Andrew Marr is one of our most gifted and thoughtful newspaper political columnists. He is also, as this and earlier works of his prove, one of the few capable of writing a proper book. I admire him, his intellect and his diligence greatly, even if I profoundly disagree with some of the main conclusions of his new book – a book which, if he is unlucky, will come to be known as the political counterpart to Will Hutton’s infinitely less intelligent and less plausible The State We’re In.
Marr, like most of the rest of us, has come to the conclusion that there is much wrong with the way Britain is governed. I should start with the point on which I agree with him most, which is his view on Europe. He sensibly argues that there should be a ‘multispeed’ Europe in which there are basic things that we all do and other things that some of us do and some of us do not do. It is fine in principle, but the chances of it ever happening look pretty remote, and Marr is wise to state elsewhere that he is not horrified by the prospect of our leaving the European Union, difficult though that would be. It may yet come to that.
Resolving the European question is central to Marr's thesis, which is that people, and not Parliament (and certainly not the European Union) should be sovereign. This has always been Tony Benn’s position – I state that not as a criticism, but as a point of fact. You will gather from