As the General Election draws near, those who brought so much amusement to television viewers in the aftermath of the last such contest are making their presence felt, although not perhaps in the way in which they might have hoped. One of those august beings, whose comedy turn was wholly inadvertent, was Adam Boulton, long-serving pundit for Sky News (“first for breaking wind”).
A rant that even surprised Big Al
Boulton, as a result of genuine tiredness – he had been awake all through the previous night, apparently – was on the proverbial hair trigger when a discussion with Alastair Campbell, transmitted live, lurched into farce as he lost it with Big Al and descended into a wibbling heap before our eyes. And, just for good measure, he lost it again later with Labour MP Ben Bradshaw.
Could he top that in the run-up to next May? The signs suggest that he could indeed, after displaying the kind of metropolitan Westminster ignorance that should be blatant enough to get him noticed by a wider audience. Boulton was watching as former Labour advisor John McTernan declared that his Twitter followers should also consider following John Prescott.
“He made cities cool” explained McTernan, which may be a partisan point, but it is at least a coherent one. Boulton attempted to be both clever and cynical, but the result, “by knocking them down?” brought reminders of what Lyndon Johnson said about Gerald Ford. Prezza may have done many things both good and bad, but knocking down city centres was not one of them.
McTernan tried to steer him towards the more factual: “By enforcing brownfield new build, renovating council homes, investing in regeneration. A renaissance”, he replied. Again, this is clearly partisan – many Tories would take issue with those assertions – but attempts to stay in touch with reality. Perhaps the man from Sky News would like to continue in the same spirit?
No chance: once again it was off the cuff once too often as Boulton quipped “& flattened Liverpool and Newcastle”. Yeah, right. I can’t speak for the north-east, but on Liverpool he is plain flat wrong, as anyone who has got out of London and visited the city recently will know. Central Liverpool, with its mix of fine old buildings and a new shopping centre, Liverpool One, is certainly not “flattened”.
McTernan said as much as he tried to convey some sense in Boulton’s general direction: “Newcastle was done by T Dan Smith, as for Liverpool the centre is transformed”. And T Dan Smith was many, many years ago – before Prescott even became an MP. With that level of ignorance, if Boulton is around at next May’s elections, there could be more of those difficult live TV encounters.
Especially if his interviewees bring up either of those Tweets.