Unlike Conservative Party grandees Ken Clarke and Sir Malcolm Rifkind. We can watch them having a chinwag here in the studios of Sky News, while Ken was waiting to be interviewed.
We got some choice lines…
Sir Malcolm – “As long as Gove is not in the final two, I don’t mind what happens.”
Ken – “I don’t think the membership will vote for Gove. I remember being in a discussion once about what we should do in somewhere like Syria or Iraq, and he was so wild. I remember exchanging looks with Liam Fox, who’s much more right-wing than me, but Liam was raising his eyebrows. I think with Michael as Prime Minister, we’d go to war with at least three countries at once. Still, he did us all a favour by getting rid of Boris. The idea of Boris being prime minister is ridiculous.”
Then they moved on to other Tory leadership hopefuls…
Ken – “Theresa is a bloody difficult woman, but then, you and I worked for Margaret Thatcher!”
Now, I know it seems naïve of them to think what they were saying ‘off-air’ would remain ‘off camera’ or ‘off the record’. Especially when they are surrounded by cameras, microphones and story-hungry journalists (there’s one in the background of the film whose attention is held by the ‘banter’ going on just a few feet away). Who knows, maybe they wanted to be caught speaking their minds freely about the battle for the leadership of the party. Maybe they’re not even that bothered about a few off-the-cuff remarks reaching the chattering classes.
Of course, these off-air-but-actually-on-air situations have led to much more serious consequences. The former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown had his chances of re-election dealt a serious blow when he left a ‘meet the people’ session with a Sky News mic still attached to his suit lapel. He revealed his real feelings about a voter, calling her a bigot. He lost the election.
So the consequences to reputations can be huge. For those learning the art of a successful media appearance, the lesson is simple. If you see a camera, or a microphone, consider it live at all times. Same goes for mobile phones – they’re very sophisticated newsgathering machines.
And once the interview’s over, make sure you’re a long way away from a studio or a reporter before letting rip.
Unless, or course, you want those candid thoughts to get out…