Nick Robinson's over-closeness to the political class is undeniable and a real problem. Sometimes this leads him to over-closeness to the government of Gordon Brown (earning him the nickname of 'Toenails' which, as I would like to keep this blog clean, I will refrain from explaining!)
Credit where credit is due, however, Nick Robinson's 'Newsnight' interview with Peter Mandelson was a model of fine interviewing, from which the programme's regular cast could learn a lot. He asked the questions I would have asked (if I'd have thought of them) and persisted politely but effectively when Mandy stonewalled. I've heard several interviews with the noble lord in recent weeks (across the BBC) and this one was, by a mile, the best.
Nick questioned the provenance of that plucked-out-of-the-air 'half-a-million-jobs-saved-by-the-government' figure (which Gordon Brown has been bandying about recently) and, without rudeness, asked and answered the question about how many people have been helped by the mortgage protection scheme, announced last September - as the good lord was not going to answer it himself, feigning the old 'its-not-my-area' excuse. (The answer, by the way, is 6). He fenced with Mandelson over the word 'cuts' with considerable charm and ingenuity. He allowed Mandelson to talk when it was right to let him talk and interrupted him when he needed interrupting. He said nice things, and challenging things. Exemplary.
So sack Esler, sack Paxman, sack Kirsty Wark and sack Emily Maitlis (and, while you're at it, sack Michael Crick). Nick Robinson should do this job every day.