Category political discourse

That’s another two years before he’ll be back

Starmer Holding the Floor

Kier Starmer, the Leader of the Labout party, was interviewed face-to-face on the Andrew Marr show this weekend. This was one of the first big face-to-face interviews Starmer has done in the last few weeks after COVID lockdown rules. Previous… Continue Reading →

Structure of an Interview

Sometimes asking questions in an interview is just not the right ‘structure’ if your interviewee does not want to answer them. Here we see Channel 4 news anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy (KG) interviewing the Conservative MP Tobias Elwood (TE) who clearly… Continue Reading →

Three words and 0.7 seconds: Not much time for a Minister

A lot was made on Twitter of Helen Watley’s appearance on Sky TV this morning. The claim by some distractors was that Whatley was saying that the government could blame scientists for mistakes made in the COVID-19 policy. Within ten… Continue Reading →

Using intonation to predict the end of turn

In spoken discourse, we can usually predict when our conversational partner is about to finish a turn by listening to their intonation. This is not always successful, however, as demonstrated by the following clip in which a TV host assumes… Continue Reading →

A book by Dr Michael Cribb

Hesitation, Equivocation and Pausing Unveiling the micro-world of political rhetoric and spin £2.99 (eBook) /£10 (paperback) on Amazon Every day we are bombarded with political rhetoric in the form of interviews, debates and statements from our political leaders and commentators,… Continue Reading →

MARR: “I know the answer”

Political interviewers like to pretend that they are are asking genuine questions to their political guests. But sometimes it is revealed all too clearly that their questions are really designed to try and steer the guest towards a particular answer.

“Can I explain why?” “No explain how.”

Andrew Neil interviewed Jeremy Corbyn on BBC television tonight. Neil is a forensic interviewer who usually pins his interviewees down to exact words and syllables. But Corbyn is know for his own brand of stubbornness, and there was one wonderful… Continue Reading →

I AM answering your question

Politicians often get accused of not answering questions but sometimes they fight back as Andy McDonald did on Friday.

Eye fluttering

Politicians use all means to try and grab and hold the floor during interviews including non-verbal means. Nigel Farage has developed an interesting technique where he flutters his eyes for a few seconds, almost bringing them to a close, in… Continue Reading →

New species observed since Brexit referendum

Brexit has not only changed the political landscape but has also given rise to a number of new species in the Homo genus according to scientists. Here is a quick run through some of the newcomers.

Interruptions at Prime Minister’s Questions

Interruptions at PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) are recorded in Hansard in a limited way, usually through the insertion of the word ‘[Interruption.]’ and are often followed by the Speaker’s call to order. The house however is collective body and background… Continue Reading →

Revealing ‘ah’ in PMQs

In a previous post I have argued that the house is a multi-faceted chamber with comments and background noise from members of the chamber combining with the current speaker to create a multi-modal discourse act. This is particularly important during Prime Minister’s… Continue Reading →

Hesitations

Hesitations are a natural part of unscripted spoken language. We all hesitate from time to time while speaking for various reasons: to plan what we want to say next, to correct errors or for dramatic effect. Hesitation is normally apparent… Continue Reading →

Grayling’s grilling

Political interviewing can be a frustrating affair when the politician being interviewed refuses to answer directly the questions put to them. John Humphrys, a BBC radio 4 presenter and interviewer, gave Chris Grayling, a Conservative MP, a grilling on the… Continue Reading →

Slip-squared

Slips of the tongue can be embarrassing for anyone speaking in public, but when the slip occurs twice in quick succession, one has to ask whether the speaker subconsciously really wanted to say something different. David Cameron (DC) was outlining… Continue Reading →

The language of U-turns

We all have to make U-turns in our lives sometimes: reversing our car when we realise we’ve gone down the wrong road; changing our opinion on some topic; wearing something we swore we would never wear. For politicians, making a… Continue Reading →

Chuntering from a sedentary position

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, likes to pick up on members who ‘chunter from a sedentary position’ – a slightly politer, and perhaps archaic, way of saying ‘shut up and stop muttering’.

Can I say s**t in the House of Commons?

Certain words in the House of Commons are normally taboo but sometimes it is possible to get away with using them by quoting someone and asking for ‘leave’ from The Speaker.

Exasperation and incredulity!

Political commentators and journalists all have their own idiosyncratic styles when interviewing politicians. Emily Maitlis, the BBC Newsnight  commentator, often shows exasperation and incredulity in her voice through sweeping intonation falls and facial expressions. Here is a brief analysis to… Continue Reading →

Gove’s Gestures

Michael Gove, Conservative MP, serves up some curious hand gestures while speaking including teacup gestures and steeple Vulcans. Here are some of the more interesting examples from his interview on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.

Conversation Analysis – BBC Question Time (part 1)

Editor: The BBC’s Question Time programme on Thursday nights seems to court controversy these days as we hold it to ever more stringent impartiality standards. In this blog, Elena Ioannidou dissects the discourse that this programme produces from a CA perspective…. Continue Reading →

Conversation Analysis – BBC Question Time (part 2)

Editor: This is part 2 of the blog on the BBC Question Time programme. Part 1 is here.

