Category political discourse

a/the Single Market

It seems strange that two of the smallest and most commonest words in the English dictionary could cause confusion between interviewer and interviewee but that is what ‘a’ and ‘the’ seemed to do on Sunday when Andrew Marr interviewed James… Continue Reading →

Interview terminated!

Richard Madeley knows when to shut down an interview. On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he abruptly brought his interview with Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, to an end when Williamson refused to answer his question after four strikes.

A brief bit of brevity

Prime Minister’s question time (PMQs) is known for lengthy questions and answers from Prime Ministers and backbenchers so it was interesting to observe a brief bit of brevity from the Prime Minister in two of her answers on Wednesday.

This can be a one word answer if you wouldn’t mind?

Interviewers don’t always get what they ask for but when they do, it can often cause difficulties for the interview.

Never ask a genuine question at PMQs

Lawyers sometimes say that you should never ask a witness a question during trial to which you don’t the answer to. The same principles usually operates in Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons where the question and answer… Continue Reading →

Angling for a job, Ms Perry?

Claire Perry, Conservative MP, seemed to enjoy asking questions on the Daily Politics today, so much so that Andrew Neil feared she was angling for his job.

Finishing off your interviewee’s sentences

Interviewers are always looking for ways to hurry their interviewees along, so finishing off their ideas seems to be a nice way to do this with the added advantage that you get the floor back. Why wait for the slow… Continue Reading →

Closing an interview

In day-to-day conversation, closing a conversation requires both participants to clear the floor. That is, each has to offer the floor to the other and only when neither has anything more to contribute can the conversation close. If you have… Continue Reading →

Ouch! Direct, focused questioning at its best

Andrew Neil was on fine form as he returned to hosting the Daily Politics on BBC1 on Wednesday. After chewing up Labour’s Andrew Gwynne, he turned his attention to Steve Baker, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Wycombe.

Make your contribution such as it is required…

TV presenters in a political interview have the privilege of asking the questions, but what do you do when your interviewee refuses to answer outright and brushes up against the Cooperative Principle? This is what Kay Burley, Sky News presenter,… Continue Reading →

Pausing as a marker of equivocation intentions

Pausing briefly while speaking is a natural part of delivery. We pause for several reason. The most obvious one is to take breath so we can carry on speaking. Some pauses occur before content words or complex clauses suggesting that… Continue Reading →

Charlie Mullins

The word ‘twat’ has a checkered history in the English language. Originally coined to mean ‘female genitalia’, although famously misued by Robert Browning in his poem ‘Pippa Passes’ (1841), it has recently been used to refer to an ‘obnoxious or… Continue Reading →

Eye gaze

When participating in a conversation, eye gaze can be an important part of the communication process. Our eyes signal the channel of communication: who we are talking to. But it is not always possible to control this, as Diane Abbot… Continue Reading →

Bull’s Typology of Equivocation (part 2)

Jessica Bott continues her series on ‘equivocation’: When a politician is equivocating there are multiple ways they can avoid answering a question. Often a politician will have a preferred way to equivocate and avoid using some of Bull’s categories. In… Continue Reading →

Bull’s Typology of Equivocation (part 1)

Jessica Bott continues her series on ‘equivocation’: When a politician is equivocating there are multiple ways they can avoid answering a question. In Bull and Mayer’s study of Thatcher and Kinnock interviews in 1993 they categorised these into eleven super-ordinate… Continue Reading →

Detachment

Emily Maitlis interviewed the Prime Minister, Theresa May, on Newsnight last night regarding the Grenfell Tower fire disaster. The Prime Minister had been criticised for not talking to the residents of the area when she had visited the site during… Continue Reading →

Face management

When discussing equivocation it is worth first considering the concepts of face-management and self-presentation. Face management originated with Erving Goffman who described it as “an image of self-delineated in terms of approved social attributes” (Goffman 1967:5). This concept has been… Continue Reading →

Bollocks!

Using profanity during a political interview is usually a ‘no-no’ for politicians, especially during a general election when you are trying to put yourself forward as a potential foreign secretary, as Emily Thornberry was on the Andrew Marr show on… Continue Reading →

Andrew Neil interviews Theresa May

Andrew Neil interviewed the Prime Minister, Theresa May, on Monday. Neil held back from his typical ‘bull-dog’ style attack that is a regular feature of his Daily and Sunday Politics programmes. Politicians often leave with visible ‘bite marks’ from these… Continue Reading →

Bollocks!

Using profanity during a political interview is usually a ‘no-no’ for politicians, especially during a general election when you are trying to put yourself forward as a potential foreign secretary, as Emily Thornberry was on the Andrew Marr show on… Continue Reading →

Abbott’s shaky abacus

Numbers and costings are notoriously difficult themes during election time when the pressure to rattle off the top of the head a list of figures without so much as a “hesitation, deviation or repetition” is applied to hapless politicians who… Continue Reading →

The significance of hesitations

Hesitation in delivery is a normal part of spoken discourse, especially in stressful speaking situations, and is normally discarded by listeners. In the House of Commons however, just before a demanding election campaign and when a manifesto is being prepared,… Continue Reading →

1.3 seconds is a long time

Pausing in a political interview can be taken the wrong way and have consequences for the ensuing discourse. Here is Emily Thornberry (ET) pausing for 1.3 seconds (line 05) during a TV interview on Channel 4 news with Jon Snow… Continue Reading →

The story is bigger than the words

Political flashpoints often arise and are sustained when participants in the story refuse to listen to what has actually been said by someone. This seems to be the case of Ken Livingstone who has recently been suspended from the Labour… Continue Reading →

Cueing your own ‘revealing ah’

Can a politician cue their own ‘revealing ah’? Theresa May appeared to do this at Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday in the House.

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