Can Chloe Smith recover from Paxman 'car crash'?

Jun 27, 2012

The accountant-who-never-was 'took one for the team' on Newsnight last night

CHLOE SMITH joined an exclusive club of politicians last night when she was put through the mangle on Newsnight in quite excruciating fashion by Jeremy Paxman over the government's latest u-turn, on fuel duty.

So, will the 30-year-old MP for Norwich North emerge from her ordeal to go on to better things, or will she forever be haunted by her stuttering performance on the BBC's flagship news programme?

The precocious former management consultant for Deloitte caused eyebrows to be raised when she was appointed to her position on George Osborne's Treasury team in the mini-reshuffle occasioned by last year’s resignation of Liam Fox as Defence Secretary.

Many Conservative backbenchers were aggrieved at the time that Smith had risen to such a prominent ministerial position within just two years of entering parliament (pictured above).

This enmity wasn't helped when the circumstances of her appointment emerged - apparently David Cameron thought she was an accountant, rather than a management consultant for an accountancy firm.

"Never mind! Welcome aboard!" the PM replied when informed she wasn't actually an accountant, according to Daniel Knowles of The Daily Telegraph.

As the ITV News business editor Laura Kuennsberg noted at the time her appointment was more to do with her being female. "[It was] a response to anxieties in Downing Street about... keeping female voters on side" at a time of cuts to public services and child benefit.

Prior to that she had also been the youngest member of parliament, the 'baby of the house', when aged 27 she won her seat at a by-election caused by the enforced resignation of her predecessor, Labour's Dr Ian Gibson, over the expenses scandal.

Her horror-show Newsnight appearance is already being compared to the fictional Ben Swaine's grilling by Paxman on The Thick of It, down to Smith's stilted delivery and the BBC man's evident disdain for the politician.

"Jeremy, I don't think many things are certain in this world," the MP pleaded at one point. Whether that applies to her political future after she saved her boss's bacon by 'taking one for the team' remains to be seen.

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I have no sympathy for the Govt, or its minions, but this wasn't an INTERVIEW by Paxman, it was a mugging. He should be ashamed of himself, both for his personal brutality and, even more important, his totally unprofessional behaviour. It was the performance of a grumpy old man who clearly thought he was entitled, in his grandeur, to behave disreputably in public. Strauss-Kahn springs to mind.

Paxo overplayed his hand, made himself look bad. The line was fair - "isn't this a knee-jerk decision by an increasingly incompetent administration?" - but it turned into personal humiliation in public, which is unpleasant to watch.

The woman's a third-rater. Doubt she'll improve with age. Meanwhile, what was Paxman supposed to do? Connive at the infantile lying?

Wonder if there is any connection, I refer to the Regional Growth Fund: so will Deloitte who bank rolled the Tories for £675,000.00 will get £7 million. She was a consultant for Deloitte, could this have had anything to do with her being selected as a candidate to run for office ??? Certainly very much of the Regional Growth fun went to Tory financial supporters.

I totally agree. He was a bully. Shame on you Paxman