Andrew Marr: If politics isn't about ordinary lives then is it much more than tawdry third-rate theatrics?

20 June 2023, 18:25

Tonight with Andrew Marr
Tonight with Andrew Marr. Picture: LBC

By Emma Soteriou

It's "political Groundhog Day" and it's time to find a solution to mortgage rate rises, Andrew Marr has said.

Opening LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, the presenter declared it political Groundhog Day, addressing mortgage rate rises and what could be done for people in financial trouble.

"Of course many of us will be thinking about those five people in a tiny submarine somewhere around the wreck of the Titanic who are running out of time and oxygen," said Andrew.

"Later in the show I will be talking to an underwater explorer who knows two of those on board.

"But before that, and with an absolute lack of apology in my voice I announce political Groundhog Day. 

"I began yesterday's show on the mortgage rate rises and what could be done for people in desperate trouble. And I'm not sorry, not sorry at all, for doing just the same thing again this evening.

"Because this, much more than anything else being talked about at Westminster, is what really matters up and down the country.

"And if politics isn't about ordinary lives then is it much more than tawdry third rate theatrics... or as they used to say, show business for ugly people."

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Marr Mono 20/06

Andrew continued: "So, what could politicians do to help? This story is changing all the time.

"Earlier this afternoon, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, revealed that he is now calling in the bosses of the big banks and building societies on Friday to find out what extra help they could give people struggling with their payments.

"Well, that sounds useful but it's also voluntary, of course.

"Are there other solutions? Jake Berry, a former chairman of the Conservative Party, raised the idea of returning to MIRAS, mortgage interest relief at source - something we mentioned here yesterday.

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"But Mr Hunt argued that all the more radical answers would simply make the problem, which is inflation, worse.

"By no means everyone agrees. The respected economist Mariano Mazzucato told me yesterday she favoured a windfall tax on the banks.

"And Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, said that it could be used as a stick to get to the banks to give struggling mortgage holders more help.

"If that seems a way out, it isn't. I was talking to a former Tory cabinet minister in the Commons this morning who suggested that the Treasury needed to order the lenders to make sure nobody would be kicked out of their house because they couldn't pay the new mortgage rates.

"But although Mr Hunt will have the banks with him around the table on Friday, they may not be easy to shift - they are making huge profits.

"It is not Labour policy at the moment to threaten them with windfall taxes but, the former shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, from the left of the party, Made it clear to me that that's exactly what do you thinks they should be doing."