‘We’re ready for your close-up, Mr Harris’

AS FAR as I know, no date has yet been set for the Glenrothes by-election. So imagine my surprise to be accosted by a Channel 4 reporter as I entered the Midland Hotel in Manchester this morning and to be asked about Labour’s chances.

“Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves – we don’t even know when polling will be,” says I to the young woman who, by now, seemed understandably more concerned about releasing her high heel from a drain than in my answer.

“But it has been set – November 6.”

I hesitated, and said: “Really?” Then blustered on, having been totally caught out.

It transpired that I was right – no date has been set, and I don’t know how the reporter in question had come to that conclusion. So I’m assuming my surprised and puzzled countenance did not find its way onto Channel 4 News.

That’s the problem with journalists these days – they feel they have every right to shove a camera in your face and shout questions at you without so much as a by-your-leave. But it’s even worse when they throw inaccurate information at you and expect you to respond to it with a camera on you.

And I get the feeling there is not a single person reading this who’s going to feel the slightest bit of sympathy for me.


Filed under Media, Politics

16 responses to “‘We’re ready for your close-up, Mr Harris’

  1. Johnny Norfolk

    The date should have been set for the by-election. The last one was set quick enough. You dont mind reporters when things are going well and its all part of your job. I pay your wages so expect you to be quized by reporters. If Labour senior ministers gave interviews more often as the Tories did when they were in power, perhaps they would leave you alone. I see Milliband made his pitch for the top job.

  2. “And I get the feeling there is not a single person reading this who’s going to feel the slightest bit of sympathy for me.”

    Yup! It’s the first thing you’ve got right for a while.


  3. This must be Channel 4 News taking Jeff at SNP Tactical Voting seriously – he suggested the other day that it would be on 6th November so the result would get lost in the Presidential election aftermath.

    I for one will not be chuffed if you lot deprive me of my plans to immerse myself in US politics for those few days – if you have any influence, week before or week after, please.

    As far as the other commenters are concerned, it’s always been the way that by-elections are pretty much controlled by the party whose seat is vacated. Should there be greater regulation, perhaps having the date set by an independent commission? The speed of calling the election in this case, though, will be just one of many things the electorate will judge when they decide who to vote for.

  4. John

    They obviously use this tactic of catching their victim by surprise as they have more chance of getting a straight reply.
    A random date was used in hope you would blurt out the true date, if you knew it.

    Please don’t follow your leader and try for a sympathy vote cos you won’t get any.

    Even Toynbee is calling for Labour to abandon its expensive follies such as ID cards. All Brown wants to do is try and spend his way out of his crisis by offering ‘treats’ for the kids.
    Hollow promises won’t buy votes this time.

  5. Madasafish


    Of course we feel sympathy.. we feel your pain..


  6. richard

    It’s still a perfectly valid question. I think we can safely assume that the election will be called for a late October or early November poll.

    The saddest thing is that no matter how badly Labour do, there still won’t be a viable challenge for the leadership until after the general election.

  7. Angelin

    A female Channel 4 reporter, blonde dressed in blue jacket was shown trying to track down ‘plotters’ against GB, and the report mentioned more than once of the by election in November.
    Johnson thought she said ‘potter’ and pointed her in the direction of Stoke-on-Trent. Personally, I would have directed her to Hogwarts.

    Perhaps she mistook you for a plotter then.

  8. Adam

    I don’t know. There may be some sympathy. Journo’s are way more despised than politico’s by joe punter… 🙂

    And I am assuming your talking about Cathy Newman? I think its the hormones released by her pregnancy making more ‘hyper’ than usual. I have noticed that a few times over the last few weeks. And no, thats not a mysognistic dig, just an observation…

  9. Michael St George

    Revealing that you say “It transpired that I was right…..”. But at the time you were asked, you were not sufficiently informed as to enable you categorically to refute the reporter’s statement, inaccurate though it might have been. It could well have been that she was right, and you didn’t know about it. I’m afraid, Tom, that’s the risk you run, and the price you pay, for giving your allegiance to a party that thinks it far more important to impart information to its friends in the media than its taken-for-granted and deluded foot-soldiers in the Commons.

    And other than that, Johnny Norfolk is right. Being asked awkward questions by reporters – even the vacuous, flippertygibbet bimbo journos from Channel 4 – is one of the duties that goes with the not inconsiderable salary and allowances that we pay you.

    I trust you’ll be able to resist having your own “Hestletine moment” today – whichever of the two conferences in Manchester (the ersatz one in the hall or the real one going on in the bars and fringe meetings) you’re attending. And do try not to fall asleep or appear less than convinced during the Comrade Chairman’s peroration……..

  10. Ani

    It could be worse I suppose.
    You could have a certain well fed, book imminent, relentlessly depressing, droning commentator, obsessing over every word, expression or raised eyebrow, and the significance of Millibands lunch (banana) as you switch on the TV, hoping against hope for some real news and not continual journalist speculation, which must be driving the country mad with frustration and boredom.

    Not to worry though. It’ll be wall to wall glossy/glassy sunshine next week, without a whisper of dissent – from your regulars.

  11. Ani

    On a lighter note Tom.
    I’ve just watched Hazel’s speech.
    What a woman! Fabulous!
    If you see her, please give her a huge hug from me.
    (I voted for her to be deputy. Shhh.)

  12. I do, actually! Watching Newsnight last night it seemed a bit unfair for whomever was reporting to accost former ministers (in this case) queuing for coffee to ask them what they thought about the leadership ‘question’…
    What seemed more ridiculous was that said former ministers saying ‘No, sod off’ actually made it to a taped report!

  13. richard

    Didn’t you predict a Labour-hold in Glasgow East?

  14. Martin Cullip

    “That’s the problem with journalists these days – they feel they have every right to shove a camera in your face and shout questions at you without so much as a by-your-leave.”

    It’s awful isn’t it? Us supposedly having a free press and all that, and you being accountible to those that pay your wages …

    … allegedly.

  15. There are plenty of good reasons for media cynicism…Mandelson, Campbell etc…… Adam Boulton has an excellent story how Labour tried to bully him into retracting the (true) Prescott punch story.

    I can’t see Labour getting their finger out for an early by-election date…I live in the constituency, and swung past one of the two Labour campaign offices today, the shutters were down and there was a bloke outside having a fag, either waiting on a lift home or just idling.

    More in due course at Glenrothes Watch:


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