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Apologies for lack of bloodbath on Boulton and some briefing for fellow Question Time guests

Posted on 20 January 2011 | 2:01pm

Apologies to those who were expecting a bloodbath on Boulton when I did my first interview with Sky’s political editor since our infamous encounter on College Green last May.

Adam’s wife Anji Hunter had sent me a text – as she often did when I worked for TB – advising me to stay calm. I assume she had said the same to him. Just as I was walking into the studio I had a text from news junkie Peter Schmeichel, wattching in Denmark  – ‘be nice to him this time’. So I tried.

When Adam referred to my diaries (out today) he said that often I was ‘fraught’ dealing with all the emotions and the rows. I was. And I think it was Adam who was fraught when we had our spat.

I see from twitter that there is much disappointment that we didn’t whack each other but hey ho. I thought it was a good interview – serious questions on Iraq obviously and I hope I made sense on some of the complicated questions TB will face at the Chilcot Inquiry tomorrow, a bit of Cameron and the government, and enough on the book to keep the Random House publicist happy, though she has bollocked me for saying I’m not too bothered about sales. I am I am — rush out and buy!!

I also got a bit of a scoop as I left the studio when I learned that Adam has interesting views about the issue of whether Jeremy Hunt can waive through News Corp’s buy-out of BSkyB without a referral and further investigation. But now we’re friends again, I’m keeping it for volume 7!!

Off to Burnley now. George Galloway seems to have decided what questions the audience will ask and is busy tweeting and getting his friends to retweet about his appearance on a  programme he is clearly relishing.

I think a far more interesting aspect of tonight is the programme’s first pro footballer on the panel, Burnley’s Clarke Carlisle. It will be a great chance to undermine the ‘thick footballer’ image.

The venue is a brand new college planned and built under the Labour government and the Building Schools for the Future programme now being scrapped by the ‘vote Lib Dem’ Gove Tories. Caroline Spelman should go for a tour.

When it opened six months ago the head said ‘the staff are so excited and we can’t wait to get the children in. We are out of that awful soulless building and into this unique school. It is stunning.’

Soulless school buildings can stand by for a boon.

Still on schools, as Mr Galloway bones up on Iraq, he might care to mention this interesting fact. No schools were built in Basra between 1982 and 2005 (a period largely governed by Saddam’s – what was it now? – ‘strength, courage and indefatigability?) In the last five years 14 new schools were built with 70 new charter schools.

Infant mortality rates interesting too. 133 per 1000 in 2000, 44 per 1000 today. 60-70000 children living who might have died under Saddam. I’m sure Galloway will mention it.

  • Jacquie R

    Don’t like to be a blog bore on Murdoch, but tantalised by your reference to your new best friend, Adam’s: “interesting views about the issue of whether Jeremy Hunt can waive through News Corp’s buy-out of BSkyB without a referral and further investigation.” I may be wrong, but the implication, particularly bearing in mind your pledge of confidentiality, is that Boulton is questioning his bosses’ takeover bid. Now that would be a turn up for the books!

    We learn today that David Cameron popped in to see Rebekah Brooks over Christmas. Meanwhile Jeremy Hunt is having private talks with News Corp. The feeling is that we are being stitched up and the Tories will find a way of ensuring that the deal goes through. It would be very interesting indeed to know what Adam Boulton truly thinks. Any hints gratefully received.

  • smileoftdecade

    thanks for the heads up re Clarke Carlisle – that will be interesting in a way Steve Coppell (2 degrees) never managed

  • Phil

    Re comments for question time:
    On the issue of the EMA, don’t forget to mention that the value of the payment isn’t just about the stated (and achieved) aim of widening participation in higher education. As a teacher I can vouch for its wider benefits in terms of boosting attendance in school and fostering a sense of commitment and responsibility amongst 6th formers. I would go so far as to say that it’s the best single policy for post 16 schools and college education that the last Government introduced in its whole 13 years. Finally even if it had no educational benefit whatsoever, EMA would still amount to a transfer payment to those who have very little from those who mostly have a lot more, which in our grossly unequal society is of value in itself.

  • Steve Cooke

    AC, you were the one threw a wobbly….sorry…who were “fraught” not so long ago when your computer & Internet stopped working (see your OWN Nov 6 2010 blogpost).
    I hope you remember to take your medication before setting of for Burnley & QT. Also, suggest that you sit furthest from G Galloway, perhaps next to the Labour MP on the panel…oh hang on…there’s not going to be one. Perhaps you can sit next Dimblebum and ask him to look after you.

  • Gilliebc

    Very good interview with Adam Boulton. The fact that it was amiable made it even better. The good points that AC got across such as the fact that this Tory led government has no mandate to make such drastic changes to our NHS need to be kept in the forefront of the publics conciousness.
    I thought it was a bit rich of Boulton’s wife to text AC, asking him to stay calm! My memory of the mesmerizing College Green spat is that of Adam Boulton getting more and more irate and getting so red in the face, I thought he was going to explode. Not a pretty sight.
    Good luck for tonight’s QT Mr. Campbell, not that you’ll need it. It would have been nice to have seen you have a go at either Michael Gove or Andrew Lansley though.

  • Jacquie R

    Some time later …Ah, I now see there is talk of Sky News being sold off or hived off to help the deal go through. It would figure that this would bother Adam Boulton more than concerns about the threat to media plurality.

