The Tories are so ashamed of their gaffe-prone by-election candidate that they have stopped Maria Hutchings appearing on a Radio 5 Live debate at which all the other main candidates were present.
With suggestions last night that Hutchings might not appear because she would be on the campaign trail with “a cabinet minister”, it later emerged that David Cameron would be visiting the constituency. Party sources have claimed that the BBC failed to agree an acceptable timing with them — and briefed against Auntie to Guido:
“The BBC are being disingenuous, they are wilfully misleading listeners. We’re not quite sure how this fits with their code of integrity”.
Nice try. But Scrapbook has established that the major parties were told about the broadcast eight days ago on Wednesday 13th. The CCHQ line is further undermined by news that Hutchings’ main event with Cameron takes place after the debate had concluded for the main candidates.
Still no sign of #Eastleigh Cons candidate Maria Hutchings at live R5 debate – Cameron event starts at 11:45 twitter.com/BBCPeterH/stat…
— Peter Henley (@BBCPeterH) February 21, 2013
With the betting markets more or less certain that Hutchings will go down in flames next Thursday, the blame game will shape up to be interesting.
The ringleader of this shambles? Tory chairman Grant Shapps, who could have blocked her re-selection.