Chris Bryant on immigration, employment and his trial by media: My day in the Thick of It

Even without the Tesco and Next controversy it was going to be busy. Chris Bryant takes us through his day in the public eye

Sunday, 11.15pm I try to work out whether the alarm on my rather battered phone will work if I put it on silent. In the end I opt for airplane mode.

5.55am It works. A shave and shower, a bowl of granola (how very American!) and a cup of Redbush tea.

6.20am The Daybreak cab arrives and the phone calls start, mostly from other news outlets wanting to circumvent the Labour press office. Daybreak had worried that it would take 30 minutes to get to their studios on the South Bank. We are there in eight.

6.28am Makeup. I hate the stuff, but they insist that it makes us less glossy or shiny. In the end I keep it on for the rest of the morning’s interviews.

7.05am ITV Daybreak. The interviewers tell me beforehand that they think I am merely saying what everyone else is thinking, and their vox pop in Harlow seems to confirm my point, but they give me a hard time nonetheless. They ask, have I got my facts right on Tesco and Next? I say that I was never accusing them of paying less than the minimum wage, but I do worry about the one million youngsters in the UK who are unemployed while large companies resort to recruiting from overseas.

7.15am Leave the ITV studios for BBC Breakfast. It turns out that I am wearing the wrong tie. I thought it was plain and simple, but it is striped green and blue, the two colours they use for chroma key backgrounds. So, if I keep it on I will have parts of the backdrop picture of Westminster shining through my chest. The BBC offer me a strange looking club-like tie, which I fear might align me with some unknown organisation, so instead my poor researcher has to surrender his trendy and very skinny grey affair.

7.40am BBC Breakfast interview. A repeat of Daybreak, but down the line to Salford. I point to the recruitment agencies that only recruit in Poland and in languages other than English. Not illegal, but not fair either.

8.05am Stuck in the box/radio studio just off the hallway at 4 Millbank doing Today with Evan Davies (with whom I was at university). He’s quite rufty tufty and spends most the interview asking about process points – who said what to whom. I hold my ground, pointing out that maybe the reason there have been no prosecutions for breaches of the national minimum wage since 2010 is because the two parties in government opposed its introduction. Evan then asks, what is Labour’s economic policy? I say that thanks to the Tory Government we have had three years of unnecessary economic woe which has certainly felt like a recession to the many people whose real wages have fallen. He actually commends me for my “crispness” but wants to know whether Labour shouldn’t be in better fettle. I make the point that we are still, and for the first time ever, 20 months away from a fixed-term election and add that “if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the last 48 hours it is that sometimes in August process stories get far more coverage than substance”.

8.30am Back to the mini TV studio with the chroma key (change tie again) for the BBC News Channel. Ditto.

8.40am Now in the even less glamorous radio boothette, I have to wait until Dai Greene has run his race in Moscow before Radio 5 Live take me and we rehearse the same discussion. It’s the most robust yet.

9.00am Back to my office in Portcullis House to finish the speech.

9.30am Arrive at the Local Government Association, text in hand, to deliver what I hope is a cogent, reflective argument about how we can make immigration work better for everyone.

10.02am Sarah Mulley, of the Institute for Public Policy Research, introduces me two minutes late in order to accommodate Sky, which is broadcasting the whole speech live (something that last happened, ironically enough, when I attacked News Corp in the House of Commons). It all seems to go fine. I talk about the value migrants have brought throughout history to the UK and the challenges of today, about the problem of sham marriages and Italian ID cards, and about the push factors such as coastal erosion due to climate change that force people to become environmental refugees.

10.30am All the journalists’ questions are about the row with Tesco and Next.  I say these are important issues that need to be debated.

11.15am Back in my office. My inbox is inundated with emails from people agreeing with me and giving me yet more instances of poor employment practices that effectively exclude local workers from the labour market.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution