While Jeremy Paxman at least allowed her to get a word in edgeways, Theresa May did her best to fill 22 minutes with the deadest of dead air.
Dragging her heels on to the studio floor, the Supreme Leader finally got to the business end of the election. Taking questions from real people. And Jeremy Paxman. Not easy for someone who struggles to talk human. She had rehearsed at a rally in Twickenham earlier in the afternoon when she relaunched her campaign after the “dementia tax” meltdown, but it hadn’t gone well. She had just repeated the phrases “strong and stable” and “coalition of chaos” over and over again. Maybot 2.0 had sounded very much like Maybot 1.0.
“Happy birthday, Faisal,” the Supreme Leader said to Sky’s Faisal Islam who was compèring the audience debate. Backstage there was a huge cheer from her team. She had remembered her instructions on how to sound like an ordinary person. And then promptly forgot them.
Her first question came from Martin, a police officer, who wanted to know what she was doing about police cuts. “It’s very clear,” she said, before disappearing into a dreamland of her own. One where crime was changing and policing was changing and everything was changing apart from the Supreme Leader’s inability to give a direct answer.
By the time she stopped assembling words into random sentences, Martin appeared to have been rendered so comatose he couldn’t even remember what he had asked. Islam stepped in to help. Police numbers had decreased by 20,000 on her watch. The Supreme Leader’s mouth worked itself into a rictus smile. Better that than no smile at all. Just.