After the wheat field embarrassment, Theresa May bottles it on the final day of her campaign

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After an embarrassing interview with ITV, Theresa May has bottled it on the final day of her campaign. The Conservative leader became the first serving prime minister in comparable history to refuse interviews with both Channel 4 News and BBC Radio 2 during a general election.

Channel 4 anchor Jon Snow said the broadcaster had been asking May for weeks. But she is the only prime minister in at least 30 years to duck the media appearance:

After immense online pressure, May has now U-turned and agreed to an interview with Snow in the afternoon of 6 June.

Read on...

But, in a similar vein, BBC presenter Jeremy Vine pointed out that May is now the first sitting Prime Minister in 40 years to hide from a Radio 2 appearance:

Bottled it

On 6 June, May faced widespread ridicule for telling ITV‘s Julie Etchingham that the naughtiest thing she has ever done is “run through the fields of wheat” because “the farmers weren’t too pleased”.

Now, she has apparently bottled yet more media appearances, this time with BBC Radio 2. On her final campaign day, May’s team has minimalised risk with a tour around “quintessential” Conservative heartland the south-east, along with the Midlands.

The south-east is the only area other than London to have experienced a recovery since the financial crash. The rest of the country isn’t any better off since 2007, and some areas like Yorkshire are in outright depression.

The sitting Prime Minister did tour Smithfield market in London very early in the morning on 7 June. But she was heckled with cries of “Vote Labour” and “end police cuts” from local butchers.

Hiding from scrutiny

In an unprecedented move, May has ducked a standard electoral interview with the BBC. But these are not isolated incidents. May’s campaign has largely been defined by avoiding as much scrutiny as possible. The Conservative leader has hidden from not only the public and journalists, but also opposition leaders in refusing to debate. Among the many examples of such behaviour are the following:

  • In Cornwall, the local press reported “media were locked in a room and banned from filming” at May’s campaign event.
  • At campaign rallies across the country, like Harrow and Bristol, May has apparently only answered questions from handpicked journalists and the Conservative Party faithful.
  • May pulled out of Woman’s Hour.
  • The Tory leader refused every single local BBC Radio interview request. Our public service broadcaster covered for her, and the news only broke when a whistleblower inside the BBC anonymously messaged journalist Owen Jones.
  • May refused to debate Jeremy Corbyn head-to-head, in The Battle for Number 10 and the BBC Question Time election special.
  • May has been forced to use stage-managed photos to portray a handful of Conservative activists as a large crowd.


By contrast, Corbyn has run a campaign that even Sun journalists have lauded as “refreshing”. In Gateshead on 5 June, thousands of people couldn’t get into a Corbyn rally. So they stormed the event like a music festival:

Even Corbyn’s critics agree he has run an open and democratic campaign. Whereas the Conservative leader has avoided accountability as frequently as possible, aided by the Tory press and often the BBC. Now, May has become the first sitting prime minister in 40 years to bottle out of a BBC Radio 2 interview. It all suggests May is abjectly unable to defend the Conservatives’ shocking record in office.

Get Involved!

– Get out and vote on 8 June – that’s this Thursday. And encourage others to do the same.

– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.

– See more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.

– Support The Canary if you value the work we do.

Featured image via YouTube

Update: This article was updated on 7 June at 18:24 to reflect that May has now accepted an interview with Snow, and on 8 June at 16:45 to reflect the fact that May refused BBC Radio interview requests rather than pulling out of them.

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