Jeremy Corbyn is refusing to attend leadership hustings organised by the Mirror, New Statesman, Guardian or Channel Four as his team believe they are all biased against him.
In an email seen by the Huff Post UK, Corbyn’s campaign director Jon Lansman accuses those four media outlets of taking “partisan positions against Jeremy’s leadership or campaign”, adding they “therefore can’t be regarded as impartial hosts or moderators”.
His objections are part of a series of back-and-forth negotiations between Labour HQ and Corbyn’s campaign over how the leadership contest debates should be arranged.
In another email, one Labour official said a “far greater courtesy” has been extended to the two campaigns when it came to arranging hustings than in any previous contest - but the party was still having to deal with numerous objections from Corbyn.
In his email, sent on Tuesday, Lansman said: “Our only issue for the rest of the campaign is potentially with dates, and the identity of third party organisations proposed to host further hustings.
“We are deeply concerned that some of those media organisations or their leading presenters have taken partisan positions against Jeremy’s leadership or campaign, and therefore can’t be regarded as impartial hosts or moderators.
“In the case of broadcasters, they do of course have a statutory duty of impartiality, which the party under successive leaders has always been committed to ensuring is upheld.
“On that basis, we are fine to carry on taking part in Labour party-hosted hustings, including next week’s hustings in Scotland. We would also be glad to take part in, for example, a TULO [Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation]-hosted hustings, as took place last year, if that can be arranged.
“We have agreed to a BBC Question Time-hosted hustings and we are close to agreement on a Sky-hosted hustings. And we would would be happy to do events with Mumsnet and Facebook, depending on the nature of the proposed format.
“However on the basis of the point made above, we would not be prepared to take part in hustings debates hosted by the Mirror, New Statesman, Guardian or Channel Four.
“We are of course prepared to do interviews or audience events with all these organisations, as we have done in the past.
“We note that the next proposed event is Channel 4 and clearly in the light of the comments above this is not something which we can support.”
A list of proposed debates were sent out by Labour HQ on Monday:
- 17 August - BBC, Victoria Derbyshire
- 22/23 August - Channel 4 News
- w/c 22 August - ITV
- w/c 29 August - Media Organisation TBC (to replace Guardian)
- 8 September- BBC Question Time
- 14 September - Sky
Last year’s leadership election saw five television debates, including a Channel 4 show hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
The broadcaster suggested Guru-Murthy hosted this year’s debate, something which seems to be opposed by Corbyn’s team.
After Huff Post UK broke the story, Labour MPs and other political commentators took to Twitter to express their shock:
However, Respect leader George Galloway seemed to defend Corbyn’s decision: