Strategic manoeuvring in a political interview

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In this paper the author analyses the way in which politicians manoeuver strategically in a political interview in response to an interviewer’s accusation that their position is inconsistent with a position they advanced before. This analysis is carried out by making use of the pragma-dialectical instruments for determining the strategic function of an argumentative move in a contextualized practice. The responses to the accusation of inconsistency are seen as strategic manoeuvers by means of which politicians try to maintain an appearance of reasonableness while arguing at the same time in their own favour. The author first characterizes an accusation of inconsistency as a form of criticism which the interlocutor can reject by maintaining his standpoint or accept by giving up his standpoint. Next, the author explains how the activity type of a political interview affects the way in which a politician responds to an accusation of inconsistency. Finally, the author gives a detailed analysis of a fragment from a BBC political interview in which a politician manoeuvers in such a way that the inconsistency of which he is accused is removed.


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