Nick Robinson has revealed his amusement when he was asked to become a Labour spin doctor last year.
In excerpts from his new book published in the Mail, the BBC’s political editor said that a “senior Labour figure” approached him via a “rather bad mobile line” about the possibility of help - “with a role at No 10 to follow, naturally”.
Robinson could barely stifle his amusement.
He said: “For the rest of the conversation I had to resist the urge to roar with laughter and inquire whether the caller had got the wrong number.
“Instead, I politely expressed my thanks for being considered and explained I remained committed to journalism (just as I did when the papers reported a long time ago that I’d been approached to work for ‘the other side’.)”
In the extracts from Election Notebook: The Inside Story Of The Battle Over Britain’s Future And My Personal Battle To Report It, Robinson also spoke candidly about his battle with cancer and his fear that he would never broadcast again.
He described the moment he explained his situation to his bosses at the BBC.
He said: “I’ve asked Sue and Katy, my BBC bosses at Westminster, to meet me to discuss my flight plan now I’ve discovered, on the eve of a General Election, that I have a cancerous tumour.
“I spell out my ludicrously simple agenda: I will have the tumour and any other nasties cut out and get back to work three weeks later. This can all be fixed, I tell them, quoting my consultant.
“Then I pause and think and cry – hot, shoulder-shaking tears. If I don’t believe what I’m saying, what on earth can they be thinking?”
Robinson also revealed the encouraging messages of support received from a range of high-profile politicians, including David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon.
He continued: “The messages I’ve had from Robert Peston [the BBC’s economics editor], whose beloved wife Sian died of lung cancer, have been among the nicest and the most supportive.
“Few people call. One who does is Ed Miliband.
“He is kind, generous and thoughtful and sounds genuinely shocked.”
He added that the most shocking message was from none other than Alex Ferguson.
He explained: “Messages from Pesto [BBC’s Robert Peston] and the Prime Minister are no match for a text that leaves the boys almost speechless.
‘It’s from Fergie!’ they gasp.
“Perhaps Sir Alex remembers that I described him as ‘the greatest living Briton’ when he retired from Old Trafford. I pretend to be cool about it but I’m not.
“Given that we barely know each other, I am hugely touched that he made the effort. Will and Harry agree that only a message from the Queen could top this.”
Robinson successfully underwent surgery to remove a bronchial carcinoid tumour earlier this year, returning to work in April.