Sal Brinton complains to ITV about Jo Swinson’s exclusion from Leaders’ Debate

If you are incensed about the decision to exclude Jo Swinson from the ITV leaders’ debate due to take place on 19th November, sign our petition here

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are running scared of debating the woman leader of the strongest party of Remain.

The voters of this country deserve to hear from Jo Swinson on the debate stage, not just from two men who want to deliver Brexit.

Sal Brinton wrote to  ITV Chief Executive, Dame Carolyn McCall to raise an official complaint about Jo’s exclusion:

Here is her letter in full:

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

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Lillian Yates 3rd Nov '19 - 11:09am

    Democracy under threat again if Lib dems are denied their right, as an up and coming influence on a country at a pivotal point in its history, to put their case to the public. It is because of a lack of honest, wide ranging fact and information pre Brexit that we are in such a mess. The public deserve to receive clarity. The lib dems need to promote their reasons to remain.

  • It’s a good letter, but we shouldn’t be leaving it just to Sal. The rest of us need to complain too. Complaints don’t need to be long and detailed letters – a short paragraph will do.
    And in these things, numbers matter, so when you’ve sent your complaint, ask all your local party members to do the same.

  • Nigel Jones 3rd Nov '19 - 12:21pm

    Lillian, you are so right to stress the need for Jo and all Lib-Dems to give the reasons for remain, both economic, influence in the world on environment and cross border crime etc., peace and so that we are not out in the cold fighting from a corner. Also we must give our distinctive voice on other issues; it is not easy to find out what our policies on these are.

  • Richard Underhill. 3rd Nov '19 - 12:23pm

    David Andrew:
    There will be no SNP candidates in England or Wales.
    Therefore Nicola Sturgeon cannot achieve a majority in the House of Commons.
    There is a devolved parliament in Edinburgh

  • I complained to ITV, Head of Press and also sent copies to the BBC suggesting that they should not emulate ITV. Have more trust in Sky.

  • The Lib Dems had 7% of the vote in the 2017 GE, the Tories had 42% and Labour 40%. There is no reason to involve the Lib Dems in the debate unless the other smaller parties are also invited. If you want to be involved in future debates win more seats this time.

  • Alex Macfie 3rd Nov '19 - 5:21pm

    malc: Lib Dems outpolled both Labour and Conservatives in the most recent nationwide election, the European Parliamentary election earlier this year. And the Lib Dems are currently polling around 15–20% in the opinion polls. Why should an election 2½ years ago be the only thing that matters in deciding who should be in the debate, when so much has changed since then?

  • David Evans 3rd Nov '19 - 7:04pm

    Good letter. Now we need to get the legal challenge in.

  • Lynne Rapson 3rd Nov '19 - 7:26pm

    As a LibDem member of over fifty years I’m really concerned that the LibDem leader is excluded from these debates. It shows complete prejudice against the only true Remain party.

  • Richard Underhill. 3rd Nov '19 - 9:29pm

    Boris has refused another referendum in Scotland,

  • Peter Watson 3rd Nov '19 - 9:31pm

    @Alex Macfie “Lib Dems outpolled both Labour and Conservatives in the most recent nationwide election, the European Parliamentary election earlier this year”
    But were a long way behind the Brexit Party.
    ITV are missing a trick and should put the two single-issue leaders Swinson and Farage in their own head-to-head debate (though Lib Dems must make sure that Swinson does better than Clegg).

  • I’ve had a response from ITV to my complaint. They say the Corbyn/Johnson debate on 19/11 will be followed immediately by an hour-long programme which will interview (separately) the leaders of LibDems, SNP, Brexit Party and Greens, in which they will each “have a chance to set out their own electoral offer and make observations on what’s been said in the earlier debate.” Clearly this is not good enough. We need to continue complaining.
    They also say there will be a later debate with all 7 parties on stage together (including PC this time). Again, this does not get round the fact that their first big programme of the campaign ordains only the top 2 parties with the stamp of approval.
    It’s quite a long email but I can reproduce it here if LDV want me to.

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