Dear Lord Hall,
I am writing to you to discuss the opportunity for your broadcaster to host Liberal Democrat Leadership debates in the coming few weeks.
I believe that our surging party membership – now over 100,000 strong – deserve to hear the issues facing our party and I would welcome the chance to debate them.
In 2015, there was only a single public debate held by a broadcaster during our leadership campaign. I hope now the Liberal Democrats are resurgent we can change that.
The party has already begun a series of hustings but I would hope that broadcasters would want to take part too, as many members might not be able to attend and the broader public need to be engaged.
As you are aware the party polled 20% at the recent European Elections, out scoring both Labour and the Conservatives, and at the recent local elections we gained over 700 seats. I think the case for a public debate on the leadership of our party is clear.
In recent days broadcasters have publicly spoken in The Guardian about their plans for the Conservative leadership race. I would now urge you to do the same for the Liberal Democrats, and offer us at the very, very least a significant proportion of the coverage that you are apparently going to offer the Conservatives across your various formats. I believe that, based on recent results, this is only balanced.
But I would argue this goes way beyond party politics. As you know, the country is deeply and passionately divided over the historically important subject of Brexit. That issue is frankly far more important than what personality ends up leading any of our political parties, as its consequences will be felt for generations.
All the Conservative candidates support some form of Brexit, with a kind of Brexit arms-race underway to advance an ever more extreme version that has already been rejected out of hand by the EU. If you just broadcast Tory hustings you will (perhaps inadvertently) be guilty of aiding and abetting a monstrous pro-Brexit bias which future generations might find hard to forgive.
With polls now consistently showing a majority of the British public opposing Brexit, it would be a travesty if they were only presented with wall to wall pro-Brexit propaganda (what has been termed “a festival of fantasy”), without any other party being able to offer their alternative vision. That the only substantial, pro-Remain party happens to be having its own leadership contest at the same time presents you with an opportunity for balance that you cannot, morally and in accordance with your charter, ignore.
We now have a once in a generation chance to re-shape politics and define what liberal politics is. I think it’s radical, environmental, international and bold. We need to show all those who are now interested in the party we can deliver for them.
I would be happy to discuss this with you further.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Ed Davey MP