By that I mean with the likes of Andrew Neil, whose methodology is plain to see.
He does his research meticulously, in order to focus on any potential weaknesses in those he is interrogating … sorry, I mean interviewing.
Largely, having challenged the squirming victim sitting opposite, he pokes and prods to find a topic that he can use to upset their initial composure. If they are light on specifics, he will inevitably end up demanding a ‘yes or no’ answer to each loaded question that he spits out.
This does not work well with those who think on their bums and can challenge him on equal terms, even though he has accumulated expert crib notes at his disposal and can change tack in an instant. Rees Mogg is a classic proponent of combatting this strategy of instant recall of facts and figures, and it will be instructive to see how well Nigel Farage handles the endless whining, repetition of a demand, when Andrew Neil thinks he has his victim verbally impaled.
Personally, I find Neil to be a boring toad who needs to be combated. His odious style of interviewing is repetitively harrowing and disagreeable. It is also idiosyncratic and his counterpart, Andrew Marr failed dismally to emulate it.
How could Boris Johnson hope to combat this bewigged droner called Andrew Neil? Quite easily in fact. To start with, he should point out in advance to this throwback to the Spanish Inquisition that he, Boris, is a man who delegates responsibilities to his subordinate ministers, who are the key players in his government. They are all operating at the macro level of economics, and are expected to rule above the operational level, not to be involved with micro economics. This is why he, Boris, has a proven track record in management and feels entitled to ask if Andrew himself understand the concepts of this style of operation at government level? It is ‘Management by Objectives’ in practise.
Thereafter, every time that a googly is thrown at him by his potential nemesis, he can riposte by saying, “In a matter of minutes, nay, seconds, the accurate answering of questions of detail can be elucidated, in the proper setting of a strategic meeting to decide key objectives, in consultation with my elected deputies of whom you, Neil, are not one.” This can be followed with an invitation to the arch-demon to, “Allow me, the PM, the chance to consult with the relevant minister and his or her team of deputies to respond with definitive answers, subject to confidentiality. Are you game for me to do this, which is the correct way to deal with matters of state?” He could then flourish his mobile phone under the full glare of TV cameras.
No doubt, Neil will object to this modus operandi and protest, to which a typical response from Boris would condescendingly be, “My dear chap, as the current PM with knowledgeable experts operating at the macroeconomic level at the topmost level of the management of the UK, why on earth would you expect any one individual to carry around, in their head and recall, upon demand, facts that are not of immediate concern? It is claimed that Einstein could not even remember his own phone number! No. management by objectives, in an appropriate setting, is what MY government is all about. This is how I work and am where I am, and you are seated where you are, trying to unravel my train of thought as if I were a one man show, like you operate! What is wrong with you? This is not a presidential election, nor should it be turned into one!”
Do I need to elaborate on where the reins of power, in the studio, now lay?