Party conference season: David Cameron scores 8/10 for Andrew Marr interview

Party conference season: David Cameron scores 8/10 for Andrew Marr interview

Last week, Ed Miliband set a surprisingly high bar in his pre-conference BBC interview, yet this week the Prime Minister came close to matching him.

Cameron is naturally good at interviews, whereas Miliband has obviously had intense training. He does all the basic things well: he signposts his key messages, and repeats them often enough to make them unmissable; he bridges effortlessly away from difficult subjects – including outrageous disloyalty among his own MPs; he keeps it all simple, with strong articulation; and he has an eye for the sort of resonant soundbite (e.g. “Young people have got to be earning or learning”) that makes people subconsciously say to themselves: “Yup, I agree with that”.

However, the crowning glory (no pun intended) of his interview came with a potentially explosive question right at the end, when Marr asked him about his comment that the Queen “purred” on hearing the result of the Scottish referendum. Cameron knew full well that he couldn’t score any points with that one. His job was damage limitation. And he gave the perfect response: “I’m extremely sorry and very embarrassed”. End of. Some executives I train are terrified of saying “sorry” about anything. But sometimes, it’s the only word that will do. Well done, Prime Minister.

So what could Cameron do better? Like Miliband he fell too readily into knee-jerk, over-the-top criticism of his opposite number, and, on the economy, rattled off a great long list of achievements, without weaving them into an overall narrative (the Tories are still struggling to find a message to match Labour’s simple and effective “For the many, not the few”).  And, although the pressures of being Prime Minister have aged him, making him look less gauche and more statesmanlike, it’s still difficult to see him reaching out to enough voters away from the Tory heartlands to get an overall majority.

However, the nearer we get to the next General Election, the more it will come down to a beauty contest between Cameron and Miliband.  And if Cameron carries on performing like this, even with his party hell-bent on tearing itself to shreds, he stands a great chance of remaining in Downing Street beyond May next year.

 

Article date

September 29th, 2014

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer

@RT_MediaTrainer

My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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