Eddie Mair boxes Boris Johnson into a corner

by Charlie_East_West on March 25, 2013

It is Sunday Morning. It is a time to play happy families, read the Sunday papers, smell the coffee or nurse a hangover. Yesterday was different. It was time to witness a one-sided boxing match of truly epic proportions.

The fight took place on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. The stand-in host of the show, Eddie Mair, decided to turn up wearing a gigantic pair of boxing gloves aimed firmly in an aggressive jab position against his unsuspecting sparing partner – Boris Johnson.

Eddie Mair landed uppercut blow after uppercut blow on Boris Johnson. Mair asked him about being fired by The Times newspaper for making up a quotation; being sacked from the Tory frontbench for telling “a bare-faced lie” to Michael Howard about his affair with the journalist Petronella Wyatt; and the claim that he agreed to provide a reporter’s address to his friend Darius Guppy, a convicted fraudster, so the journalist could be beaten up. Boris was reduced to his usual default blustering. By the time that Mair had landed the final knockout blow:- “You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?” – Boris was reduced to a beaten up old punchbag.

Ah, Boris. Our nation’s favourite teflon coated political buffoon. Almost everyone loves Boris. He has edged towards national treasure status through a combination of mishap, bluster, buffoonery and that hair. Ian Hislop once remarked that Boris is “our Berlusconi.”

Boris Johnson terrifies me. He is the most dangerous kind of Tory. A Tory who is liked to such a degree, that if he stated that London was about to invade Manchester with Weapons of Mass Destruction, people would just smile knowingly and say, “Ah well, there is no real harm in it. It is only Boris after all.”

I have always felt that the Boris buffoonery is just a giant act of deception. Boris Johnson loves to give the impression of being a bit of a maverick. As Nick Cohen in the Observer stated yesterday, “He appears unspun. He seems plain-speaking. In truth, his spontaneity is manufactured. Johnson calculates his every word, just as he has calculated every step of his career.”

BBC2 will run a typical toadying documentary portrait of Boris Johnson tonight on the irresistible rise of Boris Johnson. It will almost certainly revert back to the usual Boris-fluff that mythologises the man. So, thank you Eddie Mair, for exposing the myth yesterday and providing some badly needed robust journalism, and a willingness to stand up to the guile and buster of Boris Johnson.

The media are quite rightly lapping up Eddie Mair today. I have been a huge fan ever since his days on Reporting Scotland. He is one of the most agile political journalists of our time – so much more refined than the ego that is Jeremy Paxman, and much less of the obsequiousness displayed by the likes of Andrew Marr.

Eddie Mair boxed clever yesterday by using Boris Johnson as the unsuspecting target of his blows. He has just placed himself into the top tier of political broadcasting, the expression “having an Eddie Mair” has been born, and our country has become a little bit brighter as a result of seeing Boris being boxed into a corner.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

George_East March 25, 2013 at 11:30 am

It was so refreshing to see an interviewer not play along with the Boris clown show. The ‘outrage’ amongst the self-styled centrist commentators (John Rentoul/Dan Hodges etc) about the interview, just goes to show how much the Westminster Village has bought in to the essential fraud that is the Boris persona.

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Charlie_East_West March 25, 2013 at 11:50 am

The Westminster village get easily bored, and after a period of status quo, they sniff around potential candidates for party leadership contests. Boris is the current source of the smell. All credit to Eddie Mair for getting some realism back against Johnson.

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Ray_North March 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm

It’s a good performance by the wonderful Mair – who I agree is currently the best interviewer around – but there comes a time during a cross examination when the viewer (jury) start to have increasing amounts of sympathy with the ‘victim’ of the inquisition, and I’m not sure if Mair didn’t marginally cross that line during this interview.

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Charlie_East_West March 25, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Fair point, Ray. I think that because it was Mair – he managed to hit Boris hard. The impact was also more pronounced within the usually tame Andrew Marr show.

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