  • Gilliebc

    What pathetic, grossly inaccurate and completely pointless comments.
    Wouldn’t you feel more at home on some Tory web-site?

  • Karadaghi kamran

    I will be very disappointed if you will let Saddam’s friend Galloway get away easilly on Question Time tonight.

  • heuston

    your answer to george galloway on qt is a shame. The fact he has a Scottish accent is irrelevant. I respect you for many things, but if you had used any other accent to advance your argument , then you would be castigated quite rightly. You look like someone who is losing the argument. and desperate. Media man to the end – why don’t take the piss out out of people with speech impediments and Pakistani accents, or other …. Very disappointed. You lied and just when I thought Labour were getting back

  • Adcat

    Sad to see an intelligent person like yourself allowing your arrogance to show throughout QT, interupting the other panel guests as well as plugging your book and constant snibes whilst people were talking. Very unprofessional for someone in your (self inflated) position. (And I am a Labour supporter)

  • Wrong Alastair, Mr Galloway didn’t mention it. And should we see the notes between Leaders? Why not run the country by computer rather than by humans – chosen by AV. And why was Dimbleby so nice to you? Respect I think.

  • Richard Brittain

    Excellent stuff, Alastair. That was the best Question Time episode we’ve seen for a while.

  • Nicky

    It was very mischievous of the BBC to put you and Galloway together. Why, it’s almost as if they’re a bunch of Blair bashing, pro-Coalition stooges. However, they made the classic mistake of assuming that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. Putting Gorgeous George in the mix was always going to put the, er, cat among the pigeons. It was Galloway’s bombastic line to Hughes about *’hawking his conscience around from studio to studio and then always abstaining in the vote’ that people will remember from the show.

    I thought you did well, staying cogent and composed and calmly stating the facts against GG’s trademark demagogic, pro-Saddam hogwash. (And Simon Hughes was, in his weedy LibDem way, just as intractably close-minded as GG.)

    GG is unable to take an objective view of Iraq and the Middle East, because he has a monomania regarding it which clouds his judgement. However, he’s quite capable of being fairly astute about other things – for example, the way he ripped into the Coalition’s BS and hypocrisy regarding their idiotic and destructive ‘reforms’ of the NHS. Caroline Spelman, who’d earlier been relishing the anti-Blair, anti-Campbell diatribe (even though her lot voted for the invasion), looked very pained at that point. So GG turned out to be bad news for the Coalition MPs – law of unintended consequences in action there.

    Other memorable things included Simon Hughes’s reaction when Clarke started to say why he’d voted LibDem in the last election. Hughes automatically lowered his head as if to expect a verbal assault of the sort he’s evidently become used to from his constituents. He needn’t have worried – Clarke came out with what sounded like a list of reason he’d read either in the Daily Mail or perhaps Dave ‘n’ Nick’s Bumper Book of Political Platitudes. Clarke was OK but he’s a bit naive. Caroline Spelman didn’t impress with her shrill voice, nonsensical arguments and patronising manner (both she and Hughes got a lot of stick on Twitter).

    * Incidentally, GG’s line about ‘hawking his conscience around’ isn’t original – Ernie Bevin accused George Lansbury (then Labour leader) of doing this, in his dedication to appeasement of Hitler, whom he’d met and had an amicable chat with. That context perhaps makes it a bit ironic for GG of all people to borrow it.

  • Quinney

    Good to see you getting the “Sir I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability” quote in. Galloway is obnoxious.
    Clarke Carlisle should stick to playing football though, I thought that Spellman was the stereotype condescending tory, constantly telling people thet they’re wrong and Hughes was clearly uncomfortable as he realises that his party is damaged goods.

  • Steve E.

    Last night’s QT was a typical Blair Hate Fest sponsored by the Beeb.

    Don’t you ever with wish you could physically put a sock in Dumblebore’s gob and be done with it?

    By the way, much as I detest Gorgeous George’s anti-Zionist/American rhetoric, when he lashes out at the ConDems he makes my heart leap.

    Shame we can’t all learn to forgive and forget (the invasion of Iraq and its consequences will never be, especially by the Bliar-inspired media.)

  • Stephen Butler

    Your appearance on Question Time nothing more than a cynical plug for a coffee mat – sorry, ‘book’, your interest in what George Galloway was doing before the show demonstrates that you were clearly getting your ‘stock’ answers ready, in the arrogant belief that it would hurt him in any way. You are misguided if you imagine that you looked professional last night; your constant interruptions of every other guest just showed that you were the kid in the class who likes the sound of his own voice – ‘Please Miss! George Galloway said Saddam Hussein was indefatigable!’ ‘Please Miss! Simon Hughes always abstains from votes!’ ‘Please Miss! Caroline Spelman is a TORY!’ It was the performance of someone who imagined it was the Alastair Campbell Show, and all of this from someone who was never elected into Westminster by anyone, let alone government, yet you criticise Simon Hughes for his voting habits. Tony Blair lied to the country over Iraq, and by extension, so did you. Tony Blair lied to the country over his decision to quit in 2005, the man is a liar and your support of him is verging on the lovestruck. George Galloway & Saddam Hussein = Alastair Campbell & Tony Blair. Same thing.