Holding the floor: Eyes down

The eyes play an important part in human communication. They can signal an intention to communicate and sometimes act to facilitate turn transition. In this example here, we see Tom Watson, the  Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, using his… Continue Reading →

The many faces of ‘no’

Theresa May seems to have developed many ways of saying ‘no’ without actually meaning it. In her interview with Andrew Marr at the weekend, she frequently used reduced articulations of the word (e.g. ‘n-’) to preface her responses to Marr’s… Continue Reading →

Bad things always come in threes

One way to put a politician on the spot is to ask them how many people have been affected by their policy. Three times seems to be the optimum number of times to ask according to the Andrew Marr’s rulebook… Continue Reading →

Two ‘fakes’ raise the stakes

Conversation can sometimes be like a game of poker, raising and doubling stakes, as the Andrew Marr Show demonstrated on Sunday.

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.

Equivocation & hesitation

There is a good example here of a politician being put in a tight corner on spending by the interviewer and having to equivocate. In the second part the pressure to equivocate is revealed in the increased hesitation in the… Continue Reading →

Pantomime time for the Revealing ‘ah’

Here is a nice example of the revealing ‘ah’ by backbench MPs in support of Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs. A revealing ‘ah’ is a comment made by a few members of the chamber in order to back up and support… Continue Reading →

No-no-no Chorus

A no-no-no chorus in the House of Commons is an echoing by Members of the chamber of the current speakers words in order to reinforce the points and create impact. An example of this was given in Prime Minister’s questions… Continue Reading →

Dodging questions

The weekend seemed to be the time for dodging questions for politicians up and down the politician spectrum. Theresa May was dodging questions on a nuclear missile test. Jeremy Corbyn was dodging questions on whether he would use whips in… Continue Reading →

What colour is Brexit?

If Brexit were a colour, what colour would it be? Are you dreaming of a ‘white’ Brexit meaning we get everything we hoped for? Or is your Brexit ‘black’ meaning we get out of Europe as quickly as possible with… Continue Reading →

Brexit is bacon and eggs!

Andrew Davies seems to have infected others with his ‘Brexit is breakfast’ slip of the tongue. Here is Andrew Neil, the BBC presenter, producing a similar slip of the tongue on the Daily Politics programme while interviewing Gavin Barwell.

Down, down, down!

Jeremy Corbyn was met with a ‘down-down-down’ chorus from his own backbenchers at Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday. They were not calling for him to step down however! On the contrary, they were showing their support for their leader as… Continue Reading →

Gove: “It was a mistake”

MPs sometimes have to eat humble pie and admit that they have made a mistake. In an earlier blog, I showed how Michael Gove MP used all his political rhetoric to make a historic U-turn on running for the Conservative… Continue Reading →

Slip of the tongue

A slip of the tongue from Jeremy Corbyn during PMQs.

The semantics and pragmatics of ‘Brexit means Brexit’

We have been tracking the use of the slogan ‘Brexit means Brexit’ at neutralfooting. At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday we learnt a little more about its use though the Prime Minister who originally coined this soundbite.

Oy you, spit out your gum and shut up!

Politeness in the House of Commons takes on many forms but is often exhibited through off-record, negative and positive politeness. Here is an excellent example of how the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, avoids direct face-threatening language as he… Continue Reading →

Brexit means breakfast!

Slips of the tongue can be embarrassing for the speaker at the best of times but often provide light relief for the audience. So it was with the Welsh Conservative leader, Andrew Davies, who was speaking at the Conservative party… Continue Reading →

Strategies for holding the floor

Holding the floor in the House of Commons during PMQs is not easy. With noise, shouting and barracking from members of the chamber, it can be quite easy for the current speaker at the dispatch box to become ruffled. This… Continue Reading →

Equivocation – the first penalty shoot-out of the season

Just as the new football season gets underway with the same old tricks and moves, so the new political seasons kicks off this week. Andrew Neil (Daily Politics interviewer) went up against David Gauke (Conservative MP) in the first penalty… Continue Reading →

The power of the eyes

In face-to-face communication, the eyes (and eye gaze) are the most powerful part of the body we have. John McDonnell illustrated this on Sunday when he directly turned to the camera during an interview on the Andrew Marr show (BBC)…. Continue Reading →

Tetchiness from Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn got a little ‘tetchy’ in his interview with Jackie Long on Channel 4 news yesterday. Corbyn seems to have these moments when being interviewed on national TV particularly when he is running for a leadership contest. Here he… Continue Reading →

PMQs watch: Theresa May’s first outing – a touch of Thatcher perhaps?

Theresa May delivered her first Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon and came through the event relatively unscathed with a touch of “Thatcher” to her performance as some commentators noted. Her former boss, David Cameron, developed… Continue Reading →

May’s first PMQs

Theresa May, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will perform her first Prime Minister’s questions (PMQs) on Wednesday in the House of Commons. PMQs is known to be a testing ground for new Prime Minister’s and leaders –… Continue Reading →

PMQs Watch: Humour at Cameron’s last PMQs

Politicians are not noted for their stand-up comedy routines, but there was plenty of good humour at David Cameron’s last Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Many of the jokes were scripted and some fell a… Continue Reading →

Five telling moments from David Cameron at PMQs

David Cameron will take part in his last PMQs as Prime Minister on Wednesday. Cameron has been at the dispatch box answering questions most Wednesday afternoons since he became PM in 2010, although he spent several years asking questions as Leader… Continue Reading →

Review of Mollin and how it links to our research

Before undertaking our research, we looked at a previous study relating to the investigation into the accuracy and representation of Hansard as a political database. Mollin (2007) looked at the suitability of Hansard transcripts as a corpus resource whereby she… Continue Reading →

© 2022 — Powered by WordPress

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