Swearing Prescott and other disastrous politician interviews

Swearing during a television interview is never a good idea as John Prescott found out earlier this week.

His use of a mild profanity during an ill-tempered appearance on Good Morning Britain certainly detracted from his message, with subsequent media coverage focusing on the swearing rather than anything else he said.

While we talk about the importance of using everyday language during our media training courses, swearing takes it a step too far.


But we’re not going to insult your intelligence by writing a blog on why your spokesperson should not swear during media interviews.

However, Lord Prescott’s performance did remind us of some other disastrous politician media interviews and we thought we would lighten up your Wednesday by sharing them.


Michael Howard

You can’t have a compilation of bad political interviews without including Michael Howard’s infamous appearance on Newsnight in 1997. The then Home Secretary faced the same question 12 times in 90 toe-curling seconds during what is widely considered to be one of Jeremy Paxman’s most intense grillings.




Chuka Umunna

A golden rule of media training is that the cameras are on until the very end. Labour politician Chuka Umunna seemed to forget this lesson when he appeared on Sky News. A fiery exchange with Dermot Murnaghan ended with Mr Umunna failing to hide is displeasure at the line of questioning he faced as he abruptly left his seat.



Natalie Bennett

The most memorable interview of the last general election has to be Green Party leader Natalie Bennett’s appearance on LBC. But it was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Ms Bennett repeatedly struggled to answer questions about the figures behind her affordable housing policy, stumbled when asked to provide basic details and the interview was punctuated with lengthy pauses.

It made for awkward listening and Ms Bennett, who blamed her performance on a ‘huge cold’, described it as ‘excruciating’.



George Osborne

If you thought Michael Howard failing to answer a question 12 times was uncomfortable, you may want to watch George Osborne’s interview with Andew Marr from behind your hands. The then chancellor faced the same question a staggering 18 times during an excruciating appearance in the run up to the last election.



Richard Burgon

The four minutes Richard Burgon spent interviewed by Channel 4 probably felt like a lifetime. His undoing was a lack of control and preparation and the question and answer session led him into some uncomfortable territory.

His ‘I have a very busy diary’ response, complete with sarcastic smile, to a question about meeting city representatives stood out during a painful watch.



Chloe Smith

Another Paxman mauling and another one to watch from behind your hands. The junior Treasury minister appeared to be going down the Michael Howard route in 2012 when she struggled to deal with repeated questions about when she had been informed of a change of policy. A clearly exasperated Paxman later went on to memorably ask ‘is this some kind of joke?’ An interview which highlights the importance of preparation and knowing your message.



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