Tim Farron was interviewed this morning, by Nick Robinson on Radio 4's Today program. Mr Farron was explaining the LibDem position that his Party (of which I am a member) wanted a referendum on the conditions on which this country leaves the EU.
Mr Farron explained very carefully that it was not a call for a second referendum on wether we should stay in the EU or leave - he said that he accepted that vote - but it was on the conditions of our exit only.
Whilst not all Libdems agree on the Brexit issue I happen to agree that it is a good and democratic thing to call for a referendum on the conditions on which we leave - even if it could attract accusations that it is merely the Libdems trying to scupper our exit from the EU. In any case I would judge that even if that was the hidden aim that it would not succeed in stopping Brexit (nor should it).
A referendum on the conditions of Brexit is a good thing to call for because our departure and the conditions of that departure will have long lasting effects on our economic futures and our laws and our rights.
Tim Farron explained his position very clearly (I thought) but Nick Robinson seemed to have a lapse in concentration and kept asking Farron questions as if he was calling for a repeat of the in or out referendum - a second referendum on our membership.
It would be a very undemocratic thing to call for a second in/out referendum since it would show complete disrespect for the views of the 17 million people who voted leave - even if I think they were wrong.
But of course it would make a better story for Nick Robinson and the BBC if the Libdems were asking for a repeat of the in/out referendum - but they are not.
Later I heard a Radio 4 news broadcast where it was reported - simply - that the Libdems were calling for a second referendum - simply that nothing else was explained. It was stated in a way to lead any reasonable listener to assume that the Libdems were being very undemocratic in wanting to rerun the in/out referendum and were showing great disrespect for the wishes of 17 million people.
Either the BBC (and Nick Robinson) want people to believe the worst of the Libdems or they are reckless when reporting on such matters. Either way it was deeply unimpressive and a great disappointment to me as a fan (until now) of the BBC and Radio 4 in particular.
If this is how the BBC is going to conduct itself on this very contentious and complex issue then they are doing a great dis-service to the British public and should not be trusted on this topic.
The Libdems, like most political parties, have things to answer for - but they should not be mis-represented in this careless (or worse) way by the BBC.
It would be very wrong of the Libdems to ask for a re-run of the in/out referendum - wrong on so many levels. It is very right - in my view - to ask for some democracy in this complex and far reaching Brexit process and there is a world of difference between these two positions on Brexit.
It leaves me wondering about standards of reporting at the BBC on this issue. They are not helping anyone by mis-reporting in this way.
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