Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna stormed off Sky News yesterday after a weird grilling from anchor Dermot Murnaghan.
Umunna was invited on the programme to discuss David Cameron’s speech about the economy in an otherwise straightforward interview.
However, towards the end of the discussion, Murnaghan tried to squeeze a comment from the MP about a letter which Communities Secretary Eric Pickles sent to Muslim leaders in Britain asking them to condemn extremism.
British Muslims were outraged by the letter, describing it as “patronising”.
Umunna said he didn’t want to comment as he had not read the letter but Murnaghan but repeatedly interrupted him, pressing the London MP for an answer
Murnaghan said: “Do you wanna come back in half an hour’s time – I mean it doesn’t take long to read the letter – and then we’ll have this discussion?”
To which Umunna replied: “Dermot, I think you’re being a bit ridiculous right now.
“Your viewers can form their own views.”
He explained he hadn’t been told he was going to be asked about the subject and hadn’t been given chance to adequately prepare. This is often an approach taken on live TV interviews in the hope of catching the subject off-guard and getting a more honest and less-rehearsed approach. It doesn’t really work when you’re asking questions about a letter the person hasn’t read though.
“I don’t think you’re being terribly fair,” Umunna said.
“So you’re not going to speak until you get the party line right?” Murnaghan said.
Ummuna can be seen in the video sighing, waving his hands and yanking off his microphone, before the camera cuts back to Murnaghan’s smug face.
Here’s the clip:
Among Twitter, which generally doesn’t harbour a lot of sympathies for politicians, the general consensus on Umunna’s exit was “I don’t blame him”.
Well done 2 @ChukaUmunna for walking out on Murnaghan. He was being a dick & Chuka called him on it. Surprised it doesn’t happen more often.
— Iain Dale (@IainDale) January 19, 2015
— AdiosBitch! (@ZofiaHabibi) January 19, 2015
— Amy (@littleboatsails) January 19, 2015
— John Dougherty (@JohnDougherty8) January 19, 2015
— Lev Eakins (@LevEakins) January 19, 2015
— Robin Tudge (@robintudge) January 19, 2015
— Helen Loveless (@HelenLoveless) January 19, 2015
— Michael Abberton (@MichaelAbberton) January 19, 2015
— Andy Calloway (@andycal) January 20, 2015
That Sky interview was ridiculous! Well done Chuka Umunna , not raising to the bait!#Labour
— Zarak (@ZM9023) January 20, 2015
Still can’t believe what Dermot Murnaghan did to Chuka Umunna on Sky News yesterday! Absolute prick.
— socrates (@sheixx_) January 20, 2015
— Daniel Cosgrove (@biomedDan20) January 20, 2015
— Ed Poole (@edwardpoole1975) January 19, 2015
— Gary Rae (@gary_rae) January 19, 2015
There’s grilling MPs for the sake of democracy and then there’s running out of questions live on air with time on the clock to fill. We think this might be a case of the latter.