© Leon Neal / Reuters
1 Jun, 2017
A regional journalist has described his interview with Prime Minister Theresa May as “three minutes of nothing.” He says her answers were so vague he was left wondering whether he had interviewed her at all.
Plymouth Herald chief reporter Sam Blackledge met May during a visit to his patch on Wednesday, but was left feeling “deflated” and scratching his head as to what the top line of the story would be when the interview concluded.
“Before 8.30 am today, I had never interviewed a prime minister,”wrote Blackledge.
“Heading back to the office to transcribe my encounter with Theresa May at Plymouth’s fish market, I couldn’t be certain that had changed.”
Blackledge says he and his colleagues had carefully crafted a list of four questions, all on local issues.
His first question, on whether May thinks the Tories can win in the southwest English city, was answered with: “I’m very clear this is a crucial election for this country.”
Blackledge then raised the issue of military cuts and their impact on the naval town, to which May responded: “I’m very clear that Plymouth has a proud record of connection with the armed forces.”
— Robert J Somynne (@RobertJSomynne) June 1, 2017
On whether Brexit plans will make Plymouth better-off, May told Blackledge: “I think there is a better future ahead for the whole of the UK.”
Asked about transport links, the PM said: “I’m very clear that connectivity is hugely important for Plymouth and the South West generally.”
Blackledge says he was “pleased to have secured the interview and happy to have squeezed all my points in.” But he says as soon as she left, he realized “she had given me absolutely nothing.”
On Twitter, readers praised Blackledge for calling out the prime minister.
No wonder Theresa May avoided the Leader’s Debate. Under questioning she’s reduced to platitudes like this. Is she reading from a card? pic.twitter.com/5tF0plxOf2
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) June 1, 2017
— Jennie Formby (@JennieUnite) June 1, 2017
On Thursday, May was confronted about her apparent refusal to respond to questions without employing sound bites – only to answer with more sound bites.
After delivering a speech to supporters in Teeside, the PM was told that her reliance on a small set of catchphrases led some people to worry “there’s nothing there.”
Channel 4’s Michael Crick told May the the Tories were doing “so badly” because she resorted to cliches so often.
May replied with a range of her stock answers, frequently used throughout the election campaign, including commitments to make “hard choices” and “addressing big challenges.”
The attack comes after the Tory leader faced criticism last night for choosing not to take part in a seven-way live TV debate. Other party leaders accused May of “running scared,” while the PM said she preferred to “take questions and meet people” than do debates.
Fresh polling shows Labour narrowing the gap on May’s Tories to just three points, with seven days of campaigning left until election day.