LibLink: Chuka Umunna: What are ITV playing at excluding Jo Swinson from its Leaders’ Debate?

Chuka Umunna has been meeting senior executives at ITV to try to persuade them to include Jo Swinson in their Leaders’ Debate.

And he used this week’s Independent column to take them to task for not inviting her to take part:

He first highlights ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall’s positive record on diversity issues:

Dame Carolyn is widely regarded as a role model for many women in leadership and has said “we need to inspire the next generation of women leaders”. She clearly takes this seriously and, with regard to ITV’s own record on equality and diversity on and off screen, has said ITV is “focused on on-screen [diversity] … but we have more to do”. In ITV’s latest annual report the company declares: “We want to increase social mobility, while also improving and promoting better representation across gender.”

He looks at the reasons why Jo should be allowed to take part:

The decision sends a terrible message when it comes to equality.

“Surely you are not arguing Jo Swinson should be included in the debate simply because she is a woman?” is a question I was ironically asked by an ITV news outlet yesterday. Of course not. Under section 6.2 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code “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.
And Jo has a better claim to a place in the debate than Nick Clegg did back in 2010:

If anything, Jo has a greater claim than Nick to being included in the debates between the main party leaders this time round. Brexit was not on the radar in 2010 and it dominates everything now – it is the key issue. Brexit is the reason we are even having an early election. A sizeable proportion of the public want to abandon Brexit altogether – consistently around a third of voters indicate that is their preference – yet neither the Conservatives nor Labour are committed to stopping Brexit. The Lib Dems are the biggest and strongest Remain party – clearly holding a “significant view” under the OfCom code.
You can read the whole article here.

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  • Peter Martin 5th Nov '19 - 10:25am

    “broadcasters must take into account evidence of past electoral support……”
    “Brexit was not on the radar in 2010 and it dominates everything now “

    And as Chuka pointed out, the LibDems did well in the May euro elections so Jo Swinson should be included in the debate.

    The snag with this argument, from a Lib Dem perspective, is that the Brexit Party, who have their own take on Brexit, did even better in May. Nigel Farage would no doubt be happy to have an invitation too!

  • chris moore 5th Nov '19 - 10:44am

    Jo Swinson and Nigel Farage should both be included.

    If the argument that only potential PMs should be invited, then current polls imply only Boris should be invited. He could then deliver a learned address to the nation, untroubled by unfortunate probing of his opinions.

  • chris moore 5th Nov '19 - 11:58am

    Yes, you can see for yourself I don’t agree with the argument that only potential PMs should be invited, otherwise only Boris should be invited.

    Hence, this doesn’t disqualify Nigel Farage.

    All four UK leaders should be invited.

    There will be separate debates in Wales and Scotland.

  • Peter Martin 5th Nov '19 - 12:38pm

    “Nigel Farage said he wasn’t standing for Parliament? That means he has renounced any intention of becoming prime minister.”

    Theoretically, if Brexit were the largest party, he could instruct the leader in the Commons to grant him a peerage. Alternatively, he could wait a few months until there was a suitable bye election opportunity.

    In any case, there is no requirement, as far as I know, that the participants have to be potential PMs. There are no hard and fast rules. It’s all decided, by person or persons unknown, on a case by case basis at every election.

    If you want to introduce some rules, you’d need to find a way of making the LibDem EU election results count in your favour but without them counting in the BXP’s favour too!

  • John Marriott 5th Nov '19 - 12:45pm

    There should be FOUR broadcasts, one in each of the ‘nations’ that make up the U.K. The Northern Ireland broadcast should include only the leaders/ representatives of the parties putting up candidates there in the GE, which, I assume, would eliminate the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems (and possibly the Greens – the Brexit Party has already counted itself out there). In the other three ‘nations’ these broadcasts would include the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens and Brexit, while Plaid and the SNP would appear in the Welsh and Scottish broadcasts respectively but not in the English broadcast. What’s wrong with that?

  • Peter Martin 5th Nov '19 - 1:49pm

    @ John Marriott,

    “What’s wrong with that?”

    As my wife would say, if you don’t know then there’s no point in my trying to explain it to you!

  • John Marriott 5th Nov '19 - 2:29pm

    @Peter Martin
    You can resort to sarcasm if you wish. From your regular contributions you strike me as quite an intelligent guy. Given that this election is, in theory, to elect representatives to parliament, I was making my suggestions accordingly. So, why not grasp the nettle and tell us what YOU would do? You normally seem pretty good at that.

