I can't say I'm overly chuffed that my prediction last Sunday about this week's Andrew Marr Show came true. Then - following Marr's partisan pronouncement that a tower Boris Johnson might possibly be thinking of erecting after the 2012 Olympics was a "worrying" prospect, and his announcement that Sir Ian Blair would be a guest this week - I predicted more Boris-bashing:
Marr's interview with Sir Ian was soft. No interruptions, few hard questions and lots of supportive 'hmm's and 'yes'es. Even the questions on the Stockwell shooting could hardly be called tough - and some were positively helpful: "It occurred to me that there are far too many layers and one of the problems with the Met is that there are too many intermediate layers of bureaucracy." Blair agreed gratefully: "I agree with you. There are too many layers".) The questions on Conservative proposals to created elected police officials were better on the whole, but the answers were hostile and Marr drew on them for his closing question on the issue: "So your overall conclusion is that it would make things less safe, not safer?" To which Sir Ian replied "Absolutely." So that's that for Tory policing policy!!
Marr began the interview though with Boris: "Let's start at the end, if I may, with that extraordinary moment you dramatize very clearly in your book, when Boris Johnson said he would not give you his support if he was asked and you therefore concluded in a very traumatic 24 hours or so that you had to go." Having got us to sympathize with the very traumatized Blair, the question came: "Do you now understand why Boris Johnson did that?"
Sir Ian replied "No" and attacked Boris, and described his actions as "dangerous". Now I have some ideas about why Boris "putsched" Sir Ian Blair (as Marr put it) but one of them wasn't what Andrew Marr asked about: "And you suggest in the book that he did it partly because of a sort of turf war with David Cameron over in Conservative Central Office, because you were not only head of London policing, of course, when it comes to counter-terrorism and much else, you are a national figure and, therefore, for national politicians to debate." Blair, as Marr surely intended, spelled out what he meant by this and carried on the attack. No devil's advocate was played. No other possible reasons were put to Blair. The attacks went unchallenged. Boris went undefended.
Needless to say, Marr didn't ask Blair whether he was too close to the Labour government and the then Labour mayor - after all, Marr would be treading on personally dangerous water there (pots and kettles!).*