Barely a week has gone by since Jeremy Paxman left the warm, apolitical bosom of the BBC, and already he’s feeling the thrill of being allowed to have opinions again.
Speaking at the Chalke Valley History Festival – which claims to be “the largest festival dedicated entirely to History in the UK” (no, us neither) – about his new book on the First World War, Paxman was asked about his on-tandem-bike interview with Boris Johnson during his final Newsnight show. The Mayor of London had called Paxman the “last” one-nation Tory at the BBC; the Telegraph has Paxman responding thusly:
I have to be frank, I suppose I am a one-nation Tory, yes,” Paxman admitted. “Look, Newsnight is made by 13-year-olds. It’s perfectly normal when you’re young that you want to change the world.
“The older you get, the more you realise what a fools’ errand much of that is and that the thing to do is to manage the best you can to the advantage of as many people as possible.”
When asked to clarify on this – and whether he really thought he was the only Conservative left working at the BBC – he reportedly “began to answer before stopping himself”, realising members of the press were present.
His comments were clearly in half-jest, referring to the question as “typical Boris”. However, he also joked that Belgium is a “pointless little country”, that Europe was “nothing but trouble for us”, and that he is “in favour of government getting out of people’s lives”. Hilarious jokes, of course, on topics beloved of old Tories.
At least one former colleague – Newsnight editor Ian Katz – had a sense of humour about the remarks, tweeting the following when asked to confirm his age by Guido Fawkes:
— Ian Katz (@iankatz1000) June 27, 2014