Andrew Marr is USELESS

June 17, 2018

by Martin Odoni

Andrew Marr can be an utter pain to watch on TV sometimes, because he really is the softest interrogator imaginable, at least when interviewing Tory Ministers. He interviewed the Prime Minister on his imaginatively-titled programme, The Andrew Marr Show, this weekend, and predictably threw her nothing but puff-ball questions. These included a blatant feeder question about Theresa May’s diabetic condition, which she used unchallenged to court sympathy.

When attempting to decode a load of waffle about (in real terms, very slow and underwhelming) new funding for the National Health Service, he actually asked her permission to put questions to her about it. “I’d like to unpack all of that, if I may?” he requested, as though a Member of Parliament has a right to decide over what issues he or she may be held to account. May spouted an utterly grotesque lie about a ‘Brexit dividend’ paying for the new funding, and Marr made a very half-hearted attempt to question her about it, one May nervously sidestepped.

No brexit dividend

The dividend claim is based on the long-debunked “£350 million per week” claim of Leave campaigners. Marr did not even mention how thoroughly-discredited that notion is.

When discussing May’s ‘position’ on resolving Brexit’s Irish border issue, Marr let her state what arrangements she would not agree to, but never demanded she explain what arrangement she does want. That is problematic, given she stated explicitly that she will not accept a border within the island of Ireland, will not accept a border between Ireland and Britain, and will not accept remaining in the Customs Union or the Single Market. The only vague possibility that remains is the one Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party propose; a new Customs Union with the European Union. But this approach does not tally with rhetoric coming out of May’s administration, meaning May does not want that either. So having ruled out all the options anyone has been able to think of for the Irish border problem, May really needed to be pressed on the matter of what option she does favour. But again, Marr never asked.

At one point, Marr went as far as to ask May whether she was a woman of her word. This has got to be the most pointless, circular question any interviewer can bother with. The question presupposes an answer of yes in order to be able to rely on the answer. May said that she is. But how do we know that she truly is a woman of her word? Because she gives us her word that she is. ‘A perfect example of recursion,’ as was once said on Doctor Who. (The question is made doubly pointless by the fact that all the available evidence shows that May is no such thing anyway, and she is in fact a moral vacuum on many levels beyond honesty.)

Perhaps worst of all though was that Marr missed, or at least failed to challenge, an explicit rejection of the UK Constitution. May insisted that Parliament cannot “tie the hands of Government in negotiations”.

Of course it can. Indeed, it must. That is the whole point of Parliament – to hold the Government to account, and to prevent it from doing anything that its majority judges to be against the interests of the nation as a whole. May talks about it as a principle that does not apply during negotiations, but it does. Hypothetically, if the Government offers, say, to give away the Bank of England to the EU as a condition of a trade deal, or to sell off the nation’s railway lines (not just selling franchises to run the trains, but selling off the infrastructure itself) to the Government of Spain, it is imperative that Parliament is able to nip that in the bud. It will actually save negotiation time in the long run if it can oversee negotiations and stop the administration from heading down the path of a complex deal that proves to be a fundamental non-starter. Wait instead for Parliament to vote the deal down after it is agreed with the EU, and a whole process lasting weeks or even months will have been for nothing.

If the Prime Minister does not understand the practicalities of the democratic principle, which are far greater than they are often given credit for, then she really has to resign as Prime Minister. Any Prime Minister making what is, effectively, a claim on absolute authority cannot be tolerated. It seems Marr will happily tolerate it though, because true-to-form, he never challenged her on it at all.

Andrew Marr really is useless.