ANDREW Marr is leaving the BBC.

The man who’s been at the helm of his own Sunday morning show for 16 years has given some reasons and hinted at others – principally he wants to speak out on environmental issues as the climate crisis deepens.

Now it seems crazy that Marr feels this global issue is somehow barred to him. Perhaps though it's relatively low-key coverage by BBC News that really irks. BBC nature documentaries and presenter David Attenborough have opened minds to the scale of the damage inflicted on the natural world and Channel 4 News devoted entire hour-long programmes during COP26 to eye-opening reports on desertification in Africa and the sewage dumped off English coasts by private water companies.

Meanwhile, Marr’s own flagship programme was stuck in Broadcasting Groundhog Day, with the same old, tired, pointless ping-pong about petty policy spats.

While other broadcasters were blowing their annual budgets to deepen public understanding of the climate crisis, Marr was left probing wheezes invented by Number 10 to distract from its own deep strategy void.

Perhaps Andrew Marr is fed up fiddling while the planet burns.

In an opinion column this summer he wrote: “As a lifelong political hack, I now feel we should spend less time on the distracting national puppet show.”

And yet he has spent 16 years as puppet-master general in a purpose-built Punch and Judy theatre.

So, what was the last straw?

Maybe it was the moment this summer when Boris Johnson rewrote the rules, so his right-wing pal Paul Dacre (below) could have another crack at the job of Ofcom Chair – overseeing the content, strategy and spending of public service broadcasters like the BBC and Channel 4.

The National: Undated handout photo issued by the Daily Mail and General Trust of their Executive Director Paul Dacre..

The former Daily Mail boss has a long record of hostility towards the BBC, whose free-to-view website competes with his own Mail online.

Mercifully, Dacre has given up on Ofcom, bagging a new managing editor role at his old newspaper empire instead. But Boris has assembled a new, more biddable interview panel, including two close associates of Robbie Gibb, the former Downing Street communications chief who helped found the repellent GB News.

So, even with Dacre gone, a right-winger will doubtless be found for the Ofcom job, because Boris Johnson’s intentions towards standards in public service broadcasting are like his intentions towards Standards in the House of Commons – dishonourable.

One could cite as further evidence, the appointment of the utterly inept Nadine Dorries as “Culture” Secretary.

Yesterday the woman who described LBC’s James O’Brien as a “posh boy fuckwit” and “apologist for Islamist atrocities” told the Media Select Committee that Channel 4’s future should be brought into question, “particularly when it is in receipt of taxpayers’ money”.

Channel 4 receives no taxpayers’ money. It’s funded entirely by its own commercial activities.

But what should we expect from a Minister who happily admits she “doesn’t do news” and probably doesn’t “do” fact-based briefings either?

This Z-list politician has been brought into the cabinet for one reason only. To unravel the BBC.

READ MORE: Andrew Marr announces he's leaving the BBC after 21 years

So maybe Andrew Marr looked at the hostile lie of the land, saw the changes about to be thrust upon a defensive, nervy BBC and decided to jump ship while there was still space at LBC – the station that broadcasts O’Brien and the excellent, independent-minded, straight-talking Dundee-born Eddie Mair.

Once Marr finally gets on air, we’ll find out what his “real voice” sounds like and whether his old BBC persona is easily shrugged off.

Now, I’ve no doubt many Yessers will want to see Marr off with a volley of criticism or at least some nippy speculation about likely replacements.

Seriously, there are much bigger fish to fry.

THE BBC is one of the few “British” institutions to remain (mostly) unscathed after the privatising Thatcher years. Now though, it’s faltering – stretched like an old, fraying cord around a Union that is no longer united, a post-war settlement that is no longer settled, a welfare state without a real safety net, and a diverse country that continues to deport black Britons.

As the old UK collapses, as the Conservatives undermine the agreements, traditions, laws and institutions that underpin the British state, the BBC is being torn apart at the fault-line – news and current affairs.

That’s not a plea for sympathy.

If the Corporation cannot prosper in the harsh conditions created by successive Tory governments, what chance of survival for any other pan-UK institution? Answer – none.

This is an extraordinary moment in the decline of the UK.

The news agenda of the state broadcaster is too right wing for half of Scottish viewers but too left wing for half of the English audience. There is no greater condemnation of the Union, than this Tale of (at least) Two Different National Realities.

How can anyone “broad-cast” across such an enormous cultural and political divide?

Even efforts to look less Anglo-centric by clarifying when stories, statistics and surveys relate only to England (finally) have simply laid bare the BBC’s enduring news focus.

​READ MORE: Five times Andrew Marr got it wrong on Scotland

Today for example, Scots are doubtless aware that some English NHS patients will be shifted round the country to avoid epic hospital delays. Do the Scots or Welsh have the same problem – who knows? London-based BBC journalists can’t be bothered comparing performance levels across all four nations, so England will endlessly (and sometimes wrongly) appear bottom of the heap.

But there’s a bigger problem than the BBC News’ compulsive Anglo-centricity despite devolution. Bigger even than its hopeless attempts at “balance” during the indyref, when programmes exploring the incredible possibilities of an independent country could not even be countenanced and voters were stuck with boring, repetitive claim and counter-claim.

Actually, Andrew Marr knows all about the biggest problem facing the BBC, because he helped uncover it.

During an interview with Noam Chomsky back in 1996, the American thinker observed that corporate journalists are inadvertently responsible for peddling establishment propaganda. Marr asked, “How can you know that I’m self-censoring?”. And Chomsky replied: “I’m sure you believe everything you are saying. But if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you are sitting.”

That was a massive, profound and honest truth.

A similar lightbulb moment helped me decide to leave the BBC.

A senior manager had quipped – “We are all for diversity – as long as they think like us”.

It confirmed my worst suspicions about the deep defaults of the BBC faced with any kind of challenge, and they haven’t changed. Corporate think. Group think. Union think Status quo think. And Tory think.

If Andrew Marr actively, passionately believed something different, he couldn’t have sat where he has been sitting for 16 years.

Maybe that’s why he’s finally off.

​READ MORE: Andrew Neil and Laura Kuenssberg among favourites to replace Andrew Marr

Maybe the Glasgow-born broadcaster sees now that the cosy, corporate consensus must be disrupted to save the planet. Maybe £400,000 a year doesn’t compensate for being stuck as the puppet-master whose best efforts only serve to distract citizens from big truths.

Maybe it sits badly with a bright, inquisitive ex-Scotsman journalist, to know he is the BBC’s main apologist for crony capitalism. Not because he backs corrupt, third-rate politicians – but because he validates them.

Maybe all of this has been working on Andrew Marr’s conscience.

If it hasn’t, it soon will.

Look at what’s coming.

If the stampede out of the BBC doesn’t accelerate in the weeks and months ahead, it’ll be because LBC is finally full.