Calm down, Mandelson tells TV reporter

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Indy Politics

The strain of covering, and directing, the general election campaign started to show today during tetchy exchanges between journalists and ministers at Labour's press conference.

Lord Mandelson, Labour's chairman of election strategy, told one television reporter to "calm down" several times after being questioned about possible spending cuts.

Adam Boulton of Sky News was first to question Lord Mandelson at this morning's briefing at Labour's central London headquarters.

He posed a lengthy question based on a series of areas listed in the Financial Times which the newspaper said could be cut, including building of new aircraft carriers.

Lord Mandelson replied that he would make sure the journalist was given a copy of Labour's manifesto before he left the briefing because it contained the party's policies.

The journalist interrupted the minister, demanding a reply to his question. Lord Mandelson, speaking in his usual calm voice, told him: "Calm down, calm down, Adam."

He pointed out that neither the Sky News journalist, nor the Financial Times, was standing for re-election, sparking the BBC's Andrew Neil to shout out: "Neither are you."

Later, BBC political editor Nick Robinson pressed Lord Mandelson to answer detailed questions and several other journalists tried unsuccessfully to ask the minister for his thoughts on the prospect of a hung parliament.

Lord Mandelson mused that if the media spent a "little more time" on policies, rather than the outcome of the election before a single vote had been cast, people would have a better idea of the choices before them.