This morning's 'Andrew Marr Show' featured a long and rather gentle interview between TV's trendiest interviewer and John Major.
Of course, being the 'Andrew Marr Show', this uncharacteristically Conservative-friendly segment was 'balanced' by an even longer & only slightly less gentle interview with Labour's foreign secretary David Miliband.
And, being 'the Andrew Marr Show', 'balance' toppled into outright bias by the third political guest being yet another Labour MP, former minister John Hutton (who was on to review the news with liberal-minded tennis ace, Martina Navratilova). Hutton was tested no harder than Major.
Here come the stats:
Miliband (Lab) 16.52 minutes, 0.8
Major (Con) 13.49 minutes, 0.5
Hutton (Lab) 6.23 minutes, 0.5
Marr has long been one of the Beeb's most Labour-friendly interviewers.
In his chat with John Hutton, Marr asked this question:
"People are frustrated, aren't they, because they think - I mean he's a neutral observer, Bundred (Steve Bundred of the Audit Commission) - but people think that politicians aren't being open with them - both parties actually - about the kind of hard decisions that are going to need to be taken."
This is typical Marr (and typical BBC): Frame the problem as a general one, not specifically related to the Labour Party; make sure you don't ask a question specifically about the Labour Party's honesty; make sure you include the Conservatives and cast them as just as culpable (if not more so!); ignore the Liberal Democrats in anything that might do them harm; and don't challenge the Labour spin that follows with anything other than similar generalities, such as "Do you think they're getting honesty at the moment?"
Interestingly Martina Navratilova did Marr's job for him (and much better), countering Hutton with her concerns about the Labour government's unwillingness to trust the people & tell them the truth & was going to introduce another story from the papers on this very point when Marr moved the story on to "another big story".
Martina also criticised the Iraq War. Marr (like the BBC as a whole) broke with the Blair government over this issue & when she said that Afghanistan was now in trouble "because we did not finish the job we did there. We went to Iraq instead - and what a mess that is!", Andrew Marr concurred sadly, "Ah, yeah!"
The man just can't stop himself.