For all The Andrew Marr Show’s professed objectivism, this Sunday’s show was an ignominious attempt at self-aggrandisement. In an interview with Boris Johnson which illuminated not the complexities of the EU referendum debate in its currently bewildering state but rather the obsolescence of his own show, Marr served to further obfuscate the issue. Doubtless, we learnt one thing: ‘this is not the Boris Johnson show, this is the Andrew Marr Show’.
With the EU referendum being held on the 23rd of June and official campaigns set to commence on the 15th of April, one would hope that with three months to go we might see some erudite televised discussions on the pros and cons of each respective campaign. Instead, we are presented with a classic case of BBC partiality and a rather depressing attempt by Andrew Marr to preclude the development of any serious discussion by Boris Johnson, despite offering him the chance to ‘make his case straightforward’. Boris was castigated for not giving ‘shorter answers’ and frequently interrupted by Marr in attempts to discern whether or not his stance was shrewd political positioning. While often looked upon as a bumbling fool, having previously been described as ‘Beano Boris’ and having a ‘semi-shambolic look’, I have to agree with Boris in that Marr’s unrelenting focus on his political ambitions only served to distract us from the ‘real issues’.
Given the farcical public image he has already established, it’s hard to understand why Marr would be so intent on obstructing Boris’ argument and exposing his political ambitions. Many would agree that Boris is not an ideal figurehead for the ‘leave campaign’, let alone Prime Minister. But if the British public is to come to any conclusion as to whether we remain in the EU or leave, it needs and deserves debates conducted with far more maturity. In short, Sunday morning’s “debate” was as pointless as it was an expedient attempt by Andrew Marr to demonstrate his intellectual superiority over our loveable mayor of London.
If there’s one thing this Sunday’s show taught us in the run up to one of the most important referendums in decades, it is how not to debate. Boris may have been an easy target in Marr’s eyes, but he also demonstrated the pettiness and bitterness that has become so characteristic of British politics of recent years. By all means let Boris be the object of political satire; let him flounder in debates. But don’t let this decide for us. Such pettiness will only fuel anti-EU sentiment.