  • Alex Macfie 5th Nov '19 - 2:35pm

    There is no requirement that the PM has to be a party leader. Presumably, if the Brexit Party wins any seats in Parliament, then it will select a Parliamentary leader, and this person would be its Prime Minister designate should it win enough seats to be the principal party of government.
    Churchill wasn’t Conservative Party leader when he became PM in 1940 (Chamberlain remained leader). And the Conservative national leader and Parliamentary leader have been different people in the past (Lord Curzon and Austen Chamberlain, respectively, in 1921-1922).
    Engineering a by-election to get into Parliament is a risky tactic, as Patrick Gordon-Walker found out in 1964.
    I think the Brexit Party should be included in the line-up, as well as the Lib Dems, much as I dislike the idea of Farage on our screens yet again.
    And the individuals in the TV debates should not need to be potential PMs. We have a Parliamentary system not a Presidential system, and as Jo has ruled out working with either Johnson or Corbyn, the next PM culd be someone totally different.

  • Daniel Walker 5th Nov '19 - 3:02pm

    @Alex Macfie “There is no requirement that the PM has to be a party leader.

    Indeed, as Alec Douglas-Home proved, albeit briefly, there’s not even a requirement for the PM to be a member of either House of Parliament. Somewhat worryingly.

  • David Allen 5th Nov '19 - 5:13pm

    @ Peter Martin “As my wife would say, if you don’t know then there’s no point in my trying to explain it to you!”

    Your poor wife….

  • Innocent Bystander 5th Nov '19 - 7:05pm

    A genuine question to those who “would know these things”, just as a guess how many Brexit candidates might lose their deposits, and how much would that cost ” someone”?

  • The deposit is £500 per constituency which means they’ll need to find over 300k. The next issue they have is finding candidates and then finding the necessary 10 voters to back you.
    As you can see they tend to scrape the barrel when it comes to candidates

    Brexit Party candidate who believes she comes fro the star Sirius has quit the race to become an MP.
    Jill Hughes, who was the party’s prospective candidate for Batley and Spen, also believes in “elves/fairies/mermaids/unicorns and all things elemental and otherworldly”, and that her horse was reincarnated as another horse.

    Plus they tend to quit
    General election: Brexit Party disarray as Farage loses 20 candidates and donor
    or have extreme views

  • Innocent Bystander 5th Nov '19 - 8:19pm

    Many thanks. Quite a sum of money from “someone”.

  • I have to say the more I see and here if Chuka the more I like him and it’s interesting that he’s increasingly becoming Swinson’s right hand man. I think he could be a great future Lib Dem leader

  • I understand that to be a Brexit Party candidate you have to commit to paying the party £100 a month for the privilege. Presumably easier than putting people through an approval process and fixes the deposit problem at the same time.

    Wonder if they gave their alien candidate her money back?

    Nick Clegg, you disappoint me again.

    So, we now can see that Clegg clearly has Johnsonian level of integrity.

  • Richard Underhill. 6th Nov '19 - 7:48am

    Chuka Umunna was also on BBC2 Newsnight on 5/11/19.
    Guildford MP Anne Milton intends to stand as an Independent.

  • Mr Clegg is being highly paid to act as the Facebook figleaf. The a dirty job but someone has to do it. I’m afraid it just reinforces my opinion that his judgement is lacking, but then his time as Cameron’s figleaf should have told us that. Not a fanboy of his or Osbourne figleaf Alexander. Both thankfully gone, both won’t be missed.

  • David Evans 6th Nov '19 - 10:57am

    Absolutely Frankie, They won’t be missed. But the damage they did to the party and the country remains. Indeed, it is used as a justification to exclude us from leader’s debates.

  • Innocent Bystander 5th Nov ’19 – 7:05pm:
    A genuine question to those who “would know these things”, just as a guess how many Brexit candidates might lose their deposits, and how much would that cost ” someone”?

    We don’t how many candidates they will stand yet, but assuming 500, I’d guess around 50 might lose their deposits, costing £25,000 in total. Thats’s not a significant cost for the Party. By now, they must have at least 120,000 payed-up supporters (they passed 100,000 early in the summer) at £25 each bringing in over £3 million. One also sees many online posts from supporters who’ve made additional small donations in the £50 to £500 range, so we might add-on another £1 million raised from that. There may also be some larger donations in addition to the £200,000 launch capital donated by Jeremy Hosking; however most of their funding is reported to come from small donations.

  • Margaret 5th Nov ’19 – 11:26pm:
    I understand that to be a Brexit Party candidate you have to commit to paying the party £100 a month for the privilege. Presumably easier than putting people through an approval process and fixes the deposit problem at the same time.

    The Brexit Club (£100 per month or £1,000 a year) is a relatively recent innovation and not a requirement for election candidates to belong to. However, the 3,500 PPC applicants were required to pay a £100 application fee to cover the costs of vetting. Reports since have suggested that only short listed candidates were vetted so it’s possible that surplus fee income might cover any lost deposits.

  • Andrew Melmoth 6th Nov '19 - 8:41pm

    Imagine what a fraudster could do with a list of the one hundred thousand most gullible people in the country.

  • Thet would make a lot of money Andrew. Perhaps set up a company and get them to send him a £100 per month, why that is millions over a year.

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