nice.
Never forget that he cannot and will not allow you to present unsubstantiated facts or criticisms of another person without their right to reply. You will not be able to link your argument to a person if your hypothesis is linked to religion/sex/race either. So, if you say, ‘There are 23000 jihadi sympathisers in London and the Mayor doesn’t want them interned because he’s a Muslim’ you immediately get shut down.
If on the other hand you say ‘I’ve got statistics from the Home Office that show intelligence sources quoting 23000 potential jihadi suspects are in London. I believe in selective internment, which is a policy I’m aware that Mr Khan differs with’, then you will not be attacked. You are not inferring that Mr Khan’s religion defines his agenda, merely that you don’t agree with each other and you have substantiated your figures. That will not stop the presenter asking you why you want selective internment of course.
Always remember that it’s Nick’s show, not yours. The golden rule is that he asks the questions. Not you. You should not answer a question with a question or indulge in ‘whataboutery’. So, when he says, ‘What do you say to critics who accuse you of being islamophobic?’, do not say ‘Why don’t you ever accuse Diane Abbott of being anti-white’. That is irrelevant, defensive and unsubstantiated. You can say ‘I am not islamophobic. My fears regarding radical Islam are rational, not extreme, and I challenge those anonymous critics you mention to reveal themselves and cite any occasion that I have made any extreme or false comments.’
Never, never talk over the presenter. Let him finish his question. If you don’t understand the question ask for it to be clarified.
Always answer the question. If he says, ‘Why did you share a platform with Tommy Robinson, the ex-leader of the EDL’ , do not try and defend Tommy Robinson. You have to answer the question! A good answer might be ‘Because Tommy and I share concerns about aspects of radical Islam, his previous political affiliations are not relevant to the current debate, in my view’. If questioned about ‘previous political affiliations’ point out that Churchill, amongst many other politicians changed allegiances and that you are here to talk about your own policies and not other peoples’.
Always try and keep a good sense of humour and never lose your cool. Keep the high ground. That’s why an ‘off the record’ chat with the presenter is always advisable before you ever go on a show, preferably in person. ‘Off the record’ will never be abused by a respectable journalist like Nick Ferrari. That doesn’t mean he will not interrogate you, but if you establish a rapport it will be more productive all round.
Finally, never, ever walk off in a huff and always finish the interview on a polite note. You want to be invited back as leader.
Remember, again, it’s their show!
Sincerely, “Mr Bav”