The balance between the individual and the state was the theme of this morning's Today programme. The balance between the Today's programme's treatment of the three old parties is mine.
There were three big political interviews.
The first was a thoughtful one conducted between James Naughtie and Labour's John Denham, all very civilised on Jim's part, all very party political on John's.
The last was a less philosophical one between James Naughtie and the engaging Lib Dem David Laws, where Naughtie seemed more interesting in tying the Lib Dems to the Tories. Still, it was far from being a hostile interview.
What of the central interview? This was between Evan Davis and Conserative Michael Gove. Evan is more than capable of thoughtful interviewing (it used to be his forte) but this was no thoughtful interview, being full of aggressive interruptions and cynical comments. Michael Gove eventually had to criticise him for being so cynical - entirely reasonably - and then, good man!, went on to say that Today (among many other programmes) always concentrates on government initiatives and that he was glad today to get the rare chance to talk on the programme about exciting non-government initiatives. He's not wrong about that.
John Anderson (whose ideas, when I first began looking at how to use interruption coefficients a year or so ago, have helped shape all my subsequent actions) notes, over at B-BBC:
The intro was that Tory ideas are a "hodgepotch". Now that's a nice unbiased start! Then described as a "great fluff". And "half-baked".
What do the interruption coefficients tell us here?
John Denham (James Naughtie) - 0.4
David Laws (James Naughtie) - 0.5
Michael Gove (Evan Davis) - 1.4
Breaking down the Denham and Gove interviews shows the following:
34.58 Q2 (long & ponderous)
36.13 Interruption 1/Q3
36.30 Interruption 2/Q4
40.03 Interview ends
12.44 Interruption 1/Q3
12.57 Interruption 2/Q4
13.16 Interruption 3/Q5
13.39 Interruption 4
13.42 A5 (continued)
13.44 Interruption 5/Q6
14.13 Interruption 6/Q7
14.27 Interruption 7
14.34 A7 (continued)
14.42 Interruption 8/Q8
15.28 Interruption 9/Q11
15.51 Interruption 10/Q12
17.48 Interruption 11/Q14
18.06 Interruption 12
18.09 A14 (continued) - a brilliant answer!
19.34 Interview ends
It other words, it's the standard Today programme pattern.
Sir Ed Davey Not Standing
1 hour ago