James Purnell on Welfare Reform

This is an interview with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. First aired on University Radio York, it was recorded on 11th December 2008, just after the white paper on welfare reform was published and at the same time as a(nother) scandal about the expenses of Michael Martin, Speaker of the House, was raging.

I pushed him on both.

He’s a tricky character, and I must admit, I was outmanoeuvred twice. First, when I asked him whether unemployment would increase in 2009. He responded, ‘we don’t predict unemployment’. A BBC reporter later told me about this trick – technically, they would still have been using figures that didn’t predict unemployment (data from the early credit-crunch days). Second, I repeatedly questioned his support of the speaker of the House of Commons and whether he would support him in a run for a third term. His response: ‘I have full confidence in the speaker of the house’ and his press secretary called time on the interview.

p.s. Listen to this bonus clip I caught on my recorder. Sec State clearly has ambition …