Another interesting snippet from Wikileaks’ State Department cables proves that Andrew Marr’s reputation as a patsy is global. In preparation for Hilary Clinton’s UK visit in 2010, the US Embassy in London noted that the Secretary of State should take time out of her schedule to do a pre-record with Marr. The reasons why are hardly a ringing endorsement for the BBC’s flagship interviewer:
“On the public diplomacy side, I hope you can take some time out to tape an interview with leading British journalist Andrew Marr, to be broadcast on his Sunday morning BBC TV talk show. The program, which reaches 1.5 million live and millions more on the web, is essential weekend viewing for Britain, often setting the week’s news and political agenda for the nation. The program could be taped at your hotel, at my residence or at the BBC studios in West London. It would be a powerful way for you to set out our priorities for Afghanistan/Pakistan, and underline our premier partnership with the United Kingdom. Marr is a congenial and knowledgeable interviewer who will offer maximum impact for your investment of time.”
Congenial? In other words a walkover…
As the anger grows over Andrew Marr’s audacity at paying to hide his own public interest story, while being paid to probe the lives of the rest of the political class, Guido thought he would gauge opinion:
Don’t forget we pay him £600,000 a year for the pleasure. No wonder he could afford the luxury of an injunction and to support a child that wasn’t even his.
The appointment of Ed Balls as shadow chancellor means that deficit denial becomes the central economic policy of the Labour Party. In essence both the Eds intend to argue that it was the banking crisis and only the banking crisis that caused the deficit. In taking this policy direction they repudiate the more sensible realistic policy followed by the last Labour Chancellor, Alistair Darling.
It also flies in the face of statements made by Tony Blair in his memoirs and as recently as last Friday at Davos. Since Balls isn’t an idiot we have to ask ourselves: why is he trying to deny reality? Does he think the voters can be convinced that overspending wasn’t a problem until the banking crisis? Here he is telling Andy Marr there was no structural deficit under Labour:
Clearly both the Eds think they can blame it on the bankers, popular understanding of the deficit is hazy. The huge one-off costs of bailing out the banks and the constant government-debt-bloating-deficit are confused in the popular consciousness. Even the debt and the deficit are confused in many people’s minds. Whenever Ed Miliband is cornered on spending or taxes he reaches for the banker bogeyman – tax them more and it will sort everything out. None of this adds up to anyone with any financial literacy, which unfortunately is a minority of voters, the majority of voters do blame and detest the bankers.
For this argument to make sense of course requires Ed Balls to deny that there is, or ever was, a structural deficit that had to be tackled. Which is exactly what he did on the Marr show today.
Denying the deficit and blaming the government’s debt crisis on the bankers is an attempt to absolve Brown, Balls and the Labour Party of the blame. It thus allows Balls to claim that, since there is no structural deficit, the cuts are unnecessary and ideological. Which is exactly what he does.
The problem for Balls is that the public senses innately that the government under Brown’s chancellorship and premiership was overspending. If Osborne can keep that national memory alive over the next three years the public will forgive him doing what is necessary. If they forget, or prefer to believe Ed Balls’ claim that cuts are not really necessary, they will blame the government for the coming hardships. The deficit blame game will have to be played until the next election.
On the Andrew Marr show Ed Miliband was asked…
“Do you accept that before the crisis happened, actually Labour was spending too much?”
“No I don’t.”
Andy Marr interviewed Boris this morning:
Marr : “We seem to be going into a period in politics marked by a bit of class war. Do you think there are enough old Etonians at the top of the Conservative Party at the moment?”
Boris : “This is a brilliantly contrived question. I don’t think … I think the classic answer to this … I can’t remember which school you went to, Andrew. “
Marr : [mumbles] “Lorretto.”
Boris : “Jolly good school..”
Boris smirked at the mention of the poshest school in Scotland, with boarding fees approaching £30,000 a year. Wonder where he got the idea for that counter-jibe…
Marr was ridiculous in a very British right on way this morning. Andrew Marr (old boy of Loretto, the very posh Scottish boarding school) asked Alastair Darling (another old boy of the £24,000-a-year school) whether it really matters that David Cameron went to a very posh English boarding school?
Marr asked Alastair Darling about the problems faced by the Tory Toffs, Dave and Zac, who according to the Prime Mentalist, devised their tax policies “on the playing fields of Eton”. “Tsk, tsk” the two old Lorettians tutted modestly about their young Etonian public school rivals. Guido wonders if these two posh members of the London based Scottish Raj acquired their shared policy outlook on the playing fields of Lorretto?
Dave tells him “absolutely ridiculous”.
Dave handled it far more deftly than Gordon took the pill popping question…
The only paper still unswervingly loyal to the Prime Mentalist is The Mirror. This morning the paper’s Old School Labour hack, Paul Routledge, rants
BBC presenter Andrew Marr was out of order, demanding to know, on live TV, whether the Prime Minister is taking anti-depressants – merely on the basis of unsubstantiated internet gossip that had been officially denied.
He has refused to apologise. He should think again – or some scandalmonger might start spreading rumours about his interesting private life, which he guards with the tenacity of a Staffordshire bull terrier.
Too late Routledge, that scandal was mongered yonks ago…
Via Daily Referendum
Andy Marr is quoted on the front page of the Daily Telegraph as saying: “I thought very carefully about asking the question. So many people in the Westminster village and beyond are talking about it that it seemed to me a fair question to ask.”
By way of counter-attack Peter Mandelson is throwing accusations about “We have seen out there on the Internet, the blogosphere, all these extreme right-wing people trying to put these smears and rumours about…” Of course in private emails, as we know from reports he never denied, Mandelson drips his own poison “Gordon has developed fewer ways of masking and managing his insecurities… He is a self-conscious person, physically and emotionally. He is not as comfortable with his own skin as, say, Tony was (is).” Hardly a ringing endorsement from Mandy of Brown’s state of mind.
It is the unchanged, firmly held and often stated view of this blog that Gordon is manifestly a weirdo. In the words of Alastair Campbell, the master of making the political personal, Gordon is “psychologically flawed”…
Note to editors : It was not this blog that was the first widely read publication to refer to the specific pill-popping-PM allegation. The laurels belong to the Indy’s Matthew Norman, it was only then followed up here (“Who Will Ask the Prime Minister?“). Andy Grice, the Indy’s political editor might want to correct his front page story accordingly and give credit where credit is due.
ThinkProgress Controlled: “I Was an Obamabot” | Zaid Jilani
Free People Don’t Care About Politics | Fraser Nelson
Like Guido’s Facebook Page | Facebook
International Moaning Day | Kathy Gyngell
Cameron Alienating Core Voters Without Attracting New | City AM
Andy Burnham Villain of the Week | Sun
London’s Laundry Business | NY Times
The End of HS2? | Seb Payne
Elvis Speaks | Nottingham Post
Dave Mocked | Sun
MPs Want to Decriminalise Dodging Licence Fee | Sun
Alan Rusbridger opines…
“One thing that Snowden has taught us journalists is that it’s essential to be paranoid.”