What I had expected was ‘the credit crunch for dummies’ what we got was something of a fireside chat about the economy with opinion writ larger than explanation. Interviewer Jesse Norman didn’t so much interview as throw in some observations of his own; he is after all an author and academic in his own right. The plum voiced Conservative PPC looked less at home at Hay than Kay, who is a centrist business economist and adviser to the Scottish National Party’s First Minister.
The chat was edifying and Kay gave us some clear views both on what went wrong and what we might do to set out on the long road to recovery. He also provided one of the great soundbites of the economic crisis with Kay describing the integration of retail and investment banks as like ‘linking a utility to a casino’.
Consultant psychologist interviews infamous politico turned psychotherapist; perhaps this should have prepared us for what was one of the most uncomfortable sessions I have attended.
Psychologist Benna Waites, with a combination of natural poise and the wit of her craft was rapier like. She began with the recent e-mail scandal that cost both Draper and Number 10 spinmeister Damien McBride their roles in the Labour media machine. Draper volunteered that he hadn’t “worked through” or processed his recent experiences and his discomfort was palpable throughout. His discomfort turned to annoyance when Benna questioned his qualification to practise by hinting he was no more qualified than the late Bernard Manning who had duped the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy into admitting him as a member with a particular interest in race and gender. Draper reacted saying “actually you are out of date” and defended his qualifications. A piqued Waites brought the interview to a close after little more that 25 minutes of awkwardness.
The questions from the audience were no less penetrating. Draper was challenged on his decision to continue as a psychotherapist when he left his Labour Party role. Journalist Sarfraz Manzoor interogated Draper’s faith who bizarrely responded that he had toyed with eastern religions before turning to Christianity, partly because it was easier. He drew some sympathy when he explained that the recent shenanigans coming at the time of publication had in his eyes “spoilt the book”, he lost it when he described his detractors in an earlier scandal as “cunts”. What was already an unusual session entered the realms of the bizarre when at the end Waites addressed Derek briefly as “Damien'”. Hay may surprise but it seldom disappoints. Oh and the book is called ‘Life Support’.