17 November 2017

Journalists and politicians swap seats to help close orphanages

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Westminster “Big Beasts” trade places with media “Rottweilers” at fundraising event

Hope and Homes for Children gave two senior members of the House of Lords the chance to get their own back on two well-known journalists today when the politicians asked the questions at our annual Swapping Seats event in London.

Tory grandee, Michael Heseltine, was given the chance to turn the tables on Helen Lewis, the deputy editor of the left-leaning New Statesman magazine. Then the former Leader of the Conservative Party, Lord Howard, had his chance to grill the former BBC Newsnight presenter, Jeremy Paxman.

The television journalist and ChildLine founder, Dame Esther Rantzen, was in the Chair to try to maintain order.

Jeremy Paxman and Michael Howard locked horns in a famous on-screen encounter in 1997 when Paxman asked the then Home Secretary the same question more than a dozen times.

Today it was Lord Howard’s turn to try to get a straight answer from the journalist, asking “Are there any questions you wish hadn’t asked?” Paxman admitted that “Asking Gordon Brown why no one liked him was cruel – perhaps!”

The subject of Paxman and Howard’s previous exchange came up when a member of the audience asked what Lord Howard had been thinking when the Newsnight presenter asked him the same question for the twelfth time. “When the hell is this gonna end!”, Howard replied.

During Lord Heseltine’s interview with Helen Lewis he accused the journalist of giving “a typical Corbyn cop-out answer” to a question about whether Labour would be pro or anti Brexit at the next election.  Ms Lewis had attempted to dodge the issue, saying “I think they are desperately hoping it will be over by then so they don’t have to make a decision.”

Even Esther Rantzen got caught in the crossfire when the conversation turned to the voting age. Jeremy Paxman said he was now too old to vote and so were Lord Howard and Dame Esther.  “Excuse me.Too old!” she retorted to which Paxman replied, “Yes. You work it out dear!”

The interviews took place as an invited audience of new and existing supporters enjoyed lunch in the historic surroundings of the Gladstone Library on Whitehall.

All funds raised at this year’s Swapping Seats event, together with all other donations received before the 27th December 2017, will be matched by the UK Government as part of our End the Silence campaign.  These matching funds will be used to help thousands of children in Rwanda and Uganda to leave silent orphanages and grow up with the love and protection of a family. Please go to www.endthesilence.com and donate today.