Conservative Diary

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CCHQ ready for Marr to question Cameron's drug history

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After Andrew Marr's question to Gordon Brown on whether he was using pain-killing drugs (his answer was "no" - watch here) CCHQ is ready for a similar kind of question next week when David Cameron is on the Sunday morning couch.  You can bet that Downing Street will be pressuring the Marr team into tough questioning.

The expectation is that it will be on David Cameron's drug history.  This ground was so well-trodden in the Tory leadership race, however, that I can't see it of being political importance.

A lot of centre right blogs enjoyed Marr's question today and think it excuses years of soft ball questioning from the BBC's former Political Editor.  I cannot agree.  What Britain lacks is a serious interviewer of the Tim Russert variety.  His Meet The Press interviews (until his untimely death) were forensic examinations of the policy positions of American politicians.  Marr's interviews rarely yield anything interesting.

Should Marr have asked the question?  I certainly found it uncomfortable to watch but agree with James Forsyth that "if Brown was on anti-depressants that could affect his judgement then the public has a right to know."  But James' second point is also very true: "I wonder if Brown should have been asked such a question without some more evidence for it to be based on. Even though, Brown said that he wasn’t on any pills the mere fact of him being asked if he was will have an effect on how voters view him."

One of the weaknesses of political journalism in Britain is the way it is more interested in personality issues, opinion polls, what's new rather than what's important and the 'who's up, who's down' gossip.  There is very little serious policy analysis or contextual reporting.  I think you can find the best and worst of all these traits on the blogosphere.

Tim Montgomerie

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