Now politics is a rough game, and aggressive questioning is to be expected, especially if you are leading a small radical party that challenges the prevailing corporate consensus. I am not whining or complaining.
However, we do expect balance, especially from the BBC.
So I carried out an analysis of the two interviews.
I scored both interviews for interruptions, minor and major.
Minor interruptions are vocalisations of a few syllables.
Major interruptions are where a fresh question is fired while the previous answer is being made.
I also scored questions which were put when the interviewee had actually finished the point. I have termed these Sequential Questions.
Natalie (NB) had a longer interview (17min 28sec) than Jim (JM), who had 7min 25 sec.
Therefore I divided NB's time by JM's time to get a factor of 2.38 which I applied to JM's score in order to arrive at an equalised score.
JM results are given as equalised values
Qualitatively, both interviews were probing, as is to be expected, but there is a clear difference in the interruption patterns, which are very important in any interchange.
Minor interruptions are distracting, since they indicate at a subconscious level that the interviewer is bored with what you are saying and wants to hurry you on.
Major interruptions prevent listeners from absorbing what has been said, and handicap the interviewee from giving full attention to the question.
There is a significant difference in the way that these two politicians were treated.
Natalie experienced one interruption every 15 secs, while Jim had one every 30 seconds.
He had twice as much time to make his points clearly.
Natalie had more than twice as many major interruptions, and 58% more minor interruptions than Jim.
Jim also had nearly twice as many occasions where he was allowed to complete his thought before listening to another question.
In this study, there is a significant difference in the manner in which the interview was conducted.
However, despite the disparity in these figures, it is impossible to draw any meaningful conclusion from this one occasion.
Andrew Neil is probably a totally fair interviewer who treats women and men in an even handed way, and is genuinely eager to help the public to understand what the Green Party is trying to say.
He may well also understand fully that our Policies for a Sustainable Society are in no way to be taken as a manifesto for any specific election. They are a record of political debate in party Conferences dating back to 1973, revised and updated. They are a very long document, and contain much that is excellent, much that is out of date, and also some that is not excellent at all. Whatever, it is totally not the case that the PfSS are to be treated as a Electoral Manifesto in comparison with other parties' electoral manifestos. The PfSS has a different function.
But I digress.
Andrew Neil is probably a splendidly even-handed man, and just happens to vary his approach from interview to interview.
However, the gross disparity that has been shown up in this small study does demand further research. There are in this fine country of ours literally hundreds of media study undergraduates and PhD students who need something to do.
Andrew Neil's interruption behaviour in relation to gender, political stance and other factors is well worth academic study.