Friday, February 13, 2009

Insights into the political mindset!

There has been a lot made of the 'tirade' or 'F-word rant' launched against Keith Vaz by Boris Johnson after he was criticised in a BBC interview and thought he would be recalled to give more evidence. The issue at hand was whether Boris Johnson had divulged information to David Cameron about Damian Green's arrest that Cameron would not have been party to but the Mayor of London would (following all that, if not its all in the media). The conversation demonstrates a series of fears held by Boris Johnson, that anything he does could become a huge party political issue and, as a corrollary of that, will damage the standing of the Conservatives. Thus there are these wonderful comments about Johnson's decision to turn up to committee and what might be suggested if did not. While a private conversation now it is public it is very revealing about how Johnson and perhaps the Conservative party as a whole worry about any negative press as they stick the boot into Brown: such is the nature of a competitive democracy!

In terms of perceptions Boris does not come across well, the transcript shows signs of petulance while Vaz remains very calm and indeed fair given the circumstnaces; whether it will cause any real ripples for hte party or Johnson is unlikely but it is a fascinating exchange.

Full text of the conversation is below:

BJ: Have seen the broadcast regarding the letter I sent to you following Tuesday's evidence session. I'm unbelievably disappointed in the way my evidence is being treated.
I said to you that I could not remember the exact details at the time. Clarified the facts as soon as I was made aware/reminded of what happened. So fucking angry that you have gone on TV saying that I will be recalled to HASC (the Committee) to give further.
KV: I don't know what broadcast you have seen.
BJ: On the BBC. You are using the HASC for party political purposes. I used to think that you were a straight guy. A man that you could do business with. This is fucking ridiculous.
KV: I never said that I would recall you in the Committee.
BJ: You have gone on television and connived to try and give the impression that I fucking tipped off David Cameron. You are trying to make me look like a fucking fool. I cannot believe that you have allowed the HASC to become a part of this. This is such fucking bullshit.
KV: You turned up to the evidence session on Tuesday with no diary or notes.
BJ: I fucking warned you beforehand that I would not be very good on details.
KV: I have circulated your letter to every member of the Committee.
The only thing missing from the letter is the exact time of the call. Why didn't you just include the time of the call?
BJ: You have abused the Committee and I will not let this rest.
KV: This is a matter for all members of the Committee, I didn't want to call you to give evidence, other members did, including Conservative members, I want to conclude the inquiry next Tuesday. I do not want to recall you, I want this inquiry to be concluded next Tuesday.
BJ: I have been asked endlessly about phone conversation with Paul Stephenson but calls with Cameron were completely fucking irrelevant. Why did you have to go to the BBC? I was under the impression that you would come back to me first.
KV: You went to the Evening Standard on Tuesday immediately after the evidence session and said that you spoke to David Cameron at 1.10pm. I said when we walked out of the room that we should go and deal with the press, but you said no because they were only sketch writers.

BJ: You have behaved in an unbelievably naked partisan way. Labour Party? Fucking smear tactics from the Labour Party.
KV: How can you even say that when in PMQs today David Cameron used something that I said against the Labour Government. No one will believe you that I am being partisan. You have written to me using the word "lunchtime" as an explanation. Give us a time and that is the end of it. I have no intention of re-calling you. You came in unprepared and treated the Committee as a joke, you were extremely discourteous and the Committee members were not impressed. You are not the subject of the inquiry, this has to go before the Committee, all they will ask for is the time. We just need the time. This is not in my hands, this is in the hands of the whole Committee. BJ: It was about 1.15pm
KV: Well, why didn't you just say that in the letter? Where were you anyway? What was it about Ladbroke Grove station?
BJ: I was at a congestion charge event at about lunchtime, travelling back.
KV: You came into the evidence session very unprepared and treated the Committee very rudely. Showed no respect to the Committee.
BJ: Did not treat the Committee rudely.
KV: You stormed out before the end!
BJ: I stayed for at least 30 minutes when I was told I would only be needed for 20 minutes. I waited for 15 minutes. I answered all of the questions and just because I cannot remember one thing. This is shit.
KV: I gave you the option of not coming due to being busy sorting out London. You took this to mean a party political strategy when it wasn't.
BJ: Well, I didn't want it to be a fucking smear on Transport for London.
KV: The letter sent is defective. We only need the time of the call and this should have been said in the letter.
BJ: Will an approximate time do? Between 1pm and 1.30pm or 1.15pm and 1.30pm.
KV: Yes, that will be fine. It is Members of the Committee who want you to be recalled, including Conservative members. They also want to call David Cameron to give evidence. I do not want to do that. I want the matter to be closed. The matter will be closed if we have the time.
I want to find out about Damian Green. I'm one of few who wanted this investigation and you weren't taking it seriously. You have only become a subject because he gave such bad evidence.
I do not want to recall you, I want to finish on Tuesday. But you should have treated the session with more respect.
BJ: You have made a mountain out of a molehill.
KV: I gave you the way out. You didn't even have to turn up on Tuesday; it could have been delayed until next week.
BJ: I didn't want to do that as I thought a big thing would be made about the London transport system not working.
KV: Did you tell Cameron?
BJ: The key point that is not getting across - I didn't give any fucking information to Cameron.
KV: So you didn't tell him.
BJ: Nothing he didn't already know


Matt Hurst said...

It's how not to perform political communication.

Darren G Lilleker said...

Indeed not Matt, though of course this is not intended for public consumption hence it betraying the things no-one will say publicly! Cheers

Matt Hurst said...

Which probably benefits Boris more to be honest.

Praguetory said...

Of course, Vaz came across well - he knew he was recording the exchange - the snake.

Darren G Lilleker said...

Yes, good point, guess you don't start effing and jeffing when you know the tape is running - still think it is a wonderful insight but yes the ethics of obtaining it do stink.

Praguetory said...

In personal relatins revealing a recorded conversation is going nuclear. You can only do it once - which makes me think Vaz wasted the weapon.