Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Verdict: Blair

Blair: fazed by own party's policy on Council Tax, couldn't say why he disagreed with Local Income Tax. Appeared to be looking over his shoulder when probed on handover to Brown and even seemed to sneer a little over the whole unity thing.

Paxman: at least seemed as if he wanted to be there, unlike with Kennedy. But also seemed a little weary in parts, has Charles Kennedy roped him into early morning childcare duties or something? Ah wait, he's storing it all up for Howard on Friday, as he knows we all remember Derek Lewis.

Blair was asked EIGHTEEN TIMES how many illegal immigrants are in Britain — but refused to give a straight answer. Asked to reveal the number of failed asylum seekers, the PM insisted it was “pointless speculating.” Paxo doggedly refused to let it drop, asking for a “rough idea” — then demanding: “Is it tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands? Millions?”

Mr Blair floundered: “I’ve said, I don’t think there’s any point in speculating. I . . .”

Paxman: “But you have no idea.”

“Well, it’s not a question of having no idea.”

Paxman: “Prime Minister . . .”

“. . . and what is the backlog, and we are dealing with all of those issues.”

Paxman: “Prime Minister, you have really no idea of how many failed asylum seekers there are illegally in this country.”

“I can’t . . .”

Paxman: “You don’t know.”

Blair: “. . . because people are here illegally . . .”

Paxman: “You don’t know.”

Blair: “. . . it is difficult, for the very reason that . . .”

“You don’t know.”

“Hang on, for the very reason that the previous government gave, you cannot determine specifically, how many people are here illegally.”

Paxman: “You have no idea.”

Blair: “What you can say is, here are the number of people that are actually currently applying for asylum . . .”

Paxman: “Yes.”

Blair: “This is the backlog of claims that you’re dealing with. And these are the people who are being removed from the country.”

Paxman: “Do people not come to you and say, we think Prime Minister there may be 100,000 or 200,000 or 50,000 or 500,000.”

Blair: “We . . . it, they, they don’t come and say that, what they . . .”

Paxman: “So you have no idea.”

“ . . . do say is. No, hang on a minute . . . ”

My advice to Howard is have a sore throat on Friday or crack some joke that blunts any machine gun rapid fire question repetition.

Whatever figure he'd given would have been too many as far as some were concerned. Surely it's better to look like a lemon than create a rod for your own back? Politicians aren't generally known for giving straight answers.

I know it's the political equivalent of yelling 'Freebird!' at a concert, but it would be good if Paxman could repeatedly question Howard about the former MP for Arundel and South Downs, perhaps even going so far as to ponder if as party leader he'd "threatened to overule" the association chairman.


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