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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.
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


  • Comment number 1.

    Don't get too pleased with yourselves. The OBs were fantastic entertainment and Livesey rose to the occasion in a way that showed he is a bit wasted on puns and the Voice of the Underground. I like the idea of the handbook and Vicky has done a great job with it, but....

    most of you lot showed a marked bias towards the Labour Government and in the spirit of fairness and neutrality, it was uncomfy whatever party one favoured.

    Please get rid of your pet toady John Mann. Sick of him already.

  • Comment number 2.

    However successful your election coverage was (and clearly you think it was) Livesey in one night almost undid all of the good work and progress as a credible 5Live broadcaster with his appalling lightweight trivial offering on Monday night.

    Who is responsible for his programme?

    And why can't a newsreader just read the news. Using them as a crutch to deliver trivialities just undermines their authority and credibility.

  • Comment number 3.

    Peter Allen. You write it was 'the first truly three party race'!

    That's a myth which you as experienced broadcaster along with the rest of your colleagues know. What with all the flurry after the election over who the Lib Dem's did a deal with all these three could be lumped into one party and nobody would be none the wiser.

    Against a background of market failure and it's resulting massive national debt never before has there been an election coverage so devoid of political alternatives.

    Along with the 'historic' live leaders TV debates, the surge of the Liberal Democrat's and this three-party race was deliberately orchestrated by the media and the political esablishment to create the illusion of excitement and tension when in reality all of them are of the same ideology and outlook. With no left-wing mainstream party standing these three with the mainstream media's assistance (not just 5 Live) were all hiding behind the recession and the need for cutbacks instead of addressing why the recession was created in the first place and more importantly why more will occur in the future.

    This lack of choice was well manifested by the 'hung' parliament result. Unfortunately it's safe to say 'reforming' how you people in the media present news and politics will not be one of of these patronising revolutionary reforms for political change just announced by Clegg and this absurd Condem coalition!

  • Comment number 4.

    correction line 2: ....'which you as an experienced broadcaster....'

  • Comment number 5.

    @RyanW I have praised Livesey for his coverage and ability to think on his feet during the election campaign and so I feel that some criticism is due for his programme earlier this week when his piece about the price of alcohol in supermarkets (which is becoming something of a bore on Radio5Live) was illustrated by his choice of expert. John McCririck (sp)!!!!!!! What on earth does this buffoon know about anything ? He is the only bookmaker that I have ever heard of going bankrupt and he was on a reality show and that, as far as I know, is his C.V. So why? Why?

  • Comment number 6.

    Excellent point Trifecta. Tony Livesey has demonstrated he has the talent and potential by the way he aquitted himself during some of the election coverage. However, the cosy trival tat he serves up every weeknight is become tiresome. I understand that it might not be the place of the seriousal the time (although Rhod Sharp who follows has none of the banal features on the Livesey show and is one of 5Live's best in my opinion) but the drivel that Livesey delivers is appalling. I think it's time for Mr Controller to hot foot it to Euston and get the train up to Mancs and deal with the problem.

    He can start with making sure that the newsreader reads the news and doesnt become a crutch for the host in some unedifying exchange about toilets.

    Perhaps Jonathan Aspiwall can raise his head above the parapit and explain why this is clever, entertaining, edify or appropriate. I notice we seldom have contributions from up north on this blog.


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