Andrew Marr’s interview with Marine Le Pen was culpably ill-prepared. But instead of outrage we just keep watchingby Lucy Wadham / November 17, 2016 / Leave a comment
More than a week has passed since that most surreal of mornings when many of us woke to find that the world was entirely different to the one in which we had gone to sleep. My initial shock at Donald Trump’s election has been slowly replaced by a kind of frozen comic detachment at its continuing awfulness. As if with each successive news item featuring Trump I’m being made to watch Mel Brooks’ “Springtime for Hitler” over and over again.
On that morning after, in the climate of barely contained hysteria that was characterising most media output, I was asked to write about the possibility of Marine Le Pen becoming the next president of France. I declined, but had I written it, I would have argued that thanks to the two rounds of the French electoral system and the strong likelihood of a republican pact against her in the second round, Le Pen’s chances are pretty slim. The editor would not have found this argument very sexy and in this day and age, who wants well-founded when you can have sexy?
The Sunday after, I watched the BBC’s revered Andrew Marr interviewing Marine Le Pen. He was widely criticised for having invited an extreme-right politician to appear on Remembrance Sunday but he argued well in favour and I was confident we would all see her wriggling on his hook. Nothing of the kind. Le Pen did not wriggle. She cut through the water like a marlin dragging Marr in her wake.
Of the two, Le Pen, not Marr, was the more considered and plausible. His opening question was soft: “A lot of people are saying that the victory of Donald Trump makes the victory of Marine Le Pen in France much likelier. Do you agree with them?” Her answer: “He made possible what had previously been presented as impossible, so it’s really the victory of the people against the elite.”
Rather than ask how on earth the billionaire Trump is not a member of the elite, Marr pitched this rather pathetic question instead: “You have the reputation as a party of being racist and your own father used the phrase ‘a detail of history’ to describe the Holocaust. Have you really changed as a party?” I groaned. In the…