Book review: Hung Together – The 2010 Election and the Coalition Government

Adam Boulton and Joey Jones, the authors of Hung Together: The 2010 Election and the Coalition Government, have produced a book of the sort that, after previous general elections, would have been deserving of praise and interest. Their bad luck for the 2010 election is that there are several high quality alternatives available, in particular the revitalised Nuffield general election series in the form of The British General Election of 2010 and David Laws’s 22 Days in May, not to mention the Nick Robinson BBC documentary.

Compared to those this lively book is a little lightweight. It does not have the detail of analysis to provide much in the way of extra information and the picture you get of the rollercoaster of emotions on the campaign trail could have made a good feature article, but is not worth reading a whole book for. The analysis is generally very limited and follows conventional lines (so TV debates are dates to the US in 1960 without Sweden in the 1950s being mentioned, the plethora of Lib Dem meetings after the election is mocked rather than analysed for how it helped the party make a united decision, and so on). It provides a form of instant history that can be enjoyable to read and is valuable to capture for the future; its bad luck is the quality of the rival sources of instant history appearing after the 2010 election.

Hung Together by Adam Boulton and Joey Jones - book coverTo Adam Boulton’s credit the book confronts head-on his own two moments of controversy during the election – his moderation of the second TV debate and his on-screen confrontation with Alistair Campbell. For the former he does a good job of defending his actions, but for the latter his defence goes on at such length and with such insistence that it harms as much as it helps his own reputation.

Joey Jones’s reputation – or rather than of TV political journalists in general – also takes a bit of a knock for his honesty description of what really matters to such journalists following a party leader on an election campaign trail: “In general the objective is to niggle  and harry in order to force an error or prompt a news line”. Not to report factually; not to scrutinise closely for evasion the comments made; not to show how the public is viewing the leader; but instead to try to needle someone into making a mistake. An honest account of what journalists set out to do, especially as it is not a flattering one.

Overall the book is worth a read if you have not got access to the others, want to read as much as possible about the 2010 election or want a book that does lively narrative rather than analysis and explanation.

You can buy Hung Together: The 2010 Election and the Coalition Government by Adam Boulton and Joey Jones from Amazon here.

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3 Comments

  • David Allen 23rd Jan '11 - 2:02pm

    Looks like the best bit is the front cover….

  • I’m not sure I’d use Nick Robinson hour as an exemplar: obsessed with the Nick/Dave and Nick/Gordy personal chemistry, he virtually neglected the key factors eg Labour has-beens, fruitcakes and Opportunists (say Reid, Hoey and Burnham) who were crucial in wrecking the Lib-Lab option, even though Reid’s first salvo occurred live on primetime BBC1. I hope he didn’t ignore it as it was on Dimbleby’s show…

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