This morning, over breakfast, I was listening to BBC Radio 5 Live, as I often do. On the back of the news, presenter Shelagh Fogarty was interviewing the Shadow Business Minister, Alan Duncan. It was an extraordinary interview. Mr Duncan was outlining Tory plans for small business, when he was asked how long he thought the recession might last. "What a silly question" he said. Ms Fogarty asked him again, in a slightly different way. "Are you a serious interviewer?" said Mr Duncan. Ms Fogarty tried again "Look" said Mr Duncan "You'd better get your head around this crisis and start making sense. Ask me the right questions"
Oh dear. Mr Duncan committed two of the primary sins of media interviews; complaining about the question and insulting the interviewer. It was a poor tactic, and seriously detracted from his message, which (for all I know, since I can't remember it) may have been very good. You should always be polite and respectful when being interviewed, and never, ever complain about a question. All you need to do is state your case.
By contrast, a few minutes later, Government minister Yvette Cooper gave an excellent interview, also with Shelagh Fogerty. It was a fine example of how to deliver a message.
It's nothing to do with political allegiance. I carry no torch for Labour or for the Tories. Nor is it, as people sometimes allege, a "left-wing bias" from the BBC. Shelagh Fogarty was impartial throughout. The point is, if a Shadow minister can't deliver a message on prime time radio, someone is not doing their job properly.