• Tuesday, January 31, 2023


Gardiner defends ‘tough questioning’ of Boulton

By: DrewMcLachlan

By Drew McLachlan

Labour MP and shadow minister for international trade Barry Gardiner has spoken about the growing importance of social media during elections, following his appearance on Sky News last week that quickly went viral.

In an interview with Adam Boulton on the All Out Politics show, the Brent North MP opened his own line of questioning against the presenter.

Boulton’s preceding guest was the Conservative former secretary of state for work and pensions Iain Duncan Smith.

“Adam, why did you let him off the hook?” Gardiner asked the presenter immediately after being introduced, adding that Boulton gave him an “easy ride” on the Tories’ missed immigration targets.

Speaking to Eastern Eye later, Gardiner recalled his initial reaction to Boulton’s interview with Duncan Smith.

He said: “It was all fireside chat approach and I thought it was wrong; so I said so.

“I wasn’t trying to send specific message, I was just angry at the way in which he was giving the government such an easy ride. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of tough questioning, and that was not tough questioning.

“Yet (lowering immigration numbers) had been a key manifesto pledge of theirs.

“I just thought: ‘If this were the Labour Party who had given a pledge like that, and was now jettisoning it, and saying we are now not going to bother with any target whatsoever, we would be taken to task for our failure and for now seeming to not think important something we had previously made a manifesto commitment.’ And he did none of that.”

The interview was posted on Twitter by Labour campaigner Eoin Clarke and has since been retweeted over 4,000 times and garnered praise from Labour supporters and others who agree with Gardiner that Smith was “let off the hook”.

Gardiner told Eastern Eye that he would like to see a greater focus on social media from Labour MPs, noting the influence it has had on other elections overseas.

He said: “The essential thing is to be accessible on the doorstep, going round, seeing voters, talking to them face to face, but of course you can’t meet all 82,000 electors in a seven-week period. Therefore, social media is really important in being able to get that access in a way that, particularly younger people, find second nature.”

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