It's Jeremy Paxman's last night on Newsnight. Photo: Getty
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It's Jeremy Paxman's last night on Newsnight: here are his best moments

Whether he's being fierce and feisty, grumpy and grouchy, or beardy and bubbly, Jeremy Paxman is a memorable Newsnight presenter. To celebrate his last appearance on the show tonight, here are his best bits...

1. Silvio Berlusconi: "Is it true you called Angela Merkel an unfuckable lard-arse?" (2014)

Worth watching for the casual frankness with which Paxman asks the former Italian premier about the choice words he apparently used about the German chancellor:


2. Russell Brand: "Grow it longer, tangle it into your armpit hair" (2013)

A modern classic. Brand ribs Paxman about his beard, and Paxman decides his interview subject is "a very trivial man" - but it's clear he likes him really:


3. Chloe Smith: "Do you ever think you're incompetent?" (2012)

When the Chancellor sacrificed his junior minister on the altar of Newsnight for a fuel duty u-turn, it jettisoned the one-time "rising star's" burgeoning political career:

4. Conrad Black: "You are a convicted fraudster" (2012)

Paxman and the former media baron clash as he is questioned over allegations against him. "Will you stop this bourgeois priggishness?" Black spits at one point:

 

5. Boris Johnson: "Tell us how much it would cost" (2008)

Then a London Mayoral candidate, Boris refused 12 times to answer a question about buses:


6. George Galloway: "Are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in parliament?" (2005)

A combative interview with the Respect MP after he famously defeated Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow:


7. Tony Blair: "I'm just trying to explore the sort of chap you are" (2003)

Paxman goes for the then-prime minister on his "religious conviction":

8. Michael Howard: "Did you threaten to overrule him?" (1997)

Probably Paxo's most notoriously Paxman-like political interview, in which he asks the then-home secretary twelve times whether he threatened to overrule the director general of HM Prison Service.

UPDATE:

Here's what happened on Jeremy Paxman's last night:

He rode on a tandem with Boris

Not sure why.

He mocked the weather report

In an in-joke about his serial derisive attitude to having to tell us the weather, Paxman said: "Tomorrow's weather: more of the same. Don't know why they make such a fuss about it."

He asked Michael Howard ONE LAST TIME

As a nod to his infamous interview with the then-Home Secretary, in which he asked him the same question 12 times "Did you threaten to overrule him?", Howard popped up during the show, and Paxman asked "Did you?" "No, but feel free to ask me another 11 times", came the reply.


He gave one of his classic beleagured-politician put-downs

Ed Milliband is as "popular as a flatulent dog in a lift", he told us with a sneer.


He was low-key about his departure

Paxman had said he wanted "no fuss" about him leaving, but that didn't quite materialise what with the nostalgia and silliness that peppered the programme. But he signed off in an understated manner: "Thank you for watching. I hope you go on enjoying the programme. Goodnight and goodbye."

I'm a mole, innit.

Photo: Getty
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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.