We may be only weeks away from a General Election. So it is entirely legitimate for an interviewer to ask a Labour MP the obvious question - would a Government headed by Jeremy Corbyn be A Good Thing? Thus Liverpool Wavertree’s representative Luciana Berger can have had no complaints when Eddie Mair put the question to her on his LBC show yesterday. Here’s the exchange in all its toe-curling embarrassment.
Eddie Mair: I want to ask you, would a Jeremy Corbyn Government be brilliant news for this country?
Luciana Berger: [hesitates] In the sense of?
EM: Do you need it qualified? Would a Jeremy Corbyn Government be brilliant news for Britain?
LB: Well, in terms of, it’s not the question for the country … for what they want …
EM: Well, you’re a Labour MP. I’m asking you whether a Jeremy Corbyn Government would be brilliant news for Britain.
LB: Well, at the moment, [it’s] very clear that we have a country that’s divided, and we need …
EM: Isn’t the answer “Yes”?
LB: Well, what’s most important at this moment in time is that we resolve the Brexit question.
EM: Why can’t you say “Yes”?
LB: Because … [laughs]
EM: Because you don’t believe it.
LB: My answer is, is that the issue that we’re first and foremost contending with, the crisis we find ourselves in, is around Brexit, and that is the issue we need to deal with.
EM: Forgive me for pressing you, but I would have thought a Labour MP would have said that a Jeremy Corbyn Government would be brilliant news for Britain.
LB: Well, you know there’s many different views at the moment in the Labour Party, we have many different issues that we have to content with.
EM: You don’t think it would be brilliant news for Britain?
LB: I think that we need to deal first and foremost with the Brexit issue.
EM: You’ve made that point. But if you’re asking, if you’re going to the polls at some point in the next few weeks, and saying “Vote for me”, you’re also saying “Vote for Jeremy Corbyn”. You can’t bring yourself to say that a Jeremy Corbyn Government would be brilliant news for Britain.
LB: I think we need to resolve the Brexit issue first. I don’t think it’s right that we should be going to the country, having a General Election, when we haven’t resolved the Brexit issue.
EM: When the election comes, would a Jeremy Corbyn Government be brilliant news for Britain?
LB: Well, I think a Labour Government would be better than a Conservative Government, yes.
EM: Not a Jeremy Corbyn-led Government?
LB: Well, I think, you know, I’m a Labour MP so [mumbles] I’d want a Labour Government over a Conservative Government.
EM: Even a Jeremy Corbyn-led Government?
LB: I want a Labour Government.
EM: Thank you for taking the time, good to talk to you.
Listening to the interview gave the immediate impression that it looked bad. Reading it back just now, it looked worse. Even Ms Berger’s supporters can be excused for sitting there and shaking their heads. This was as close to a car crash as makes no difference.
As Zelo Street regulars will know, this blog has defended Luciana Berger against the unpleasantness of the far right, and unwarranted drivel invented by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, but on this occasion she has come up short. Corbyn has pointedly given her the freedom to speak out, even when that might reflect badly on his leadership of the party. This is a pretty poor way to say thanks.
Eddie Mair is not just about skewering Tories. Let that sink in, as they say.
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