Rob McLoughlin discussed the outcome of the BBC’s Prime Ministerial Debate in a live interview on BBC Radio Five Live’s Drive programme on Tuesday 19 June, 2019.
Rob said that it was unique in post-war Britain to have just 160,000 people (the membership of the Conservative Party) choose the Prime Minister for a party with no majority. It was clear from the televised debate that no candidate wanted to risk a General Election with Jeremy Hunt saying it should only follow Brexit.
Normally an opposition would be claiming it was unconstitutional and that the Government had no mandate but Labour have so many other issues internally that the argument is not being advanced.
Rob talked about the complexities of making a tv programme such as this with multiple candidates and joked that the format would never replace Holby City which he said “can be curious but certainly has more drama”. He described how quickly such programmes are often assembled and how difficult they can be.
On one special with John Prescott and Michael Heseltine for Granada TV, Rob recalled how Ming Campbell became stuck in a taxi. Attempts to replace Campbell with another Lib-Dem MP led to the party to threaten an injunction to stop the broadcast as they wanted parity with Labour and Tory heavyweights.
Rob commented: “You have to take it on the chin when vetting of the audience goes wrong despite best efforts – the systems are never perfect.” (This followed controversy over past tweets from one contributor to the Prime Ministerial Debate.)
Rob defended the decision to have no audience pointing out that balance across one single party was difficult to achieve. Individual audience members can sometimes stir the pot; Mrs Thatcher was famously caught off-guard over questions about the sinking of the Belgrano in an edition of Nationwide in the 1980s. Mrs Thatcher was said to have met her match when repeatedly challenged by a well-informed member of the public.
Drive is broadcast live from MediaCity UK.
Rob also appeared on the programme recently to discuss The Jeremy Kyle Show and ITV.