Anyone familiar with Eddie Mair will know that beneath his humour and affability lurks a man of steel. Listening to him put the same question three times to Danny Alexander on the ‘PM’ programme on Budget Day, then cutting through the flanneled responses with a terse, “The listeners will note that you did not answer the question,” was typical of his approach. Friendly and warm, but coldly scathing wherever and whenever politicians (it is usually them) try to bluster or deny responsibility for their deeds.
He has hit the headlines today for his treatment of Boris Johnson. Standing in for Andrew Marr, (remember him, the journalist who invoked a super-injunction to cover up his infidelity....) on TV yesterday morning, he engaged with BoJo rather like a spider with a fly.
Confronting Johnson with uncomfortable facts from his history he assembled them together in a killer sentence: “Aren’t you, in fact, making up quotes, lying to your party leader, wanting to be part of someone being physically assaulted? You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?” BBC Andrew Marr show 24/3/13
Johnson blustered, shambled and equivocated, claiming these things were a long time ago, and there was another side to it all etc, etc. The photos accompanying the articles this morning are damaging too. In one Johnson sits with his head in his hands, in another he sits looking downcast.
The man has cultivated an image of being an intelligent buffoon which until yesterday acted as a bubble the media did not prick. A serial adulterer and darling of the Tory Right, Johnson is anything but a buffoon. Even Conrad Black - no charmer he - described Johnson as, “A sly fox disguised as a teddy bear.”
Thanks to Eddie Mair, Johnson stands exposed for what he is, ‘a nasty piece of work.’