When I came to play back the recording of my recent interview with Bob Marshall-Andrews, the serially rebellious Labour MP for Medway, for a second or two my blood ran cold. As I remembered it, while I’d been drawing him we’d had a wide-ranging conversation about Blair, Brown, socialism, globalisation, MPs’ allowances, the constitution, the judiciary, the media and society at large. But instead of all that my tape started halfway through a long, rambling and very funny anecdote about a hotel where Marshall-Andrews had once stayed in Wales. My contributions, meanwhile, seemed to consist solely of monosyllabic grunts, occasional barks of laughter and increasingly frequent protestations that I must be getting home as I was feeling very ‘tired’.
As it happens I quickly established that I’d accessed the wrong file on my whizzy new digital dictaphone, and luckily the other file was still intact. More worryingly, I realised I must have turned the damned thing back on once we’d repaired from the Gay Hussar, where I’d drawn Bob over lunch, to the House of Commons terrace via the Garrick Club.
The full transcript, which I won’t bore you with, probably makes as much sense as Marshall-Andrews’s recent comments on David Miliband’s now notorious article in the Guardian last week.
To recap, the day after the article came out, Marshall-Andrews appeared on the World At One, saying that Gordon Brown should sack Miliband for disloyalty. For anyone who has even the vaguest knowledge of Marshall-Andrews’s 11-year-long career in the House of Commons, this was quite extraordinary. In last Saturday’s Guardian, in an overexcited paean of praise to Miliband, Polly Toynbee wrote, ‘Listen to the laughter as deputy chief whip Nick Brown can only find two of the most disreputably disloyal rebel MPs to stand up and call for loyalty on the BBC news.’