It seems that Labour Party officials have been trying to dictate to Jeremy Corbyn when he can campaign and when he must pander to the TV media – and he’s not playing their game.
He has agreed to several televised hustings events but has turned down others because he has other events planned – for example he is due to speak in Liverpool on Monday when Channel 4 wanted to screen a debate.
Channel 4 News seems completely unperturbed about Mr Corbyn’s refusal to attend on Monday. The organisation has announced that talks with Mr Corbyn, regarding another date, are ongoing.
Owen Smith has, of course, leapt on the bandwagon, telling The Guardian: “I will debate with Jeremy, any time, anywhere. But it takes two to tango. It would be a tragedy for members and the labour movement if they were not given the chance to see how the two candidates compare.”
But it seems this tragedy has already been averted because at least seven other televised hustings events are scheduled, although some have yet to be accepted by Mr Corbyn’s team.
We are more likely to become sick of the sight of both candidates than unable to see how they compare!
Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of “bottling” the first head-to-head hustings with Owen Smith after it emerged that he has rejected a Channel 4 News debate organised by the Labour party that was due to be held on Monday evening.
Labour party officials asked the two candidates last Tuesday to keep the date free for the debate but the Corbyn campaign informed Channel 4 News on Thursday that he would not be attending.
A source close to the Labour leader said that, while Corbyn would attend all the official events organised by Labour’s governing body, the NEC, they would not be dictated to by Labour party HQ on attending hustings being set up by media organisations.
“The exact role of the Labour party organisation in how they have played it since the coup has been a controversial one,” the source said. “Jeremy will do some media hustings but that has to be in agreement with Jeremy’s campaign team. The Labour party can facilitate but not dictate.”
The source added that Corbyn was in Liverpool on Monday night but that he also had the right to turn down hustings if he felt that the media organisation sponsoring it was hostile to his leadership.
A spokesman for Channel 4 News said that Smith had confirmed that he was willing to attend the hustings on Monday night or later this week but that they were still in talks with those acting for the Labour leader.
The Labour party website lists upcoming hustings as being in Cardiff on Thursday; Nottinghamshire on Wednesday at an event hosted by the BBC; Birmingham on 18 August; Glasgow on 25 August; and an event organised by the Guardian on 1 September in London. In addition, the Labour party has also proposed events with ITV in August and Sky in September. However, the Corbyn campaign has yet to agree to a number of those events.
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