Hung Together: The 2010 Election and the Coalition Government

Written by Keith Simpson MP on 3 January 2011 in Culture
A book that focuses on a pivotal period in recent British politics

Adam Boulton and Joey Jones
Simon & Schuster, £18.99

The pre-election period, the general election campaign and the negotiations to form a coalition government, have already inspired a number of books from politicians, academics and journalists. As part of this contemporary mosaic, Adam Boulton (political editor) and Joey Jones (deputy political editor) of Sky News now make their contribution in Hung Together.

Adam Boulton fronted much of the Sky coverage and chaired one of the leaders' debates, while Joey Jones accompanied David Cameron on the campaign trail. This account is broadly broken down into three parts, with some overlap between the experience and observations of both authors. Jones gives a shrewd assessment of David Cameron on the campaign trail, emphasising his consistency as a performer, while Boulton gives us the minutiae of the complex negotiations behind the leaders' debates - and not just between the politicians and the broadcasters but between each group and then an analysis of the debates themselves.

Finally there is the background and drama of the attempts to form a coalition with no certainty that it would be formal or necessarily between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. Throughout the book there are post-election comments from a number of the leading politicians.

This is a broadcaster's view of events and valuable for that, but it is obviously not defi nitive. At times there is a degree of selfindulgence as when Boulton, perhaps understandably, gives a blow-by-blow account of the frank exchange of views he had on air with Alastair Campbell.

But both Boulton and Jones are experienced political journalists and make shrewd observations about both personalities and events. On the whole, they offer a fair assessment of Brown, Cameron and Clegg, and rightly emphasise Brown's amazing stamina and his surprising energy and enthusiasm in the final week of the campaign.

Perhaps the academic jury is still out on the impact of the leaders' debates and whether they had a real impact on voters' intentions. What is confi rmed, and supported by other accounts, is that both the Lib Dems and (perhaps surprisingly) the Conservatives were well prepared to enter into talks about coalition, while Labour gave the impression that they hadn't really lost the election.

Keith Simpson is the Conservative MP for Broadland and PPS to William Hague

Tags: Adam Boulton, General Election 2010, Issue 31, Joey Jones, Keith Simpson

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