Politicians are often accused of talking too much and avoiding questions so it is refreshing to see and hear a politician give very short and direct responses to questions during an interview.
This was the case with Michael Gove (MG), the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on Sunday when he was interviewed on the Andrew Marr (AM) show. Towards the end of the interview he gave three very short and succinct ‘yes’ answers to rather lengthy questions which somewhat disarmed the interviewer.
... AM: are you absolutely clear that our environmental and food standards will not be loosened in any way as a result of leaving the EU and doing free trade deals with other countries including America MG:↘yes (0.7) AM: well that’s very very (.) okay let’s move hhh ((laughs)) in that case let’s move on the [other f- MG: [I think it’s always a good idea to have the answers much shorter than the questions Andrew AM: that was a very very long question can I ask you another (.) relatively long question which is (.) erm up up until the end of this parliament farmers have been guaranteed that subsidies aren’t gonna come down after that it’s a it’s a moot point you have suggested that very very wealthy farmers who get HUGE amounts of money from the EU at the moment like sir James Dyson (.) and others will get less money (.) under (.) the new regime is that true MG: ↘yes (0.5) AM: another fantastic que- let me move on let- okay is no deal better than a bad deal MG: yes ... (AM=Andrew Marr; MG=Michael Gove; ↘ falling intonation)
Gove’s brevity in answering the questions somewhat disarmed the interviewer who could be heard hesitating slightly after the first two answers. After the first ‘yes’ some laughter and facial smiles indicated the oddity of the situation of the interviewer’s questions being longer than the politician’s answer, a situation which Gove commented on: “I think it’s always a good idea to have the answers much shorter than the questions Andrew”.