Author: Sam Bond
These Blog pieces are meant to be impartial but I have to say it, I don't really like Jeremy Corbyn & Theresa May leaves me cold.
I genuinely needed persuading as to which side I might come down on. *
This is what impression was made on me through this week’s Q&A in terms of what I perceived through the IMEUS looking glass.
For those of you who didn’t catch it, the format of this presentation started with a live Q&A with questions from the audience followed by an interview with the big man himself, Jeremy Paxman.
In presenting and answering the questions of the audience he used "I" throughout – outwardly trying to show that he was taking responsibility.
He used his tonal inflection to relatively strong effect. Passionately expressing himself.
Short rapid phrasing mixed in with slower more methodical reasoning – made his arguments and reasoning easy to follow.
He used his hands well with meaning and intentions. Stressing and heightening the important points.
He was regularly pulsing on the verbs adding power and strong (believable) intention to what he was saying.
When talking with Jeremy Paxman he was quite funny and used quite interesting tactics to field Paxman’s questioning and grilling.
He smiled often, working with the statements that Paxman made rather than avoiding them.
Overall Corbyn worked well with Paxman using the energy and the ripples of applause and laughter from the audience.
At one point he states strongly and with passion, which the audience seemed to believe:
“I don't want to live in a country of food banks, of overfilled schools I want to live in a country that cares!”
An example of simple clear powerful statements. This tactic and ability gets to the nub of taking responsibility and has a positive effect on the audience.
Paxman pilloried him over Europe. A not surprisingly frustrated line of questioning ended with Paxman asking Corbyn repeatedly how much he was prepared to give to get a deal (to get out of Europe).
Corbyn did not give Paxman what he wanted.
Paxman kept in and on asking same question.
Paxman eventually asks in deepened low tones (quite threatening);
”I’m asking you about immigration”
Corbyn still did not give Paxman what he wanted. A technique, that with practice, can empower and embolden (if done with humility).
Corbyn in the main gave simple straightforward answers to tricky questions. An example. Paxman says:
“Why did you say you were sorry Osama Bin Laden was killed?”
“Because I think he should have been captured and put on trial for what he did”
The result the loudest applause of the debate.
Being simple and short with your responses can give the sense of straight talking no nonsense leadership.
As a consequence of this neat tight and well paced Q&A and interview with Paxman he got a lot of spontaneous claps in response to what he was saying.
Mrs. May starts with a happy birthday to Faisal the host - nice touch.
May uses first names straight away.
Her voice is shaky. Personally she always worries me when she speaks, as she seems about to burst into tears at any moment.
May stands in a fashion that seems as comfortable as Jeremy Corbyn.
She draws down on the left hand side of her face to give her energy, (and her body - see later below when talking to Mr. Paxman)
She has good stress and emphasis in what she says.
The dementia tax question is reasonably put by a concerned 74 year old.
May for my money waffles in response. She got some applause in answer to this question, but not from the man that asked the question.
The general message here was that the Tory party is a consultative party - both for cap on value of social housing and winter fuel allowance. A bit of skepticism in the audience in response to this statement.
There was a schools funding question.
Her answer was that she wants our youngsters to get the best possible start in life – but somehow I didn't believe her. It ran off the tongue like a hackneyed pre rehearsed script. Making rehearsed thinking and scripting appear natural is an art best practiced at home not in public.
In funding in schools she says:
We know the Labour Party figures don't add up. There is some derisive laughing (aimed at her government) from the audience in protest. She pauses but manages the hiatus well and keeps her composure.
On Brexit, there was a question about the 350 million pounds that was supposed to come back to the NHS, which there is a claim by a member of the audience that we (the general public) were lied to.
She chose not to answer that question but then went on about getting the best deal out of Europe. She in fact talked about getting the best deal out of Europe four times at this juncture.
There was a health service question around under funding. Again it seemed like she was warbling here, talking about getting a first class care system but no mention around how she is going to do it
An accusation around the Tories being the “Nasty” party came up again. Mrs. May couldn't really give an adequate answer in response.
She talked about being a "bloody difficult woman" to get the deal done but didn't answer the question that was directed towards attitude and value.
When talking with Jeremy Paxman he asks her when she changed her mind about leaving the European Union
She stops herself, as did Corbyn when Paxman interrupts.
It is hard to know how to respond when faced with a difficult challenger but there are techniques and taking a moment to gain one’s composure is certainly one.
Her answer: She goes down the line that she is listening to the people and there is applause.
Paxman says, “But you don't really believe in it do you?”
She doesn't answer.
Paxman says, “You still think it's a duff idea.”
Mrs May laughs somewhat out of embarrassment.
Mrs. May says, “If we get Brexit right there are some great opportunities for us.” But somehow it is hard to believe her.
Mr. Paxman states, “It is very important that people can trust their governments and politicians. What is the cap (on immigration) going to be?
“You don’t know do you?”
Mrs. May says in response, “We are going to go to the people.”
But it is too late Paxman puts in the killer line, “So basically you don't know.”
Paxman then asks if we look at something else on which she has changed her mind. Self employed contributions.
She accepts that she has changed her mind on this.
Paxman then states, “What people in Europe are going to see is she's a blowhard who collapses at the first sound of gun fire!”
He then adds “You also said there was not going to be a general election until 2020”
To this she defends herself. “It became increasingly clear that other parties were going to frustrate the will of the British people on Brexit and we needed a clear mandate.”
Mrs. May remained calm and collected throughout quite a hard grilling but not through rooted beliefs but clinging to a newly found performance technique
Towards the end of this questioning Mr. Paxman asks, “How much of our money are you prepared to give Europe to get a deal?”
Mrs. May answers, “We will look for a fair settlement of our rights and obligations.”
“Have you got a figure in your head to get out of this club?”
Again she bangs on about getting the right deal. A script we have heard of time and again.
“No deal is better than a bad deal”, she keeps repeating. Mr. Paxman reminds her of this.
Overall for my money, a bit too much reliance on sound bites and a nervous snorty laugh with a shaky lip that ‘tells” an awful lot about how she is feeling when under the spotlight.
That said an interesting technique Mrs. May did employ was to sit rooted to the left hand side of her seat - looking Mr. Paxman directly in the eye. When it comes to dealing with a pushy questioner quite a good technique to rely on.
Our overall summary, clearly both had had a lot of work done in preparation and it shows. On balance Mr. Corbyn put in a performance that was more in control and more authoritative, honestly and clearly showing what he thought and felt but one could argue as the underdog that might be an easier position to play.
What was your take? We would be interested to know with any comments.
* At the time of writing I am of course considering a vote for the Lib Dem for our local MP.