Sky News political editor Adam Boulton was involved in a furious on-air spat with Labour’s former communications head Alastair Campbell yesterday as they discussed Gordon Brown’s announcement of his resignation.
The fiery exchange outside Westminster, broadcast live by the 24-hour news channel, started after Campbell accused Boulton of treating Gordon Brown like “dead meat” and wanting David Cameron in Downing Street.
Boulton insisted he had reported impartially and demanding that Campbell – who is understood to have been offering advice to Brown over the days since the election – produce evidence of him favouring the Conservative leader.
Sky News said that Boulton had “defended his integrity” and by implication that of the channel.
The exchange was kicked off by Boulton questioning whether the nation needed “four more months of Gordon Brown limping on until he retires”.
Campbell responded: “Adam, I know that you’ve been spending the last few years saying Gordon Brown is dead meat and he should be going anyway.”
Boulton replied: “I’m not saying that, show me where I said that once.”
The broadcaster pointed out that Conservatives had secured more votes and seats than Labour in last week’s election, and Campbell replied: “Yes, I know, you’re obviously upset that David Cameron is not Prime Minister.”
A clearly angry Boulton responded: “I’m not upset. You keep casting aspersions… Don’t keep telling me what I think. I’m fed up with you telling me what I think, I don’t think that.”
Campbell was told he was being unnecessarily “provocative”, but said: “He is saying Gordon Brown is no longer legitimately in Downing Street, I’m saying he is. He is.”
Boulton replied: “No, I’m saying look at the performances in the elections, Labour did worse than the Conservatives, will you accept that?”
Asking Mr Campbell why Brown had not consulted Labour MPs before making his announcement, Boulton said: “You’re the one that cooked it up, you’re the one that’s cooked it up with Peter Mandelson.”
Campbell branded this assertion “unbelievable”.