Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Andrew Marr

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Andrew Marr

Article excerpt

We are all drama queens, really, we political hacks; and so we were all thoroughly delighted by Theresa May's Tuesday coup. I have long been arguing that we would have an election this year, and I had been beginning to feel lonely. But one big thing I got wrong: it had seemed to me in January that a Brexit election would shatter much party discipline, since the voters would be principally interested in where candidates stood on the Great Issue and both Tories and Labour were deeply divided about it. However, by framing the current contest in the way she has, May has deftly but brutally carved away the long and substantial tradition of Tory pro-EU politics. In this election, to be Tory is to support her uncompromising version of Brexit. Where does that leave the Conservatism of Ken Clarke, Heseltine, Soubry? All right, granted, it wasn't in jumpingly vigorous condition before; but it's now gone decidedly Norwegian Blue.I am hearing rumours of a centrist plot to target Brexiteer candidates in pro-Remain constituencies; but how this version of 'decapitation politics' differs from another push by the Liberal Democrats is rather less clear. For broadcasters, the usual rules on being evenhanded could become ferociously complicated. If it is, as the Prime Minister says, our 'Brexit election' then you'd think we should give each side of that huge argument a fair crack of the whip. But if that looks like giving the Lib Dems and the SNP more airtime than their current parliamentary strength warrants, then both Labour and the Tories would strongly protest. Stopwatches will be brandished. For the next couple of months, life as a print journalist will seem a lot, lot easier.

I have been pondering what 'luxury' really means in this day and age. Each Easter, the (impressively large) extended Marr clan gathers at Crieff Hydro hotel in Strathearn in central Scotland to take long walks, gossip, play a little golf and consume very many mutton and steak pies. Crieff dates back to 1868 when it was founded as part of the fashionable Victorian hydropathic movement, and it always had an austerely Presbyterian atmosphere -- in the old days there were penny fines for missing grace at a meal, and the place was staunchly teetotal. It still offers special deals to Church of Scotland ministers in the out-of-season period, though it is no more teetotal than anywhere else in central Scotland. But it feels stunningly luxurious -- not because of particularly lavish food or anything obvious -- but because of air so fresh it's like a drug; and long tracts of woodland and heathery hill silent except for birdsong, and the noise of the river Earn. …

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