Talking to Journalists…

So yesterday I had an email from a very nice man from The Independant newspaper asking if he could talk to me about my views on the political parties for the next elections.  I agreed it’s the first time my generation have been of interest to political parties, normally no one has given a crap about who we’ve voted for.

So we had a chat on the phone and I explained that I thought that none of the political parties were doing a very good job of listening to women and what they want or need.

My points were:

Simplifying the process and encouraging women to start their own businesses. It gives women the ultimate work/life flexibility. In rural areas essential as there is very little employment, flexible or otherwise.

Childcare Vouchers – essential to working women, childcare for one small child here in Cambridgeshire is £800 a month. A family of four living on £35k a year are not rolling in money with the cost of housing, childcare, food, and fuel and therefore certainly shouldn’t be penalised for working by taking away their childcare vouchers. Because apparently £35k makes them ‘middle class’ no it makes them struggling to make ends meet!.

I meant to have a rant about education and the fact that a quarter of children at 11 can’t read or write – but I didn’t get time.

I also said that on the positive side that Labour’s flexible working policies have been brilliant but by extending it (3 years maternity is currently being mooted) they run the problem of possibly making mother’s unemployable as companies don’t want to deal with large amounts of paperwork and women taking large chunks of time out.  On the not so good side they have created a huge government which is unsustainable and thrown lots of money at banks without reform, and that it needs to be reigned in but I don’t think they with the current leadership are able to do that.

But I’m also not convinced that the Conservative Party are up to the job. They have yet to put forward any innovative policies, just the same old, same old with a new spin.

So what did all my important views and insights get boiled down to

“Labour don’t seem to be doing particularly well due to the amount of money they have thrown away, and thrown at the banks. I’m undecided, but I won’t be voting Labour. Yet the Lib Dems need to convince me. I’m sure Brown is very nice, but is hard to warm to. Cameron seems more human, with a seriously ill child, and that’s really helped him appeal to mothers.”

Argh!   A throw away comment about Gordon Brown a the very end of the conversation! What I actually said about David Cameron was that as he’s had a very sick child (now sadly deceased) and he seems to understand the NHS (that said thinking about it so has Gordon Brown!) and that has made him seem more human to women.

If they’d asked me what I thought about the leaders as individuals then I would have given a much better answer, you know left out all my opinions about the state of the country and how to improve it for women and children and talked about what they wear or something!.

End Rant!

*UPDATE* here are the Blog Posts from my fellow interviewee’s for their takes on it Karen at Rubbish Diet, Sandy at Baby, Baby and Claire at 20SomethingMum

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  1. Damn journalists! Can’t trust ’em. As a journalist myself I’m so wary of talking to other journalists that when the Sun rang me last week and asked me to contribute to the cyber mum feature I said straight away ‘this is what I will say, and this is what I won’t say.’ Needless to say they decided not to use me in the end!
    But if it’s any consolation, I think you all came across as sassy and clued up in the Indie piece. I think it’s really important people know that mums/mum bloggers care about so much more than ‘what kind of biscuit do you like?’/’why’s he so slow on the computer?’

  2. LOL! From now on I’m only taking to you 😉 I think I’ll just put all my opinion’s here for people to read and then at least it’s what I actually think.

  3. Lawks.

    I’m a victim of crime, and in my home town/home nation spent far too much time on the front page. I feel your pain! We saw 180 degree misinterpretations of our statements by journalists (‘we will forgive him’ turned into ‘we want tougher punishments for offenders’ etc etc), it caused no end of hassle.

    My advice: Give them a written statement only. If you have to talk, use short sentences with no subclauses and repeat them, even though it’s weird and socially very awkward. And never, ever trust a journalist!

  4. Interesting, Liz. I got this email too, luckily, as it seems to turn out, a bit too late to take part. I remember doing a telephone interview once and not recognising a single word that I’d said! I wonder why they ask if they don’t actually use your reply?!

  5. I’m with you Liz, found the reporter very gracious, but was slightly disappointed not to have what I’d said repeated back in print. I hope I don’t sound too flighty as I’ve switched alliances, but as I said to the journo, I think you’re hard pressed to find a Politician who doesn’t lie especially with an election round the corner

    1. Claire – Same here, I felt it sounded like I was me interested in their personalities rather than their policies or their capability of running the country. But I’m with you they’ll generally say whatever they can to get votes.

  6. What we find at work is that every journalist who calls us has written the story in advance and have no interest in anything that doesn’t fit the template. I think you got off quite lightly! The only way to deal with them is to be equally and doggedly prepared and to stick to your script. Of course, that means you might not get a mention.

    1. Dad who Writes – I think you’re right we did get off lightly, I have now learnt my lesson. From now on all opinions will be kept on here!

  7. Interesting – shame you were misrepresented, I also got the ‘urgent’ email – I’m sticking with AlphaMummy when it comes to comment on any kind – what a shame to abuse your time and effort and intellect. x

  8. I think you live and learn. If our photos were smaller there would have been more room for what we said, although I din’t think any of us come across badly.
    I agree with Dad Who Writes, the story had already been written. I was picked as Cybermum, but I stated quite clearly that I didn’t use Mumsnet, the article implies I do. Of course I’ve nothing against Mumsnet…

  9. I’m not sure why they went with the huge pictures either?. But like you say live and learn, that’s how I’m looking at it. At least he didn’t say I was a Twitter addict who is obsessed by XFactor which I had a horrible feeling he might 😉 I must admit I’ve never used Mumsnet either, just read their recent political interview transcripts. I was on BabyCenter when Lil was little and then I moved to blogging, I should probably check it out.

  10. The great thing about blogs is that you can at least back up any comments that have been printed in the media. I remember when some soundbites of mine were broadcast on the beeb last year, I was mortified that some people interpreted my bit as thoughtless regarding other people’s situations. Thankfully for those who took the time to visit my blog shortly afterwards, they saw how fair I’d actually been. One commenter had also said elsewhere that it was a bit twee….well I suppose I couldn’t really argue with that one LOL…. Great write-up Liz and for the record, I completely agree with Sandy 🙂

  11. hmm I have experiance of being misquoted in the past, my dad died in an industrial accident, so am very ware of journalists. I think that having a blog is a great way of backing up what you are saying, however, you all come across really professionally.

  12. You know, I’ve HEARD you talk about politics. That quote really made you sound, well…slightly ditzy. Which you aren’t.