Though not the all-out onslaught that marked George Osborne's appearance on the 'Andrew Marr Show' last Sunday, today's interview with David Cameron was vintage Marr - and contrasted sharply with the gentility of his interview with Alistair Darling.
The contrast in body language was, again, noticable. With Darling, Marr was restrained in his body language, his facial movements were similarly subdued and he could be seen frequently leaning back and clasping his hands (as if in supplication). He was respectful at all times. With Cameron, he was much freer with his gestures, letting his hands fly about and jab, gurning and smirking at times and leaning forwards with all the staring alertness of a cat about to pounce on a newly-fledged bird! And, occasionally, he was not respectful.
Unlike Marr's warm introductory words for Darling, his introduction to the Cameron interview was not free from sarcasm, beginning "Remember when David Cameron was the husky-hugging, let-the-sunshine-in new leader of the Conservative Party?" Labour has long been trying to say that Dave is a fake, a wicked, old-fashioned Tory hiding inside 'nice guy'new clothing. (If only!) So Marr continued, "Well, it wasn't actually that long ago - but it seems like a political age. Now the emphasis is on toughness and austerity, an approach perhaps more familiar to Tories' more traditional supporters." Labour was right! Or so Marr seems to be suggesting. "So will it secure for Mr Cameron the next job he wants - that of prime minister. Well, he came into the studio a little earlier this morning. He's off to France shortly."
That last point seemed a strange thing to say when I first heard it. When, however, Marr concluded the interview by saying "Enjoy France!", it clicked with me why. Mad Brown is staying here in Britain for his holidays in a so-obvious-it's-embarrassing political stunt which is clearly meant to show how, in a time of public anger over MPs snouting the parliamentary trough and in a time of recession, he's staying put, backing Britain, being frugal, blah, blah, blah... Marr was making sure the public knew that Cameron, in contrast, was going on holiday to France, not backing Britain, not being frugal, blah, blah, blah... Why else would he have said it twice? Politeness? Friendliness to David Cameron? Yeah, right.
Unlike the Darling interview, this interview was littered with abortive interruptions as well as actual interruptions, and at times Marr was openly cheeky. Asking about the scale of the task facing Dave, were he elected, he asked: "Do you look inside yourself and think, 'I'm no Margaret Thatcher!'?" (echoing Senator Lloyd Benson's put-down of Dan Quayle). Cameron, to his credit, batted the dig aside with good humour. Also, Marr butted into Cameron, and turned his words against him with a smirk, "So let's hear you level! Where are the big targets for reductions?" That was not how he addressed Alistair Darling.
In the interview's most intense spell (inevitably on the topic of Tory spending cuts) Marr began blitzing Cameron with interruptions, allowing him mere seconds (two or three at most) to begin to speak before barging in with more heckles/questions. The first was with "You haven't given me a single big area where you're going to really reduce spending", at which Cameron began to mention scrapping the ID cards schemes. Marr sprang back instantly with a mocking expression "..which has been talked about a lot and you've spent that money quite a lot already.." and laughed. As Cameron began again, Marr chuntered on "You've spent that money already on prisons, police..." and on it went. Again, Darling didn't have to endure anything remotely like this level of barracking.
As I say, Dave got off lightly compared to George Osborne, but this was still strongly biased interviewing by Andrew Marr.
Marr himself is off for his holidays now. I wonder where he's going? Blackpool?
Marr's guests to review the papers were Labour-loving 'Times' columnist David Aaronovitch and left-leaning actress Sheila Hancock (who felt so sorry for poor Gordon 'I didn't do it' Brown) & his 'cultural' interview was with neo-Trot actress Sinead Cusack (who, invited by Marr, drew left-wing comparisons between 'A Winter's Tale' and the wickedness of today's rich).
Enjoy your holiday Andrew!