What’s In A Name?

I wanted to write a little bit about the interview that Michael Gove gave to the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme recently.

As always, I preface these posts by saying that I am writing this purely from the point of a media trainer. I'm not looking to start a debate about Mr Gove, Mr Javid, any political party or major policy talks. I'm just looking at how Michael Gove acted during the short clip that I've posted at the bottom of the page.

I didn't want to post the full interview, as it is quite lengthy, but you can find it on the Radio 4 website here

So - Michael Gove was responding to the question about Home Secretary Sajid Javid's decision to come back to the UK to respond to the migrant crisis.

He did well. Michael Gove is well-versed in interviews (I've even interviewed him once. Pretty brief, though, but fairly challenging - for both of us) and that is proved here.

He speaks confidently on the subject at hand, engaging with the presenter - but one thing stood out for me.

He called the Home Secretary "Sajid". He was informal in his naming of him - and this is quite rare.

Normally, fellow MP's refer to each other in interviews as 'the Minister' or 'my learned colleague' or 'Mrs xxxxx' - so why does it matter that Michael Gove referred to the Home Secretary as 'Sajid'. Because it's a familiarity that you and I would use when speaking about people we know.

By taking that small step of calling him by first first name, he achieves a couple of very subtle things.

One - he indicates that he is close, friendly even, with the Home Secretary. By inferring that closeness, that leads us to believe that we should trust what he is saying because he knows the person he's referring to; he knows his thinking.

Two - on a subconscious levels, he ever so slightly becomes relatable. He's speaking about someone he knows in the same way that we would - that means he's more like us, doesn't it? Of course, as soon as you become conscious of it, it seems laughable; ridiculous, even. But it will have worked on some sections of the audience. 

It's these subtleties that seem very natural, but will almost certainly have come about through media training. As I said, Michael Gove is an accomplished interviewee - but that's because he works at it.

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