Andrew Marr hints at BBC exit over impartiality frustrations

·3-min read
Andrew Marr has hosted the BBC's flagship political programme on Sundays since 2005 - GC Images
Andrew Marr has hosted the BBC's flagship political programme on Sundays since 2005 - GC Images

Andrew Marr has suggested his frustration over BBC impartiality could soon lead him to leave the corporation so he can speak his mind about politics.

In a frank public admission, the broadcaster predicted that the coming decade would be even more “turbulent” than the last, testing his resolve to stay neutral on major stories.

The 61-year-old, who still presents the BBC’s flagship political show on Sundays, refused to be drawn on what issues he felt may cause the rift with his employer in future.

His comments are among his most forthright on his relationship with the corporation, which is going through a period of transition under a new director general, Tim Davie.

Last year, Mr Marr said he found the impartiality requirements at the BBC “very frustrating” but insisted he did still “really believe” in its work.

He went further, however, in an interview at Aye Write, Glasgow’s book festival, which was broadcast online on Sunday.

Asked by his interviewer, the journalist Ruth Wishart, whether he ever felt "a desperate urge to come out of the closet" over his political views, Mr Marr replied: "Yes, absolutely.”

He refused to elaborate on his personal politics, saying: “I cannot tell you now because I will lose my job.”

Mr Marr continued: "There are many privileges of working at the BBC, including the size of the audience and all of that, but the biggest single frustration by far is losing your own voice, not being able to speak in your own voice.

"What I could say safely is that I think we are going to go through a period of politics - the next 10 or 20 years - much more turbulent and much more interesting and testing and challenging than anything we have seen in the last 10 years, which have been big enough.

"I think it will be very, very hard for people like me to carry on being completely neutral and completely sotto voce all the way through that.

"At some point, I want to get out and use my own voice again. How and when, I have no idea."

Mr Marr gave no further hint about the source of his mounting frustration with politics, but had reflected earlier in the interview on his flirtation with Marxism when he was a student.

His interest in radical left-wing ideas even earned him the nickname Red Andy, but he told the interviewer that he never fully embraced Marxist theories.

Mr Marr said the work of Karl Marx was still a “useful tool when you’re trying to understand the world”, but added: “He had absolutely no real sense of politics.”

He went on to say of capitalism: “My view is that the market is something in which we live all the time, it’s almost the water we swim in and it’s given us all the things we take for granted around ourselves.

“It’s a great machine for inventiveness and ingenuity, but it presents two really serious problems.

"One is dirt, it produces filth and pollution. The second is that it produces huge and unacceptable levels of inequality. To me, the job of politics is to clear up the dirt and reduce the inequality.”

Mr Marr was appointed as the BBC’s political editor in 2000 before going into presenting programmes including The Andrew Marr Show, which has run since 2005.

Aye Write continues from Friday 21 May to Sunday 23 May 2021. The full digital programme is available at www.ayewrite.com.

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