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 shoot-out of the season. As MPs do, Gauke brought his ‘equivocation gloves’ to the studio to defend against the interviewer’s penalty kicks.

Kick 1

Andrew Neil (AN) asks whether Gauke (DG) supports the creation of new grammar schools, a controversial topic that has been in the UK news recently as speculation rises that Theresa May’s new government may give the green light for building new grammar schools, the first for almost 20 years. Gauke saves well here with a clear side-step of the question and then even saves the rebound:

AN: David Gauke
    do you (.) support the creation of new grammar schools
DG: well look (.)
    there is a lot of press speculation at the moment
    about er any sort of future announcement
    that may b- may be made
    on er er [education policy
AN: [I’m I’m asking for your view
DG: let let (just make this)
    er in in in terms of
    I’m not going to comment on
    sort of the the specific
    y’know some of the er specific proposals
    that have (.) been floating

Kick 2

Neil repeats the question. Again a good save from Gauke as he refuses to mention grammar schools and instead talks about an important principle of an education system.

AN: I’m not as- I’m simply [asking=
DG: [but what I xx to say
AN: =you a simple question
    do you support the creation of new (.) grammar schools
DG: what is very important
    is that we have an education system
    that gives more people
    the opportunity to have
    excellent education

Kick 3

Neil modifies his shot somewhat and instead asks whether grammar schools would be part of the process (of creating an education system that provides opportunities for more people). In other words, is the Conservative government considering bringing back grammar schools? (A leaked document recently suggested that it is.) Gauke again saves the day with an answer regarding a ‘package of announcements’.

AN: right let’s (.) let’s take that for granted
    er would the creation of new grammar schools
    be part of that process
DG: well I think that’s where
    we start to get into
    sort of details of announcements
    and looking at er er
    if you like
    a a a package of announcements
    and the particular context
    and I don’t want to
AN: alright
DG: I don’t [want to

Kick 4

Neil again adjust his aim to take into account this ‘package of announcement’ (whatever that is). Gauke saves by returning to the general topic of the ‘principles’ of education rather than answering any specifics about whether the Conservative government will be making any announcements about new grammar schools in the near future.

AN: [should the creation of grammar school
    be part of
    a package of announcements
    on education(.)
DG: point I woul-
    the point I would make is that
    our objective
    is to ensure that we can find
    ways in which more people
    get a good education

Kick 5

Neil dismisses Gauke’s point by saying that all politicians say they want ‘good education’. His final kick returns to the question of whether Gauke believes grammar schools are a good thing, especially with regard to improving social mobility. Gauke once again uses the magical power of the equivocation gloves to save the shot.

AN: ev- ev- every [politician on this programme
    says that
DG: [and we’re willing
    and we’re willing to look at xx xx
AN: the question is how do you do it
    so I will try one more time (.)
    do you think that in efforts to improve social mobility
    and help kids (.) brighter kids from poor backgrounds
    would the creation of new grammar schools
    be part of that process
DG: well (.) as I say
    yyyyyy and you can y’know
    ask the question again
    but it it
    we [have to look at the overall-
AN: [well I don’t think xx
DG: we have to look at
    the overall context
    of of the announcements that
    that could be made
    the reforms that could be made
    the objective
    we’ve been very clear about that

Five penalty shots by Neil and five saves from Gauke! What a start to the season for this MP. Neil acknowledges he has lost the shoot-out but the viewers will decide in the end who won. A change of ends and a new shoot-out.

AN: right
DG: is is about [increasing those opportunities
AN: [alright
DG: that’s xx
    [we’ve got a record of delivering that in government
AN: [the the the the the viewers will er
    come to their own conclusion
    about your answers to that question
    let me come on to Europe and Brexit


You can listen to the interview here or on the BBC iPlayer.

Daily Politics, BBC, 7th Sept. 2016