I am confident that anyone who writes those words down are sincere, the add on sentence “within reason” one hopes is implied. The point of entering companies or organisations at junior positions is to hone the skills required to not just cope but do the job well. That said a huge challenge can prove a person’s mettle.
Since becoming the youngest Member of Parliament Smith has not hit the headlines. Until now, for her performance on the BBC’s Newsnight discussing the decision to delay the 3p tax hike on fuel. It’s another U-turn for Osborne and it would seem he did not care to spend his evening wrangling with Jeremy Paxman over this particular issue. So he didn’t.
Whilst it’s pretty usual for chancellors, PMs et al to be far too busy to appear on Today or Newsnight when their government has implemented something unpopular it is unusual for journalists to detail the squirms of the sacrificial intern with such vigour.
The press described Smith’s encounter with Jeremy Paxman as spluttering. A coughing fit was reported and Smith even had to take a sip of water. It is true that Smith seems to not have been briefed in the slightest (that or she has a great fondness for secrets) and if Smith reveals later in her political memoirs that she’d been led by Osborne’s staff, blindfolded, on a mystery tour that had ended unexpectedly in the Newsnight studio I will not be surprised. Quite frankly at 30 and with little political experience Smith has yet to learn a politician’s skill of obfuscation. However to say she had a coughing fit or lost it in any manner before Paxman’s exasperated questioning is inaccurate. If one is not allowed a small choke during an interview then I simply don’t know what the world is coming to…
I watched the Newsnight footage expecting to see Paxman signing off next to a red eyed Smith, grasping at a handkerchief (it is my belief Tories never use tissues) and the usually immaculately reflective desk tearstained and marked with sweaty handprints. Considering the poor woman seemed to have been provided with little to say in defence of the U-turn there was enough for Dorries to focus on, instead Dorries posted the following tweets dripping with sympathy:
“If Osborne sent Chloe on re scrapping 3p he is a coward as well as arrogant.”
“Newsnight last night would have been a tough gig for a minister with years of experience – Chloe is a good egg and didn’t deserve that.”
“The submarine Chancellor sacrifices another minister whilst he slips under the surface... again.”
Casting Smith as some hapless intern yanked from her usual tea run to take the place of the submarine Chancellor(I’ve been away, is that what we’re calling Osborne now?). Dorries, Prescott and others with their tweets and quotes of sympathy for Smith are victimising her as some poor young girl and not as a young politician. It is almost as unfair as Osborne allowing her to take up Newsnight’s invitation. Smith has chosen a political career and a Newsnight slot is surely a goal of hers. Though in her Newsnight fantasies no doubt Paxman does not turn to her and enquire: “Do you ever think you are incompetent?”
No, Smith did not handle the situation particularly well but the only description that casts her as merely inexperienced rather than a poor little girl is Simon Hoggart’s political sketch: “So while Sir Gideon was – we are told – browsing and sluicing at a Downing Street dinner, poor Ms Smith was put up against Paxman for some political cage wrestling. She might as well have got into a pillow fight with Mike Tyson”. Whatever your political leanings it does not do to classify all women in difficult situations as damsels in distress.
Perhaps Smith should have approached the ridiculous task Osborne has assigned her with Paxman’s verve when tasked with the weather forecast.