Political

Lib Dems lodge election debate complaint with ITV

A party press release brings the news:

The Liberal Democrats have lodged a formal complaint to ITV for excluding Jo Swinson from their election debate and warned, “failing to have Liberal Democrats in the debate is misrepresenting the current political reality.”

In a letter to ITV Chief Executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, the President of the Liberal Democrats Sal Brinton said, “voters of this country deserve to hear from a Remainer on the debate stage, not just from the two men who want to deliver Brexit.”

The letter goes on to raise section 6.2 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code which states that “due weight must be given to the coverage of parties and independent candidates during the election period” and “broadcasters must take into account evidence of past electoral support and/or current support”.

The letter follows the Liberal Democrats launching a petition with the hashtag #DebateHer, calling for Jo Swinson to be in the debate. The petition states “Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are running scared of debating the woman leader of the strongest party of Remain.”

Here is the full text of Sal Brinton’s letter:

Please see below the text of Sal Brinton’s letter.

Dame Carolyn McCall
Chief Executive, ITV
2 Waterhouse Square
138 – 142 Holborn
London EC1N 2AE

Dear Dame Carolyn,

I am extremely disappointed that ITV are planning to exclude the Liberal Democrats from your General Election debate on 19th November.

Corbyn and Johnson both are pursuing Brexit and represent the two tired establishment parties. A debate between just them offers no real alternative and stifles the conversation.

The voters of this country deserve to hear from a Remainer on the debate stage, not just from the two men who want to deliver Brexit. They deserve to know that there is another way. That there is a Party they can vote for who will offer a real alternative. That the Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and build a brighter future.

There is no reasonable justification for excluding Liberal Democrats from the debate. Liberal Democrats are the strongest national Party of Remain. We secured more votes than both Labour and the Conservatives in the European elections earlier this year and have enjoyed fantastic local and byelection successes across the country. We no longer live in a two-party system, as polling for the last six months demonstrates, and the media should keep up. We have a hung Parliament and the Liberal Democrats are polling very close to, and sometimes ahead of, the Labour Party. Failing to have Liberal Democrats in the debate is misrepresenting the current political reality.

As you will know, section 6.2 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code states that “due weight must be given to the coverage of parties and independent candidates during the election period” and “broadcasters must take into account evidence of past electoral support and/or current support”. Crucially, candidates with “significant views and perspectives” should receive appropriate coverage; with Brexit a key issue in this election and our recent electoral successes the Liberal Democrats clearly deserve equal treatment.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are running scared of debating Jo Swinson and broadcasters should not help them stitch up the debates. The importance of representation cannot be underestimated. I want women and girls watching to see Jo Swinson in the debate and know that they too could be a candidate for Prime Minister. That women’s voices are vital in politics. That our politics is so much poorer without them. We have seen an exodus of women from politics in the run up to this election. I want to do everything in my power to end this. I’m urging you to do the same.

Please, ensure that there is a plurality of voices in the debate, ensure that the biggest Remain Party is represented, ensure that Jo Swinson is up on the debate stage with Corbyn and Johnson.

Yours sincerely,

Baroness Brinton
President of the Liberal Democrats

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5 responses to “Lib Dems lodge election debate complaint with ITV”

  1. It’s really shocking that in this Remain v Brexit election there is no-one speaking for Remain in the TV debates and news summaries. Remain should get 50% of the coverage. We should be getting all Remainers, not just LibDems to protest to the BBC and ITV. And to keep protesting until they put it right. This should be a major theme in the election.

  2. I think that it is very important that the Liberal Democrats, represented by their leader, are not left out of these debates. It reenforces the idea that this is really a two horse race; and we are already seeing in some of the recent polls signs that Labour are rising a bit at the expense of the LDs (down to 16 % in the latest YouGov poll, the lowest score for about three months or more) – and we have to face the possibility that as Labour Remainers who are thinking about voting LD see the Tories share of the lead at healthy levels, they may decide to switch back to old affiliations. In all of this it is absolutely vital that while pressing home our anti-Brexit message, we use this as a way into discussing our social and economic policies, showing how these are attractive and distinctive. It is always possible that the election could become less about Brexit and more about policy. Brexit is a disaster for reasons to do with people’s lives and so it is a natural route into discussing how we propose in concrete terms to contribute positively to the lives.

  3. Here’s my complaint to the BBC just now, filed via https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/complaints/make-a-complaint

    I am shocked that in this Remain v Brexit election there is no-one speaking for Remain in many of your news programmes and the planned TV debates. Neither of the two traditional big parties is in favour of staying in the EU but they get the lion’s share of your coverage. At the minimum, about 50% of voters want to stay in the EU. Remain should get 50% of the coverage. What is the BBC planning to do to provide more balanced coverage?

  4. Both main parties are complicit in the exclusion of the smaller parties, Lib Dems in particular, whom they both seek to starve of media attention.

    Like with Brexit, both Tories and Labour have too many common interests and aims for either of them to present themselves as a real alternative to the old ways of doing politics.

    There should be a place on the podium for every leader of every party with seat/s in the Parliament. If BBC and ITV fail to provide it, maybe another media outlet will (or, failing that, a debate streamed on social media might do). And if Johnson and Corbyn fail to appear, cowardice and misogyny can be added to the charge sheet.

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