I have always enjoyed the way that Andrew Neale interviews political leaders, I have long since a big fan of his late night Thursday show, known as “ This Week” which has sadly now ended after many years of lively and satirical debate, along with his various sparring partners including Michael “Choo Choo” Portillo, and Alan “Man Of The People “ Johnson. He has always been an impartial and challenging interviewer who is always very well prepared. In addition he trucks no nonsense from anyone. That educated Scottish accent belies a man with a very sharp and incisive mind, he refuses to let people get away with not answering questions, or dodging issues, and this was certainly the case with his interviews with the leaders of the people today leading the political parties.
I have watched him grill Boris Johnson, eradicate Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP, and seriously rattle Jeremy Corbyn, his style is pugnacious and he calls these people out on their weaknesses, and he certainly had done his homework with all those poor souls who were brave enough to stand before him. He was consistently tough with all of them, not letting anyone off the hook, Mr Corbyn got visibly angry as he was either cut off mid question, or was constantly asked for a straight answer, or in Jezer’s case an apology for the Labour parties accusations of anti semitism which he repeatedly failed to give. Mr Johnson got a right good hiding over the Prime Minister’s lack of integrity and fibbing, graphically mapped out for him in cutting detail. The PM was squirming in his seat, but not as badly as I was watching him, it was in fairness a masterful performance of a man at the top of his profession. Miss Sturgeon was savaged over the SNP stand on re-joining the EU, post a referendum vote confirming Scotland would leave the UK. She was verbally floundering on the ropes, over time scales at rejoining the EU. She was also bashed on the head by Mr Neal for Scotlands decline after years of the SNP being at the helm of a minority Government.
To be fair to all the leaders, they all seemed to do their best but they were all compared to Mr Neal, shown up as League 2 standard compared to a Premier League champion. He circled like a great white taking bite sized chunks out of every weakness that they had haplessly inherited or indeed made of their own making. It was on occasions car crash TV, as you just knew in advance that he was primed and ready and prepared to give these guys a grilling that many voters would wish to offer were they given the chance, and to be fair the intellect of a master interviewer. His pugnacious style has long been his signature dish and he is not afraid to call it out for who they are, and what they stand for, even though he has he has landed in hot water for his style of interviewing.
There is no doubt in my mind that Andrew Neal continues a long and very necessary line of combative, educated, and dare I say even fair but firm journalists, in a profession that if I am perfectly honest has been both transformed but if honest dare I say it, undervalued. Watching the decline of the Daily newspapers over the last 30 years in the making I suggest that the Red tops as they were known, became victims of their own dirty tricks and frankly appalling practices to intrude and invade. On not just those who are called celebrity, whatever that means, but, even worse just ordinary people who were subverted by these cynics, and papperatzi photographers who feed off others vulnerability, privacy, and human failing. Andrew Neal is one of those rare breed who has survived a career of change and made himself a national icon and I for one appreciate that quality, and that man, now I’m off for a bottle of Blue Nun, at Lulu’s.