A reader who attended Thursday’s Birmingham Hustings reports that she was amazed when, on returning home from the meeting, she switched on the TV news, only to find that their report on the meeting bore no resemblance to what had actually happened:

They focused on misreporting some comments by Jeremy Corbyn about a hypothetical situation that had been put to both speakers. This was: “What would they do if a member country of NATO was attacked?”

Owen Smith had no doubt that he would go to war with the aggressor, “as NATO countries are responsible for one another.” But Jeremy Corbyn gave a more matter-of-fact reply. He said he would call meetings with the countries involved and those neighbouring them, with the aim of resolving the issue without bloodshed.

She commented: “This was quoted totally out of context as him saying that he would not defend a fellow-NATO country.  Do these people have no conscience about the lies they report?”

More report-worthy issues were:

  1.  That Owen Smith would take us back into Europe.
  2.  That both candidates support HS2.

But these were not mentioned in the BBC TV news.


Waiting to enter the conference hall which was packed with (I was told) a ratio of 75:25 (JC:OS) supporters

We were asked in advance not to clap for too long, nor to show disrespect for the candidates but when OS was emphasising that 172 MPs, including himself, had had a vote of no confidence in JC’s leadership.  This provoked great anger in the audience and a lot of booing and shouting, in my mind, fully justified, as the PLP action has constantly undermined JC’s attempts to lead the party.

This wasn’t the only time Owen Smith deliberately attacked Jeremy Corbyn during the debate but he received no personal attacks in return.

They were asked many questions selected from 13,000 which had been sent into head office. Unfortunately, only one of the questions they selected was from a West Midlands member.

The over-riding assessment for me was not on how the candidates answered the questions – for the majority their response was similar – but on body language. OS came over as more dynamic and very bold; JC played the elder statesman, a little weary and irritated about having to go through this process and very laid back. This may be what upsets MPs, who would like to see him boldly challenging the Conservatives on a range of issues. On this basis OS would be their candidate – bold and dynamic, if a little inexperienced.  JC on the other hand gave matter-of-fact responses to all the questions, drawing on his broad experience in the House of Commons and showing his concern for ordinary people and their opinions.

Jeremy Corbyn received a standing ovation after his summing-up speech but Owen Smith did not

People had come from all over the West Midlands and several had brought placards to welcome and show support for JC (see attached). I gather that OS got heckled very aggressively on his way into the conference hall – he arrived very early and had to run the gauntlet of people waiting to welcome JC.

I’m glad I went as the whole set up was quite exciting.  The sting in the tail was the media’s inaccurate reporting and their failure to report on the bigger issues and on the huge support for Jeremy Corbyn.