Money talks much louder than any Westminster minister says Andrew Marr, who argues that politicians in the UK have “lost a radical amount of power” to financial institutions and global corporations.
The BBC broadcaster and presenter of The Andrew Marr Show said that if he had his time over he would be an economics journalist rather than a political reporter, because, he explains, “That’s where the action is.”
Marr, who was the BBC’s political editor from 2000-2005 and still presents political programme The Andrew Marr Show every Sunday, said at the Cheltenham Literature Festival “A long time ago government could fix people’s pay packets, they could decide how much we took out of the country, they ran big industries, they controlled things like mortgages and how much mortgages were available and who could get them.
“Now they can’t even tax the biggest companies in this country. They can’t tax the Googles and the Amazons. They have lost a radical amount of power.”
Marr argued that, while the public wants to believe that when a politician says they will do something they can deliver on those promises, the reality is that “a lot of time, there are wheels within wheels, and I think the real powers around are much more often financial and global than local and political.
“That I think is at the root of why many people – not me – despise politicians: not because they’re bad people, but because they don’t have any power anymore.”
Marr began his career as a political reporter and commentator, and while he underlined the value of robust political journalism in the UK, he said that if he was starting out now he would rather be an economics journalist.
“That’s where the action is,” he said. “To understand the money is the most important thing. Most of us don’t understand the language in which the financial world conducts its business.
“What we need more than anything else, even more than good political journalists – or at least alongside good political journalists – are good economics journalists who can explain in two-syllable words, not five, what’s going on and why.”
The broadcaster, who recently published political conspiracy novel Head of State, praised his current and former BBC colleagues Robert Peston and Stephanie Flanders. Flanders left the BBC in 2013 and is currently Chief Market Strategist for JP Morgan.
“If I had my time over again, I would spend a little more time over those economics textbooks, really trying to understand, blowing through the jargon, going to the City, meeting the City guys, and trying to explain in clear terms what they’re doing. That drives everything else.”