VAL | Årets val i Storbritannien ser ut leda fram till ännu en regeringskoalition. Frågan är bara om Conservative Party eller Labour blir störst.
Så medan valrörelsen rullar in på slutfasen kan det vara intressant gå tillbaka till 2010 när David Camerons fick bilda regering med Nick Cleggs Liberal Democrats.
Med Hung Together: The Cameron-Clegg Coalition har Adam Boulton och Joey Jones skrivet en intressant bok om valkampanjen 2010, regeringsförhandlingarna som följde och Camerons första tid som premiärminister.
En av de mer underhållande delarna är när Boulton, repporter för Sky News, hamnar i en verbal strid med Alastair Campbell.
Campbell hade tidigare varit Tony Blairs director of communication men i valet 2010 hade han ingen officiell position i Labour.
Campbell var känd för sin aggressiva stil gentemot journalister och politiska motståndare. Han hade blivit sinnebilden av en spin doctor.
Ordduellen blev populär på nätet och kan ses på YouTube.
Daily Mail publicerade ett aningen redigerat utdrag från boken.
The best that can be said of the on-air row between Alastair Campbell and me is that it added greatly to the gaiety of the nation.
Many viewers have told me it was the highlight of their General Election. A snowballing YouTube hit, it ‘trended’ on Twitter that night, a new expression to me, meaning it was one of the dominant topics of online-chatter in the English-speaking world.
But it was not one of my proudest moments as a broadcaster. I regret losing my temper, although I stand by the comments I made.
My instinct was to leave the interview to Jeremy Thompson, at that hour the Sky News channel’s main presenter from Westminster, and I withdrew out of camera-shot.
But just before going live, Campbell challenged me to take part with words to the effect of: ‘Come on, let’s have a dust-up.’
Against my better judgment I agreed to join the discussion. Here is an abridged version of our argument:
Boulton: Why not just go quietly, accept that you lost this election?
Campbell: Because I don’t think that would be the right thing to do.
Boulton: The nation needs four more months of Gordon Brown limping on?
Campbell: You’ve been spending the last few years saying Gordon Brown is dead meat.
Boulton: I’ve not been saying that, show me where I said that once.
Campbell: You’re upset that David Cameron’s not Prime Minister.
Boulton: I’m not. Don’t keep casting aspersions on what I think . . .
Campbell: Calm down.
Thompson: Alastair, Alastair . . .
Campbell: Dignity, dignity.
Boulton: Don’t keep telling me what I think.
Campbell: I don’t care what you think. [laughing] Oh my God, unbelievable. Adam, calm down.
Thompson: Gentlemen, gentlemen.
Boulton: I actually care about this country.
Campbell: You’re as pompous as it gets.
Readers must draw their own conclusions about both of us. My view was that the tide finally going out on Campbell’s influence-peddling exposed him for what he had always been.
He had not expected to be challenged on his tendentious assertions but once he was, he resorted to bullying, baiting, impugning his inconvenient challenger. It may possibly have worked for him during the Kelly affair and the Iraq War, but it didn’t, as history repeated itself as farce, with the attempted ‘Coalition of the Losers’.
Experience told me to walk away and get on with the job of reporting the major political story. I decided not to blog, let alone Twitter, on the matter.
The ‘Boulton v Campbell’ encounter quickly gathered a cult following. Every day since, I have had strangers coming up to me to express their support.
In Haymarket a bus driver jammed on the brakes to give me a double thumbs-up; I’ve had congratulations from policemen to Labour peers and Alastair Campbell has naturally claimed that he has made me famous.
But even though Campbell instantly claimed to have won the encounter, he and his cronies set about trying to dominate the post-match analysis and to do me as much damage as they possibly could.
That night Campbell contacted the most senior people at Sky News he could find in his BlackBerry to demand action against me.
John Prescott, who seems never to have forgiven me or Sky for breaking the story that he had punched a member of the public in 2001, pointed his 22,000 Twitter followers in the right direction.
He tweeted: ‘Inundated by people wanting link to report Adam Boulton, happy to help.’ Then he gave the address of Ofcom.
Campbell also continued to try to settle scores on Twitter: ‘When JP punched someone, pompous Boulton said he must go!
Wonder if same rules for TV hacks losing it live. Thought the headbutt imminent . . . Really worried about Adam Boulton . . .Wonder if he might need some of my pills. Anji ought to come home from her foreign trip.’
He variously referred to my ‘on-air meltdown’, how I ‘lost it live’, and my ‘live toys-out-of-the-pram tantrum’.
But he couldn’t quite work out who was threatening whom during the publicity interviews for the latest volume of his diaries.
He told The Guardian: ‘There’s one point where I start to move back a little bit. I was thinking, “What do you do if someone headbutts you live on TV?” ’
But, according to PR Week, he also boasted at an awards ceremony: ‘If I hadn’t thought about my mum watching at home, I’d have head-butted him.’
However, along with the banter, Campbell made a more private and insidious attempt to throw his weight around.
The man who had impugned both my and the channel’s professional integrity sent a letter by email that same week to John Ryley, head of Sky News, threatening to sue unless disciplinary action was taken against me.
A copy of Campbell’s email was supplied to me for my information. I reproduce quotations from it here without the permission of John Ryley or indeed Sky News. But I take this step in the firm belief that reading it reveals a lot about the man and his modus operandi.
Following the initial pleasantries, Campbell writes that he has spoken that morning to lawyers: ‘Their advice is that I have every right to complain to Ofcom, and have set out the grounds on which such a complaint ought to be accepted.
However, I see from the media that many others have done this already. So, other than giving publicity to an interview that needs no more, I see little point in doing this. Ofcom will doubtless look at it and make up their own minds.’
Campbell also states he had been advised that what I had said during the interview and afterwards was defamatory: ‘Lawyers draw attention in particular to his questioning of my motivations in seeking to discharge the duty I had been asked by the Prime Minister to fulfill, namely advising him in conjunction with the official government machine on how to navigate a complex constitutional position.
Bild: Hung Together: The Cameron-Clegg Coalition av Adam Boulton & Joey Jones