Question Time debate: Jo Swinson admits Lib Dem bar charts ‘should be accurately labelled’

‘I’m a bit of a data geek, I do like a bar chart,’ party leader says

Samuel Osborne
Friday 22 November 2019 22:25 GMT
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Jo Swinson admits Lib Dem bar charts 'should be accurately labelled'

The leader of the Liberal Democrats has admitted the party’s bar charts “should be properly labelled” following controversy over a graph appearing to show the party neck-and-neck with the Conservatives.

Asked during an appearance on BBC Question Time how the public could trust her party, Jo Swinson said she had not seen the chart.

“I haven’t seen that particular one. It may well be that there was a problem with it,” Ms Swinson told the audience.

“I think all bar charts should be properly labelled. It should be clear what they are explaining.

“I’m a bit of a data geek, I do like a bar chart. They do need to be right and it needs to be clear what it is representing.”

The party was engulfed in a row over a bar chart released on social media by its branch in Jacob Rees-Mogg’s constituency, North-East Somerset, which put the Tories on 38 per cent and the Lib Dems on 32, with Labour on 8 per cent.

However, the small print beneath the graphic showed the figures came from a poll in which local residents were asked which party they would back if they knew the Tories and Lib Dems were neck-and-neck as other parties trailed far behind.

At the time, Ms Swinson defended the party’s material, telling Sky News’s Sophy Ridge: “It was a specific poll in that particular seat and we labelled what the question was. Liberal Democrats have been making progress and winning in that area.”

Responding to an audience question about her record as a minister when the Lib Dems were in coalition with the Tories, Ms Swinson told the Question Time audience: ”We also had plenty of fights with the Conservatives and we won some of those fights and we lost some of those fights and I am sorry that we did not win more of those fights in coalition.”

The party’s policy of revoking Article 50 and stopping Brexit was challenged by the audience.

Ms Swinson said: “We are being very straightforward as a party that we want to stop Brexit. You might agree with us, you might disagree with us.

“I don’t think you can accuse us of not being upfront about wanting to stop Brexit. We’ve been crystal clear about that from the very beginning.

“Not for one second do I think that means that you or anybody like you is stupid. I think it means we disagree.”

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