Minister mocked after on-air 'meltdown'

Grant Shapps: 'I think it's important'
GrantShapps: 'I think it's important'

By Ian Dunt

Grant Shapps was subject to a torrent of online mockery this morning, after he spent half his interview on the Today programme bickering with the host.

In a conversation which goes on for several minutes, the housing minister accuses the programme of "misleading" listeners by suggesting he had failed to turn up to a previous interview.

"Before we go on, can I give you the oppourtunity to correct an impression left by the programme yesterday that said I pulled out of an interview that had been booked late the night before," Mr Shapps said.

"Well, we spoke to you, we took copious notes. We don’t want to make a big deal out of it because it will puzzle people," host John Humphreys replied.

"Well, I think it's important," Mr Shapps said.

"Of course it's important, which is why we keep notes," Mr Humphreys said.

Mr Shapps repeatedly referred to a journey to Stoke and insisted he had never agreed to do the interview before accusing the programme of misleading its audience.

Eventually, Mr Humphreys was forced to asks Mr Shapps to "agree to disagree", but to no avail.

"Let's just agree on this – there was never a booking in place, John," the housing minister replied.

"There was a booking with your staff," Mr Humphreys said.

"There was a request, which is different to having a booking," Mr Shapps said.

The exchange, which was met with annoyance and hilarity online, saw commentators accuse the housing minister of having "meltdown" on air.

Twitter user @CharmedLassie accused Mr Shapps of "bickering like a child", while @frdragonspouse said he had a "car crash".

Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant commented: "Grant Shapps seems almost as chippy as I, devoting half an interview to whether he was booked or not on."

The dispute originates in an unfortunate series of developments earlier this week, in which figures showing a marked decline in social housing were released the day after a major house-building announcement.

Homes and Communities Agency figures showed a dramatic decline in social housing construction under the coalition, with figures dropping from 39,136 between October 2010 and March 2011 to 1,746 from April to September this year.


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