BBC’s Andrew Marr warns of ‘danger’ of having too many former journalists in corridors of power
- Marr said ex-reporters like Gove and Johnson have a tendancy to ‘exaggerate’
- He added that we need more ministers who better understand technical details
- He emphasised need for broadcasters and the Press to counteract falsehoods
The number of former journalists in the corridors of power is ‘dangerous’, Andrew Marr has claimed.
The BBC’s former political editor said ex-reporters and columnists – such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson – have a tendency to ‘exaggerate’, and added that we need more ministers who better understand technical details.
Speaking at the Buxton International Festival, Derbyshire, Mr Marr said: ‘Having a country where so many [former] journalists are in charge of the Government is dangerous because we are all encouraged to exaggerate.’
Mr Marr also attacked the continuing large numbers of privately educated politicians – when ex-public school pupils make up ‘just seven per cent of the population overall’
Recalling the newsroom at one of his former employers, The Economist, he said: ‘The slogan was: simplify and exaggerate.’
While Mr Marr was unimpressed with ex-journalists in government, he emphasised the need for broadcasters and the Press to counteract a world in which falsehoods and exaggerations can be spread online to further political causes.
He said: ‘The best thing we can do… is to put specific claims and assurances made by people in power to the test… Post-truth politics is a really toxic idea but it can be reversed by decent journalism.’
Mr Marr also attacked the continuing large numbers of privately educated politicians – when ex-public school pupils make up ‘just seven per cent of the population overall’.
Although conceding the number of state-educated ministers has improved under the May and Johnson governments, Mr Marr said: ‘David Cameron’s cabinet had more Old Etonians in it than Harold Macmillan’s cabinet (in the 1950s).
‘If one is worried about the influence and power of a small number of private schools, the easiest answer is to oblige all private schools to take certain number of state pupils – or go for complete abolition.’
Mr Marr, 61, also said the Prime Minister had himself to blame for the fiasco of Dominic Cummings’ continued briefings against his leadership and the wider government.
The BBC’s former political editor said ex-reporters and columnists – such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson – have a tendency to ‘exaggerate’
He acknowledged the ex-Downing Street advisor’s ‘highly controversial but undeniably successful’ running of the Vote Leave campaign before the Brexit referendum.
But Mr Marr said Mr Cummings was giving a ‘vicious fileting’ of the government ‘through his interviews with Laura Kuenssberg and these interminable blog posts’.
He added: ‘Every British government suffers from leaks (but) nobody has had leaks from right as close to the Prime Minister, in such a close time as Boris Johnson has faced.
‘If there’s one man to blame for this, it’s the man who brought Dominic Cummings into the centre of government in the first place.’