Best bits of a busy election
For 227 new MPs, today is the first day of work at the House of Commons. To mark the occasion, Victoria and her programme set up shop across the street and invited all elected representatives to come down to collect a welcome gift. It was a booklet called Commons Sense (PDF), written by 5 live listeners, that spells out what people expect from their MPs. You can watch a video about the idea and listen back to the whole show here.
So as MPs got to work on their first task, choosing the next Commons Speaker, we asked four 5 live presenters to cast their thoughts back to the election campaign. Nicky, Victoria, Peter and Tony were kind enough to jot down their highlights from what's been a fascinating few weeks.
The most surprising moment of the election campaign for me was Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, saying to me 'We meet at last...' when he arrived to take part in the Phone in. My most enlightening moment was when Lord Pearson, from the UK Independence party, told our listeners that venison should 'always be well hung.' But by far the most riveting moment was on the day before the election, when Gordon Brown took calls. It was his last stand - a last-ditch attempt to convince the listeners that he was the man to lead the country.
Our 5 live audience debates sizzled and crackled in the way that TV leaders' debates didn't. Listeners in Leeds, Middlesbrough, Bromsgrove and Luton questioned leading politicians on the subjects voters care most about - the economy, immigration, expenses and crime. The Immigration Minster Phil Woolas, the 3 men who wanted to be Home Secretary (who'd have known Theresa May would land that job in the end), the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the BNP's Deputy Chairman - all joined us for some passionate and pointed conversation. The TV debates had 76 rules - we had only one - be polite...and the result was voters debating intelligently with politicians.PETER ALLEN
Now that was an interesting election...the first truly three party race, the first with television debates, and now the first coaltion government since before even I was born.
I'll remember in particular my days on the road with the leaders...days of frantic and in some respects pointless activity which culminated one afternoon with me standing outside a school. Inside the school was the prime minister and indeed all the broadcasting equipment we needed for the programme which began in precisely ten minutes time. The local council had decided in its wisdom to ban the media from their property. Fortunately they did allow us into the car park...so that was the venue for Drive that afternoon.
But I will remember the election most for the Friday, when a VERY dedicated team and I broadcast from outside the Commons for no less than nine hours, and for the Tuesday on which the whole story drew to its dramatic conclusion. We sat in a tent on the green opposite the Commons and the political world came to join us. It was simply five hours of pulsating breaking news, a story both vitally important and full of twists. We stayed with it until it concluded. On no other radio station would this have happened. It's why I still love the job.
We began and ended our election coverage by making history. In between, I was chased by Batman! So, all in all, it's been QUITE a lively month on Livesey.
It all kicked-off with the first Prime Ministerial TV debate. My programme came live from a bar round the corner from the venue in Manchester and as well as being an historic moment in British politics, it was also my first 5 live OB! (And you think Brown, Cameron and Clegg were stressed!).
We followed that broadcast with further OBs from the Bristol and Birmingham TV debates. It was while doing a live insert into Drive from University Square in Birmingham that I was chased by Batman AND Robin. The Fathers For Justice protestors were carrying a Bat-megaphone so I had to head for safety to the Bat-coffee shop!
The Livesey programme also parachuted into a Rochdale pub on the night of Bigot-gate and we ended our run with two nights of 4-hour programmes covering the coalition and the change of government. Tuesday's show began just after David Cameron became PM and went on until 1am, just moments after Nick Clegg finally announced that the Liberal Democrats had backed the coalition. Lord Ashdown greeted the decision on-air with just one word: Hooray!
Not a bad summation of a gruelling but thrilling month in the life of 5 live.
Aaron Eccles is a senior producer at 5 live
- Download a PDF of 5 live's Commons Sense.